Staple of Harem Shows #324 - Beach Episode!!
The obligatory beach episode gets off to an awkward amusing start when topless God- and Demon-chan chase each other across the beach in an entirely heterosexual manner while the rest of the eye-candy - uh, harem watches on.
We get about a million body pans of all the girls, at least one for everyone and TWO for Nerine, who comes equipped with the school-swimsuit, to pander to Rin's presumed schoolgirl-fetish. (as her father says, anyway) Given that he's a schoolboy himself I doubt we could call that a fetish but rather something natural. Nerine gains advantage by being, em, overly equipped in the chest area, also.
And on the other end of the scale is Mayumi, who still has two-color eyes, for no reason. She claims to be a rarity in the world (which is likely true, especially in anime) by being flat-chested, and thus is catering to a niche. Itsuki is hilariously candid by saying that although that may be true, Mayumi ranks in as flatter than resident loli Primula. (who, by the way, is in the exact swimsuit Itsuki pictured a few episodes back)
By the way, screw the RRR, SSS, and AAA, I'd go for the FCA all the way. ^^
Strangely, for much of the episode, Rin seems to be rather cool-headed amidst the plethora of superball-chested women, and he doesn't spend quite as much time being stunned as he usually does. Maybe he's learned it's better for his health not to stare this way.
Although he is caught with his hand in the cookie jar (let's hope it's the cookie jar anyway) a few times, which Itsuki, as always, never fails to notice and quip about. I'm just glad the fanboy clubs haven't made their way to the beach.
The first part of this episode is devoted to everyone's favorite well-proportioned, blue-haired demon, who apparently can't swim either and thus spends a very long time clinging to Rin, annoying much of the rest of the harem. Rin continues to be oblivious to this and gives Nerine all of his attention in an entirely clean swimming lesson. Sia eventually gets jealous of this and takes care of Nerine himself, giving Rin some time off.
We get some more amusing moments away from Rin as Itsuki pulls the 'hitting-on-the-teacher' gag by accident (and this won't be the only time), and Rimu starts a running gag with the building of many sand castles which will be pwned by waves at any empty moment in the episode.
Rimu has her appeals too, apparently.
We have a couple moments of quiet, the first being with Asa relaxing in a floaty thing, and Rin getting his first moment of relaxation in about 10 episodes (hard, giving that this is only the 9th). Both's rest are quickly destroyed as a wave of perversion washes over Asa, stripping her of
Which, I don't think I've ever heard of ever happening before. Only in H-games, kiddies.
Asa quickly shuffles over to Rin to demonstrate the fact that she is not wearing anything above the waste, which as I imagine short-circuits Rin's mind into a thousand pieces.
Asa is subtle as always. Once again, she is the most straightforward and genki of the girls. Meanwhile, Rin dare not look back, or down, because he's gay. Or perhaps, afraid that he'll die if he does.
Although he must be rather innately excited by all the squishy. We don't need the obvious cupping of the hands (that's what it is, right? right!?), Rin.
Anyway, Asa with Rin as body shield runs off to the changing room, where Sia and Nerine come across him. Unfortunately a harem fight does not break out, although Rin comes very close to getting his second groping of the day. He does, however, express a surprising and hilariously candid view of the fanservice all around him. (pictured above)
Sia in particular seems a bit jealous that Rin did not wait to have a threesome with her and Asa (ok, that's a bit of a stretch of the truth), which Rin fervently denies. The tension is broken by a fainting spell by Asa, which she of course plays off as nothing important.
But every detail is always important in anime. You know something's wrong with Asa.
Skip forward to the lunch scene hosted by sugoi chef-u Kaede, where all the guys but Rin prove to have a particularly ravenous appetite. I wonder where they get all the food to feed the Yukito-class eaters.
Also, Asa head-knuckles herself. Squee at your own discretion.
