Aya SugimotoHonokaMari AbeSaki Seto
Shimokita Glory Days
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2006
Keywords: boobs, harem, comedy, didn't bother finishing it
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Mari Abe [aka. Yabuki Haruna], Sola Aoi, Yuma Asami, Manami Hashimoto, Honoka, Ichitaro, Rie Mashiko, Saki Seto, Aya Sugimoto, Ryosei Tayama
Format: 12 half-hour episodes
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1183347/
Website category: J-sleaze
Review date: 3 July 2011
It's a harem anime, but live-action. The mind boggles. It was broadcast on TV Tokyo, but after midnight and so there's toplessness, upskirt panty shots, the camera zooming in on people's cleavage and a striptease in the closing credits. I downloaded the first episode out of curiosity, not expecting to watch any more than that. I was right. I won't be. However it's mostly watchable and if it hadn't been for the hero's silly lies to his girlfriend, I might have been.
Firstly, let's define terms. A harem comedy is an anime genre in which you've got one hapless dweeb of a male living with lots of hot women. Maybe they're all in love with him. Maybe they keep having sexual misunderstandings in situations that don't involve clothes. However the dweeb will never take advantage of all these opportunities and instead is keeping himself pure for his one true love.
Obviously this is wish-fulfilment for otaku who'll never have a girlfriend. It's a ridiculous genre, but I quite like it. At its best, it can find surprising emotional depth. The sex comedy needn't be adults-only, although it can be, and it's possible to watch lots of good harem shows with hardly any self-negating walking doormats, sexual objectification, underage love interests and/or breasts so unnaturally big that their owners look as if they're melting. I like Ai Yori Aoshi, Hand Maid May and of course Tenchi Muyo. Love Hina and El Hazard both have a lot to recommend in them, but get annoying if you make the mistake of watching them through to the end. In addition there are related genres, such as the magical girlfriend, lots of robot girls and so on. You could argue about how to classify the likes of Steel Angel Kurumi or Saber Marionette, but the important point is that if you're a Japanese otaku who wants to hide from reality, you have plenty of options.
You also get reverse-harems written for a female audience, with one girl and lots of hot men. The Fruits Basket manga starts out like that. The important thing though is that anime has a built-in layer of unreality. It can get away with this better. How does it work in live-action?
Crucially, they don't mess up the tone. It's shameless, but in an innocent way. The girls aren't fawning sex objects, but instead in control of the situation. The clueless loser you'll want to slap is the token male, Ichitaro. The set-up is that five unbelievably hot girls live together in a boarding house called Nuutopia and they decide they need a man on the premises, for safety's sake. However they don't want to choose someone who'll drool all over them. They thus advertise for a man and give him an interview in which he "accidentally" sees them in their underwear, in the shower and so on. If they get the wrong reaction, he's out. (Why didn't they just choose someone who was gay? Well, I suppose then you wouldn't have any "comedy".)
That's episode one, anyway. It also has lame plot threads about Ichitaro trying to hide all this from his girlfriend and being accused of being an underwear thief, but what it's really about is hot women. Obviously I don't know how the rest of the series unfolds, but here are ludicrously bad internet translations of all the episode titles:
1. Dance naked with five beautiful dream live sexy harem!
2. Russia was the secret of Miss Milk ... soft fair skin, burnt bread dough.
3. Voluptuous widow vs. red bread drunken frenzy woman! Sexy beauty contest to name Miss Falling Down!
4. New Love Hotel dangerous hugging in the night; make me feel! Wet skin.
5. Harem collapsed? Boy ... Let's bewitching charm milf hunter virgin
6. Warmth of skin in a room with secret milk x x x
7. Mixed Bathing Hot Springs! Festival night crawling naked skin ... sorry disturbed in yukata
8. Premonition of parting a man rob her matted square relationship of Tokyo.
9. The ninth woman appeared! Attack ... Battle of the strongest sex-woman fell into the trap
10. And identification of functional virgin woman and a man held at night! Traitor.
11. Nine men and women naked confession! Love Hotel betrayal ... hugging virgin.
12. Shine tits! Touching your drunk ... legendary New Harem!
Episode 7 sounds good. Anyway, the show's inoffensive if you can get past the fact that it's blatantly about ogling women. The characters are acceptable and occasionally prove their sincerity with heavy-handed but still endearing little speeches, usually with slow piano music playing on the soundtrack. The only thing I didn't like was the plotting, in which our hero is an idiot who keeps getting himself into avoidable stupid situations. Why didn't he just tell his girlfriend about his housemates? She probably won't like it much, but she'll like it a whole lot less if she finds out the hard way after three months of him lying to her.
It's full of cliches. The girls accept Ichitaro as their flatmate despite the fact that he can't pay proper rent. Eh? He's a ronin, taking a year out to studying to get into a famous university. Yeah, like we've never seen that in a harem comedy before. He gets nosebleeds and is prone to daydreams, resulting in fantasy sequences. Uh-huh.
Notice his apron, though. That's a Maison Ikkoku reference.
The cast of course contains hardcore porn stars, most notably Sola Aoi and Yuma Asami. They're also incredibly hot. Seriously. This is one stunning group of women, even overlooking the nudity. Curiously enough, two of them recently played Sada Abe in a movie, Aya Sugimoto in 2008 and Yuma Asami in 2011. As for Ichitaro, he seems nice enough and manages to not to look completely pathetic, which is praiseworthy. His main distinguishing feature is an enormous mouth. When he smiles, he could eat your head.
Did I like this show? Yes, sort of. It survives entirely on amiable cheerfulness and sexy women, but surprisingly that manages to be enough. The women are drop-dead gorgeous, while the show's ogling of them is so shameless that it almost has a kind of charm. I suspect it's also going to try for sincere, heartfelt character material in later episodes, which again might be better than you'd think. However the plotting is without interest and sometimes irritating, in particular when it comes to Ichitaro lying to his girlfriend.
It's based on a manga of the same name, for what it's worth.