Whoah. I enjoyed it, but I hated it. It's pretty brutal at times and I respect the way it's willing to go further than most shows. Its humiliation/embarrassment humour can get savage. The show has fans who are pretty serious about it. For me, though, it's pushing the harem comedy so far that it breaks. The genre's inherent problem is that you're expected to watch and enjoy the sight of one boy stringing along a bunch of girls who all fancy him. (It won't be that calculating on the hero's part, but that's what it boils down to.) The good shows that do this are creating relationships where you can accept this and still like the main characters. Here, though...
1. KIDOU EITA (protagonist) = a boy who hates romance, thanks to his cheating, scumbag parents who ran off with other partners and abandoned their son to fare for himself. He's living with his aunt and has devoted himself to non-stop studying. He wants to get a scholarship to go to a top medical university.
2. HARUSAKI CHIWA (childhood friend, orange hair) = a bit gullible, but also lovely. She and Eita are so close at the start of the series that they're practically married, albeit platonically. She'd like more than that, although it takes a push from Masuzu to bring this into the open. It hurts to watch Chiwa's misguided efforts in eps.2-4.
Mind you, I think less of her for being impressed by Masuzu's scheme in ep.8. (She's no different from anyone else in that, admittedly, but bloody hell.)
3. NATSUKAWA MASUZU (romance-hating manipulative liar and albino) = she calls herself a twisted bitch. Yup. Bingo. There's a core of sincerity in her feelings for Eita, deep down, and the show's closing run of episodes is working hard to bring that out... but she's basically cold, pretty scum. She repeatedly does things that either should or do hurt people. She blackmails Eita into being her boyfriend when he doesn't want to be, while saying to his face that she hates romance as much as he does and it'll all be a big lie.
I think we're meant to like her, or at least find her entertaining. I won't deny that she's a dynamic, fresh character. She's playful, clever, witty and quite a good partner for Eita. Personally, though, I wouldn't want to go near anyone who'd make Chiwa do those things in eps.2-4, or hatch that cruel plan in ep.8 to make Fuyuumi fall in love with Eita when she clearly has no chance of winning the harem race.
Oh, and she's also a fan of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Not for me.
Given all that, I couldn't accept Eita's behaviour. Yes, Masuzu has that embarrassing notebook from his chuunibyou days. He'd suffer social death if that came out... but so what? Dump the fake girlfriend, go out with Chiwa and take the chuunibyou hit. Besides, by the end of the series, Chiwa's the only one of the four main girls not to know all about it already.
4. AKISHINO HIMEKA (feebleminded chuunibyou loon, black hair) = very little grip on reality. Thinks she has the longest association with Eita because they were lovers in a previous life. She's a nice girl, though, and would probably be a great girlfriend... but she's clearly coming last in the harem race. Not disillusioning her is a little cruel.
5. FUYUUMI AI (loud, lying tsundere, pink hair) = if the other girls weren't here, she'd be a strong romantic lead. Once we've got to know her, she's engaging and funny. Unfortunately, though, she's such an obnoxious tsundere that she gets two entries in a love contest (once as her cold side and once as her lovey-dovey one). In some ways, she's the worst of the girls. Masuzu you just wouldn't want as a girlfriend. The sight of Fuyuumi, though, would make you leave the room. She tells loud, implausible lies and then sticks exaggeratedly with them even when they're self-damaging.
She's also aiming for Eita in the (apparent) knowledge that he has a girlfriend. She's a bullshit merchant and a pain in the arse.
So there you have it. (Well, apart from the throwaway hints that Eita's aunt and his apparently male best friend might fancy him too.) It's a harem comedy where I was rejecting the status quo. The show's built on the fake Eita-Masuzu relationship, but its existence in itself struck me as cruel and cowardly. Stop it, Eita. Grow a backbone. Stop keeping pointless secrets that are guaranteed to get blown by the end of the episode. It's okay not to cover things up. Talk to people, for goodness sake. Over the course of the series, slowly, incrementally, a bit of truth starts growing underneath the fake... but I couldn't cheer for Eita and Masuzu, even though I was supposed to.
That said, though, there's a lot to enjoy here. I love the theme song, for instance. (There's a bit in it that reminded me of the theme song to Magic Users' Club.) The series has lots of energy. All those piss-off decisions and forehead-slapping attempts at secrecy make the show pretty explosive. The cast can all be funny and cuddly (for assorted meanings of "cuddly").
But no. It's a strong show, but a rotten one.