Akane-Iro ni Somaru Saka is 12 episodes of a typical ecchi-harem anime. Once again, I'll state I hate those genres/combination of genres and that will affect this review. So, you'd expect me to now tell you that this is a typical ecchi harem anime. It is. HOWEVER, towards the end things get a little interesting, if only for the one fact that it literally confronts the harem genre for what is possibly its biggest problem. And it makes you think, or gives you hope. that this might be a bit different. Feel free to watch the first few episode and then skip to the last three, since the others are typical filler/ episodes of the genre where little occurs. I actually got bored and barely paid attention to the middle episodes.
The animation quality is great, the style is typical for the most part though. However, they do often use funny cartoony facial expressions, so that's a good thing. This is an ecchi anime, though only a couple of characters have obviously large boobs. There are a lot of unnecessary panty shots/fan-service shots, though the most offensive remain in context for the most part. I think I'm being desensitised to the ecchi bullshit, since I didn't notice it that much. I guess that is the result, when I'm trying to bulldoze through the remaining ecchi anime on my watchlist. I look forward to the day that I finish the last one, then I never have to watch a terrible ecchi/harem ever again. Gah off-topic.
Sound is okay, not terrible since I actually noticed it and it was suitable for the atmosphere. Not worthy of going for the soundtrack though. Not much to really say. This anime is only in Japanese and I recognised Yuuhi's voice actor to be familiar. She's done many voices like Louise from ZnT and Alphonse from FMA. Of course, this means you need subtitles.
The main character Junichi Nagase, a high school student. He is the typical, indecisive, coward, lack of empathy harem protagonist. He even has a porn stash, though he isn't so much a pervert as other harem protagonists. Everyone calls him Genokiller, an image of him made up by others to make him seem intimidating. In the later episode it is mentioned that he is too nice... well he doesn't get upset at others too much. Most importantly is the fact that he acts strong, not in the literal way though. He hides his feelings and isn't true to himself. Overall a disappointing character and the final nail in the coffin? A hidden sister complex (explained in the spoiler section).
Yuuhi Katagiri is the typical hot-headed tsundere rich girl, one of the two main romantic (yeah right...) options. Of course she comes from a rich family, of course she actually likes Junichi and of course she physically assualts him on many cases. What's more is that her father has decided that she is to be married to him at the start, so she is Junichi's fiance and goes to live with him to 'see how he is'. Could it get any more cliche? Towards the end however, her personality shiws through and she contributes to the interesting confrontation of the genre.
Minato Nagase is Junichi's (relatively) big-boobed sister, not really known whether she is older or younger than him. A typical 'same age' sister who takes care of Junichi's every need, except for the obvious ones she shouldn't do. She knows all about her brother and is good at everything related to housework. She decides to give her brother some space, especially where it concerns Yuuhi. But of course, they just had to give her a brother complex (explained in the spoiler section) making her the other main romantic option.
The others are side characters. The parents are actually explained for once. They are literally secret agents, doing cliche secret agent jobs like defusing bombs or escaping from facilities. There is a big-boobed childhood friend, Tsukasa Kiryuu, who is surprisingly not of interest to Junichi. They also have a typical pretentious ojou-sama rich girl character (as if Yuuhi wasn't rich enough) Karen Ayanokouji who also has a hidden crush on Junichi, though she doesn't get mad at him. unlike Yuuhi. The teacher is a bit wierd and the best friend, Fuyuhiko Nishino, is actually an OK character, not too pervy or jealous of Junichi.
The story is the typical harem ecchi plot (or lack of it) where nothing intersting really happens besides characters being introduced. Did I mention how predictable almost every aspect of the story is? *But wait!* Towards the end things get interesting and this is the only thing that pushes this anime slightly higher than its too numerous genre pool. And thats the only redeeming feature, that some interesting stuff is said about being true to yourself and not being indecisive. Really gives the viewer hope that this will be different... you'll see. There is of course the controversy of the incest between Junichi and his sister, but you should have gathered why I haven't complained about it. I saw it coming a mile away. (saved for the spoiler section).
Overall, an average harem ecchi anime that questions one of the biggest problems of the entire genre at the end, as well as having a bit of a 'moral of the story'. So that alone makes it worth watching over all the other crap. If you want an idea of how a typical harem ecchi anime goes, this is the one, since its only slightly better than the rest of the cesspit and won't be as much a waste of your time due to the interesting last few episodes. It's still a typical bad harem ecchi though. I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone. And if you're in it for the fanservice, you might as well go watch porn or hentai cos nothing really happens.
