Five fairy men, disguised as humans, are sent to Earth to collect "attachments" in the hopes of rebuilding the fairy world. They establish Bar F (which sounds too hilariously much like "barf" aloud), whose motto is "we'll take your heart" as they help out various female clients throughout Japan. But there's a dark force who wants to stop this at any cost...
Tim: One look at the promotional art was all the convincing Stig and I needed to wartch this anime. Fairy Ranmaru is the right kind of silly for synchro viewing: fairies, guys with magical girl-style transformations, subtle shonen-ai subtext, and goofy charm to spare. It did not disappoint.
Stig: Back when I sat down to watch Neo Angelique Abyss, I had some concerns about kicking downwards, but at the same time, it was nice to have something else to come up with jokes for than another show about a teenager dying in an accident and being reborn in a fantasy world where they proceed to sleepwalk themselves into the blind adoration of everyone, their harem members in particular. Granted, that was more or less exactly what Neo Angelique Abyss was, only with the genders reversed (and without the isekai parts.) But even then, Fairy Ranmaru is vastly different from the two aforementioned shows in that it functions a bit like a magical guy show, but also one of the most ridiculously gay things I have ever watched. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, although the way this show flaunts its gayness is primarily in its very, very flamboyant male fanservice aimed at women. Not that there is anything wrong with that, necessarily.
Pacing-wise, Fairy Ranmaru isn't much different from a typical magical girl show, and not just in its transformation sequences. You got your victims of the day, the corrupt bad people antagonizing said victims who need purifying, as well as sad backstories for our five male leads that wouldn't be out of place in a traditional magical girl show for little girls. The difference is the context and situations the victims of the day fall in. One girl, for example, is a mangaka who wants to do more serious work, but her boss wants to push her towards moe because it sells better. Another woman, who works at a strip club and has a child with her lover without marrying him, has to deal with him exploiting her for money that he then uses for gambling. It's quite a bit more grown-up than anything Sailor Moon or Pretty Cure would tackle. Also, while some of the leads of Fairy Ranmaru are vaguely in the area of teenage-dom, one is an adult, and he's not afraid to get into some hanky panky with the ladies as well. Stuff that would, again, never fly in Pretty Cure...ironic when you consider the fairy male leads follow a code.
Ah yes, the code. Their weirdly mundane ten rule code they recite like students reading off a board in a classroom, several of which they WILL break several times thorough Fairy Ranmaru. And if you thought fairies from the magical lands of fairyworld had unique problems, you will quickly learn how the whole world of fairies were brought to the brink of destruction and then pushed over the edge by things any human would be capable of doing. Rules 1 and 5 are particularly hilarious as they discourage love or even just sex with the opposite sex, which means that if the fairy inquisitor team drops in on our band of handsome heroes enjoying a nice day on the Carnival Bukkake Slide, they'd be subjected to a quick scrutiny before being given the thumbs-up and a telling "carry on" nod.
Not that you get to see anything like that in Fairy Ranmaru, mind you. We didn't mean to bring your hopes up.
Fairy Ranmaru is fairly light-hearted at first, but the goofiness of its magical boy transformations - a complete makeover in so many ways, seeing as only one of the five vaguely look like they do pre-transformation - clashes hard with their backstories. And then there are the weirdly mundane backstories, despite the the high levels of drama they entail. Homura (angry fire dude) is actively hated on by Uruu (somewhat angry...water dude?) because of something that happened in their pasts, and that is basically Homura's father being in an illegitimate relationship with Uruu's mother, which somehow lead to both their deaths. Even the villain of the series, a dark-colored man who interrupts the battles of the day, has a rather bleak backstory once the series gets around to him.
