The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Rental Magica

Title: Rental Magica
Genre: Action
Company: ZEXCS
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 8 Oct 2007 – 24 Mar 2008

Synopsis: Iba Itsuki is the young president of a mages-for-hire company called “Astral”, which he inherited from his missing father. While he is still a beginner in the arts of magic, he is blessed (or cursed) with a particularly strong Glamsight power, an ability akin to foresight. This power proves to be a great advantage for him and his team since Astral regularly take out cases that require the expertise of a group of magicians.

The Highlights
Bland, inane archetypes; what little development there is comes off as contrived.
Chronology: Mixed up episode order is ultimately gimmicky.
Episodic stories: Mostly boring and formulaic.
Mystery: Penultimate episode does a fair job at tying up loose ends.
Comedy: The mindless harem jokes are terrible.
Seiyuu: How can an ensemble cast featuring this many stars deliver such an insipid group performance?

There are a few things I specifically like to see in the anime I watch, and these are interesting, likable characters, polished aesthetics, thought-provoking themes and genuine creativity. Sure, it’s more than possible to have an enjoyable title that works with none of these things, but their presence never hurts an anime. Rental Magica is a show that has none of these things… and it stinks. Poor writing, bland characters, lazy animation, a meaningless, directionless story and a generic premise; it’s no wonder I can’t find much to enjoy in this series.

A cardinal sin for the modern anime is to be wasteful with the episodic formula. So many creative episodic anime exist that there’s no excuse for consistently lackluster episodes. Rental Magica‘s stories are boring, mostly following a pattern of “new case – lots of long-winded magic explanations – conflict with antagonist – deus ex machine a.k.a. Glamsight – resolution, complete with laughs and a tsunderé moment or two”. Sometimes, the episodic stories try to develop the characters, but very little of the character development is momentous.

Generally, this is due to the fact that Rental Magica‘s cast is poor. Most of the main personalities are generic archetypes. Itsuki is an indecisive nice-guy, Adilisia and Honami are both tsunderé, and they are so similar that they may as well be twins. Nekoyashiki has an affinity for his cats that is borderline disturbing, while Mikan is a pointless loli. Adilisia and Honami particularly grate me; they consistently react and approach situations, especially in regards to Itsuki, exactly the same… in fact, the series goes so far as to explicitly point this out. I found this lazy on the part of the writers; what is the point of having what is essentially the same personality in two different characters? I will admit Itsuki does go through some significant changes, but his character development follows such a run-down path, with him starting out as a bland, indecisive, cowardly, useless shounen lead, and shedding the “cowardly” and “useless” part by the end. In typical harem form, we never get a satisfactory explanation as to why he’s surrounded by numerous girls that want to jump his bones.

About half way through, Rental Magica stops pretending it’s not a harem, but the romantic subplots never go anywhere. There’s constant overt romantic tension between several of the girls and Itsuki throughout the entire series, but it serves absolutely no purpose (other than cheap “laughs”). A lot of the harem elements are played for comedy, but the jokes are mostly low-brow, forced and unfunny. There’s also tsunderé moé. Only Tsuyokiss has more tsunderés than Rental Magica, and that was quite deliberate. It really doesn’t say much for a show when its primary appeal is tsunderé moé.

My expectations for this series were very low, yet I was still disappointed by how insipid this series was. Technically there’s very little to write home about. The animation and character designs are boring, while a cast of all-star seiyuu deliver some very mundane performances considering what the likes of Fukuyama Jun and Ueda Kana are capable of (not that I can blame them for not being inspired by the script). This is a nothing anime in that it offered absolutely nothing new or special. At the time of writing, there’s still no clear candidate for best anime of the year, but I’m confident I’ve found a possibility for the worst.

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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