Invaders Of The Rokujyoma!? (Cert 15)
3 Discs DVD/2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 292 minutes approx.
Harem comedies. The ultimate one note joke concept and predominant wish fulfilment show for lonely male otaku everywhere and a formula that one can tamper with or be truly original. Or can they? The mononymous Takehaya’s light novel series gives it a good go with a central set-up that rivals and possibly even surpasses Is This a Zombie? for the title of “wackiest harem premise”.
Left to fend for himself, high school student Kotaro Satomi thinks he has hit the jackpot with Room 106, a very cheap six tatami (rokujyoma) apartment at 5,000 yen a month rent and a cute landlady to boot in fellow high schooler Shizuka Kasagi. Whilst on an archaeological dig, Kotaro falls into a hole and awakens a female spirit underground before passing out.
Returning home, Kotaro finds a young woman in his apartment, Sanae Higashihongan, a ghost waiting for her parents to return for her. Suddenly crashing through the window is clumsy magical girl Yurika Nijino, claiming Room 106 is full of magical energy she has to protect against evil magical girls. Kiriha Kurano arrives next from the underground, needing the room to rebuild a shrine to generate energy to create weapons for an invasion of the surface.
Finally, from outer space is nobility Theiamillis Gre Fortorthe and her servant Ruthkhania Nye Pardomshiha, the former being sent to claim her own territory on Earth, and guess where she has chosen? Despite such fearsome opposition, Kotaro is not prepared to give up his cushy room without a fight, but before an all out war is raged, landlady Shizuka forces everyone to sign a contract vowing they won’t fight on the premises.
This is just the half of it yet the above summary is likely to pique the interest of even the most disillusioned anime fan tired of the harem genre, so the big questions are: has Takehaya finally cracked the repetitive cycle of this well worn formula and broken new ground, and does the show deliver on what it promises with its offbeat set up?
In all honesty the answer is yes and no, the latter decision needing a little clarification. The reason it may not seem all that original is that it plays up to every trope and cliché imaginable of the genre, yet does so with a subtle tongue in cheek approach suggesting it is as much a parody as it is a subversive entry into the canon. This can be easily missed therefore it is either very clever or too clever for its own good.
But, if one misses this point, there is still plenty of alternate plot developments that figure into this offering something new for the jaded fan. First and foremost, the key objective of the female “invaders” is not the lone male stuck in the middle, immediately dispensing with the “which girl should Kotaro hook up with?” conceit.
That path is already covered by the presence of Kotaro’s knitting club senpai Harumi Sakuraba, a rich girl with tacit feelings for Kotaro she is too shy to express, while he is unable to do the same. Granted, Sanae feels an attachment to Kotaro over time and even designated tsundere Theiamillia – referred to hereafter as Theia – entertains the odd notion but romance is strictly off the agenda.
So, what good is a harem comedy without the usual combat of the potential love interests? This is the twist Takehaya works beautifully into the narrative. Aside from Room 106’s contrived location benefits for the girls, the biggest reward on offer to everyone is friendship. Over the course of twelve episodes, these disparate interlopers begin to gel as a group and soon the peaceful contest for the ownership of Room 106 is quietly forgotten, and communal welfare becomes the main priority.
As mentioned earlier this show is a subtle parody, and as such, it plays up to certain genre conventions with gleeful abandon, not limited to having each girl arrive at Kotaro’s school en masse as transfer students. Then there is the beach episode for anyone suffering from fan service withdrawal, the school festival events and the hot springs trip – all executed with total innocence.
The second half of this set focuses on the individual missions of the girls, putting this newfound unity to the test in thwarting enemy attacks. The only down side to this is that these incidents are concluded inside one or two episodes and the antagonist is not seen or heard of again, belying the importance that fuelled their plights in the first place.
Yet this gives the characters a chance to fully explore their backstories and explain their predicaments, and adds a fresh perspective to the narrative through each scenario. The one who benefits the most from this is Yurika, the magical girl everyone thinks is a cosplayer. She is the unsung hero of the show, an earnest and giving girl who regularly saves the day without the others knowing yet never gets the credit she deserves.
While clichéd to the hilt, it is good that the personalities of the characters stand out because their designs are so vanilla, you can possibly name a dozen other shows in which you’ve seen the exact same looking cast, and that includes Kotaro. Silver Light’s animation is again to type, but this may also tie in with the overall self-awareness of lampooning the genre, so in that respect it is wholly suitable.
The biggest hurdle for fans is getting past the first couple of episodes which follow the genre blueprint to the letter before gradually revealing its true intent. This, along with the double meaning of the title, sets this show up for an immediate fall, reaffirming the old adage about books and covers.
For all its subversive motivations Invaders Of The Rokujyoma!? is harmless fun that works on two levels, likely to amuse or bemuse audiences either way, depending on one’s capacity for detecting the subtleties of its central conceit.
Japanese 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
Disc 1 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ***
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