Family-friendliness Rating: 5/5 Only because pink nipples, despite being in context (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 5/10 (higher is better)
It is obvious that Junichi and Minato aren't blood related siblings. It's not officially mentioned in the anime, but at towards the end it becomes apparent and they pull a dick move of leaving it vague by not allowing Junichi to hear it from his dad. If he knew, he'd probably be in his sister like a hermit crab in a shell. Oh wait, he's a typical coward harem protagonist. No sex for him then.
Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka is an anime that hurts itself by raising expectations and failing to meet them like clockwork. It goes out of its way to repeatedly build from mediocrity only to plunge itself back down to the point where you wonder why you even gave it much of a chance. It's someone jumping out of a 3 story building and landing on concrete, only to climb back up and jump over and over again. Until the person's bones are mush and the series limps to its god-awful ending.
As a series in general, Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka (from here on, Akasaka) is passable, I would go as far to say it's decent and occasionally enjoyable. Its gaping flaws are grossly magnified, rightly, by its constant, flagrant disappointment of its viewers. Basically Akasaka is not pure bad (far from it) but the parts that are actually good makes the parts that are bad look really bad.
Akasaka is based off Feng's visual novel released back in 2007. The plot revolves around a boy by the name of Jun'ichi Nagase, who attends a prestigious high school and seems to bear some kind of tough reputation from middle school. Think typical harem school comedy male protagonist. There, I just developed the character to the same degree 12 episodes of Akasaka did. Anyhow, a naive aloof rich girl, Katagiri Yuuhi (CV: Kugimiya Rie), transfers to Jun'ichi's school and Jun'ichi, out of some act of divine inspiration kisses her, causing unspeakable chaos. Then, to close out a rather promising first episode and establish a quite original premise, it turns out that Yuuhi is Junichi's fiancee due to an arranged marriage.
Akasaka's female cast is chock full eye-catching and potentially interesting characters. Expectations: high. The series proceeds to do nothing with all but two of the girls. Expectations: failed.
Like many similar anime, Akasaka's plot (the plot is essentially just the premise) takes a back seat episodes 3-10 for some good unrelated episodes of fun. That's fine! It's a structure that has worked countless times. And by all means it can work here. But instead, Akasaka is filled extremely cliche situations solved in extremely cliche ways. For example, Jun'ichi's sister Minato (CV: Hirano Aya) takes Yuuhi shopping in a supermarket to make dinner. Six minutes of pointless dialogue about how amazed Yuuhi is of instant curry follows. We get it after the first few lines! Yuuhi talks about how she eats at home as Kugimiya Rie butchers French Japanese transliteration. She's rich, naive, aloof, we get that. Is it supposed to be funny that Yuuhi doesn't know about instant curry and thinks that her cooks and servants don't either? How overblown does the reaction and enlightenment need to be? There are lots of girls in this anime, some who look pretty interesting. Are we going to get episodes about them? With curry? That actually would be pretty awesome...
Watching anime should never be physically painful, but that's what I felt as this series slowly killed itself. It's the pain you feel a promising show wastes all the good things it had going for it and falls into mediocrity. Akasaka occasionally strikes silver (no gold in this show, sorry) with a few lines of interesting dialogue and good animation, but after every good or decent episode or plot development the series feels as if it has some obligation to make up for it by spewing crap at our face. It's like you're at an amusement park and every time you have some fun, a burly security guard has to give you a swift punch in the gut. The ending begins suddenly in the last 3 episodes and was likewise promising. Too bad the conclusion of the series was so predictable that I might as well have drawn the storyboards myself and the things that you didn't predict either have no relevance to the plot or are so cheesy and/or wrong you're better off not predicting it.
I'm a little harsh on this series because it really is a shame. Akasaka goes to show you how bad writing can absolutely destroy a series with everything else going for it. The art is good, the characters and landscapes are well drawn and fun to look at. Akasaka has a voice acting cast that would remind you of the New York Yankees, with the resulting mediocrity to match. When we have Kugimiya Rie (Shana, Louise, Taiga), Inoue Marina (Chiri from Zetsubou Sensei, Yoko from TTGL), Aya Hirano (Haruhi, Konata, Misa from Death Note) and Tanaka Rie (Chi from Chobits, Sugintou) in the same anime, we're going to be excited. I had my eye on this series ever since voice actors were announced and some art was available.
