It's a lot of fun. It's also fairly lightweight, but a show's got to be doing something right when my main complaint is that I want more episodes.
Kotaro Satomi is a normal-ish boy who's renting a room from one of his classmates, Shizuka Kasagi. (His mother's died and his father's struggling, so Kotaro's fending for himself.) He's just joined his school's knitting club. His main characteristic, I think, might be that he'll tend to respond in kind. He's thus a perfect gentleman at the knitting club, but he can degenerate into a childish cheating lowlife when provoked by his unwanted roommates. This takes an unusual turn when supervillains show up and Kotaro will often, bizarrely, prove to be up to the job of taking them on too.
We meet his roommates in ep.1. He didn't choose them. On the contrary, he tries to kick them out. These loonies are:
1. Sanae, a ghost who's haunting his room.
2. Magical Girl Rainbow Yurika, a superhero who's also whiny, pathetic and a crybaby. No one ever believes that she has magical powers, instead just assuming she's a cosplayer.
3. Theia, aka. Theiamillis Gre Fortorthe, an alien princess with enough firepower to destroy the planet and enough attitude to have to be talked out of doing that. She addresses others as "primitive".
4. Ruth, aka. Ruthkhania Nye Pardomshiha, who's Theia's more level-headed servant.
5. Kiriha, one of the subterranean Earth People who are planning an invasion of the surface world. Her people's technology is based on ancient Japanese relics, e.g. haniwa and doguu, and is powerful enough that in a fair fight she might be able to take down Theia and Ruth.
There are also two human girls, although they don't live in Kotaro's room. Shizuka is Kotaro's landlady and is capable of beating up all of the above, at once. Don't ask. Then there's the knitting club president, Harumi Sakuraba, who's unique in this show in being a nice, gentle girl who couldn't punch out Cthulhu.
I know what you're thinking. Harem anime! Well, it's not, unless your definition includes any show with only one male in the regular cast. The girls aren't in love with Kotaro. They all gradually become good friends, but the usual reaction to what looks like date-like behaviour from Kotaro is to complain that he's not being fair to Harumi. (There's some romance between Kotaro and Harumi, although we'd need far more episodes for it to progress far enough for anything to happen. I hope it does, though. They're a good couple.)
The first few episodes are about everyone's battles to gain territory. It's agreed that they'll fight each other for it, usually with card games but pretty much any contest can be deemed eligible if everyone agrees. Winners increase their floor space. Losers end up sleeping in the cupboard. (Yurika is a big loser.) This is childish, silly and funny.
After a while, though, the show changes gear into two-part stories, each focusing on a particular character and digging a bit deeper into them. There's a two-parter each for Sanae, Yurika, Theia and Kiriha. Sanae makes an alliance with Kotaro and turns out to have issues about being dead. My heart went out to Yurika, who doesn't even enjoy being a magical girl and is only doing it to repay a debt of gratitude. Unlike her roommates, there's nothing sneaky or underhand about her. She's a good person. She's still pathetic, but that just makes you love her all the more when she's struggling to keep going. She also has the most civilised relationship with her enemy, even though that's a Dark Magical Girl who's trying to kill her. They're polite and considerate. I also laughed and laughed at Yurika's reaction to her mortal enemy showing up in her classroom in ep.8.
I like all this a lot. I just wanted more of it. They needed more to do. This cast could carry a much longer show. (It's based on a light novel series that's currently on 17 volumes plus two side-stories, for what it's worth.) In contrast twelve episodes isn't much, especially when eight of those are two-parters that concentrate on one character and hence by extension don't give as much focus to the others. The pacing of this series would be more satisfying if we could continue immediately with season two. It feels as if we've only just finished being introduced to everyone properly when, whoops, it's time to end! Christmas episode! That's fluff, albeit rather nice in the way it reflects on how everyone's grown and changed during the nine months they've been invading.
Mind you, the show's producers appear to agree with me about a second season. The anime ends with heavy hints about possible continuations, while the season has clearly been setting up a time-travel story in the future that we haven't seen yet.
There's some mild fanservice. Kiriha is buxom and ep.4 has swimsuits.
Is this show perfect? No. I occasionally wanted to see a little less of Kotaro, who's not the natural choice to save the day when he's so ridiculously outclassed by the girls. I also wish they'd made Sanae slightly transparent. When you've got lots of anime girls on screen, one can be thankful for any visual cue to help tell them apart. Plus, of course, the show feels as if it's just starting to go somewhere when it ends. It doesn't have a story arc. It only has one-off villains. Fundamentally, it's a bunch of charming bits and pieces.
I'd still recommend it, though, with the proviso that it'll feel more satisfying when/if we get a season two. It's funny, badass and not wasting our time with romantic harem nonsense. The girls are cool. Some of their enemies are world-threatening. (Hell, some of the girls themselves are technically world-threatening.) Maybe I should hunt down the novels, or perhaps the manga adaptation? I'd like to spend more time with these characters.
"I've been reading shoujo manga for ten years! I'm basically a love guru."