Shuffle is not just an ordinary harem anime, rather it is -the- ordinary harem anime – if you’ve ever watched a generic harem anime, they were likely trying to pull a remedial rip-off of this series.
As it starts, it is truly not much – not even the main character appears to care about anything related to his worthless life. He has but a single girl obsessed with him, his childhood friend Kaede, and lives the life of a typical male anime highschooler with the name of Rin. All within episode one, that changes however, he’s no longer as generic as the rest, as with the conclusion of the first episode, he’s surrounded by supposed gods and devils. Shuffle has a strangely implemented element of the supernatural one will not find elsewhere.
The series treats the supernatural themes, alongside all other aspects, including service, very subtly as if they were common or obvious, during its 24 episode display of tears, love, and joy. Rin gradually becomes engulfed into his life, which he usually payed no attention to, considered previously he didn’t have one.
Now as our main character is surrounded by bishoujos, the series becomes as one would expect. Rin’s life becomes a matter of spending some intimate time with each of the girls in his life, yet also as one would expect, he’s incredibly indecisive – in the end however, he chooses a single girl which we wholeheartedly agree with, but not before overcoming a giant puddle of problems.
He was living with his childhood friend mentioned earlier, yet he had only come to realize what he has really been doing to her near the end of the series. Considering all of what she does for him, he’s been doing nothing more than taking advantage of her as he doesn’t love her romantically. Likewise, Kaede has her own personal issues in which she thinks of her service as some form of repentance even though she does indeed romantically adore Rin.
A great story indeed, but the content at hand is truly miserable, a very saddening tale until the happy end. You can see for yourself while watching the series the heart wrecking breakdown which occurs – one which we’ve only seen similar in a sadistic series such as Higurashi.
There is certainly too much to describe all of what goes on, but with each of the girls introduced as part of this harem – a “god”, a “devil”, a childhood friend, an experimental creature, and a simple friend, Rin ends up finding his true relationship towards them individually, whether it be one of romance, friendship, family, or otherwise. He wakes up and realizes he must take the initiative to control his own fate.
Once he makes this simple yet powerful revelation, it is then he comes able to understand what he has to do to help others. In the last stretch of the series, he averts a life threatening crisis ironically through threatening his own life, and thereby all ends well.
Some may find it silly or ridiculous how exactly the ending plays out, we find it both – yet magnificent is one term to describe it which none can logically deny. Certain episodes were dull, others more enticing and action packed as they followed the adventures of the female characters – yet overall it is spectacular and straightforward.
Just as the story is delivered raw, so is the service, and all is seen as is without censorship. The visuals are amongst that of the masters, lines are refined to a fine increment. Colors are rampant through the series in vividly defined displays. Emotions of the characters are not merely felt, they are seen as if they were physically in-front of you through expressive illustrations of tears, fatigue, and feelings.
Seitokai no Ichizon is undoubtedly the greatest of all harem animes through its unorthodox nature, however when it comes to the basics, Shuffle is by far the best.