Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $69.98 US
Running Time: 575 minutes
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now
Is there an option to pick none of these girls?
You can’t blame a girl for doing everything she can to win the heart of a kindhearted, handsome and fiercely loyal young boy who sees the best in everyone and will even go to Hell to help a friend in need. Rin is that kind of guy and I actually like him despite the fact that he totally doesn’t get girls and overlooks the sacrifice another makes for him on a daily basis. By the end, we’re glad he’s happy but his choice of girlfriends just doesn’t suit a guy like him.
Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself here but Shuffle!, The Complete Series isn’t your typical fun-filled harem-styled romance. Well, it starts as one but ends up being something completely different near the end of the series. You see, Shuffle! Introduces us to a High school student named Rin who, for the past eight years, has been living with a gorgeous girl named Kaede who basically takes care of him as if they were a married couple. He’s even hated by students from his High school that are in love with the lovely domestic goddess.
It isn’t until one fateful morning in class that their voluptuous and lovely teacher announces that they will be welcoming two new students in Rin’s classroom. One girl turns out to be a lovely girl with blue hair named Nerine and the other a perky redhead named Lisianthus (but wants everyone to call her Sia for short). The catch here is that Nerine comes from the realm of the Demons and Sia comes from the realm of the Gods. You see, several years back, a portal to both realms opened in the realm of the humans and now the human world has both Demons and Gods living among them.
Oh yeah, both the girls’ charming fathers make it clear that they want Rin to be a potential husband to either Nerine and Sia who seem to be crazy about the young boy. You see, at some point, both girls ran into Rin when they were children and found comfort in meeting him. So if you thought every guy who hated Rin before all despise him now that he has two very attractive young girls willing to do anything to win his heart. The running gag in the series is Rin being attacked by boys that form funny fan clubs for each girl.
For the next few 12 episodes of this 24 episode series, Shuffle! follows a lighthearted romantic-comedy routine filled with more than enough fan service to please the male audience. In fact, the series goes overboard with the fan service that ranges from excessive panty flashes (there’s even an entire episode dedicated to panties) to a number of nude scenes. If that’s your thing then Shuffle! is the series for you.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for quality storytelling, you won’t find it in this series … although there are episodes that show how addictively watch-worthy this series could have been if the story didn’t fall apart midway. I do enjoy how each girl goes out of their way try to please Rin and it’s even more entertaining when his friend, Itsuki, paints an unsavory picture of his relationship with the girls. Then there’s the other girls in his life that add more trouble. Rin and Kaede’s friend, Asa, joins the group of Rin’s admirers and then there’s a little girl named Primula who shows up (although, Primula becomes more like a kid sister than a romantic interest).
As the series progresses, Rin comes to realize a number of things about his feeling for the girls as well as discovers a few interesting things about Nerine and Sia. Dating Nerine, he comes to learn that the little girl he hung out with one day might not have been Nerine herself. Then he comes to realize that Sia has another side to her that makes her come off as a multiple personality mental patient. Oh, and then there’s the troubled history between him and Kaede. While most of the series begins with Kaede being the cute and understanding girl that is pushed aside, she turns into something else later in the series. If anything, these girls start becoming less and less appealing with each time gets to know them even more.
After the thirteenth episode, however, Shuffle! takes on a more dramatic turn that – sadly – takes out most of the comedic moments from the earlier episodes. Starting with Primula becoming too ill to the point that she is taken back to the realm of the Demon, the series becomes a little too dour. It even becomes a tad uneasy to see somebody as sweet as Kaede show a side of her that is a bit startling when Rin finally does decide who he really loves. At least there’s a happy ending in all of this drama, though, even though the road to that happy ending is filled with some dark moments.
Either way you look at it, though, Shuffle! fails to maintain a solid story with its own personality. Instead, it feels like it tries to be a lot of things and ends up losing its focus. Is this anime a romantic-comedy or is this a complex drama filled with tragic moments? Why are the girls super cute one moment and then totally bonkers later? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the series. In fact, there are a lot of really redeemable qualities and fun episodes. It just doesn’t consistently keep it that way thanks to its story. This series, like most of the girls in the story, looks like our type but – getting to know her better – just turns out to be something of a disappointment.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Rin, the luckiest boy in a world where Demons and Gods now call home, has two new gorgeous girls from the other side looking to become his wife. With his life filled with women wanting to be with him, Rin must put up with jealous students, the decision of picking from regular humans, a Demon or a God as well as saving the life a friend. He does find love but at a price.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The early episodes aren’t as lovely as the animation in the middle and ending of the series since the episodes start out looking a bit hazy as if we’re looking through a soft filter. The girls all seem to look alike, with the exception of their hair.
AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The voice acting works beautifully whether you prefer the original Japanese voices over the English dub that includes an impressive cast of veterans. The score is good but not great, I’m afraid, but at least the opening and closing song (like opening song “You” performed by YURIA) are sweet.
There are no featurettes to look forward to only a scatter of trailers and the clean opening and closing songs from the series.
Shuffle! The Complete Series starts promising enough but it quickly changes its pace to become an exceedingly drawn-out drama that takes the fun right out of this harem-styled romance. What fun moments there are in this series are fleeting but it’s these moments that make Shuffle! a worthwhile series to check out.