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.