What They Say:
Shungo Ninomiya is a normal high schooler with a normal mercenary sister and a normal mansion for a home. But his normal(ish) life is about to get flipped upside down when the beautiful and strangely magnetic Mayu Tsukimura and her brother, Mikihiro, are sent to live with him.
Mayu may seem like your run-of-the-mill teenager, but she’s got a big secret: she’s a succubus with budding powers she doesn’t yet know how to control. And to top it off, she’s terrified of the very thing that gives her life: MEN! Now, it’s up to Shungo to cure her of her androphobia, but it won’t be easy. His sister, Ryoko, has cooked up a full immersion therapy plan, including sleeping in the same bed, bathing together, and role-playing. And his childhood best friend isn’t happy about Shungo and Mayu’s uninterrupted quality time. Can Shungo cure Mayu before she or he–loses control?
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The show has its moments of action to be sure but it’s all fairly restrained and that kind of full sounding design that’s not quite so specific with placement. The dialogue side is a touch better, but again it’s not exactly a driving force for what they’re trying to do with it. The show does come across well with this format overall because it’s not doing anything big and in the end it’s solid where it counts in being clean and clear with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with seven on the first and five on the second. Animated by AIC Spirits, the series is one that has a kind of low-rent approach to its animation in general, though more so with some of the character design aspects. This leaves us with a show that feels a bit simple but takes the time to really animate things when it comes to the fanservice, so it’s a kind of (standard) mixed bag for this kind of property. The encoding handles things well, though there are source issues that are highlighted. We get some line noise in some of the busier pieces from time to time, often during the panning sequences, and there are some backgrounds of green that show more noise than it should. Some scenes also show a good bit of banding that’s part of the source material and that’s a bit distracting.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized clear DVD case that comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork itself, just with brighter colors thanks to the cardstock. The front cover works with a scene from later in the show with all the girls in swimsuits wearing aprons so you know exactly what you’re getting with it in that regard, both in design and the fanservice itself. The cover works the pink angle heavily and while it may be a bit much it does work well enough to stand out and catch your eye, which is half the point. The back cover wraps the pink banding around in the same way with more character design material from the closing sequence used in the cheerleader outfits as well as some small shots from the show. The premise is well covered in the summary as is the episode and disc count along with the extras. It’s got an adorable feeling to it with the hearts and such so it works nicely. The case itself has some artwork on the reverse side that might make some cringe as it has Shungo and Reika with their own panels where it’s an illustration piece that takes them down to their bare essentials and that certainly says what kind of show it wants to be.
The menu design for this release reuses the packaging design for the most part as the overall striping pattern with the pinks and the logo which sets a nice design overall to stand out. The middle is where all the action is as we get a slightly zoomed in portion of the front cover artwork along the left that’s bright and sharp while to the right we get the minimal but expected navigation. It’s still surprising that they offer the option to turn the subtitles off but I’m just too used to it being locked on Blu-ray releases these days. It’s not a standout design but it ties well with the packaging and it’s functional and problem free.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the light novel series by Daisuke Suzuki, with illustrations by Kyourin Takanae that ran an impressive seventeen volumes starting in 2004, 2007 saw the release of this twelve episode series alongside a four volume manga adaptation of it by the same author. The animation production was done by AIC Spirits which is a studio I’ve come to enjoy a good deal of when they dabble in properties like this as they harken back to the big eyed fanservice and fun style that I do find appealing when done well. What could possibly set this show apart a bit from other ones of the male lead with lots of girls surrounding him is that the Shungo isn’t exactly a complete wimp. In fact, he’s been well trained at hand to hand combat and can handle himself very well in difficult situations, which we see at the start here as he both deals with taking down a bear in winter and then coping with the girls of the school who want to tease him by showing him their panties, something he wants to get away from for some strange reason.
