A review of the Rokujouma no Shinryakusha?! anime series
Wark, wark! That’s the harem alarm, clear and true. If there was ever a set up in anime so overused as the harem, I haven’t seen it yet. That doesn’t stop Rokujouma no Shinryakusha?! (Invaders of the Six Tatami Mat Room?!) though which, after a deceptively promising first episode, pulls out all the tropes you’ve come to expect from packing that much oestrogen into a single location.
they don’t spend the entirety of their waking life fawning over the central male
It’s the first episode that convinced me to continue with the series though. Highschool boy moves into a cheap dorm room, finds out it’s haunted. Haven’t heard this one before… But then a princess from outer space claims the room for herself, followed by a magical girl claiming it’s a mystical convergence, followed by an “Earth person” from underground who wants to use it as a bulwark for an invasion. It certainly goes for the “throw everything and see what sticks” premise, but the potential for a series that sees the different invaders squaring off against one another in order to occupy the apartment (spiritual convergence, magical nexus etc.) seemed like a pleasant twist on what usually passes for a story hook.
Intrinsically I understand that anime has to make money, and that collaborations and product placement are just one way of doing that. Even in its native Japan anime home video sales vary wildly between franchises and advertisements and sponsorships only go so far. One Off feels a little different though with its very prominent Honda partnership.
the familiar sense of personal discovery and heart swelling Sunday matinee ethos
Of course there is the classic story of the original Gundam being produced solely to sell toys, while Pizza Hut has been in everything from Code Geass to Nanoha to Darker than Black; even critically loved shows like Kara no Kyoukai or Steins;Gate have Häagen-Dazs and Dr Pepper respectively. There’s something different about Honda being at the heart of One Off though that isn’t so much product placement as core marketing message.
I have this silly rule that when I create a folder for an anime (in an imaginatively titled “Watching” parent folder) I have to watch it to completion. This is why, eventually, I’ll have to finish Samurai Flamenco but is also why I recently powered through Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride, the sequel to Samurai Girls. The folder itself was created when the series was first airing in April 2013, and even now I have no idea why given that I’d abandoned that first series when it became readily apparent that it was by some margin, an objectively worse series than Queen’s Blade. And that’s saying quite a bit.
We’ve run out of samurai outfits, why not just put a pirate in there? Why the hell not.
The comparison is expected because both series opt for the “we don’t have much story, let’s throw a whole load of nudity on screen instead” school of thought. Unlike Queen’s Blade though which tempered it’s theatre of flesh with some half-way decent characters, Hyakka is populated unlikable twits. Sure for the former you got utter cretins like Nanael (voiced by Aya Hirano, no comment on the connection) but others like Tomoe and Leina almost made you forget you were watching a series that was spawned from lascivious gamebooks. Hyakka has none of these illusions and presents you with a cast of characters that have all of the charm, wit and pathos of a group of over-sugared four year olds.
How many other males does the protagonist of Strike the Blood know? Two. And females? More or less all of them. This is about as nuts-and-bolts basic as you can get for a premise: bland teenager is gifted extreme supernatural powers and proceeds to play “Gotta catch ‘em all” with the young ladies in his life. Spear wielding overseer? Check, comes free with sword wielding friend. Goth loli teacher? Check. Childhood friend and uber hacker? Check. Superpowered little sister? Check; and the list goes on. And of course the context for all of these females orbiting him? He must feed on them - oh right he’s a vampire - to unlock his magical familiars.
oh you walked in on her undressing again? you scamp!
Feel free to play “spot the jugular vein” during the opening few episodes because with almost every new female introduced, a key to unlock a new glowing critter for perpetual hoodie wearer Kojou is revealed. And of course given the setup, all of the ladies emit supremely suggestive noises and flush the brightest of reds when he begins to chow down on their necks. Yes it’s primitive but, apart from a few absurdlyquestionablescenes, it works thanks primarily to a refreshing lack of pretension and a handful of good natured character relationships.
The very last scene of Galilei Donna’s eleventh episode is the Earth with the word “Fine” hovering in view. Sure it’s Italian for “end”, but I can’t help feel like it was an exclamation from the production team along the lines of “Fine! Whatever! See if we care!” That’s certainly how the series comes across after such an unsatisfying ending and what feels like ten episodes of build-up - about the same sort of rate that a full twenty-four episode series would take - and a single episode of utter ridiculousness.
a pants-on-head stupid conclusion that ties off none of the ongoing storylines
The setup is nuts and bolts basic: little genius girl builds a futuristic aircraft and goes off on adventures with her sisters while being chased by a sinister energy conglomerate and sky pirates. Oh and they’re all descendants of Galileo Galilei which is only important because they’re hunting for MacGuffins that used to belong to him. Ostensibly because he created an energy source and that’s the thing that can break the evil energy corporations grip on the world except this is more or less forgotten about as soon as it’s introduced.