Normally I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother with harem animes since I pretty much know theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not my thing. However, working at the Anime USA convention as a video ops staff member this year, one of my assignments was to sit in the video rooms and make sure nobody stole the equipment. That also meant I had to watch whatever was playing, and it just so happens one of those titles was Maburaho.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll just get it off my chest right now, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like the show. Mostly because harem animes arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t my thing and also because the gags were just plain stupid. Never-the-less, looking at the show objectively (or as objectively as possible), there were a few things about it I found rather inspired.
Firstly, hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the plot: Maburaho takes place in a world just likes ours, save for the fact that everyone is born with the ability to use magic. A personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s magic is limited, however, and physical examinations can determine exactly how many times in your life you will be able to use your magic abilities. Most people have the numbers somewhere in the thousands, and your social status is based on how high your magic-count is. If you use your magic more than your allotted count, you turn to ash and disappear. Kazuki Shikimori, sadly, has a magic count of eight. He is the laughing stock of his high school, with no real friends to speak of, routinely skips class and is deeply depressed about how much he sucks. But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all about to change.
Kazuki is soon besieged by a horde of women, including the friendly and subservient Yuna, the demanding and bitchy Kuriko and the stoic, psychotic Rin. It would seem that Kazuki has an interesting family tree, which contains blood from dozens of historyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most powerful sorcerers. Kazuki may be a weakling, but his sperm is solid gold. Word soon breaks out about KazukiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s potent penal paste and now, in addition to the trio of whores that want to rape him, every girl in his school is trying to get a vag-ful of his Miracle Whip. At the same time, every guy in his school is now murderously jealous of his newfound popularity and wants him beaten into the ground.
Yuna is sweet and gentle and considers herself KazukiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“wifeÃ¢â‚¬Â (even going so far as to move in with him at his dorm). Apparently, she and Kazuki share a history and, though Kazuki had forgotten it, he had promised to marry her one day. Kuriko is a royal slut with a monstrously high magic-count. She is employed in one of this most powerful corporate conglomerates in the free world and wants KazukiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tiny tadpoles to increase her power. Then thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Rin, a quiet Goemon-like samurai girl who completely despises everything about Kazuki. However, her once powerful family is losing ground in the business world due to thinning bloodlines and, in order to save her familyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face, she has to get knocked up by Kazuki.
Kazuki, like every other male in the harem anime genre, is pathologically terrified of women. Why? I dunno. But to make a long story short, he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to give up his royal jelly. This reluctance leads to him getting molested. A lot.
So yeah, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the extent of the plot for you. Like all harem animes, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basically there for undersexed otaku shut-ins to masturbate to. The writers find new and clever ways to have the girls take off their clothes (or have them torn off) in every episode and virtually all the humor is sexual in nature. The jokes arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t particularly funny, as they basically revolve around girls getting their boobs grabbed or Kazuki freaking out every time Kuriko tries to unzip his pants with her teeth.
However, there is something going on underneath all the gratuitous boob-shots and anime clichÃƒÂ©s. The entire setting, and by that I mean the world they live in, is very well thought-out and rather intriguing. The magic-count device, schools for teaching kids how to deal with their biological super powers and the concept that oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s social stature is solely based on their magic-count is very intriguing. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a real shame that such an interesting concept was completely wasted on just another dirty harem anime. Had they actually tried a bit harder those ideas could have been used toward a very entertaining action-fantasy series.
In regards to the harem-angle, there were a few interesting moments. KazukiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sudden rise in popularity actually increases his depression and they make a good case for it. All the girls still think heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a total loser and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like him for his personality or his looks; they just want his penis puss so they can be rich and famous. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a legitimate complaint and one can see why heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so down in the dumps even after legions of gorgeous chicks are hanging all over him. Unfortunately, that emo-angle is dropped rather quickly once his past with Yuna is established and you learn that she loves him for who he is (awwwwww), while he uses his limited amount of magic to save lives, which impresses his other suitors and makes them long for more than his sperm.
Maburaho feels like it had a lot of potential to being something else. Something better. But instead, it went the quick and easy route, hurling sex appeal in everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face. I suppose if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a fan of harem animes you might dig this one, as it has a bit more substance to it. However, if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re like me, just ignore that freakinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ thing.