Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? Review

This is review number three hundred and ninety two. This anime is part of the Summer 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Rokujouma no Shinryakusha or Invaders of the Rokojouma. It’s a twelve episode anime about a harem with a ghost, time traveler and an esper. Oh wait, wrong show. Or is it?! Let’s read on.

Story

The anime follows Koutarou Satomi as he moves into an apartment by himself. Attending high school, he decided to not be a burden to his father and rented a very cheap apartment close to his school. As he settles in the room, a ghost suddenly appears trying to kick him out. As they fight, an alien, an underground dweller and a magical girl also appears to claim the apartment. Koutarou soon realizes his solo life is about to get a lot more cramped.

Taking the Pants Off

This is a very standard anime. It has a very clichéd setup, and it’s loaded with so many character tropes that I literally frowned as I watch the first episode. As I keep watching though, I soon fell in love with the show.  Light novel anime rarely impresses me, especially something this standard, but it actually hits all the right spots. This anime is a good case of how a strong execution can make a standard concept standout beyond its expectations. This anime honestly sports so many light novel tropes that I really hate how it taunts them at me, but the show knows how to use these things properly. So many LN anime has been bogged down by its fan service and its harem that you just kinda sit back and watch exactly when the show will suck. That’s my initial impression with this anime. I sat back and watched the anime become burning garbage in the first episode as it introduces everything in one shot. I ended the first episode extremely impressed though. I wanted this show to suck, but I also know deep down that this anime is smart. It’ll be great, and I confirmed that fact after I happily finished the last episode unaware that it was the last episode. I just kept going, and very few anime can make me feel excited like that.

I don’t say that lightly. When you spot a legitimately good anime, you just can’t help but smile. I’m close to four hundred anime reviewed, damn it, the gems starts to standout in the sea of monotone conformity when you’ve seen as many as I have. But, what exactly makes this anime great? First and foremost, it’s smart. A good light novel anime should honestly be smart, but this show actually makes a connection with its audience. The first episode is a good example. The anime opened with the main character meeting people, setting up his cute romantic journey with the girl from the knitting club and eventually settling into a nice groove. After the first half of the first gawd damn episode though, a ghost character appears telling our main character to get the f*ck out. While the ghost and MC are squabbling, a magical girl appears asking both of them to get out as well. But another girl suddenly appears claiming the apartment is her home base to invade the surface people, and if sh*t isn’t complicated enough, another girl suddenly teleports into the room and claims it as hers. It’s now a giant clusterf*ck with too many characters, too many complicated setups and just enough convoluted ideas to really turn this anime into a disaster. I’ve seen waaaayyyyyy too many complicated anime crash with the same hurried premise. Black Bullet is a good example, where nothing really settles as it skips from one convoluted premise to another.

But, the anime actually expects you to think it’ll fail.

This is the thing I love with this anime. It’s very self-aware. It knows it’s gone the route of a convoluted LN setup, and it wants the audience to think it’ll be a giant clusterf*ck. Well, actually, the first three episodes actually felt like that, but its one true goal is also quickly established along with its clusterf*ck story. This show is a character showcase anime. It’s a show where the most important thing is to make the characters look good, to feature them in every turn and to establish a relationship among them. The whole setup of six people claiming ownership of a tatami room is just a goofy setup for the anime. Its true goal is to feature the characters. We have the basic tsundere, the big breasted big sister, the clumsy girl, the responsible girl, the home-y waifu character, the timid character and a ghost. I don’t know what trope she falls in, but it’s like the neutral childhood friend. Let’s go with that. The anime’s main focus is to feature each character, develop them and also establish a relationship among them. Of course, this many female characters can only mean one gawd damn thing for this light novel anime. Yes, one of LN anime’s favorite trope: HAREM.

This is a legit harem too, and not one of those accidental harems where a story just happens to contain female characters to get close with our suspiciously only male character. Nope. This is a direct harem, and it’s actually pretty refreshing to see one with so many basic character tropes making up the harem. Seeing so many basic things and overused tropes in the anime also adds to the expectations that the anime will suck. Really, the scale is weighed down by too many negative things now. How exactly will the anime make something good out of this heap of clichéd garbage?

