First Impressions – Majimoji Rurumo

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The mind of a mangaka is an interesting thing.

OP: “Seiippai, Tsutaetai!” by Suzuko Mimori

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Without any question, the main factor putting Majimoji Rurumo on my radar going into this season was that the author of the source material is Watanabe Wataru.  He might not be a household name in most places but he is in mine, as his far better-known series is Yowamushi Pedal – the cycling manga that I correctly predicted would become a sleeper hit (after three cours, it returns for a second season in the fall).  That success is deserved – it’s a charming series with excellent characters that manages to appeal to an unusually wide demographic range.

Is Yowapeda’s success the main reason Majimoji Rurumo got an adaptation?  That’s hard to say, especially given how far in advance anime adaptations tend to be planned.  But at the very least it certainly raises the profile of this series, which was launched in 2007 (a year before Yowapeda).  Watanabe continues to write it today as a monthly, with Yowamushi Pedal a weekly series.  Truth be told going by the synopsis alone Majimoji Rurumo looks very much like a standard formula ecchi comedy, but Watanabe’s track record offers the hope that it’s something more than that – or at the very least, an unusually well-executed example.

Based on the premiere I’d be inclined to lean towards the latter, though it’s obviously far too early to say for sure.  Apart from an obvious resemblance in the character designs, there’s not much in terms of content that would put you in mind of Yowamushi Pedal here – certainly nothing that would suggest a similar crossover appeal to female audiences.  If I were to play amateur psychologist – which I know is hugely dangerous so you don’t need to remind me – I might theorize that this series is one that a young Watanabe-sensei wrote with the idea of making something that would have a good chance to be serialized, while Yowapeda was a labor of love above something the author is passionate about.

If we run with that premise, the two series mesh rather nicely.  Majimoji Rurumo doesn’t have the same earnest and heartfelt passion as Yowapeda, but it’s the clear product of a writer with a good feel for situation comedy and dialogue.  It’s the story of “Ecchi King” high schooler Shibaki Kouta (newcomer Takahashi Makoto), who’s ridden the rep of skirt-lifting and porn mag lending to a near-universal loathing by girls.  One day on a lark he reads a summoning spell out of a book, and ends up having his wish for a pair of panties granted by moewitch Rurumo (Mimori Suzuko).  The catch?  The price is his life, to be forfeit by “sky burial” in two days.  The other catch?  The panties are hers – and they’re the only pair she owns, so she needs them back.  The other other catch?  Because giving a witch’s property to a human is punishable by 130 years imprisonment, all Shibaki has to do is sit tight and let Ruruomo be carted off to Mahou Sekai jail, and he’s off the hook.  But being the decent male lead he is, he can’t live with himself if he does that – and because Rurumo is too shy to put the panties on in front of him, Shibaki puts them back on her himself.

There’s some more stuff premise-wise – Rurumo ends up coming back with a book of 666 magical tickets for Shibaki to use since she’s been demoted to witch-in-training, and her cat tsukaima Chiro (Fukuen Masato, easily the biggest name in the cast and already the architect of one of the best cat performances in anime as Baabu is Sankarea) tells Shibaki that once the tickets are used up, he dies (crucially, Ruromo is unaware of this).  But this really doesn’t strike me a a plot-first series – mostly it’s just a an excuse for some soft fanservice and ecchi gags, most of which work pretty well.  And I think the relationship between Shibaki and Rurumo will be more heartfelt than the usual in these kinds of shows because, well – Watanabe.  It’s a fun premiere – no Yowapeda and certainly nothing exceptional, but Majimoji Rurumo does have some of the mangaka’s signature wit and warmth.  Perhaps enough to turn it into a pretty watchable and entertaining escapist comedy.

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ED: “Futari no Chrono Stasis” by Yurika Endou

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  1. m

    I sure as hell wouldn't know Wataru-sensei wrote this judging from the premiere, other than, probably, the super funny comic faces and huge shoujo eyes.

  2. R

    "Perhaps enough to turn it into a pretty watchable and entertaining escapist comedy." Sorry Enzo, I will try other things for that. I haven't watched the premier because I hesitated by simply glancing the screen captures. I may be missing out on something witty, but I think I will pass for now.

  3. H

    Watanabe is the ONLY reason I checked this out. I think his natural sensibility gels well in sports anime, but in an ecchi comedy it feels squandered. Maybe I just find the characters dull. If there was more of an undercurrent to the boy's perverseness and the girl less a bag of ineptness you'd have something for sink into (kinda thinking Mysterious Girlfriend X). But I think I know where he's going with the story – he'll help her seize a world of freedom and opportunities and she'll reign him in to be a responsible and self-respecting man. And there's irony of their circumstance where his fate determines hers and vise versa.

    I dunno, it's just a light-hearted unoffensive ecchi comedy I guess. Not my cup of joe.

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