Anime Review – Maken-Ki – Your standard fanservice anime with indestructible lingerie, essential for all fighting girls and women
December 26, 2011 Leave a comment
Maken-Ki is a show that filled the ‘fanservice’ slot for series this season, much like shows such as Seikon no Qwazer and Manyuu Hikenchou, although not quite as bad as either. It is also a show that actually got quite boring for me as it went on, and I felt that overall it was trying too hard to please, something to discuss later in my review.
Maken-Ki is adapted from the manga of the same name and tells the story of Takeru Oyama as he enrols in Tenbi high school. This is a ‘fighting girls’ anime, and the majority of the people at Tenbi are girls who weild special ‘magical’ powers and use ‘maken’, some sort of weapon that allows them to fight with these powers. Takeru is a massive pervert and spends half of his time trying to spy in the girls changing and even health checks, he is of course beaten up by various girls that he meets at school.
The story is quite simple really since its mostly about Takeru’s daily life at a school surrounded by mostly strong girls although there is a darker sub-plot that is touched upon in the anime, but largely ignored. Maken-Ki doesn’t really follow any form of plot or story though and at times is more a collection of fanservice scenes loosely strung together with the story of high school life.
This was slightly annoying actually, I have read the manga and there is a potentially quite interesting plot throughout (even if the manga is also full of fanservice) which is almost entirely ignored in the anime, apart from during the last couple of episodes. The Maken-Ki anime only seems to be about the fanservice, with loads of panty-shots, scenes with the girls changing, health checks, onsen scenes, bath and show scenes, swimsuits and lingerie. It doesn’t quite go as far as Seikon no Qwazer and Manyuu Hikenchou though, so thankfully we don’t see the show butchered with the white wall of death.
There is censorship of course, but it mostly makes no sense and is used inconsistently with various parts such as lingerie being censored in one scene but entirely uncensored in another. To me this looks like a classic case of arbitrary censorship in order to sell uncensored Blu-Ray Discs since there is the censorship is not consistent and often scenes that perhaps would be censored in a TV release are left entirely uncensored, while other scenes are censored for no apparent reason.
The characters are quite interesting, although again a lot of the story that actually fleshes out these characters is left out of the series so many of them seem to be simply there for fanservice and not much else. Takeru is your classic perverted male lead, who is the weakest one in the school really (although in the manga he apparently has the ability to be the strongest). He hates seeing girls fight and get hurt, which is a bit out of place in a school where girls fight or duel on a regular basis as part of their training.
We have the childhood friends Haruko Amaya and Inaho Kushiya. Haruko is the strongest in the school and apparently trained at Takuro’s dojo before something terrible happened that made Takuro stop practicing karate (this is explained later in the series). Inaho on the other hand is a curious character that one assumes is a childhood friend of sorts since she claims to be Takuro’s fiancé, and is apparently indebted to Takuro for some unspecified reason from their past. Add to this a number of other girls who make up the Maken-Ki/student council, including Kodama Himegami, another girl who possibly has a significant connection to Takeru and we have a classic harem anime. This is further enhanced when the school principle happily allows Takeru, Haruko, Inoha and Himegami to live in the same room. So not only do we have three girls fighting over and with Takeru, but they are all now staying in the same apartment. This of course means more fanservice with Takeru waking in on all the girls while in the shower or changing, with hilarious consequences.
So, this anime’s plot is partly about Takeru learning to use his powers and fighting alongside all women in the student council and the group that oversees all the student duels, the Maken-Ki. There is also another element to the plot about the 8 ‘original’ Makens that are meant to have been created by the gods in order to seal Yamata no Orochi, an eight-headed dragon from Japanese legend. The manga further elaborates on this, with Takeru and his family apparently having an important and strong link to Yamata no Orochi, along with his power the ‘blood pointer’ being part of that. Unfortunately none of this is actually explained in the series, although it is touched on in places.
But in all seriousness, this plot isn’t realty what the show is about; it’s really about the fanservice. Within the first three episodes we have already had countless panty shots, people being stripped of all but their under wear, peeping on girls taking the medical examinations, Takeru walking in on girls taking a shower and an onsen trip where everyone wears revealing Bikinis. Oh yes and before I forget, we have Aki Nijou the school nurse, whose breasts are so big they are simply beyond belief.
This anime is full of bouncing breasts, torn clothing, and generally absurd levels of fanservice, with every opportunity taken to show off the female figure and what sort of lingerie different characters are wearing at the time. As an example episode three starts off with the viewers following the bum of Azuki Shinatsu (an immensely strong fighter who also works in a maid café) as she helps Takeru train.
While I did enjoy parts of this series, overall it felt like it was trying too hard. The fanservice was too in your face, and there were scenes with maid cafes, panty shots, wardrobe malfunctions and massive bouncing breasts it all seemed a bit ridiculous. Another fanservice show this season Majikoi handled it in a far better way with comedy involved and entertaining characters like Miyako and Yamato. Maken-Ki on the other hand doesn’t have such characters and at times the fanservice looked like it was forced, as if there was a panty-hot quota to reach each episode.
I have no problem with fanservice, and a good number of my favourite anime include it – admittedly its hard to find any anime that doesn’t include at least some – but Maken-Ki just didn’t work. The show just didn’t seem all that interesting to me and there were parts where I just felt bored watching it. Maken-Ki completely left out any story that was in the manga, save for the last few episodes. We are briefly told on a few occasions about the eight original maken that were apparently used to seal Yamata no Orochi in the mountain at the centre of Tenbi academy, but then its just left. That is at the centre of the manga, along with Takeru’s connection to Yamata no Orochi, along with his power.
The characters also didn’t really click for me, partly because there was very little development, which is in part linked to the story that was left out. There is some sort of love triangle going on between Takeru, Haruka and Inaho which seems to be largely forgotten, or rather is never really developed. We never really find out how any of the characters are really related even if we are told that they met in the past and any conspiracy that is introduced seems to be largely arbitrary and never really goes anywhere. Maken-Ki may be a ecchi, harem anime, but even then there seemed to be little else happening, there is little plot to speak of and many of the comedic elements seem either out of place or simply badly done. Overall this show was a mess and all over the place, and while I did enjoy parts of it, I more generally found it quite boring in places. For this season, as fanservice shows go, Majikoi was infinitely superior and far more enjoyable to watch.