Friday, February 29, 2008

Shuffle vol. 1 Impression

A new twist on a classic anime formula. Shuffle volume 1 from FUNimation takes the harem formula seen in classics like Tenchi Muyo! and Ranma ½, throws in some demons and lets the fun begin. Meet Rin, just your average high school boy looking for an ordinary life. He lives with his childhood friend Kaede, who also happens to be the best looking girl in school and is the envy of all his peers. One day two new students arrive, both attractive young ladies, and both have their sights set on Rin. Sounds pretty normal for an anime, but here’s the twist. Sia and Nerine, the new girls, is the princess’ of the Gods and the Demons respectively. See in the world of Shuffle the human, demon and god worlds are all connected and with special permission said races can travel between each. The reasons for the girls interest in Rin is revealed as he’s had interaction with each and it’s these deep ties that have the girl’s fathers forcing him to choose one as his future bride. Throw in the pushy fathers, now neighbors, a little demon girl, green haired school mate, angry, jealous boys at school and the stage is set for zaniness and romance all mixed in one.

While I mention Rin first, he is by far not the most important part of this series. It’s all about the ladies, perfect for pin-ups, each with their own unique personalities. Sia acts more like a demon, bad in school and loud while Nerine is quiet and shy. The box art for volume 1 shows nothing but the ladies. The animation is good, nothing groundbreaking, but pleasing to the eyes with excellent voice work, especially when situations get extreme. Character design is spot on. Each design feels so familiar with enough personality to relay a newness this genre has needed. This is a romantic series any guy can get into and that I’m sure the ladies will also enjoy as it never goes over the top with hentai-ish actions. We get stories of learning to cook, studying for better grades and first encounters all of which leave the viewer feeling happy. For a genre that’s been done many, many times Shuffle offers up enough unique characters that the familiar situations will feel fresh again. Not too much more to talk about here. Shuffle is work the gamble so if you’ve enjoyed Ranma, Tenchi, Dual or the like you will dig Shuffle.

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