The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Astarotte’s Toy

Title: Astarotte’s Toy aka Astarotte no Omocha!
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Company: Diomedea
Format: 12 episodes
Date: 10 Apr 2011 – 26 Jun 2011

Synopsis: Princess Astarotte is a 10-year-old succubus, a creature belonging to one of the many magical races in the Creature Realm and an ancient species that is able to pass down all their traits to their offspring. It is a tradition among the succubi to form their male harem by the age of 10 for the sake of preserving their race and sustaining their own lives. There is a problem however: Astarotte hates men. This puts her servants in a bind, especially when the tradition requires Astarotte to suck the life seeds out of her harem, life seeds otherwise known as semen.

The Highlights
Premises: Copies Hayate no Gotoku and puts it in a fantasy setting.
Characters: Copies Hayate no Gotoku again, and tags it with a forgettable cast.
Impression: False and deceptive; not the ecchi comedy one would expect.
Moral values: Something that I kept questioning this show about.
Porn: Not exactly a farfetched conclusion.

Astarotte’s Toy is a huge ripoff. Going from its synopsis or summary from most sources, it’s easy to mistake this show for a frantic ecchi comedy that revolves around lolita complexes and manjuice. But what it really turns out to be is a slow-paced sentimental comedy with lots of lolis who make jokes that seem cute but are morally suggestive in truth. It’s amazingly tame and tender for an ecchi-comedy, but it certainly isn’t a case of a pleasant surprise where one gets something good after expecting or looking forward to something bad. It’s a “double rip-off”: one looks forward to crap, gets something that doesn’t look like crap, but it eventually turns out to be another form of crap. The show is consistently boring and some viewers may appreciate this show only because they’re fans of the Kugimiya-tsundere archetype.

There is indeed a Kugimiya-tsundere archetype in Astarotte’s Toy and, if the premise doesn’t seem all too familiar enough, she is accompanied by a pseudo-adult manservant by her side. If one has watched Hayate no Gotoku before, this show will strike you as a pirated production because both work on identical grounds: both involve angelic male butlers babysitting haughty tsundere-lolis in predominantly female environments, and the relationship between both butlers and their respective female counterparts start out rough but eventually become warm and fuzzy. The main difference between Hayate no Gotoku and Astarotte’s Toy however, is that the former offers comedic gags too so there’s more in value in it. The latter consists of three main characters and a supporting cast whose names I cannot even remember.

Perhaps the bigger issue with Astarotte’s Toy, apart from its dull and hackneyed storyline, is its impression on the audience. The question, “what kind of show is this?” lingers throughout the anime, which is a drama-comedy that strangely straddles between catering to older and younger demographics. Judging from the sexual instances such as semen, breast milk and the existence of creatures that engage in intercourse to live, it’s justified to conclude that this show is for older viewers. But at the same time, for a show with suggestive references, its approach is so tame and harmless that it feels like it’s for younger viewers too.

To make things more baffling, there’s a number of instances where common sense and moral values are contradicted. I don’t understand the need for sexual suggestions – shota sex and fanservice just to name two – when the main plot would have been fine without them. Furthermore, I don’t understand what kind of father Naoya is for thinking that his 10-year old daughter’s skimpy swimwear is cute, and shrugging off her habit of walking around without panties. It’s like the show condones such actions, and this raises my eyebrow too often.

If I may summarize the core flaw of Astarotte’s Toy, it’s the indecisiveness over what it wants to be. The show works as if it is meant for the older audience with the adult material, but its mild and unadulterated approach makes it feel like it’s under the watchful eye of some censorship board. The sentimentality and slow pace may render itself at least watchable but unfortunately, it’s a dull story with a clich├ęd setting and cookiecutter cast. Weariness and discontent are what I ended up experiencing after signing up for a show anticipating to see loli porn but instead got precocious kids playing in a magical sandbox, and discussing topics on puberty. I suppose it’s a sweet series, but there’s no denying how contrived it is with the impression it’s trying to set.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: AC

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