The anime doesn’t really do anything special. It just relied on the main reason why these clichés and tropes are constantly overused. The anime presented us with a likeable tsundere, a likeable clumsy girl, a likeable big breasted sister character, a likeable teenage landlady, a likeable timid character and even a very likeable neutral childhood friend. The ghost isn’t really a childhood friend, but she fits in a spectrum of cliché that I just can’t quite pin. Anyways, the characters are basic but they’re done extremely well. As I watch the show give us a complicated plot of the characters playing card games to determine who officially owns the room, I can’t help but smile seeing all the clichéd characters done right. I smile at the harem done right. I smile at the wonderful interaction happening between the characters. I smile, because I know this anime will not suck. Sure, it’ll have many chances to disappoint but I just knew two episodes in that the anime will do fairly well.

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The anime does this all the time. It takes a basic overused concept, slaps us in the face with, then uses it to feature the characters in a different way that positively benefits them. For example, the transfer student cliché is done like this:

It’s stupid to introduce them all at once, but that’s the reaction the anime wants from the audience. Think of everything it does as stupid, but see how it defies your expectation later on. I also spew blood when the fourth episode is a freaking hot spring AND beach episode. Not one trope, but two of them stuffed into one. This anime is killing me, and I watch on as how it tries to spin this overdone concept. The anime did give us a legit hot spring and beach episode, but this is also where the anime settled into a comfortable pattern. Episode four and beyond features one of the harem characters getting close to our main character, Koutarou Satomi. With each character having their own setup and reason to claim the room, the episodes featuring the characters often goes off tangent in the most unpredictable manner. For example, the beach episode featured one of the characters having a fight with Koutarou. It’s over something stupid, but we soon see a ham fisted story of how the characters have “bonded” enough to care about each other. This led to all of them rescuing the captured harem member, and then fighting an enemy all of a sudden. As you can see, the plot is just one giant clusterf*ck but the main focus is on the characters. Koutarou would get into some cute situations with the characters, and it often leads to the audience liking the characters some more.

I can’t help but frown at the forced claim that the characters have bonded though. In the previous episode, they participated in a running event that had mines in it so they didn’t really “bond”. The anime is just using this “we’re friends so we care about each other” trope to force a climax to this ridiculous subplot. You can see how forced the entire setup is, but the characters still shined despite that. It’s not just the harem character featured in the episode as well, but every single character gets a time to shine. They get their little quirks in, and their interaction grows into something more solid. The story might not really give depth to the characters, but it was still able to make them look good. Whether it’s the tsundere attacking with her robot cannons or the big breasted sister character looking cool with her cute haniwa weapons, every character is utilized and benefits from the little encounters the group experiences. It comes to a point where the story doesn’t really matter, and even I am shocked by that idea. As a proud story slut, who loves his exposition flowing like thick gravy, I eventually realized that the characters are important above all else for this anime. It works, and I personally can’t believe that it works.

As for the general outline of the anime, I am also strangely drawn towards how it balances so many genres and concepts to create one cohesive story. I personally love light novels that crams too many ideas and make gold out of it. The first LN anime that I saw did this is Nanana’s Buried Treasure where so many things happen in one chapter that it’ll make your head spin. It has mystery, supernatural, action, romance, Ecchi and drama in each chapter. The story arcs progress in a genre order, and it was impressive how complex the setup is. For this anime, it has a harem setup but also a supernatural angle, a fantasy angle, a sci-fi angle, a magical girl angle, a romance angle and a comedy slice of life spin as well. It’s too much, and while the story itself never really blossoms, the individual genres were nicely executed. It goes back to the show being basic. All the basic ideas that make each genre good are also nicely presented in the anime. They might not make a cohesive story overall, but I love how it never really drags the anime down. As the show progresses, the basics, that makes a genre good, eventually gives more depth to the characters. While the story might not really add much to the characters, the different genres does help to give them an interesting backstory that makes them more likeable. It’s pretty gawd damn amazing how the anime does this complicated setup with ease. I’ve seen so many LN anime fumble at telling a single volume of the original source, but this LN anime just goes all out and makes it look easy.

There is one big reason why this anime also works despite its complicated setup. At its core, this anime is a club themed anime. These are shows that basically revolve around a club and its members. It gradually evolved though, but you’ll often spot these anime since they often spend their time confined in a room just doing random stuff. Think back to shows like Setokai no Ichizon, Ebiten, and Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. These shows don’t really taunt a great story, but they have rich characters. These characters just bonds and they did random things confined in their club room. The club themed anime can shift tone to suit its purpose, so the love story can be put aside to focus on the characters playing VN games. Maybe have the harem suspended to have the characters play doctor with each other. The point is that you can basically do anything with a club themed anime. You can even push its limits, and Haruhi Suzumiya proved how a club themed anime can really shoot for the stars. LN has a trend, and club themed anime eventually weakened in place of newer trends (like Isekai). Rokujouma no Shinryakusha is a club themed anime at its roots and, just like Haruhi Suzumiya, it can feature any genre to make the characters shine. Haruhi has an amazing plot though, but I’m guessing this anime eventually improved the plot as well. It has the potential to shoot for the stars, so I’m betting the plot does settle down at some point.

