Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer 2010: Asobi ni Ikuyo!

Oni. Pirates. Androids. Meganekko. Devils and tsundere. If it has danced at an Akihabara cafe, it's likely fallen from the sky as an alien and tried to acclimate to human society through intentional or accidental attraction to an awkward adolescent Japanese male. The only thing missing from this eclectic group are maids and nekomimi dancers.

And right on cue, the catgirl aliens have come.

Asobi ni Ikuyo! ("We're Coming to Play!") introduces us to Earth's next moe invaders. The show is produced by AIC PLUS+, no particular strangers to the "alien-babe" angle themselves, as they've had a hand in such shows as Tenchi Muy├┤, Onegai Teacher, and Black Heaven. However, contrary to past invaders, the Catian aliens just want to have fun, stating so directly in their "We're coming to play!" message sent to Earth.

The band's representative data-gatherer—Eris, an Orihime lookalike in hair color, personality, and apparent ditziness—does little to hide herself from this new civilization, invited to a dinner during an Okinawan funeral and falling for the food and cultural attention. While this doesn't exactly make the token bespectacled nerd Kio as nervous as some of his predecessors, it does panic him when Eris pokes her ears and tail out of his bed in the morning, dressed as the stereotypical bed scene would call for in the Otaku Book of Awkward Situations.

However, it's the harem that assembles around Kio that makes for uneasy conversation. Kio's next-door neighbor Manami is a gun junkie with a ham radio and dreams of joining the CIA. Kio's high-school teacher is part of some secret sect that demands the first contact with aliens be with the "beautiful" kind and not some souped-up silicone version. The quiet Aoi Futaba (not to be confused with Aoi Futaba, the transvestite from You're Under Arrest!) that shares movies with Kio? Oh, she's just some secret agent that can make guns appear out of nowhere. All of them want Eris either dead or primed for dissection, but that means worrying Kio.

And that is where this car-crash of a plot just collapses on itself. Instead of keeping the secrets locked away, the female cast pretty much caves in order to save Kio from danger. Instead of being strategic about Eris's technology, the production team pulls matter-vaporizing mallets out of thin air. Naturally, Eris is back in Kio's room the next day, still skimpily dressed, only for the next wave of female Catians to appear at Kio's doorstep.

Truthfully, Asobi ni Ikuyo! would be decent as an OAV series, especially if the producers wanted everything told in two episodes. Instead, the absurd story gets even more messed up with random encounters that hardly make sense and flighty characters that can't seem to decide on priorities. Eris is merely the Mihoshi of the 21st century, geared with unexplained gadgets and bubbleheaded explanations about her reproductive cycle. The fact that she has both cat ears and human ears gives the impression that the design was to appease cosplay fans and hearkens back to the same mistake made in Hyper Police.

There's only one real thing that can save Asobi ni Ikuyo! from being the disappointment of the summer:

Thomas Magnum, Private Investigator!
(Seriously, this character was in the show?!)

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