Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Shuffle (review)

Shuffle is a series that I really should have loved--it has good character designs, some dramatic story arcs, and a real ending where the main character actually chooses one of the girls. But a first half that was almost unwatchable and a cast with girls that seemed to be competing to see who could be the biggest doormat just ruined it for me overall.

On the good side, Shuffle had decent animation, good character designs, and a few good characters. Asa was definitely my favorite, she's good at teasing Rin and doesn't just fall all over him like the other girls. If Rin asked what kind of place she wanted to go to for dinner, Asa would actually give him an opinion like a normal human being, while Kaede and the others would simper something like "whatever makes Rin happy makes me happy too." Asa just seems to have the most character, period, out of the cast, not that this is a difficult bar to clear. Primula's character, although she doesn't say much at first, shows some real development and growth as she learns to open up over the course of the series. And Mayumi and Kareha are decent comic relief. Rin's character isn't all bad either, showing he can take action when he really has to, although the first half of the series he's kind of a man-whore, blushing every time he comes into contact with any of the cast.

On the bad side, Shuffle had some of the most annoying characters I've ever seen. They have almost rabid followings, but I *hate* Kaede, Nerine, and Sia's characters. Their entire lives revolve around Rin-kun, how they're going to do their best to cook for Rin / make tea for Rin / make Rin happy / wipe Rin's ass / and so on. That's not a girlfriend, that's a robot. I just can not understand why anyone would want to spend their lives with someone who acts like a maid, who has no dreams of their own (other than being your wife), and you can never have a real conversation with. Maybe it's just a difference of taste, and for some guys having someone who cooks, cleans, does laundry, and agrees with everything you say would be nirvana, but I think I'd go crazy from boredom. And yes, I'm married, so I have some experience with girls of the non-anime variety.

The last couple episodes, the Asa arc, were good but had some logic holes I don't get. Just let me get this straight--Asa won't use magic because it would make her mother sad. So she's going to die instead, like THAT won't make her mother unhappy. If the Asa arc had made more sense, this would have been a better ending.

In the end, I can't imagine this series having any rewatch value for me, so it gets the "burn to DVD just in case and then delete to free up hard drive space" treatment. It's too bad, because the Primula/Licorice arc was well-done and I liked some of the characters, but in the end I think Shuffle didn't quite live up to its potential.

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