And so OtoBoku ended without much fanfare – nothing really happened besides a dance and some more blushed sighs of ecstasy – but it was consistently entertaining to the point that it left me satisfied, ending up in my “burn” pile rather than a reluctant trip to the recycle bin. As one that’s seen his fair share of hgame based animes, I knew I wasn’t in for much, but c’mon! It was the dazzling debut of the ultimate trap character! Couldn’t there have been some spectacular wardrobe malfunction in front of the whole school? Couldn’t Takako have abused her position of power to get…something more? Since they’ve already contrived this crazy scenario with some estrogen-enhanced athletically-gifted academically-superior Pantene commercial-worthy guy (whew) reaching the upper echelon of an elite girl’s school worthy of Lobelia’s ranks, why not take it all the way instead of just settling back into another typical sappy romance blushfest? Well, it didn’t turn out all that bad so I won’t complain – luckily we have another show to shift our focus to, one with no qualms about finishing what they started.
As one of the seasonal hgame shows of lesser morality, Happiness! isn’t bound by any delusions of dignity or integrity, and can therefore do whatever they want with no repercussion of their credibility. It doesn’t try to do too much, however, remaining quite focused on its sole purpose – the unadulterated flaunting of girls with big rods.
Understandably, magic staffs aren’t the only rods some of these girls have. When one adds our favorite rod-endowed trap character Jun to the mix, things get a bit more interesting. Toss in a little stray magic to that, and we’ve got the greatest accidental instant-girl recipe since Professor Utonium bobbled that slew of Chemical X into his concoction of sugar, spice, and everything nice.
See, the great thing about these mahou shoujo animes is that besides the big rods and pantsu flashing when riding on one, it provides a freedom in imagination that just isn’t allowed with other mediums. Like add 3 cup sizes and instantly change the vas deferens into a fallopian tube. And make some other things go poof.
I’m talking, of course, about the Happiness! OVA “Watarase Jun no Kareinaru Ichinichi” (Watarase Jun’s Day of Magnificence), where by some divine luck Jun is actually transformed into a full-blown girl. Without getting too much into the details, one of the other effects of the sex-change magication is an overabundance of pheromones, resulting in a Tokimeki/SHUFFLE!/Kujibiki/etc-esque chase through the school grounds. Jun finally got his/her well-deserved screen time, and it’s…well, exactly what I wanted to see.
Which brings up an interesting question – which is more memorable? In OtoBoku we had an honest-to-goodness, down-to-earth school comedy drama, which otherwise would have just been seen as an above-average hgame anime adaptation had it not been for that one slight inconsistency in the main character’s gender. In Happiness! we have an incredibly generic setup resulting in an entirely forgettable series, with the addition of one not-so-forgettable side character, popular enough to garner his/her own special episode.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen these offshoots – Genshiken has spawned Kujibiki Unbalance, Densha Otoko resulted in carrot-blasting Mina, OSX redone as Vista…and almost every time, the progeny has failed to achieve the same level of legitimacy and success of the original. It’s nothing more than a fad, a trend, something that sounded like a good idea, but by the time it’s actually realized, the people have moved on to other things. The freshness factor is completely gone, leaving only the unflattering comparisons with the original as its reference point. Jun’s foray into womanhood, however, came out shortly after the actual show ended, while the whole fascination and shock value of the trap character was still very much alive. And it doesn’t try to bite off more than it can chew – it’s just a one episode OVA. It’s really quite brilliant.
It’s two different ways of wielding the same
weapon trap – one show put him front and center in a show that really wouldn’t have been that much different with an actual girl, and the other made him a side character with her own special episode. Both are quite successful at what they set out to do by remaining focused on their purpose – but years down the line, when the trap has become a staple in every harem series, who will we remember as the Adam Eve Adam & Eve of trap characters?
My vote is for Jun.