The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

R-15

Title: R-15
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: AIC
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 9 Jul 2011 – 24 Sep 2011

Synopsis: Akutagawa Taketo studies at the Inspiration Academy Private High School, a prestigious institution that enrolls and nurtures only the best and brightest students with unique talents. Unlike other students who possess gifts such as creating scientific inventions, solving mathematical equations or playing musical instruments, Taketo’s gift is a little unusual: he has an acute ability to write immersive erotic novels. This earns him a notorious reputation among the girls as the school pervert. To make matters worse, he gets nosebleeds when sexually aroused. However, he begins to make new friends as he gets to know more about the people around him, including his love interest, Narukara Fukune.

The Highlights
Premises: Typical harem with hijinks; pun names lose effect after some time.
Characters: Tools for cheap ecchi scenes; some instances of terrible seiyuu work.
Romance subplot: Drowns in a sea of fanservice and nonsensical scenarios.
Narukara Fukune: Completely shallow for a focal character.
Censors in the form of “white lights”: Ridiculous.

It seems that in every anime season, there’s bound to be one particular series that makes me want to flip my table out of sheer frustration over its stupidity or incomprehensibility. R-15 is one such example, a crappy title in good company with the likes of Rio: Rainbow Gate! and MM!, earning it the dubious prize of “Most Ridiculous Series of Fall 2011” for its over-the-top absurdity and ironic premises. It has all the ingredients needed to actually break a show: a generous spread of stereotypes, ecchi scenes popping willy nilly, antics that defy laws of physics, and even infamous “white light” censors that block off one-third of everything viewers see on their screen. It’s a disaster that wastes the few moments of creativity because of its overwhelming, illogical frills.

Its cheeky title is an indication that R-15 has a few clever tricks up its sleeve with parodies and puns, and this is true enough. Virtually all the characters have names that are subliminal descriptions to their respective idiosyncrasies: male lead Taketo’s surname Akutagawa literally means “a river of garbage”, a reference to his erotic works; his horny friend Ritsu has a name that literally means “pi”, and so forth. Such pun names are ingenious at first, but as the show continues, loses its novelty when it becomes predictable each time a new character is introduced. Even worse, for viewers who don’t understand Japanese puns, such efforts would go down the drain. Clever puns they may be, but viewers are more likely to notice that this show is a hackneyed harem ridden with cheap fanservice.

R-15 is all about mindless fanservice, indeed. It’s never about how brilliant the characters are or how amazing their contributions to society are. On the contrary, it’s about how stupid they can ironically be, which means the series carries a rather pretentious connotation. Every character said to be brilliant does the most logically questionable actions, every other female character is a tool for showing panty shots (which are pointless in the presence of “white light” censors) and every impossible situation seems to be resolved by the most inexplicable solutions. Worse still, the frivolous hijinks and nonsense completely drown the budding romantic subplot between Taketo and Fukune. Although the subplot lacks focus and exhibits poor chemistry due to Fukune’s void personality, it saddens me to see the show’s shenanigans preventing it from giving it any potential development.

All in all, R-15 is a case of false advertisement: a series that looks brilliant on the outside, but is actually the opposite on the inside. The puns and parodies do work to some effect but in the end, it’s only on a superficial level; calling this show “clever” is equivalent to calling the class idiot “smart” only because he wears a shirt with the “iPood” slogan. It has even occurred to me a few times that it is trying to be stupid on purpose, like a kid who puts a “Kick Me” tag on his own back, perhaps out of ironic intent. Regardless of whether that is the case, the show has minimal merits to praise on and is something that’s better off swept under the rug.

The Rating: 3
3/10

Reviewed by: AC

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