While Shungo has a fun if difficult enough high school career in front of him, it all goes pear shaped pretty quickly with the arrival of girl from the back of a helicopter that’s dropped right on top of him, though she seems pretty fearful of not just him but all the guys that are there. As it turns out, she’s a new transfer student who just arrived along with her older brother. Mayu and Mikihiro are a very different pair of characters as he’s very flamboyant, but not overly so, while she’s very introverted and quiet. What’s surprising is that the two of them are going to be staying with Shungo for the duration, which will be difficult for Mayu since she’s pretty afraid of boys. When a slew of them show up at the nurse’s office afterwards and go zombie-like with their interest in her cuteness, it’s a creepy yet very amusing scene.
The whole situation has been set up by Shungo’s older sister, Ryoko, who seems to be something of a really top notch mercenary of sorts as we see her wrestling down a huge bear and then later on handling a military mission in some middle eastern locale. It makes sense in that he’s like he is because of her, but she’s thrown him into the position of having to protect Mayu from the rather growing horde of boys that are interested in her. There’s a great semi-chase sequence about it where the guys really are acting like zombies, which is very different from the norm where they’d be flipping out trying to catch her since she’s such a cutie. Every instance of Mayu interacting with boys only reinforces why she’s so afraid of them since she draws them like moths to a flame.
Events do slow down as the opening episode goes on and we see Mayu settling into the Ninomiya household, which is really big since his sister managed to get it for what you can suspect was some job. Or she killed the owners and just took it. The explanation of Mayu’s condition, essentially relating her to a succubus, is an interesting change since it gives a chemical/pheromone reason for the why of people being attracted to her outside of appearances alone. And it helps explain why they get all zombie-like as well. Shungo’s not being affected is covered later as the show gets “serious” and all, but right now it’s fun to watch the quiet scenes with them as they move through the household and Mayu realizes just how easy it is to be relaxed around him without feeling like she’s going to be accosted. It’s a challenge for Shungo, but he’s your standard good guy who won’t do anything untoward, even if there are some urges rising up from within.
As you can expect with a show of this nature, more characters are introduced fairly steadily, though it doesn’t get as crazy as some shows do. In fact, most are just casual appearances when you get down to it outside of one more core and critical character. That comes in the form of Reika Hojo, the student council president who is, naturally, heiress to a large conglomerate. She’s the haughty type and you know it, but through some circumstances that only anime allows (or a Seinfeld episode), she ends up becoming his maid and lives with him since she was filmed trying to seduce him and failed. That said, she and Mayu along with Shungo have a deeper past – one that’s essentially outlined in the opening animation and reinforced with obvious flashbacks scattered throughout before everything turns serious at the end. All three were childhood friends? Confusing situation made for twisted turns as they all got older and things were forgotten? Yes, the checklist is thoroughly checked here.
A lot of the charm really is through the fact that the core three are all fun characters. As we said, the male lead character tends to be the dead weight in a show like this but it’s made clear from the start why women pursue Shungo and in turn why Reika and Mayu are interested in him as well. There’s that deeper connection that peeks out from time to time, but the time in the present is what sells it because they have such a sense of fun with each other as they go through school situations, familiar wealthy family situations with Reika, and Mayu having problems with the size of her breasts and how that impacts those around her. The supporting cast is a lot of fun as well, particularly since older sister Ryoko feels like she lives a very rich and interesting life from the times we see her outside of the house as a mercenary that gets into some hilarious complex and wacky situations. Really, the show feels like it demands a spinoff for that character alone to see what she’s capable of.
Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun is not a high end piece of work but it’s also not just completely trashy either. There are some very neat moments throughout it with the characters that are really only brought down by how telegraphed the larger story is and how the opponents that they have to deal with are largely forgettable as barely stock villains when you get down to it. I had seen this show when it first came out and it left a positive impression on me, though I didn’t remember much of it in revisiting it and that was kind of nice. It’s a lightweight show that has just enough to keep you interested to see if it can exploit those differences yet not a strong enough show to do so. And yet, it doesn’t become a disappointment. I’m definitely glad the show finally got a physical media release instead of being one of a growing number of “lost” shows as those that enjoy it ought to be able to dig into it without worrying about streaming disappearing.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 22nd, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.