Oh Shuffle!, you peculiar little gem of heavy hit, and light miss anime. Before reading this review, understand that my rating is high because of how I felt about the characters to the storyline, and not on a principle of "the ecchi was awesome in this series". I'm sorry to disappoint you guys out there, but if ecchi panty flashing is your thing, this anime doesn't deliver too much. It's much moreso about the relationships the characters form, and the beautiful, and gritty emotions that come with them.
Story: 7 out of 10
Story was a tough decision for me when it came to reviewing. On one hand the actually linear storyline was quite bland. Gods and Devils and Humans all exist in 3 different worlds, awkward male has a bunch of amazing girls fighting over him, yet he shows no interest, blah blah blah we've heard it all before. On that basis alone, I would have given the show about a 3 or 4.
The reason it received a 7, however, is that the in your face storyline isn't the compelling part of the show. The progression of the series through the actions of it's characters are what pull you in. Every character starts as a stereotype, and then wonderfully opens up into an almost human feeling entity, capable of feelings, and complex thoughts that a typical harem female would not be able to have. That alone redeemed it to me.
Animation: 5 out of 10
The lowest point of the series, the anime was 100% average to me. There are times when characters out of focus are crudely drawn, and there are times during intimate scenes where the characters are gorgeously drawn. All in all, an easy 50%.
Sound: 7 out of 10
Sound was a treat for this series, being that it was mellow, yet memorable. I think alot of animes try to hard to feed off of the melodrama cake, and they stuff your ears full of drowsy, dramatic instrumentals, and with Shuffle!, this just wasn't the case. They used a small set of mellow, yet recognizable tunes, that you quickly registered mentally, and were able to gauge the mood of scenes before they even happened. A very good job. the only fall back were unmemorable opening and ending songs.
Characters: 9 out of 10.
I'll be the first to admit that i have fallen in love with the majority of the female characters in this series. Perhaps it is because I am a man, and all of the females in this series are fractured beauties, I don't know, but all the characters are wonderful. A spoiler here would ruin the magic of the show, but allow me to explain as best as I can.
Kaede is a sweet, wonderfully loving character, with a dark past, whose interactions with Rin are the most emotionally tugging, since they are both the most dynamic, and the oldest in terms of character time. Sia battles herself with a sort of lack of confidence that makes her seem so fragile; you can't help but want to scoop her up in your arms. Nerine has a problem with ghosts from her past, but with the help of Rin, she overcomes them in a way. Rimu may not necessarily be a "love" interest in the romantic sense, but the relationship she has with Rin is very sweet. She has perhaps one of the rougher pasts, and the bond she grows with Rin will put a smile on your face with how much it means. and finally Asa, whos very health is thrown into the mix in this compelling series.
Overall: 8 out of 10.
If I had to explain this series in a small amount of words to a friend, all I could say would be “deceptively dark, and curiously human”. The series starts off as a harem comedy, and within a few episodes, starts changing into something much more substantial. There is a lot of panty flashing, and even exposed breasts, but it’s usually used to exhibit comedy, or depression. Off the top of my head, a particular scene in which Kaede exposes herself, makes you want to reach out and hug her for how sad the scene is. For these reasons, again, I suggest that if the ecchi and harem appearance of the show have pushed you away, please give it a chance, because it will change into something much deeper than the bland portrait is started off with.
I myself started watching this almost a year ago, and dropped it after the first episode, thinking it was just more bland shit. It took reading a wonderful review by KiraRin to convince me to get back in, and I am proud to admit my mistake with the series. It’s a wonderful gem of melodrama, comedy, and even action in a few parts that I suggest everyone with some time on their hands go see. It won’t change your life, but it will put a smile on your face, and that is important too I suppose.