Rather than just have all of its battles set in the cities of Japan, each fight in Fairy Ranmaru takes place in a different backdrop, each one with its own style. Some are rather unique and well-detailed, while others are more bizarre and would be right at home in Madoka Magica (Yes, I went there. - Tim). The victim/villain of the episode are separated behind key-shaped dimensions/locks (the series never really gets into what they're supposed to be), with the fairy leads' task to purify the bad side with a giant-ass key a la Kingdom Hearts story while hammily shouting "GO TO HEAVEN!" The keys themselves seem like a bit of a side note, because until each fairy whips out theirs, the keyholes serve as weirdly voyeuristic peeping holes for both the villain and the victim as the battle for their souls are unfolding in whatever bizarre dimension the inner psyche of said villain endw up looking like, whose post-battle fates are discussed only in short blurbs. With family or workplace abuse, this usually leads to the firing of the villain in question, leaving the people the fairies help to continue things at their own pace. That being said, this is where Fairy Ranmaru shows us that it has enough moxy to surprise as well, turning the role of victim and villain around and end on a hilariously unexpected note we'd honestly love to talk about.
It's also not until the final episodes where we get into the backstory of their queen called, well, Queen (yes, really.) She does have a name, but you don't really learn that until near the end. She's a pink-haired girl in a big dress who has a pet sloth who plays video games, eats sweets, and wears sunglasses (also yes, really). She used to be the ruler of the fairy world, who came down to Earth with Ranmaru (pre-memory erase) and Sirius, where she started up an idol group with the two boys. Their goal was to make everyone happy, but Queen eventually got a little bit too into just how much "attachment" she was gaining through this. So when one of them falls for a human girl, tragedy inevitably happens and that, coupled with all the literal clan wars going on between the fairies, is what inevitably leads to the fall of the fairy kingdom, and the Queen sequestered away in her own pocket dimension to rebuild.
It's also these final episodes when the budget drops like a rock. Which is a shame as prior to that, as far as the "pretty men" genre of anime goes, Fairy Ranmaru is certainly much better looking/animated than most of its peers. The five leads are easy to tell apart, and they have unique looks and costumes in their battle forms. And like mentioned before, the various battle backdrops offer lots of visual variety, especially for a show of its genre. It's just that it can't keep it up the entire series, and it's a bit of a shame. It's also worth mentioning that, even if the transformation sequences generally look good, they're pretty much all the same. Our main fairy of the episode does a twirl while changing forms, and then - while a song plays - they'll spend half that time running, and the other half flying while randomly doing a full 360 rotation for seemingly no reason. It's quite hilarious the first couple of times, but kind of wears thin after a while.
Tim: Fairy Ranmaru is hardly revolutionary, and its cheesiness and overly long battle transformations, complete with a song following it, can get a bit annoying to watch if you're planning to watch all of it in a short time frame. But I had fun, well, making fun of the show's silliness with Stig all throughout. I'd never buy it on Blu-ray, but it makes for a fun series to watch with a few friends.
Stig: Again, we kind of watched this show to poke fun at it, but that doesn't mean I don't want to be fair when writing about it. Fairy Ranmaru is clearly aimed at women looking for some skin, and you're definitely going to get your money's worth here. That being said, I do appreciate how levelheaded most of the stories in the show are. Even if you can't expect a hot dude to pop out of nowhere to save you, the messages are still valid in the sense that you don't have to put up with people who take advantage of you, or aim to hinder you for their own benefit. The show is certainly never boring, and it's true enough to its own style that the first episode is most likely going to clue you in on whether this is something you'd want to spend time on. And if not, there's always the Mystery Science Theater treatment.
Silly fun, at least until the last couple of episodes, where the plot-focused final episodes make it less fun. Those who love bishonen/shonen-ai anime might bump it up another star. — Stig Høgset and Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: If you like muscular anime men with their shirts off -- nipples, bulges and all -- you'll enjoy the lighter-hearted moments that have that. Which is good, since the topics in the actual episode tend to center around people being taken advantage of, whether that be relationship abuse, workplace abuse, or just plain bullying. Death, corruption, and vices are the orders of the day. Parental discretion advised.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Fairy Ranmaru © 2021 Taiga Umatani / F Orchid Production Committee
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