Anyways, each character gets two episodes with Koutarou focusing on their unique situation. They’re all pretty great, and their little subplots eventually make the characters more likeable. One of the best characters in the show is the magical girl, Yurika Nijino. I f*cking hate this character starting out because of her whiny voice. I actually thought she was voiced by Mikuru (from Haruhi Suzumiya) but the annoying factor is amped up to eleven. Whenever she whines, I wanted to strangle her. The show made me care for the character though. I love how she often does something significant in every subplot, and she comes off as this self-sacrificing superhero that eventually saves the day. In fact, I love her subplot the most. It features a very basic magical girl showdown but I also love the romantic moment between her and Koutarou. It was the most grounded out of all the character subplots, and I love how the show made me care. I hated this character, and I wanted to strangle her, but I eventually grew to root for her and even smile whenever she speaks with that f*cking whiny voice of hers. The show has a way to make characters become endearing, and this annoying magical girl is a big example of that.

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I also love how the harem gradually developed as the show progressed. It’s a bit forced, but every girl eventually shares something unique with Koutarou and it sets them apart from each other. The ghost girl would hug Koutarou often while he’s a knight to another character, a level headed comrade for another, a supportive friend for another and a caring kouhai for another. The harem also fights for his attention, but not really that blatant. The characters would just eventually want him to look at only one of them, but they’d also band together to fend off another character being too close to him. This is harem done right, to be honest. A lot of harem anime misses the point that they don’t just crave for the male character but they have a relationship with him. After all, they need a reason to love the character other than the typical “omg, he’s so cool” excuse. Actually, LN anime does this a lot so I really appreciate the rare LN ones that don’t resort to forcing the main character to do cool things. Koutarou did get his hero moments, but it doesn’t really overshadow the harem itself.

As for negatives for this anime, I must admit that the exposition can get overwhelming at some point. During the big breasted sister subplot, I kinda wondered off because there were too many information being dumped in one episode. I was fine with it when the tsundere character had her story, but I was kinda burned out when I reached the big breasted girl’s arc. It was also before the stupidly simple magical girl subplot that didn’t really feature any big story. It’s basic good magical girl versus bad featuring some heroics from the best character in the show. In fact, the big breasted girl is actually featured less than the other characters. She has her role, but it’s not as impactful as the other characters. I’m sure that’s just my own subjective taste though, since I’m not fond of her character trope as well. Compared to the tsundere though, I was really just not feeling the same endearing charm from the big breasted girl. Even the tsundere’s assistant had more charm as she keeps going apesh*t at the sight of beetles. Little quirks like that makes a character standout, and the big breasted character didn’t really have that much. Well, yeah, she has boobs so I guess it balances out.

Silver Link is a pretty OK studio. They have their rare standouts like Non Non Biyori and Watamote, but they rarely have solid hits. It’s mainly because they love doing LN adaptations, but most of them don’t really standout. In a sea of LN adaptation, most of Silver Link’s works aren’t that prominent. They did release a ton of sh*t from 2015 and beyond though, so I think the studio hits it groove at some point. Hey, it could’ve started here. I do hope their other releases are hopefully as good as this anime. They did make Chaos;Child though, so that worries me. This anime is directed by Shin Oonuma, and he basically directed a lot of Silver Link’s anime. This anime is the perfect glove for his talented hands though, because it features a lot of his old style. Having directed Fate Kalied, Watamote, Baka to Test, and even storyboarding Level E, his experience with so many varied anime really helped in delivering the awesomeness of Rokujouma no Shinryakusha. LNs like this one is complex and a b*tch to adapt, but he really handled the adaptation nicely. He’s not really good with story progression though, and I hope he improved on that aspect since his directorial work is pretty solid. Having worked under Akiyuki Shinbo for so long, you’d think story progression is something he’d have nailed by now. If it’s just crazy fun though, then I think Shin is a good choice for it.