In the end, the voice acting was pretty good but by itself it cannot save a series. The music (besides the terrible OP) is good. It better be good when you have five voice actors with best selling seiyuu albums on your staff. Should there be an OVA about the supporting characters I would most likely flock to it with expectations held high. I've heard that the game this is based off was really cool. Too bad I can't say the same for the anime adaptation
If there is one thing worse than harems, that is harems based on porn games. Of course, the fans of such … hm … games … will refuse the term porn games and go for something more linguistically intelligent, such as eroge, date sim or My-Dreamworld-which-is-better-than-real-life. Anyways, whatever you wanna call them, it is basically about games where you press the right options and if they are right the girls drop on four and do their thing to you. There are of course non-erotic games as well which focus solely on romance but Akane-iro IS NOT ONE OF THEM. You get to screw every 2D girl in it; I checked the HCGs as, hm, material for this review. Then again the anime is based on the PS2 version, which is sex free and has different girls to interact with, but the original concept is still the habba-habba!
So here is the thing. Let’s say someone for any reason would want to make an anime adaptation of such a game. He sure wouldn’t do it faithfully to the storyline. Not only because it is not profitable since nobody would buy the game if it is the exact same thing. Also because you can’t make a linear story about a game with over 6 different paths. There is also the omnibus gimmick (which is dreadful) but Akane-iro IS NOT ONE OF THEM.
So when it comes to adaptations, there are only two choices available. To make a few hentai OVAs with the first part of the game, or a harem series. Making many hentai OVAs or few harem episodes is NOT profitable. So Akane-iro went for the half season harem option.
The first major difference you will notice when turning a porn game to anime is that the protagonist swifts from a “hump anything female you encounter” dude, to a “please don’t touch me or I will faint” dude. Yes, he turned into that pathetic, lame, disgraceful male specimen, called an indecisive lead. Pure horror.
The rest of the girls retain most of their features from the game, which is not a hard thing to do since they are harem girls. One hairstyle, one vague character trait and one excuse to get all horny with the fail lead is all these creatures need.
The story is again just an excuse; watching the first two and the last two episodes is more than enough to get all the plot… all five lines of it. But even that makes absolutely no sense as this is a story where the lead is forced to be married to a girl that he saw for the first time in his life, getting cockteased by his own sister, and being constantly surrounded by five more blunt chicks who don’t seem to have any interest to other men but him. Plus there are scenes with military invasions and battles with huge robots and monsters which last around 30 seconds each and I swear to God I have no idea how the frakk they are all relevant to this excuse, called the story.
Yet having 4 out of 12 episodes with a somewhat plot means there is actually 1/3rd of the duration with something going on, worthy of paying attention, right? WRONG! The whole set up is completely retarded and makes no efforts to appeal to our suspension of disbelief. Out of nowhere the lead is cockteased by a dozen women who have no problem cosplaying in their own school or rushing to wash his back in the bathroom or kiss him passionately … on his penis. Did I mention his sister is the no.2 most possible sex partner?
The ending is another expected thing to notice and nerdraeg about. You see, there is this term called shipping, where some fans prefer one girl over another to end up with the lead. Having the lead choosing a girl will disappoint some of them, so the producers went again for that dreadful ending where the lead simply remains indecisive and keeps getting cockteased by all the main girls. Also, the last episode loses all logic and coherence by trying to pass as a mindfuck or a social drama around things THAT HAVE NO SERIOUSNESS!
As for all the rest of the episodes… well, guess what, the beach episode, the spa episode, the school activity episode. Things all harems copy since the dawn of time and are nothing but excuses for the girls to expose themselves and keep reminding us that they are nothing other than fapping material.
Akane-iro is a fine example of how dreadful adaptations are and how lame harems are next to the source material. It has nothing to bother in it; the humour is weak, the characters are blunt archetypes, the story is completely retarded and fillerish, and the music score completely boring and uninspiring.
The only good thing it occasionally has is the animation and the voice acting… when they are not all soft porn. The character figures are rather well drawn and the voice acting is nice. Too bad the backgrounds are weaksauce and the BGM forgettable tunes. And too bad the camera keeps making huge zoom ins to the girls’ faces or legs to distract the viewer from noticing how average anything else looks and sounds.
So there you go; another unimaginative and boring anime, made just to sell to the fans of the game or to bust the balls of the rest of us with the inability of the lead to simply go for it, and bait us to play the game just to see that (well, it did made me browse the HCGs). It is another fine example of how exploiting and retarded the genre is and how innovation was killed by them just for a few quick bucks.
BURN THE WITCH!
Throughtout the anime, it is hinted that Minato and Jun have feelings for one another, however, I was truly upset when I found out that they really did end up together at the end; especially since in the manga, Yuuhi and Jun end up together instead. Great animation, but the story just blew it for me. Had to stop watching at episode five.
Akane-Iro ni Somaru Saka. I don't believe I've ever seen such a mediocre piece of cliché anime wrap up so wonderfully. What I mean by this, is that for hosting a cast of complete stereotype characters, ecchi screwball humor, and overly melodramatic dialogue, AInSS ended on a seriously heart-warming note.
