「ガッツくなよ、ヘタクソかよ」 (Gattsuku na yo, Hetakuso ka yo)
“Don’t Get So Grabby, You Clumsy Oaf!”
I was this close to looking the other way and forgetting that Renai Flops was ever something I decided to cover. But while all of the shock factor I’ve seen in the Fall season’s shows were fun, edgy, and redefined what it means to watch anime as a medium, Renai Flops is a miserable tale that aims to go through the motions as a Greatest Flops collection from other harem anime of the past.
RENAI IS IN ITS FLOP ERA
I don’t like to pick on sex comedies. Because of how much of a low-hanging fruit they are and how easy they are to pick apart, it serves nobody but myself to get on my high horse and act as if I never made low-brow sex jokes. I think of The Joker asking near the end of The Killing Joke, “Why don’t you kick the hell out of me and get a standing ovation from the Public Gallery?” It’d make me look like a virtuous person to act like I’m taking a firm stand against ecchi. But that’s far from the case. Renai Flops being an ecchi sex comedy isn’t nearly as damning as Renai Flops being painfully bland at its best and softcore bestiality at its worst.
It’s presented as a journey where Asahi, a boy who puts all of his faith in virtual fortune-tellers, winds up having all of his luck backfire in a number of ecchi-related circumstances. Think of any instance where a boy has been slapped by a girl for accidental perversion in an anime since the 70s, and Asahi manages to pull it off.
The aforementioned “flops” are in how Asahi falls upwards as his ecchi protagonist screw-ups wind up getting him closer to the girls that he accidentally touches or steals underwear from. It’s supposed to be quirky that the boy is accidentally despised for every bit of misfortune he faces, yet also manages to have girls like him because they’re all slip-ups he never meant to do.
It aims to both reward and punish him too quickly, and because of that, it just feels boring. Like it drags so much ass to tell you the same joke with the same punchline. The girls think he’s a creep, but because he’s seen as a creep, he’s also seen as bold and adventurous. The girls take the wrong lesson from accidentally tripping on Asahi or catching him in inopportune moments.
Or rather, they give up their hearts too easily because they never learned to live and let live. Like, instead of just washing their hands of Asahi with a simple apology, their accusations somehow wind up getting them more excited to involve themselves more with Asahi’s bad luck streak knowing that he’ll never be able to get to know them normally without the wind pushing their skirts up or Asahi accidentally slipping on them.
They serve themselves on a silver platter for Asahi because they don’t have the self-respect to not make goo-goo eyes at the first boy they have more than one conversation with. It’s exhausting and shows the lack of respect the show has for any of these girls. I’d go as far as to say that it is a far more sexist message than just having women with big boobs shove their big boobs in the camera for a half hour. At least with that, the women characters have their own personal autonomy to shove said boobs into the camera. Here, you’re just watching girls fall hook, line, and sinker for a boy who has done nothing to win them over aside from being a clumsy fool.
The only tricks that weren’t found in Akamatsu Ken’s storage closet were instead found in Sei Shojo’s wastebasket. There were a record-breaking three instances where our main characters were molested by dogs. That last time didn’t even make sense because he was fully clothed when the dog charged him and he had his pants down after the dog was done. Asahi had to have unbuckled his pants at some point and let the dogs go to town on his unprotected bottom. There’s even a flower dropping to symbolize that this was rape and that his virginity was stolen by a dog. All to make a bestiality joke even grosser.
To add to this, the other character who is routinely molested by dogs happens to be a character with an ambiguous gender, so now we’re just supposed to be cool with them being an acceptable target to be molested by dogs as easily as Asahi is. I suppose they thought it wouldn’t be harmful to society to just watch a boy with a banana protector get his crotch smashed or to watch girls pummel this dude for accidental mistakes, and wanted to make it worse by making its worldview as ugly as possible within the shortest span of time with .
If the main goal of Renai Flops was to make a harem throwback anime, it failed because it lacks the cheeky fun of any of its predecessors and channels its imagination towards very disturbing territory. It’s the cynical, mechanically-constructed ecchi equivalent of an expired Slim Jim that’s been kicked around an ant pile and served on a fancy plate. With a fall season this packed, you don’t need to pick stale dog feces through your teeth with this show.