Anyway, the plot finally settles down and kicks in as Sia's arc continues (after Asa and Nerine's earlier introductions in the episode) when she gets her wish to be alone with Rin granted a little too enthusiastically.
Their beach float thing floats out to freaking sea, which is marginally less believable than a wave washing away Asa's top. Also, note Rin has a really hilarious scream here.
Plot? In my fanservice? It's more likely than you think.
Anyway, the two find themselves stranded somewhere else, and they spend a bit exploring until Sia exploits the usual trope and conveniently busts an ankle, forcing the ever-heroic Rin to carry her. Aww.
Sia makes a comment that "they might not be in their own world anymore," which seems very possible given the power of the gods and demons. What would be really amusing if blue giants started to come out of nowhere and trash the landscape; closed space ftw.
Rin shows definite bias towards being attracted to Sia, which seems rather blasphemous but can be passed off as a side effect of Sia's arc. Rin is being put in a very dangerous position though, as he will have to let Sia down later. Everybody knows the first character to have an arc never wins, ever.
The situation gets more dangerous as Rin and Sia come across a malicious animal (wolf/dog?), which freaks them both out for a bit. Rin acts the hero and orders Sia to run away if the beast gets him; Sia obviously refuses due to her incredible crush on Rin. She would never, ever leave him.
And then the beast jumps and they both run like pansies, Rin taking Sia by the hand...right off a cliff. It's rather shocking that they didn't end up on top of each other in a awkward situation again.
The pair end up, just like last episode, staring at the moon again in a romantic manner. They seem resigned to the fact that they are alone in this world, and resolve to become Adam and Eve together.
We get a hand-holding moment, and I don't even know who says the above line but it could be either of the two really, as Rin is being rather nice to all of his harem.
Sia doesn't seem to mind all the H-game screwing that's about to come up with the aforementioned Adam and Eve situation. However, note that Primula is walking by in the background. It seems Rin and Sia got a little too carried away with the 'lost in their own world' idea'...because they're not. It turns out they just floated around the perimeter of the island.
Eventually we get to the near-kiss situation again, which is really surprising coming this early how strongly Rin feels for Sia (or at least, goes along with Sia's plans). Unsurprisingly the kiss is broken in a timely fashion by the showing up of the entire harem. They sound like they've been witnessing the situation for quite a while, which is scary.
As you would imagine the only happy ones in the group are Itsuki and Mayumi, who are very excited to see their Rin in the midst of another scoop-worthy story. Everyone else is rather sad at losing ground in harem status to Sia, especially Kaede. I think I'm going to need to put the 'Isn't it sad, Kaede?' line in every episode from here on out.
Oh yeah, and at the end of the episode, somehow Primula, who is ignoring Rin because she knows she'll get an arc later on, has built a huge, absolutely kickass castle. Major awesome points.
Of course, the ever-present waves of the castle win again. Sad Primula in sand.
All in all, Sia is clearly topping the standings so far in Rin's harem, with Asa pulling in second from all the squishy straight-forwardness she laid on Rin earlier in the episode. Nerine pulls in a few points from her swim lessons with Rin while Kaede and Primula continue to bring up the rear. Sia's still in her arc though, so she can be expected to be Rin's #1 for a while now, but there is no doubt that after her arc ends someone else will step forward to take the spotlight.
For now though, number 10 appears to be another Sia episode, possibly one of her last however. We shall see.
We've hit the third-of-the-way mark here in Shuffle!land, and all the characters have been introduced, so now it is time to go into the typical harem-game arc period, where we focus intensely on one character for a period of time.
Having foresight dating up to Episode 19, I must say that Shuffle! executes the arcs much more fluidly than the Key works I've watched so far, in that I've been fooled into asking myself "Just whose arc is this anyway?" many times.
First up in line (always a bad sign) is the ever-genki (which serves for pretty much everyone but Rimu and Nerine) Sia, who gets off to a quick start by Nayuki-ing Rin in the morning.
