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AKA: シャッフル!
Genre: Romantic ... uh, comedy, with drama and harem elements.
Length: Television series, 24 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by FUNimation.
Content Rating: 15+ (fanservice, minor nudity)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Ah! My Goddess, Midori's Days
Notes: There is also a PC dating game available from Navel. The lack of surprise from the THEM Anime review crew is deafening.
Rating:
 

Shuffle!

Synopsis

Three worlds -- the human world, the world of the gods, and the world of the devils -- have merged, and both... uh... gods, and devils are now living among the humans on Earth.

Tsuchimi Rin is a young man who's been living with his friend Kaede and going to school. Then two new girls, one from the world of gods and one from the world of the devils, enroll in school, and all hell breaks loose.

Review

I have no excuse. I had pre-viewing knowledge that this show would, like so many before it, cause me great physical and mental pain upon viewing, and STILL I went ahead with it. I dunno ... maybe it's just the amount of schadenfreude that keeps me going at times -- the sheer pleasure I get out of watching a show thoroughly bombing -- because I really can't think of any reason why anyone would want to subject themselves to SHUFFLE!

And yes, that's how the title is: all capitals and an exclamation mark at the end, as if that would make the show all that and a bag o' fries.

And, like so many shows before it, the main content seems to be firmly rooted in the antics and happenings of a somewhat bland male lead and the girls who find themselves attracted to him for being "such a nice guy", which has me wondering whether most of the male Japanese citizenry is a collection of humongous jerks.

The first of the girls we meet is Kaede, his roomie and housekeeper. Naturally, like any "proper Japanese girl", she's quiet, shy, and a whiz in the kitchen, making the meals for her man.

But what is a harem anime if not with more suitors for our lucky stud? Enter Lisianthus (shortened to Sia, because, you know, Lisianthus just isn't CUTE) and Nerine, our representatives from the world of gods and devils respectively. Both of them have ridiculously cutesy voices and pretty much have their personalities copied-and-pasted from Kaede. Naturally, since the creators of SHUFFLE! don't want to be looked upon as unoriginal -- God forbid -- they have all been expanded with various different character traits, like Nerine not being much in the kitchen and Sia being a bit of a goofball in school. Admittedly, Sia is also a bit more ... violent ... than the others, though mainly against her father, so I can't exactly blame them for being exact clones or anything. Close, but not quite.

Ironically enough, that was pretty much the reason I thought Nerine was from the world of gods and Sia from the world of devils instead of vice versa. Of course, the show later proves that it's all just in a name. The "gods" and "devils" are, in fact, more or less normal people with some powers, plus the "gods" have slightly longer and slightly pointier ears, while the devils have quite long and quite pointy ears. You know ... if anyone out there cares.

*crickets chirping*

Aaaaanyway, I'm putting too much thought into this show, as all SHUFFLE! (*sigh*) has to offer for many, many episodes is your general "I want to take care of Rin-san / Rin-chan" "No, me... me" comedy, spiced up with the antics of the Kitty-Kitty Kaede fan club (or whatever the hell they池e called), wanting Rin's head on a pike (not literally, mind you.) Naturally, all the girls who appear in the show to be a potential doormat housewife for Rin seem to have their own fan club, even Primula, the clearly underage girl (who, while not a romantic interest for Rin, has a fan club anyway, filled with the same wastes of humanity as the other clubs). Naturally, with them being all envious about Rin getting attention from all these girls, this provides most of the rather tiresome comedy in this show. I don't know about you guys out there, but for me ... freakin' creepy != funny. Rest assured, I'm not OMGLOLLing myself over any of this.

SHUFFLE! is also somewhat racy, though most of that is found in the last half. Expect to see a few panty and underwear shots in it, though, strangely enough, no nudity except in the case of Primula. And why HER?! I really don't want to know. Really.

On that note, I'll be going into the part of the review I am not going to enjoy very much; I'm gonna have to say some good things about it. Let's just keep that as brief as possible, shall we? It's not like I WANT you to watch this show or anything.

The main lead is actually quite normal. Yes, indeed, while he might wield the "magic girl-gathering powers of nice", he doesn't stutter nervously every time he talks to a female. He doesn't go out of his way to be an idiot or a pervert, and we're pretty much being spared from "accidental breast grabs" and the likes.

Secondly, and telling us a lot about the show itself, Primula is actually one of the more interesting characters in SHUFFLE! In a bit of a plot twist, her back-story gets told starting in episode 12 (with some vague foreshadowing now and then in the earlier episodes) and, much to my surprise, that's when the show actually makes an honest effort to evoke some emotions from the viewer instead of having us gush over the platonic, fake romance it seems to want to live off. It even presented me with a fairly accurate reference of Norse mythology, which had me wondering what there was for me to believe in anymore. That the show, when this little subplot is finished, will eventually revert back to the old "I want to take care of Rin-chan" "No, me! Me!" "Anooo...." makes me very, very sad. Minor side events in a series should never ever outshine the main story arc in any series, much less to the degree shown in SHUFFLE!

Well, that's it for the compliments I'm willing to give this show. While the Primula side story were fairly entertaining despite some squicky nudie scenes, I'm certainly not expecting anyone to endure eleven episodes of soulless doting on the main lead, way overused fanservice scenes, way overused comedy, and a gaggle of idiotic characters just to see that. SHUFFLE! is a huge, three-meal course in Stupidity with a capital ... well, EVERYTHING, even with an exclamation mark to go with it. Avoid.

In an insane bout of generosity, I'm awarding the second star for the things it did right. Not that it makes the show more worth to watch or anything, but credit where credit is due, and all that.Stig Hテクgset

Recommended Audience: The show isn't outright DIRTY, but there are enough lingerie shots and other kinds of fanservice to make this one a teenager venture. Well, in a technical sense, as this show is pretty much unfit for human consumption for the most part. There is a nude scene with the underage girl, but she is being portrayed like that while lying in a medical tank, so there's nothing sexual about it.

The violence is mostly slapsticky, and not worth mentioning.



Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (24/24)
Shuffle! © 2005 Omegavision Inc / SHUFFLE! Media Partners