First Impressions – Rio: Rainbow Gate

It’s a triumph of feminism I tell you, a triumph!

That was a pretty bizarre first episode, starting with the setting. “Howard’s Resort” looks to be in a town that’s a cross between Vegas, San Francisco and Hong Kong. The premise – if you wish to call it that – apparently is going to revolve around a casino dealer named Rio who is also knows as the “Goddess of Fortune” – apparently bringing good luck to everyone who interacts with her. Paradoxically this makes her a favorite of the casino owner Howard, a gross amalgam of every American stereotype in the book – you would think someone who makes the player beat the house constantly would be fired with extreme prejudice. But no, Rio is something of a mascot for The Howard – he uses her as advertising, somewhere one or two levels above the relationship of prostitute and pimp. We also meet an old tycoon who looks like he fell off a Monopoly board and his granddaughter, Mint, who will apparently be a regular despite the incongruity (and illegality) of a preteen girl running around a casino pit. There a kind of plot for the first ep involving Mint’s teddy bear, but really, is plot what you’re here for?

No – this is all pretty much an excuse to have Rio and the other casino glamor girls parading around half-naked. In the first episode alone we get Rio changing clothes, in meido cosplay and in a wedding dress. With the larger than life Americanized styling and the jazzy soundtrack – not to mention the little girl as a first-episode device to introduce the story – this felt as if it were trying for a kind of Baccano! vibe. But those similarities are superficial at best – this is a fanservice show, and unapologetic about it. There were some amusing moments in the second half and it’s always nice to hear Marina Inoue – a long way from Kana Minami here – in a major role. But if you’re looking for anything more than straight-up service I suspect this won’t be for you. I’ll watch another ep to see if it surprises me, but I don’t see any chance I’ll blog it.

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