This series started out with a bang, giving us one of the most random and frenetic anime episodes I’ve seen and explaining pretty much none of it. I enjoyed that more than I expected, but unfortunately the show really bogged down when it tried to develop a “serious” plot. At its best Majikoi relied on its outrageous humor and ecchi, but when it ventured into the realms of action and character drama it mostly missed for me. Sadly, that’s the face of the series that dominated most of the last four episodes, and they weren’t the best it had to offer.
I started to suspect a while back that there were some unsettlingly nationalist sentiments creeping into the series, but I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions about that. Well, the finale pretty much set aside any doubt. With it’s unapologetic glorification of militarism it was always striking a bit of a right-wing tone, but it’s when the talk of “illegal aliens” started that I began to get really uncomfortable. No doubt there are some very legitimate arguments being made here – those who serve their country in the military and often treated shabbily and that’s a crime, and the highest levels of Japanese government and industry have been riddled with corruption for decades. And it’s certainly not wrong to argue that everyone should be able to declare their love for their country. But there was an ugly, xenophobic tone to some of this stuff, and the stink of it was all over the last episode and really poisoned the whole affair. We even got a “happy ending” where those nasty illegals were all blown up because of their own stupidity. Fear of foreigners is not the prettiest side of the Japanese national character, and I hate to see it glorified in anime or anywhere else.
Which is all too bad, because the finale had small glimmers of the frenetic charm that the premiere had. I enjoyed little touches like Yamato fighting with a light saber, and Mayucchi (who was responsible for about 90% of the best moments in Majikoi) getting so flustered by Yamato’s declaration that he was in love only with his crabs that she flipped the voices for herself and Matsukaze. There were some nice moments throughout the series that focused on the harem’s puzzling obsession with the generally unlikeable Yamato, though most of the best moments were the ones played for flat-out comedy – like the series’ take on the famous “Penis Festival”.
Where the series lost its mojo – even setting aside the politics – was in the focus on Yamato’s weird past and the pseudo-military conflict with Tachibana. Wakamoto-sama’s character and his entire thread felt like it was dropped out of an airplane, and was totally disjointed from the rest of the series. Entire episodes were lost to battle sequences and irritatingly confusing and convoluted political intrigue, with nary a moment of humor. The comedy in the series played OK without any exposition, but the serious stuff didn’t. Majikoi probably made less attempt to explain its premise than any LN or VN/game adaptation that I can remember, and that was fine as long as it stuck to its agreeably random side. But you can’t expect an audience to follow a conventional plot unless you give them some context to understand it – and a reason to care.
So, all in all, this was a decidedly mixed bag. I’m always happy to hear Goto Yuko in a major role – she simply lacks the ability not to be hilarious, and she was splendid as Mayucchi. Some of the romantic comedy worked, and much of the ecchi did. But for what it ultimately decided it wanted to be, seemingly, Majikoi failed. Even if the xenophobia didn’t bother you, in order to be the sort of show it ended up trying to be it would have needed another cour to develop the premise, or at least to have spend more of the first half doing so. As it was, I’m afraid Majikoi tried to have it both ways and ended up succeeding at neither.