「天を契んだ日」 (Ten wo Kizanda Hi)
“The Day I Made My Mark in the Sky”
As per the promo video, Maken-Ki kicks the fan-service into high gear with its busty female cast and frivolous use of panty shots. While that was pretty much expected, it looks like I’ll have to retract my statement about the “goofy” character designs as they’re a lot better than I thought. I probably should’ve known better than to doubt AIC’s ability to produce good-looking productions, even though their past works are littered with harem-esque romantic comedies further than the eye can see. Interestingly enough, Nobuteru Yuuki is responsible for this adaptation’s designs, whose previous works include a very old but very good anime from my childhood, Record of Lodoss War (OVA version). The other surprise among the staff is screenwriter Kuroda Yousuke, whose notable works include Gundam 00, Phantom, Honey & Clover, and Onegai Sensei/Twins. This leaves director Oohata Kouichi as the not-so-unusual key staff member, given that he’s worked on Ikki Tousen — another series that features big-busted high school fighters.
The end result is a production that looks pretty good, which may spark some interest outside the series’ intended audience. In my case, it re-sparked interest in a title that I’d normally watch but was going to pass on this season to cut back on shows. As I mentioned in the Fall 2011 Preview, the early parts of the manga reminded me of FREEZING and provided a similar type of entertainment. This premiere made that even more evident when the fighting kicked in and looked as good as it did. Yes, all the “clever” camera angels were kind of distracting, but they aren’t nearly as bad as the girls getting their clothes torn off. If anything, the biggest distraction was our male lead, Ooyama Takeru (Maeno Tomoaki), who shares a similar level of perversion as Amagami SS’ Junichi, except without the image that warrants Tomoaki’s deep voice. I dare say I would’ve preferred a wimpier male voice that’s more befitting of Takeru’s image.
As for the quick rundown, Takeru is reunited with his childhood friend Amaya Haruko (Shitaya Noriko) after enrolling at the recently turned co-ed Tenpi High, but is unaware that the students there learn to control magical powers called “Elements” using replicas of magical weapons known as “Maken”. On the first day, he witnesses two girls — Shinatsu Azuki (Togashi Misuzu, sings the not-yet-shown opening theme “Fly Away”) and Kinua Garret (Shimamura Yuu) — fighting to settle a score and later finds himself taking part in the opening ceremony demonstration thanks to Himegawa Kodama (Yahagi Sayuri), who perceives Takeru as her sworn enemy because of a mark on his chest. He’s saved by a girl wielding an authentic Maken and claiming to be his fiancee, Kushiya Inaho (Nomizu Iori), and soon finds himself living in a dorm with Inaho and Kodama thanks to their easygoing principal, Rokujou Minori (Mina). Haruko takes exception because she likes Takeru, and uses her authority as student council president and dorm leader to move in as well.
In effect, we have a harem setup to its fullest that isn’t anything to write home about. However, what I did really enjoy was hearing Iori in a clingy role, very unlike the ones I know her for in Sora no Otoshimono and Kore wa Zombie Desu ka. Sayuri in a tsundere role is always fun to watch too. They’re actually the two main reasons why I want to check out a few more episodes, even though I fully expect this to degrade into a slapstick fan-service-filled affair before long (if it hasn’t already). In addition to the characters, the better than expected visuals and timely comedic moments are the best things Maken-Ki has going for it at the moment, so if the premise sounds somewhat appealing to you, I’d recommend checking out this first episode just to get an idea of what they’re like. It looks like it might be fun to watch for kicks (like with most harems), but I wouldn’t expect too much.
ED: 「Baby! Baby!」 by 天谷春恋 と 櫛八イナホ （下屋則子・野水伊織） (Amaya Haruka & Kushiya Inaho (Shitaya Noriko / Nomizu Iori))
Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