Fifty seconds in: underwear close-up. Sixty seconds in: abuse by an overly arrogant female. Four and a half minutes in: breast jiggle. Mayoi Neko Overrun! is in a hurry to cram in as many clichés as possible into the first three episodes. There isn't much breathing room in the high-school romance genre without either sharp writing or a game changing hook, this has neither of those and instead runs down a checklist of tropes necessary to be inducted into the pantheon of mediocrity. The humour shows some brief flashes of craftsmanship but is otherwise a standard, lacklustre frolic through tired character archetypes, a bizarrely messy story and scattered, gelatinous animation. This is to say nothing of the titular cats, supposedly the bait to differentiate the series, which are relegated to poorly illustrated background caricatures and the demure purple haired savant.
Living in a bakery with your adoptive sister does have its perks, however for Takumi, his abusive childhood friend and fellow orphan Fumino is not one of them. While his sister, Otome, is away on some whimsical mission to help the needy, Takumi and Fumino try to help a young boy find a human-sized cat who supposedly ate one of the bakery's cakes. After a night of fruitless searching, the culprit is found by Otome who recently returned from her sojourn in Europe. The young amnesiac Nozomi, with hair resembling cat ears and a strongly introverted personality, is adopted by Otome much like she did Takumi. Enrolling her in the local school with the help of the diminutive Chise, what follows is her adventures with other schoolmates including Takumi and his friends Ieyasu, Daigoro as well as Fumino and her closest friend, Kanae.
Narratively, the first three episodes of the series are an odd mix. The first episode is typically loud and chaotic - all shouting and running with little care for coherency - whereas the second and third episodes work overall but are peculiarly structured. Characters show up at the bakery with no explanation and leave just as mysteriously, Chise's stalking culminates in the creation of a generic, purposeless club and Nozomi's disappearing act and Fumino's tearful confession only underscores the disjoint between effect and reason. Worse still is Nozomi's portrayal as a cipher until the end of the third episode - her sudden arrival and complete memory loss only of temporary concern for those around her, just as her initiation into the school is met with equal indifference; a pleasant change from the enigmatic transfer student trope but raises the question of where the series is heading.
Back story meanwhile is doled out in lengthy monologues completely devoid of any pathos, not helped by the emotionless Nozomi or the personality deprived Takumi who doesn't even have the decency to sport an absurd talent or an out-of-the-ordinary hobby. The supporting cast is equally uninspiring with only the self-referential anime fan worthy of any note, and only then for the spectacularly trite nonsense he spouts which only undermines the series rather than lend it any kind of fourth-wall breaking credit. Chise's two maids show the most promise, their deadpan sarcasm a welcome respite from the screeching vocal assault of other characters, excluding Takumi who favours a despairing tone that was perfected by Kyon in Haruhi but here just feels obnoxious.
It's quite startling how run-of-the-mill Mayoi Neko Overrun! is; the first three episodes don't overtly pinch from any particular show but undertake a broader cherry picking exercise, plucking some of the most tiresome, overused parts from their contemporaries. That the cat theme hinted at in the title isn't used more thoroughly is baffling, and beyond a few sight gags in the vein of cats are also pussies, the focus is entirely on the childish antics and emotional wasteland that is the cast. The comedy is weak, the romance tired and the premise flimsy, the first three episodes demonstrate a show struggling to find its place in an arena so oversaturated that it demands brilliance or uniqueness to overcome stagnation; unless there is an immense twist upcoming, the remainder of the series will likely wallow in the blandness of its opening play.