OK, not really, but I just like to scream that "Asa da yo~" line whenever I get a chance.
Sia is amusingly straightforward, as she has tended to be, asking Rin out on a date straight away. No time to waste shuffling around being depressive in her episodes, no way!
By the way, the title for this episode is "A Date With Panties". o_O Is that fanservice I smell? Just maybe, maybe...
Sia goes hardcore Risa Harada on the date prep, going totally overboard with the obsession. Let's count the similarities:
1) Fortune telling obsession. Sia makes note of the Leo fortune which states that love is in the air. I wondered if this was to apply to Sia or Rin, although I assume Sia was hoping that the time would be right for Rin, too.
2) Wanting to know EXACTLY what to wear, down to, the, uh, panties, as titled. Sia one-ups Risa by discovering, that, in this strange fortune-telling world, "love fortune is determined by panties", as screencapped above. XD Much contemplation ensues.
P.S. They are not just underwear, they are battle panties.
Anyway, speaking of fanservice we get a panty shot of God-chan, Sia's father, which thankfully I happened to forget to screenshot. Not exactly equal opportunity fanservice though, I must say :P Speaking of him, all Sia's references to "this must be a sign from God" are a lot more strange, and hilarious, given that her father is, uh, God. Hmm XD
Before the date officially kicks underway we get our 15 seconds of Kaede fame as always, with Rimu acting as the voice of reason, and a source of worry for Kaede by making all sort of Rin x Sia implications. Kaede seems to be forcing herself into the Tomoyo Trap by saying "If Rin is happy, then I am," but we know how true that quote will turn out to be.
Date? What date? We also get a God vs. Demon board-game-athon, with the two discussing the Nerine vs. Sia battle (cue harem unrest) while playing everything from chess to Monopoly (pictured), which I'm surprised has made it to Japan. Also, we get one of the best moments in the anime so far when Demon lays down a Critical Royal Straight Flush...Turbo R (with giant waves in the background) while playing mah-jong. XD I laughed hard for many minutes straight.
Anyway, finally kicking off with the Rin and Sia's main event-o, it seems that Sia's falling into the predictable 'date is too well meticulously planned out' trap, which will as typical be followed by the 'too-well-planned date falls apart' gag.
We throw in, also, an appearance by Mayumi, who is having too much fun rocking the block on the karaoke machine and likes to announce everything over the microphone, including Rin and Sia's date. Comedy ensues.
We move on to the rare outdoors clothing outfit, which I didn't even know existed, and Sia picks out some adorable matching outfit shirts, with that cat on it again. Something with Shuffle! and cats? Also, Itsuki and Nerine are the next to show up in the 'everybody interrupts the date' gag - it's anyone's guess what those two are doing spending time together though. They're probably both after Rin, although bishie Itsuki and his shiny glasses are probably enough to set him straight. Itsuki is too damn awesome for someone named Itsuki.
Anyway, neko eyecatch, and the typical 'transition into a completely unrelated scene' trick is pulled off with some random girl confession to the viewer that she loves them...and wants to kick their ass at mahjong! That's right, it's not the movies (as is so typical), but rather the arcade. Nice. Now, where's that whack-a-mole game? (Record: 00)
We catch Rimu at the cat crane game machine again along with Kaede. Rimu is typically blank, while Kaede has that "I'm in the way, so I'm going to be depressed and run away" look to her face, which she pulls off rather well. And often.
Transition to Kareha-sempai's cafe, which will make a lot of entertaining appearances! Sia is daring as typical and orders the couple's drink, which gives Rin a spit-take and the look of UTTER HORROR again as he glances around at all the other couples drinking the same...and Kareha, who is shiny and 'my, my, my' as always.
Luckily there seems to be a shocking lack of gossip at school.
Sia takes the train with Rin in order to go somewhere else where they know nobody at all, except of course for the last character in the picture, Asa, who notices the two on the train and quietly backs off in Kaede fashion. Didn't know she had that side to her...
