Saturday 6 October 2012

Anime REVIEW: Maken-Ki!

Love it or hate it, fanservice is a big part of most anime. For every original, clever and/or thought-provoking film or series there's a slew of ones that have little focus other than anime girls' chests or what's under their skirts. However among the overflowing pool of ecchi, there are some gems that prove that not all good series require a high IQ. Maken-Ki! is a 12 episode series based on the manga of the same name by Hiromitsu Takeda. It originally aired between October and December 2011. Is it one that should be raised above the norm, or one to be thrown back into the depths of obscurity?


Takeru Ohyama, your stereotypical good hearted but perverted anime protagonist, is about to start at a new school which he recently went from being girls-only to co-ed. Unbeknownst to him, this school is one where students are taught combat and magic, wielding special abilities or items known as Maken. Meeting up with his childhood friend Haruko, a mysterious girl named Inaho who claims to be his fiance and a short tempered lolita named Kodama, Takeru desperately searches for a Maken of his own as none seem to be acceptable for him. In the meantime, he joins a special school club which aims to break out fights between students known as the Maken-Ki. But there seems to be much interest in Takeru, not only from his female schoolmates but also from others who seek to harness his mysterious inner powers.


Right so now that the plot has been covered, let's talk about what's good about Maken-Ki! Well, the OP is pretty good and the ED theme is extremely catchy. I suppose the art is pretty good and very vibrant too. That's about it really.

So what's bad about Maken-Ki? Unfortunately its pretty much everything else.


I'm not against the (over)use of fanservice in anime, after all I enjoyed Strike Witches and tolerated Samurai Girls. But Maken-Ki really takes it a step too far. The main plot is barely non-existent (save for the last episode which crams as much of it into 20 minutes as it can) and episode plots simply revolve around whatever they can throw as many panty shots and changing/shower sequences into. There's an underwear shopping episode, there's a volleyball episode, there's a swimsuit episode and there's even a maid cafe episode. References to the actual fighting and Maken weapons usually happen during the first or last five minutes of the episode, and are sometimes so fleeting that it's easy to forget what relevance they even have. I'd say Maken-Ki! tries to pretend it has an actual plot, but when the second episode preview focuses mainly on next week's panty shots, it shows that they're pretty honest about how low-brow the show is.

The characters aren't particularly memorable either, and fall squarely into the category of "stereotypical, underdeveloped harem cast". They are introduced into the show exactly the same way they leave, despite plenty of hinting that there might be more to some of them than it seems.

And more pants. Have I convinced you this anime has a magic/fighting theme?

Maken-Ki! really is a show that's just for those looking for the ecchi factor, because that's all it has to offer. Anyone who wants half-decent characters and an actual story should steer clear of this poor excuse for a show, and ecchi fans should weigh up their options before watching because there's plenty of better alternatives to this.

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