Naoya Tohara is the first addition to the harem created for the sake of Succubus Princess Lotte, who is about to become an adult succubus. For that sake, he's taken to the realm of the magical kingdom of Alfrheim and introduced to the princess.
There is a problem, though: due to Lotte accidentally witnessing an... intimate moment between her mother and one of her harem members, she has developed a huge distaste for men.
But an even bigger problem, I'd say, is that Princess Lotte looks like this:
And why is that a problem? Because the show is not short on implications that the reason Naoya is taken to Alfrheim is so that she can drink his spooge. I really wish I was kidding. Buuuuut this is a show meant for being broadcast on TV, so I was perfectly aware that this was nothing I would be forced to watch directly if I chose to watch it at all. (Which I did, since you're reading this review right now.)
But -- and this needs to be stressed -- if you plan on watching this, I can only hope that your memory is very selective, because there are a couple of facts in this show that needs to be overlooked if you want to escape it without feeling dirtier for it.
First, and most importantly; Lotte is ten years old, and she definitely looks her age, if not even younger. She's another in the long line of prepubescent females played by Rie Kugimiya. She's somewhere along the tsundere mold of Nagi Sanzenin, which is actually appreciated, because it means that while she's somewhat hot-tempered, she's also never violent or abusive, least of all towards the young male lead.
Our male lead in question is 23 years old. He's also the only human to reside in Ygvarland. Hilariously enough, the residents of Ygvarland have a rather... inaccurate view of what a human being really is. (Four legs? Fur all over their bodies? And that's only for starters.) Sensing a way out of her predicament, Lotte proceeds to demand a human male to get her harem started, and I'm sure you can see where this is going.
The male lead, Naoya, also has a daughter. And, conveniently enough; she's the same age as Lotte. "But wait", you might say. "If she's ten, and he's twenty-three, then he must have sired that child when he was twelve." And you'd be correct, which is where your selective memory will come in. As I mentioned earlier, there's a few things that might not sit well with you if you choose not to ignore it, and the demands on your selective memory WILL be challenged, especially in the first episode, and even more so near the end. That's why I want you all to ask yourselves this: can you ignore that? Can you ignore that Naoya is brought to Alfrheim so that Princess Lotte can presumably perform fellatio on him? (And the show definitely wants you to presume this.) Can you ignore the fact that someone also slept with him when he was 12, and then saddled him with a child when he was 15 or 16, to raise all on his own? Can you ignore that the show apparently sees nothing wrong with any of this? If you can, I envy you. Except not really, because I don't particularly WANT to think there's nothing wrong with all of this.
And that's because the first half of the show, when you get past the incredibly awkward first episode, can probably pass as a fairly cute show for those who wants their daily helping of fluff. It's also where it deals with Lotte's nearly ruined relationship with her mother, plus her hate of men. For that shining moment, you can allow yourself to forget what they spent most of the first episode discussing and fool yourself into thinking this is just a light drama with comedy. Not that I found the comedic moments all that funny myself, but in my case, it was more of an opportunity to amuse myself at the show's rampant use of pseudo-Scandinavian names and words. (Like "Hræsvelgr". I mean... seriously? Is there any part of this show you want associated with "corpse swallowing", creators of this fine show?) And those are all over the place. Just the character list alone is worth a thousand laughs.
Well, enjoy it while you can, because those niggling voices will eventually return, along with the whole "the Princess must drink semen" point. If you're in doubt, then try to explain the line "At this rate, it might not be too long before she sucks him off, after all." Later in the same episode, Naoya is brought to bed with a fever... aaaand a raging erection. And I swear; Judith then enters his room and chastizes him for not letting her drink his "life seed" straight from the tap. We get it, Astarotte's Toy! Just... just stop. Please!
"And so", he sighed, the show ends with a relatively "romantic" plot point about separation, which might've worked if it wasn't so depressingly manipulative and predictable, while leaving itself open to sequels. The open end, as I'm sure will surprise exactly nobody, is because the manga it's based on isn't even close to finished. Then again, it's also worth noting that the manga is far more callous with its subject matter, and its characters far less sympathetic, at least in regard to the supporting cast.
The character designs are far better suited to the somewhat more innocuous anime version, and the animation is generally good. So if you're into the more visual aspect of cuteness, I'm sure you will enjoy Astarotte's Toy. The set designs are a bit on the odd side; trees, and the magical tree of Yggdrasil -- or maybe I should say "YuGoDoRaSil" -- in particular, are all conical in shape. Lotte's castle is even shaped like a letter for some reason. It just serves to remind me that this show could probably have been a better show for young kids, if it wasn't so surprisingly frank with its sexual subject matter.
And that's what it comes down to. This show could have been a sweet show about a temporary rent who helps the Princess overcome her problems regarding her far-too-busy Queen mother. But that wasn't good enough for you, was it; Yui Haga? You just had to saddle it with this unsettling premise about implicated semen-drinking ten year olds. The anime does little better, and is really hurt by its hack-job ending that really abuse the poor violin for everything it had. As such, I can only really recommend this if you're willing to watch it with the audio and subtitles deactivated. Trust me; it'll be easier to digest that way.
When I started this, I was kind of hoping it'd end up better than I thought it would be, but as it turned out, it ended up being more or less what I expected. A shame, really. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Fanservice is fairly regular, though relatively mild, and thankfully centered around the adults -- or at least near-adults. It's the implications, really, that makes this show so hard to... uh, swallow.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll stream, sub only.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Astarotte's Toy © 2011 Yui Huga / ASCII Media Works / Project Astarotte's Toy / Dengeki Comics
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