Plot exposition ensues as Sia relates how the train ride was like how Rin first met her - for those who care, it's because she was lost on a train and Rin helped her. It sure doesn't take much for girls to fall in love with nice guys in Japan, apparently. Of note is that Shuffle!'s flashbacks take place 8 years ago, which is notable for being one year superior to Kanon. Rin's an even younger pimp than Yuuichi.
Anyway, we end up in a park somewhere that I swear has been featured in this anime before, where Rin decides to unknowingly wreck Sia's dinner plans by being too damn nice to lost kids (still) and playing with the blue-haired pervert named Masato whose main line is "Onee-sama's panties are striped~". Kids these days. Sheesh.
It's finally sunset and that's the end of the 'completely ruined' date as the two ride the train back, with Sia sleeping on Rin's shoulder, I believe. Aww. Also, Rin has no shame as he picks up Sia's diary and reads it, learning of all the plans he wrecked to pieces in the process. Surprising is his lack of reaction to the "I love you, Rin!" in the diary. Talk about obviousbat.
Rin's school turns out to be very pretty and peaceful at night, as opposed to other, demon-harboring schools (this scene reminded me of Mai, I swear), and the two share another sweet moment. At this point Sia is racking up major Rin points, moreso than any other girl but this is likely attributed to the fact that it's her arc.
The episode, which I consider one of the best and funniest so far, draws to a close and Rin nearly negates all the Sia advances when he insists "it's still a little early for a next time..." when Sia asks him to go out with her again, but he makes the save with the above screenshot, which shows that he's just interested in getting to know (and screwing) all of his harem before making a choice.
Except for Kaede, because nobody likes Kaede. Isn't it sad, Kaede?
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.
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...
I'm up to Shuffle! 14 now in the Shuffleathon, and we're getting to the real gritty stuff - I'll mention that it is essentially a Primula arc then, but for the sake of the readers who are trying to remain unspoiled (all 3 of you) I'll keep quiet and stick to the notes I have for the 6th episode, and ignore the advance knowledge.
Anyway, I bring up Primula as this episode seems to be the latest in a series of character introduction, and now it's time for everyone's favorite Shuffle! to shine.
Disregard the fact that she's probably the only loli.
I have some vague mention of 'backstory, yay!' in my notes as the first thing about this episode - I don't have a screenshot handy to remember what was vaguely hinted at about Primula in this episode (as opposed to latter ones - the rabbit hole goes deep), but I would imagine that the Nerine/Sia duo were stepping all over each other in the segment and generally keeping Rin - as well as you - in the dark.
Let's just say there are reasons why Primula is so emotionless.
There's a lot to do with Rimu and cats in this episode - for a while I was confused on her connection to cats (her first scene was at the Cat Crane Game machine), and noted that she was carrying around her favorite cat this morning (the one that appears in the OP). I'm not sure if it was always like that (like Mayumi's two-toned eyes) but it's more apparent now.
It's also more apparent when she happens to tear a hole in the cat, complete with dramatic.
Yeah, I shouldn't have laughed. The cat as you would expect has some huge significance to Primula. It's not a magical talisman or a living object (Kero-chan...) or anything silly but it does seem like something she's had for a long time.
A connection is also drawn between her and someone that looks like Nerine (as the notes say), who gave Rimu the cat doll back when they were both even more loli than before. Yes, that's possible.
And then we flip forward to the obligatory school scene where Itsuki flips off a bunch of innuendo-laced lines and mocks Rin's pedophilia obsession, masking his interest in it by teasing Rin about it. OK, maybe that part wasn't true but who knows? Itsuki's quite the womanizer.
Although, I must say, he is a large improvement over the usual 'harem's perverted friend', proving to be successful with the ladies and damn bishie even though he has glasses.
And even though I'm a straight guy. Eek.
