I broke the rule and I paid the price. Don't watch anything by Gonzo. Yes, I realise that Japanese anime studios are basically work-for-hire companies and it's far more important to look at the names of the individual creators (apart from Kyoto Animation)... but sod that. Don't watch anything by Gonzo. Except the original Hellsing TV series and even that apparently goes off the rails in the second half, if you're familiar with the manga. (I'm not.)
I'm not talking about animation quality. I'm talking about unsatisfying writing, time after time. This particular show is a wacky comedy with no plot at all, but even then the writing managed to annoy me. It's driven by Rule of Funny, you see. Everything is first and foremost a joke. Character consistency? Plausible story points? People behaving as a real person would in the given situation? Naaaah, we don't need any of that!
Things in this show include:
(a) Main characters (Sun and Nagasumi) who are living together and both emotionally committed to their engagement. They're going to marry each other. However they've agreed to keep their relationship secret from everyone at school, despite the fact that Nagasumi is going to acquire an unwanted harem of pretty much every girl in the show. (It's a very discreet harem and I don't think anyone even realises, let alone Nagasumi himself, but even so it's not very nice of Sun and Nagasumi to be effectively stringing people along like that.) Hiding the "fiance" thing... okay, yes, that's understandable, but they haven't even admitted to being boyfriend and girlfriend.
(b) Annoying catchphrases. Shiranui's is at least short, but Mawari's is a pain in the arse.
(c) Nagasumi being challenged to a sports duel by Mikawa in ep.9, with the prize being Sun. Yes, that's right. If Nagasumi loses this school race, then he'll give his fiancee to Mikawa... and Nagasumi accepts the challenge without even a beat's hesitation. This is the show's bland, mild-mannered, sincere hero, by the way.
(d) No one believes Nagasumi in ep10 when he says he's seen a big scary man. This is a show where half the cast are yakuza mermaids whose legs turn into fins if they get wet.
(e) Fish jokes that don't make sense. Thus all mermaids will be reduced to quivering terrified lumps on seeing a kitten and they'll scream "cannibal" if asked to eat fish. Um. What do real fish eat? Hint: it's not beef.
(f) Even in a show whose raison d'etre is over-the-top stupidity, ep.11 is amazing. Nagasumi gets blown to the moon. (Don't ask.) This doesn't appear to inconvenience him. He's alive and dancing around up there, despite having no breathing apparatus. He's brought back to Earth by throwing a spear at him, by hand, all the way from the Earth. It hits. This makes Nagasumi FALL DOWN FROM THE MOON and he's perfectly okay afterwards. This might all be a parody of a scene with the Spear of Longinus from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
(g) Ep.17 says (albeit as a throwaway) that a woman with big boobs is so irresistible that even cats will be aroused by her.
The show can be funny, though. Of course it can. Throw that much energy into going that far over the top and it would be almost impossible to fail for 26 episodes straight. The show can be inspired. Ep.20 is ridiculous, creepy and OH MY GOD. But hilarious. Maki as a ventriloquist's dummy made me laugh aloud. However the show's comedy engine depends on unnbelievable situations blown out of all proportion and then repeatedly topped by even sillier ones, whether or not it makes sense or violates characterisation. It's very, very stupid. Stupidity is the point. The full-blooded genre homages can be great, but the road there generally involved the absolute minimum of plausibility. It's a show that seems to want you to roll your eyes at the TV even as you find yourself laughing despite yourself. Unfortunately I often found myself only doing the former.
The premise, by the way, is that Sun (a mermaid) saved the life of Nagasumi (a human) and so had to marry him. If she hadn't, her family would have executed him. Humans aren't allowed to know about mermaids. The catch, unfortunately, is that Sun's family are yakuza. Her dad, for instance, is a scarred, fanged mountain of uncontrollable violence. He's also jealous of anyone who might steal his beloved daughter and so within a few episodes he's got himself installed as Nagasumi's homeroom teacher.
My favourite character is Sun herself. She's a bit dozy, but she's also a walking yakuza cliche and capable of turning into the distillation of a dozen inappropriate movies at once. I take my hat off to her in ep.13. The girl is awesome.
Apart from her, though, the cast are only okay. Girls are revealed to fancy Nagasumi and then the show does so little with it that you wonder why the scriptwriters bothered. I quite liked Mawari being supportive of him and Sun in ep.25, but that's a tiny pay-off. Lunar is lively and has more layers than most because she's violently tsundere, but is still basically a joke character. I quite liked Iinchou, but she's almost always wallpaper. The villains are better than the heroes, I think, but then again the yakuza never do anything yakuza-ish. They don't do their criminal jobs. They become schoolteachers instead. They're loud and psychotic, but that's it.
The show briefly gets good at the halfway point, then again at the end. Eps.12-13 are a two-parter that actually makes dramatic use of the characters, then the same is true of eps.25-26 (despite a silly resolution).
Would you enjoy this? Goodness knows. You'll either dislike it or find it hysterically funny. If its brand of humour hits your funny bone, you'll probably get blown across the room. It's very loud (although oddly my DVDs had the volume set too low). It has a thousand parodies and/or homages, some of which are so strong that they almost justify an otherwise annoying episode (e.g. ep.24). It has some funny jokes, some so good that they actually make me glad I saw individual episodes. I also like Sun. However this show is quite often annoying and I think I'd have broken if I tried to marathon it.