Story: 7 out of 10
The story for AInSS is peculiar, in that it is a very typical school life/harem series, but adds in numerous elements to try and stand alone. This does not work in the grand scheme of things, but does make it easier to watch.
The story begins as a brother and sister live at home together, with the sister taking care of everything to help the useless brother. The brother was a street-fighting punk, that only calmed down after she... moved there from the jungle where she and her secret agent parents kills animals for food? What? Anyway, we'll get to that later. While defending a girl against some thugs, our main character Jun ends up classmates with her.
The girl turns out to be the heiress of a giant multibillion dollar corporation, and is at the school to meet her arranged "fiancé". After an embarrassing first kiss, she decides she hates him, but has to live with him (because parents in Japan... trust... strangers...?) to decide if he's worthy.
This all plays out as you'd expect, with her slowly falling in love with him, him learning he has feelings for his sister, other girls crawling out of the woodwork to propose their love of this nobody, useless man, and add in about 8 episodes of filler. It isn't until the last 2 episodes does the series actually open up, and introduce the idea of mature, evolving characters.
SPOILER! Ending Discussion
Because it was such a great moment in the series, I have decided to talk about the ending of the series. This WILL ruin the show for you to read this, so I highly suggest skipping past if you plan on watching the series. In the end, a very mature fight breaks out between Jun, Yuuhi, and Minato. Jun has professed his love to Yuuhi, but Yuuhi feels the tension between him and Minato. It finally hits the fan when Yuuhi leaves one night to go visit her father.
In a moment of weakness, Minato crawls over next to Jun, and holds him tightly, asking him to not treat her as a sister, but as a woman, and just let her hold onto him. Yuuhi senses the tension when she gets home, and starts to ask about it, and grows infuriated when neither will talk. Thinking she's in love, but knowing something is wrong, Yuuhi grills Jun until he mentions that "nothing really happened". To Jun, there wasn't any weird cheating that went down because all he did was let his sister hug him, but to Yuuhi, it was the final straw that cleared her head and let her know that no matter how hard he tried to not love his sister, he couldn't stop.
Several fights and make-ups later, Jun stops Minato outside of school, and lets her know that he needs her back. It is a very heartwarming experience, and you feel for both characters. They love each other, but understand it is taboo, so they never physically act on the impulse. Near the end, we are given a clue that Minato might just be fostered, which is either meant to be a cliffhanger, or a heads-up to a second series that has never been announced.
I realize I have written more about the last two episodes of the series than the entire series, but that isj ust how it plays out. The last two episodes are really incredible when faced with the cliché filler the show has to offer otherwise. Incest is used as a romantic plot device, and not some uncomfortable porn. It is just a very sweet ending.
Animation: 7 out of 10
Ecchi series are so hard to rate for animation due to the fact that typically, the female anatomy is so beautifully drawn, but everything else is largely left bland. Luckily, AInSS does not fall into this category, and has a above-average job in the animation department. Whether it be explosions, romantic moments, or sitting in class, there is a constant level of decent dedication to the art. It is nothing mind-blowing, but it's enough to warrant praise.
Sound: 4 out of 10
As with most series of this nature, sound plays a mediocre role. A "safe" opening an ending song, cute voice acting, and dismissive background music,
Characters: 6 out of 10
Before I begin, allow me to first say that the only reason the characters is so high, is because of Minato, whom I would rate a 9.5 for a character. Everyone else falls into the 4-5 category. So let's start this off by talking about her.
Minato is Jun's sister, and love him very dearly, as both sister (spoiler) and lover. Due to her innocent, kind personality, she tries to hide her feelings for Jun so that he may end up with Yuuhi, whom she loves as a best friend. In the last 2 episodes, they do an excellent job showing the confusion and heartache that arises from this situation, and you truly begin to love Minato as a character.
The only other 2 characters to show any growth are Jun and Yuuhi, but both do so poorly. Jun starts off as a cool, calm dude, who then is shown to be a shy, arrogant child, and then turns out to be a kind hearted lover, who then turns out (I'm sure you get the point now). He never actually establishes a sense of identity, and just keeps jumping from anime arch-types and never becomes an actualy character. The same goes for Yuuhi, who is either heart meltingly fractured, or showcasing an anger management issue.
Overall: 6.5 out of 10
Overall, Akane-Iro ni Somaru Saka is a quick, and easy series to watch, and worth it (only if barely) by the last 2 episodes that showcase wonderful works of love, heartache, and redemption. I highly suggest this series to fans of Shuffle!, or just somebody looking for a quick romance/comedy series.