He has a lot of great lines too, such as the one screen-capped, which seems like an obvious jab at dating-sim traditions and cliches, such as the one above which allows for convienent sexing of people like Akiha Tohno without breaking too many laws or moral boundaries.
But, on a tangent, I wonder how they legitimatized Primula as Officially Older Than 18 in the original Shuffle! H-game, since I would imagine she has her share of H-scenes. Because, seriously, are you going to tell me she's that old? She is screamingly obviously The Official Lolicon Character.
Oh yeah, I suppose I should mention Primula stumbled her way to Rin's school in a broken-cat-induced haze, where she is brushed off quite harshly by the Harem Master Rin who has too many girls to deal with a loli that is Not Legal. I hope.
Speaking of Harem Master, Rin seems to have quite the reputation now, what with Mayumi's crack at Rin having 'another lover'. I wonder who is the fanon True Girl For Rin in his school. That'd be interesting, shipping inside an anime.
Also, ridiculously funny about how Nerine and Sia go squee about being "Rin's lovers". Seems neither of them really minds that they're not the only one in the competition.
So, anyway, Primula goes away and we finally get to the eyecatch, whereupon we are treated to the One Minute Flashback again (although it was across an eyecatch) where Rin feels really guilty about brushing Rimu off, and so he runs off in the rain (because somebody's sad, of course) to find her.
He finds her standing by the closed arcade again (what is the time schedule on that thing?) and also finds her breasts. Rimu's cute with hair down but the gratutious fanservice is a bit scary at times given my above rant on How Old Is Rimu Anyway - just in case you, the viewer, did not get the fact there Rimu has nothing on under there, in the rain, you get treated to a slow, full-screen pan. Yay.
Oh, and if you're wondering, yes, you get more Rimu fanservice of the same caliber in later episodes although it's not as completely out of place, arguably.
Although Rimu's rack appears to be a Plot Point as the girls drag Rin on a underwear hunt to find suitable clothes for Rimu. Does that really happen in real life? (not the Rin dragging-along) Scary.
Rin goes through a sequence of nosebleeding to death and the fanboys get more fapping opportunities as we have many scenes of Rin's harem asking him how they would look in various massive-cleavage outfits.
Notably absent, unsurprisingly, is Primula, who is probably being shuffled around behind the scenes, and Kaede, who is perhaps more modest, sane, and shy than all the other girls combined. I give her bonus points for that.
Eventually Rin runs away and goes to the Silky Game arcade, which will show up many times as The Place Where I Met Primula. I'm not sure what the song playing today is but last time it was the OP song so I imagine there's another cameo here.
Rin decides to go buy a cat plushy for Rimu and sneaks in a what?-dam reference to the giant mecha show which is apparently ungodly huge in Japan (I'm reminded of the Haruhi reference to it - is every anime obligated to have one?).
Anyway, stuff happens back at the Harem Hunt and I assume since I didn't get a shot of Primula in her new outfit that it was a little risque, which is backed up by the notes that Kareha-senpai got all shiny again (which is freaking annoying. my, my, my, die), and that Kaede swooned/passed out. Clearly she is feeling the incredible threat to her position as the Destined Girl at the moment.
If you only knew this was the start, Kaede.
And that's about it for the episode as Rin comes back with a mysterious
souvenir gift for Rimu, which, as you expect, is a cat. A cute one. But not as cute as Rimu with the cat, which is a sight that would make 99.5% of viewers melt.
Primula freaking smiles for once. It's awesome.
And a Plot Point. Keep your eye on it.
Overall, I liked this episode, and hated the gratuitous fanservice (although this would prove to be only the start). This is argubly the first episode when I started liking and connecting to the Shuffle! heroines as opposed to just acknowledging the harem - Rimu's pretty cute in this episode and Kaede gets some sympathy points (which I fear is going to be a recurring theme).
Carry onward, episode 7. Next up: The Shocking Shigure.