Mashiroiro Symphony ~The Color of Lovers~
Shingo Uryuu is among the first boys to attend the once girls-only Yukiho Acamdemy, which is going through a co-habitation trial of sorts, though almost all of the girls are opposed to this. The night before the fall semester starts his little sister Sakuno gets lost, and Shingo goes out to find her. But Sakuno is helped out by a cute blonde girl named Airi Sena, who's very helpful and kind to both Sakuno and Shingo.
The next day proper at school Shingo meets Airi again, but she refuses to talk to him. Not only that, so don't most of the other girls, since Airi hates men, and especially Shingo for some reason. If Shingo wants to stay in his new school, he'll have to make her change her mind by being the best visual novel protagonist that he can be!
Mashiroiro Symphony ~The color of lovers~ is the essence of mediocrity. In terms of its "rivals" in the genre, it doesn't reach the heights of Kyoto Animation's adaptations of the Visual Art's / KEY series, nor does it fall to the depths of To Heart or the repugnant Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku wo. It's just kind of there in the middle. Still, the episodes go at a smooth pace, only about 20 minutes long if you don't count the OP/ED themes. It's not a groundbreaking 20 minutes every episode, but it goes relatively quickly across its 12 episodes.
One thing I will note though is that the series' original plot point (boys and girls being assimilated into what was once only an all-girl school) is dumped about a quarter into the series. After that the series becomes fixated on a club at school called the Nuko Club, which takes care of lost animals, feeds/helps them, and then returns them to the wild. Cute-as-a-button sweetheart high school senior Miu Amaha is the president of this club along with a girl named Sana, whose character we'll get back to later.
Of the animals Miu takes care of, the most prominent is Panya, who doubles as our resident mascot of the series. The best way I can describe him is if Kirby swallowed one of those Sanrio cat mascots. For the most part he's just your standard (weird-looking) cat, until the final episodes push him into the spotlight quite a bit. Heck, he takes up almost the entire final episode, which wouldn't be noteworthy except that this greatly reduces the impact of an arguably much bigger event going on with Airi, nearly brushing it aside as filler.
In the mix we also have a clumsy maid, Angelina "Ange" Nanatsu Sewell. She's looking for a "master" as she lives in the school, though she has a hard time looking for one despite it being the very reason she's at the school. And with it she brings her helium-induced voice and clumsy nature, too. She's basically the android girl Multi from To Heart, except human and with huge breasts. And she always wears her maid uniform. (I have to admit I found it funny how in one episode she frantically looks for a master to serve, and even the boys in her school turn her down. I guess this school must be grouped with the only teenage boys in Japan who don't fantasize about maids.)
If you think I'm kidding around by how extreme the focus goes from a single guy trying to show the unaccommodating girls in his school that assimilation isn't a bad thing to kitty/maid antics amongst other things, think again. The few times after the change of pace the assimilation is mentioned, it's mentioned quite briefly. I know story isn't all that big in these kinds of anime, but it still annoyed me. Even come the end of the season, where the assimilation issue is at its peak in importance, it's still glanced over in favor of Panya. It's like the writers ran out of things to do with Airi after a few episodes, so they decided to focus the rest of the series on the supporting cast instead.
So anyway, between the boys/girls assimilation, Muko Club antics, and clumsy maid comedy, we have Shingo going around trying to prove that boys are not the Devil to all the naysayer girls at his new school. And while he's not anything special as a character, he's also not a wuss, pervert, or sarcastic jerk. He's just kind of…average. (And of course everyone falls for him.) I'm going to give Shingo credit where credit is due, though; he's not only smart and fully capable - not to mention having zen-like patience with the dismissive girls in his school - but he actually does get a girlfriend before the series' end. I actually really liked that, especially how his girlfriend is not the very first girl I thought he'd end up with. Kudos in that regard, series. More anime in this genre need to do this.
One thing I really like about Mashiroiro Symphony ~The color of lovers~ is that, for the most part, it's a pretty normal, relaxing series that avoids some of the more annoying cliches of the genre. It doesn't pretend to have some super secret plot like Fortune Arterial. It doesn't resort to childhood memories like Kanon and the like. The series also doesn't fixate entirely on Airi; the cast's time is pretty divided out, actually. It also avoids that nasty "are they related or not" game with Shingo and Sakuno. I know this all sounds like faint praise, but the lack of some of these cliches actually makes the series quite a bit more bearable than quite a few anime in this genre.
Sadly, I hate to go back to the negative here with Sana Inui, the other initial member of the Muko Club. For the first three episodes she's a perfectly normal character, helpful and nicety boys and girls alike. But then out of the hell nowhere in episode 4 she proclaims she hates Shingo (and all boys too) as she kicks him, because male abuse is apparently funny. In the very next scene Ange casually explains to Shingo; "Sana hates men". I am not joking, it is THAT abruptly mentioned. And this happens right after Airi starts opening up to everyone in her school, too. And when Sana's not trying to protect her beloved "Miu-sama" from whatever derogatory term she comes up with for Shingo, she's fulfilling the series' melodrama requirement. And there's no avoiding this, as Sana eats up a lot of the last quarter of the series. (In-between scenes of Airi just looking sadly at Shingo as he talks to other girls than her, mind you.) You know the anime cliche "sad girl in snow"? Sana takes that one step further with "sad girl in giant downpour". With a baby kitten.
So I think that's all the characters except Airi, who's your standard anime tsundere. After she warms up to Shingo a bit, she spends much of the remainder of the series either looking at him sadly, or giving advice to some of the other girls. She kind of disappears into the background like Nagisa did in the first season of Clannad. In this case it was to give the other girls more time, but in Airi's case it doesn't, making her almost like an extra instead of the supposed female lead of the series.
So despite the abrupt pacing and a couple of annoying characters, Mashiroiro Symphony ~The color of lovers~ is an adequate show, especially for a genre known for either producing hits or destructive misses. It's pleasant eye candy for the most part, with a mostly likable cast of characters. I wouldn't go out of my way to see it, but if you have nothing else to watch on crunchyroll, this would be nicely.
An average show. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: There is some (censored) nudity in the crunchyroll broadcast, notably among its "bigger" cast members. So this alone pushes it up to early-to-mid teens in terms of age suggestion. Not much else objectionable here.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Mashiroiro Symphony ~The Color of Lovers~ © 2011 Palette / Mashiro-P
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