This show was being shown at Manifest and the little preview sounded tempting. A quick look showed it to be well supplied with cute anime girls, so how bad could it be? The answer to that one is going to be a challenge.
We begin the story with a young guy introducing himself. He seems pleasant enough, good at sports and with plain tastes. He also admits he's not the most studious, or smartest, guy on the planet. But within his heart he has one sadness. He's never found a girlfriend with whom to share his life. Mind you, once you start to notice how many attractive women are around him, several of whom make their affection quite obvious, we get to wonder if his lack of brains and girlfriend aren't sort of related.
The story is complicated when, falling asleep on the eve of his 16th birthday, he finds himself in a strange dreamworld. One that seems to be just a little too detailed to be simply a dream. However given that it's got a distinctly underage girl, in skintight leotard, flying around and discharging energy blasts at a floating object it must be the imaginary world of magical girls. Even better it seems in this world his (accidental) caress can power her up so she can defeat her foe. It's pretty unusual, but when the girl in the dreamworld wakes up beside him, and the girls around him start getting summoned into the evolving fight in the dreamworld, things get downright weird.
So... what's it really all about then? The real answer is that it mixes several elements. The opening, with various smiling and brightly colored anime babes, suggests a harem comedy. And indeed there is a sizeable element of that, the male being a stable but neutral element that the female cast revolves around. All of them interested in him, but none of them having formalized a relationship. Mind you this element would be a lot easier to stomach if they were his own age, with his ditzy older female guardian and two extremely young girls being part of the cycle. It's more that a little "ecch". Not to mention that two of the members of the harem also represent his family. While they're not blood related, his real parents having died while he was young, it's more than a little uneasy.
This is dramatically amplified when the show decides to throw in some suggestive dialogue and fan service. This explicitly includes the most worrying members of the cast. One of the young girls and the older girl being the source of much of this, rather lame, humor. The other young girl, despite having only one word ("mone!") of dialogue, even manages to play along with the lolicon teacher. And I'm not being too brave in asserting this element, given that the dialogue specifically calls him that. I didn't find this element terribly appealing, but even more so it conflicts with the romantic comedy flavor they seemed to be trying to build up.
Okay, so it's a light romantic comedy, with harem elements, mixed with some suggestive humor? Again, to an extent, it shakes this up with the battle within the dream world. It seems that a bunch of brightly colored, floating, geometric building blocks... complete with energy beams... are actually planning to kill the entire cast and destroy the world. It tries to build the gravity of what this means, including showing us what happens if they win. But then it keeps backsliding to return to other elements such as light comedy or romantic dialog. It's an extremely weird mix of story threads. The dream world itself is also very undeveloped, seemingly just an open plain with floating blocks and nothing happening.
I have seen other anime that does this. Start off light and romantic then build the pressure and intensity as the show develops. However it's a real challenge to smoothly manage this change of mood. And, as I think I've hinted, this show doesn't even come close. It's perhaps the least convincing anime I've ever seen. It's exactly what you'd expect if you gave someone a bunch of anime tapes, they skipped through them mostly in fast forward, and then tried writing their own version. It's all over the place, it has major story weaknesses, the elements and progression don't cohere into a sensible whole and the characters (and thus romance) have no depth.
Heck, half of them look as if they've been copied directly from another series. The whole thing is naggingly familiar and you get the feeling it was better last time. It just lacks conviction, the feeling that the creator is taking it seriously. And even in a comedy, perhaps especially in a comedy, the production must be tight. If you begin to suspect the creator is just going through the motions, following a guidebook on how to make light and meaningless anime fluff, then the experience can really feel sort of empty and even irritating.
I could be wrong. My personal tastes prize cleverness and I might be missing the pleasant simplicity of this title. But I don't think that's the case. It just lacks quality and originality. The fact that the humor fizzles, the story is daft and the ecchi content conflicts with the romantic comedy I'll simply take as supporting evidence. I just can't really think why you'd value this when there's just so many titles that tread similar ground and do it an awful lot better. If nothing else go back to one of the founding fathers of this sort of thing, the original Tenchi Muyo, and see it done right.
And even if I was able to just focus on the eye candy the production values aren't helping. This anime loses you from the opening credits, they're the most brightly colored, unoriginally designed and badly animated imagery I've seen in a while. Since the opener normally shows off the best they can manage this is a very worrying sign. And indeed the animation is extremely lazy. It doesn't move well, the character designs are silly, the fights lack energy and variety (they only get one attack move to last them most of the series) and the enemy are just daft. Sometimes they're meant to be scary, other times they're being blown away in huge numbers, but all the time they just sort of hang in the air and are boring. The music is not bad, the voice acting is actually excellent and much better than the pretty lifeless dialog truly deserves. I guess at least the animation is watchable, and at times the girls are cute (not Nanase though, that amount of wobble just makes my eyes water), but it's also a little too obvious how many corners they've cut.
A show that mixes romantic comedy, magical girl fights, alien menace and lewd humor in a single package. Which would be alright if it actually did it well, or at least had a halfway sensible story and more impressive animation. As it is it fails on each count and once you've gotten bored of staring at the girls, and their one transformation and attack sequence, there's not all that much left.
I don't see many other reviews of this title around. And I get the feeling most of those would give good marks to anything involving cute anime babes. I'll be interested to see if my regular sources agree with me, or if I've just become a sour and bitter old man already :)