Shuffle! 7 (Asa~ Asa da yo~~)

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Wait, wrong anime.

Anyway, Shuffle! 7 is the last of the character intro episodes as the last of the harem is introduced, Asa Shigure. We waste no time getting into it as the episode starts straight with her instead of Rin.

The Shocking Shigure really is apparently quite the chef, outclassing even her mother, who can't seem to call anybody by their full name (see: A-chan, Ri-chan, etc) and seems to have stolen some fashion advice from Real Ayu.

Also, Asa's Mom Who May or May Not Have a Name seems to be rather focused on her daughter's prospectiveness as a marriageable person - I'm not sure of Japanese culture but I don't imagine that people Asa's age think about it seriously, given her reaction in the screenshot above.

Then again, there are those who make marriage promises while they're still in single digits (ahem, Meilin), so it's an all-or-nothing concept, I suppose.

Perhaps a reason for Asa's shock is also the fact that pre-episode she was confessed to by the Mr. Popular, Takisawa something-or-other, of her class, who is a new character in this episode and will not make a return. Ayu Asa's mom seems to be a typical anime parent that is great for exposition in that she notices everything, including the hints at the above, like the small gift box (perhaps a ring?) that Asa recieved from the challenger to the Harem Throne.

Speaking of, I was actually pretty surprised, as I had wagered on the gift being a little present from Rin for No Reason at All (Sure it Isn't, tm).

Takisawa's actually not that bad of a character, in that he is approximately the 3rd guy in this anime to not be a complete butt-ugly fanboy. Burn in hell, KKK/SSS/RRR.

Itsuki continues to be rather surprising as he continues to talk about his popularity with the women. Forgive me for the sparseness of the entries, I'm up to episode 18, which involves more Asa. Wink wink nudge nudge.

Mayumi the two-toned obvious bat strikes again, subtly informing everyone of the latest developments with Asa-sempai. Asa, despite not having a fanclub, is very popular in the school, and should be glad that only Takisawa has the guts to confess to her.

By the way, is Mayumi some sort of crazy confidant? How does she know all the secret admirers of Asa? Since, y'know, they're...secret.

I suppose while I'm here I should elaborate on the awkwardness of harem anime, that seem to fall into two categories. Without fail, every harem girl is either a Social Outcast (see Kanon and Misuzu from Air), or Miss Famous (see TokiMemo Only Love, and, uh, Shuffle!). These types of shows aren't much for the middle ground. Just once I'd like to see a normal girl in a harem anime. To Heart 2 has been the closest to achieving this at the moment, but it just hasn't captured me in the way other animes have.

Or perhaps that is the reason?

Anyway, moving on with the story we get more awkward fanservice as Asa bemoans her popularity while, um, changing with Kareha (who's shiny gimmick is getting annoying) in the girls' locker room. Fanservice works well on it's own, storyline works well on it's own, but together, it's just disturbing. A lot of H-Games, I feel, suffer from this issue.

Asa seems to strike a sort of disillusioned idol position briefly in this episode, as the popular girl who perhaps doesn't want all the attention (or isn't getting it from the one guy she needs). Shuffle!, however, doesn't elaborate much on relations with people not named Rin however, so that point is left at that.

Takisawa is understandably nervous throughout this episode, as is evidenced in his apology in the beginning of the episode, when he first sees Asa, and in the Mr. Obvious line above. You have to feel at least a little of pity for him for being let down - the rejection scene was cut, much like Sacchin's in the Tsukihime anime, probably on purpose.

The rest of the episode, Takisawa aside, is devoted to Rin and Asa development, as Asa drags Rin back to her place for a reason I can't quite recall. They definitely are quite at ease with each other, as shown by Rin's dangerous 'what charm?' line when Asa tries to jokingly come on to him. Rin and Asa do often seem a bit flustered around each other too, perhaps only because they bait each other so much.

Cut to our obligatory 5 seconds of Kaede time (and not a second more) as Rimu's soap opera theory freaks her out. Rin? And another girl? Alone? Oshi~

Asa development is plentiful in this episode, as we see her surprisingly idealistic view of love - not to mention Rin's naivety about it.

Asa also hurts her foot in this episode which is only important to show her distrust of magic when Kareha tries to heal it, and to cause more tense Not-Fanservice-At-All when Asa trips and falls on top of Rin.

Rin has an amusing amount of looks of Utter Horror (tm), the least of which is when he walks in on Asa in the bathroom, and doesn't quite have the mental capacity to enjoy himself. I'm reminded greatly of the Makoto-in-the-bathtub scene from Kanon, except Rin is not as quite a smooth talker, and Asa doesn't beat the crap out of Rin.

I think.

Last note of Asa for the episode is that she seems to use her genki mode as a cover up for when she's feeling nervous/tense/etc. - does she not like to see others worry about her? Anyway, you'll be getting plenty of genki Asa, in any case, for any reason...