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"Maburaho" Vol. 2: Magic? Check. Mayhem? Check. Fun? Check Back Later.

Nowadays it seems as though every anime not based on an old movie/toy series or a shonen manga is a harem romantic comedy. Generic stuff with slight twists to try to stand out. Case in point: Maburaho.

Kazuki Shikimori, a student at Aoi Academy, has magical powers. But there’s a catch: he can only use them eight times before he turns into ash. With three of his exceptionally powerful spells gone, Kazuki needs to conserve his power, especially with three classmates after his genes.

At first it looks like Rin would rather kill Kazuki than have sex with him, but it turns out he reminds her of an old flame. Then, the girls hear that Kazuki’s parents are coming to town, so Yuna, Kuriko and Rin try their best to impress Kaz’s parents and gain their blessing. After that, a childhood friend (and the best student in the school) tries to team up with Kazuki’s class for the the Aoi School Festival. Finally, Nakamaru has to keep a young boy from stealing his pretty jewels. Read into that what you will.

You know, I miss the days when harem comedies were actually fun to watch. Sure, Ranma 1/2 got stale, but its first two seasons were funny and enjoyable, and I remember a time when Tenchi Muyo! was just plain awesome. Maburaho, on the other hand, lacks the spark that might have distinguished it. Yes, we get it, samurai girls can’t cook. Yes, parents coming to visit is cause for wacky high jinks. Neither is worth the 20 minutes it would take you to watch an episode, while the fourth episode on this disc isn’t even worth five.

Still, there are some good things in the first three episodes. Rin’s various costumes do look pretty good on her (one of them’s on the Maburaho box), and I did like her “monster stew.” Likewise, Rin’s attempts to smile and Yuna’s attempts to cook eel are actually pretty chuckle-worthy, even if you can see the jokes coming a mile away. And Yamase is a pretty interesting character, since she’s not nearly as crazy as the others nor as tricky.

Another good thing the series has is animation. True, it’s no Full Metal Panic! or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, but it’s fluid and there aren’t many cheats. J.C. Staff has come a long way from Excel Saga, and it shows. The only problem I noticed was that Yuna’s, Rin’s, and Yamase’s bust sizes shrank and grew as the episodes went on. Thankfully they never became basketballs like Kuriko’s, but it is rather annoying.

Like the animation, the music is good but not great. The opening theme is catchy, but the ending theme is dull. The background music fits the series well enough. The English dub is ADV’s usual quality, though Kazuki’s voice took some getting used to, Yuna’s voice is grating at times, and Tiffany Grant overacts a lot as Kuriko. If you liked ADV’s other works, this won’t steer you wrong. The Japanese dub is also decent, if not standout, but Kazuki’s voice is just plain irritating. He sounds like he can’t breathe through his nose, which makes him sound a lot geekier than he really is.

As for the extras, they’re good but not great (I know, what a shock). The main feature is a commentary by Blake Shepard (Kazuki) and Luci Christian (Yamase) for episode 7. This is a video commentary, so a video of them recording the commentary appears picture-in-picture style. Thankfully, the video stays in the corner, unlike the video commentary for Batman: The Animated Series. The commentary does give some inside info, but is mostly forgettable. Aside from that we have the clean opening & closing, stock art, trailers, and a little newspaper-like insert, which is a pretty interesting read. It mostly focuses on the school festival, but it does give a lesson about Piotr Twardowski, an alchemist (no, he didn’t make a Philospher’s Stone) who apparently made a deal with Satan for power. While this stuff is a lot better than most anime discs, it’s not exactly brimming with must-watch stuff.

Overall, this is only for serious fans of the first disc. Those who are sick of harem series need to turn far away, and those looking for better series should check out some older harem comedies like Tenchi Muyo! or Love Hina.

Episodes on Maburaho Volume 2: Magic and Mayhem:
Episode #05: He Did It…
Episode #06: They Found Out…
Episode #07: They Met…
Episode #08: They Did It…

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