Ladies versus Butlers

Camera angles low, skirts short, females buxom and bath scenes aplenty, Ladies versus Butlers never forgets to pepper each episode with some pointless nudity or contrived situation aimed at keeping the chronically distracted engaged. Odd then that it routinely forgets its own premise, most of its own rules and the chest size of many of its cast. Moving away from the cringe inducing antics of Kanokon, the series guides the noseless female protagonists through a variety of light-hearted storylines, culminating in a predictable and tedious love triangle with the vacuous male lead. To its credit though, not once does it stray from the cheerful light humour that it competently achieves.

memorable more for playing fast and loose with human anatomy than ever

Akiharu's first day at Hakureiryou academy is fraught with misunderstandings - chased across campus by one of the schools top students, Selnia Iori Flameheart, he is only saved by his childhood classmate, Tomomi Saikyou. His training to become a butler is subsequently beset with problems as he is dragged from one situation to another by the snooty, devious and arrogant members of the school which run the gamut from a princess with a penchant for magical girl anime to a mute foreigner with an overzealous bodyguard to a confused transvestite. As Akiharu becomes more well known, his admirers begin to increase and it isn't long before he has a bevy of blossoming young ladies inexplicably smitten with him, much to his chagrin.

Please note: the remainder of this post contains images of nudity, if you are offended by these or are otherwise unable to view these images within your municipality due to laws or moral obligations, please do not proceed.

Within three episodes, the format of the series is obvious: Akiharu is tricked, cajoled or forced into a situation which inevitably leaves one or more of the cast unclothed and provides some insight into a single female cast member. This is repeated for each of the cast until the final pair of episodes which aim to wrap up the affections that have flourished in the interim. Were it not entirely expected, the ending would be a monumental disappointment as the relatively careful development of each girl's feelings are rendered moot by the ferocious stupidity of Akiharu. His density exerting its own gravity, drawing the hapless females inexorably to him and though it is in-character, it smacks of sloppy storytelling and a lack of confidence in being able to move past the end-of-episode reset the series commonly exhibits. This may be miles from the calibre of shows such as Shuffle! and Toradora! but an ending that regresses a lot of the effort that has gone before is far from ideal.

When it comes to casual nakedness however, the series holds its own against its contemporaries with at least one, if not several cavalcades of flesh per episode. Most revolve around the humble bath with one episode concerning the breakdown of private showers causing much consternation amongst the female student body; the resistance against public bathing however is swiftly forgotten in subsequent episodes. With the nudity however comes a selection of more questionable perversities, the visually young Mimina and Pina of particular concern, not helped by the skimpy outfits, groping or sausage eating the two gleefully partake of. This is to say nothing of doe-eyed maids, one of whom is a borderline exhibitionist and the other is subject to more semen simulacra than is reasonably healthy. Only the most fringe of deviances are left out, likely due to time constraints or a lack of imagination: weaving vore into a scene is likely quite challenging.

An absence of plot and an abundance of nudity means that the series only has humour to fall back on; thankfully both its tone and delivery hit more often than miss. There is a lean towards obviousness over inference with many devices signposted long before they're revealed - the cross-dressing Daichi a typical example - but the tempo is kept up and even the scheming of Tomomi or the boundless naivete of Mimina isn't enough to bog things down. Paper thin characters such as the gratingly voiced Principal or the narcissistic Toichiro are judiciously utilised, stealing scenes but never outstaying their welcome. This is more than can be said of secondary characters such as the undersexed Shingo or the domineering matriarch Mikan who sour a scene with little to no effort. For the most part however, the characters are likeable and easy going and the lead pair divisive enough to uphold what little storyline there is.

The character designs by Kanokon alumni Akio Takami are instantly familiar and memorable more for playing fast and loose with human anatomy than ever. Every female who doesn't suffer from an abnormally short stature is endowed with a wholly disproportional chest size; Tomomi's of particular note for fluctuating wildly over the course of the season - dependent more on scene requirements than consistency. Regardless, everyone's nipples display a desire to be free from their fabric prisons, or the school clothing is unusually flimsy. Animation is passable throughout with the standard mid-range episodes suffering from obvious corner-cutting but a proliferation of still shots and an instantly forgettable soundtrack pad out an otherwise unremarkable production.

It says volumes about Ladies versus Butlers when full-frontal naked fondling is forgotten about but the innocuousness of a kiss is pored over and rife with emotional trauma. Each episode's aim seems only to increase the number of misguided females infatuated with a lead character whose motivations for joining such a specialised school are only obliquely implied. That the female protagonist's battle against each other is only partially to do with the male is heartening but ultimately a tired concept. The possibilities for the series to take its titular rivalry to more fruitful places are everywhere, however the premise rapidly becomes superfluous to a stagnant story seen innumerable times before. Its fluffy and unassuming delivery paper over some more questionable elements but nothing answers the main query of: why bother? Just as there are better shows available within the burgeoning-brothel genre, there are far worse. Smiles are likely but lamentation is sure to be prevalent.

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