Sight and Sound

The character design is made by an illustrator named Poco. His design is pretty typical LN with colors that pop and a clean style that features the characters in a brilliant way. I’m mostly going off the LN covers though, and they’re typical LN covers. The design in the anime is pretty close to Poco’s LN designs, and I guess they’re pretty basic. I usually compliment the outfits and the faces but they don’t really stand out. The word I’m thinking of is “basic”, and I guess it fits with the anime’s style. After all, how do you envision a tsundere character? They’re short, long hair and a little “moe”, right? The character design doesn’t stray far from its trope, and it also doesn’t get ambitious with it. It’s just standard, and I think it helps the anime. After all, the show is meant to make you be unimpressed first before being amazed by the characters. Simple designs help carry that sentiment. I love Poco’s clean style though, because most LN artists go for big poses and such. Poco just gives us a simple pose with simple details, and it’s restraint you won’t often find in LN. I’d give points for the magical girl having a twin tail though, because even tentacle porn magical girls sport that style. It’s a magical girl staple now, and I appreciate the way the design actually celebrate the tropes. Yeah, it’s weird I found a way to mention tentacle porn here but there you go. This LN also has a manga adaptation, by the way, but I’m reviewing the original ones from the original source.

The animation is pretty incredible. The show goes from slow paced to action packed to fast pace to romantic at the drop of a hat, and the animation is able to properly present every twist and turn. The movements are nicely animated, and I especially love how each character is presented. There’s so much detail here, and every character’s little reactions are different. When tsundere overreacts, big breasted girl would just smile and the reactions often happen at the same scene. In fact, I love the packed room scenes because there’s so much detail in them. Everyone reacts to the scene, and the quality never drops. Sure, some of them are blocked by other characters but the animation itself isn’t really hampered by the many characters to animate in a small space. The director also knows how to set a mood, and I love the little details he put in certain scenes. A good example is the piggy back scene in magical girl’s subplot, since the colors are faded and the tone is really light. This is contrast to the mature atmosphere of Koutarou’s date with the big breasted girl. Gawd, I don’t remember her name. How many times did I type that word already? Anyways, the animation also picks up at the action scenes. Every punch and blast looks really cool, and I love the smart blend of CG. The incantations and the robots don’t look stiff, and they’re able to blend in to the pace of the scene. Of course, facial reactions are also really well done. Silver Link really went all out with this anime, and I really love how much effort is put in the animation.

The anime’s OP is “Koukan win-win Mujouken” by Heart♡Invader. I love this song, because it reminds me of Oreshura’s OP song. It features the cast singing a very vibrant and catchy song, and I am just a sucker for OP songs like this. The song is about a girl trying to make a guy notice him, but it’s sung by the entire harem so there’s a cute vibe to the lyrics. I also love how the voices just meld together giving the song a unique personality. I am also in love with OP sequence. It doesn’t feature all the girls, but it’s still pretty good. The animation is vibrant and the bright colors really make it standout. I also love the scene where the characters play cards, and they all have this sad look on their face. It’s because Koutarou is about to lose, and he’ll have to leave the room. Look at how beautiful the OP scene is, as that one solitary scene perfectly captures the spirit of the anime. It also ends with an amazing animation scene of the magical girl fumbling. It’s awesome.

The anime’s ED is “Koi wa Milk Tea” by petit milady. The song starts with the lines “I want to have a scandal with you”, and yeah, what the hell? It’s insanely mature, but I actually like it. The duo singers have strong powerful voices that deliver the line with a very lovely conviction. After the 3rd mention of milk tea, I just can’t stop listening to it. It’s really suggestive though, and a bit explicit since I don’t think they’re talking about love in the song. No, it’s something else. The ED sequence is a bit weird featuring the same vibrant girls from the OP sequence now looking serious and sad. It’s a good way to power down the anime, I guess. It’s a bit confusing how the song and the sequence don’t quite playoff each other. It’s like the entire thing is an afterthought or something.

Overall Score

8/10 “It’s overcrowded and convoluted but the execution is just something to be amazed with.”

This anime starts out underwhelming and a little bit of a clusterf*ck, but it really turns into something more impressive. The character showcase is entertaining, and you’d soon be caught up in all the wonderful characters crammed in Apartment 106. Here’s a good indicator of how great this anime is. You’d be smiling at its clichéd Christmas episode, and you’ll realize you honestly want. This is a strong LN anime. This is a rarely good LN anime, and it’s just entertaining through and through. I highly recommend it.

2 thoughts on “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? Review

    • I’ve seen a few episodes of Sabagebu, and it’s more like Upotte or some club themed anime about guns It’s actually a Summer 2014 lineup, so I’ll review it soon enough.

Thoughts~

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