Sunday, 13 February 2011

Anime Review - MM!

Panty shots ahoy Cap'n!
Although most ecchi releases seem to focus on a mini-harem with a tsundere in a central role, there is something about MM! that sets it apart from a mire of mediocrity. I’m still not sure why this title found its way into my watching list, but the love/hate relationship it invoked in many left me at least a little curious about its content: Taro Sado is a masochist; he spends his days getting his jollies from women verbally and physically abusing him. Deciding that his fetish is encroaching into his school life too much, he turns to the Second Volunteer Club to help cure him of this amusing ailment. Unfortunately, their feisty (borderline sadist) leader Mio is perhaps not the best choice as a caring nurse....

Viva PiƱata!
Primarily parody driven, MM! doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Each episode features a nod to the otaku culture, even going as far as including every stereotype you can think of. From a forthright pettanko loli and her lolicon admirer to an attractive genderbender, poor Taro seems to find admirers in all the wrong places. Although entertaining, this is not the sole focus of the show and a significant proportion of each episode is spent watching the sado-masochist relationship between the main protagonists grow. The dynamic between Mio and her submissive pig-boy works extremely well, with a hinted romance bubbling away in the background that will have you cheering the duo in their reluctant endeavours.
Taro soon learned that after-school classes could
have a questionable curriculum
But, as always with love stories, things don’t run true and the male hating androphobe Arashiko is thrown into the mix. After suffering in a relationship with a dominant partner, she is left terrified of men and subsequently turns to the Second Volunteer Club for help with her phobia. Personally I found this quite a bold step to take, as this young girl is left extremely vulnerable from what amounted to attempted rape. Papering over this awkward subject quite quickly, Arashiko finds herself helping in the salvation of Taro and ultimately develops feelings for the boy that she can seemingly never act upon. Although this can be quite frustrating to watch, the writers have certainly found themselves an unusual pairing that works.
All of this seriousness aside, the colourful variation in the characters and their interesting methods of curing a masochist are at times laugh out loud funny. I found myself giggling like a mental patient as the prerequisite beach episode saw the girls hanging a bucket of crabs on Taro’s various body parts. Sure, it is frequently silly and over the top, but the story has definitely been one of the best I’ve seen attributed to an ecchi show in a long, long time. If you ignore the distinct lack of satisfactory ending that is.
Look into my eyes, my eyes,
 not around the eyes, into the eyes
Slick and clean, the lines used in MM! are certainly a warm welcome to the new decade of animation. The character designs do err on the side of generic, but this is no bad thing considering that it is intentionally done to match the comically recycled personalities. Mio especially is lovingly drawn and then dropped into some delectable outfits that will have the male viewers falling over themselves for one glimpse of a panty shot. Again, the parody aspect can be applauded for introducing distinct styles to the visuals; one episode in particular pays homage to Dragonball Z – supercharged antigravity hair included!

Opening with a somewhat catchy J-pop number, the accompanying credits are an excellent introduction to the mayhem the viewer is about to be exposed to. Sung by the leading lady herself, both this and the closing audio are excellent choices that fit the atmosphere of the rom-com, ecchi fiesta perfectly. That said, I definitely felt that the final visuals were a reverence to Haruhi Suzumiya, featuring Mio and Arashiko dancing in various states of undress...

So many comments that "could" be made here...
Although she seems a relative newcomer to the world of the seiyuu, Ayana Taketatsu is forging a name for herself with characters such as Azu-nyan from K-On!, and she is certainly no disappointment as the brash Mio. On the other hand, Jun Fukuyama is a seasoned pro, and this definitely shows in his flawless performance as Taro; predominantly shy and confused, the vocal talents switch easily to the frequent outbursts of perversion from the perverted masochist. Although the pair certainly steal the limelight, the remaining cast certainly hold their own in a battle of over-the-top voice acting.

Taro spent some time getting to grips with his plunger
Coming across as a multiple personality weirdo, Taro is certainly unlike any other harem ruler I’ve seen before. One moment, he is showing a shy and naive side, the next he is a slobbering beast begging for punishment from his mistress. Although this grates a little in the first few episodes, the writers soon find their stride and the pervert becomes a brilliant comedy one-man show. The Waldorf to this Statler is Mio – an adorable beauty who has a penchant for baseball bats and causing pain to those she considers beneath herself. Hiding her true feelings from Taro, it seems that the feisty nature is actually an act and she is a frightened little girl at heart. This fragile nature matures as the episodes roll by and give the loveable tsundere depth.

Making up the final corner of a triangle, Arashiko is a worthy opponent in the race to win Taro’s heart. Although the polar opposite to Mio, the male-hating girl comes into her own as she begins to realise that maybe she could fall in love. As the only other Y-chromosome character in the show, Tatsukichi harbours a dark secret that is played upon (successfully) throughout the series in possibly some of the most inopportune times – but somehow remains completely loveable! With the remaining noteworthy characters featuring a lovelorn loli, a secondary tsundere with lesbian traits, a mother with an unhealthy obsession for hooking up with her son and photography obsessed school nurse, hopefully you will find at least one likeable cast member.

If only highschool life was always like this...
Although it may not appeal to everyone, MM! iscertainly a show that should be given a chance to shine and win the viewer round due to the run of the mill start. The first hour may be a little slow, but a point of enlightenment is reached around episode five as the characters are given an opportunity to bring their A-game to the table. Fans of ecchi will appreciate a new spin on an old harem tale, whereas those new to the genre may miss some of the hilarious parodies but still enjoy the je ne sais quoi offered by the cast. Either way, MM! is a fun ride and rumours of a second series give me hope that a satisfying climax may not be too far away.


  1. um... my last comment didn't post... Anyway, THis is Jiropracter!! I was too lazy to make an account =P Thanks for posting another great review.

  2. I went into this series with low expectations but ended up loving it. It was one of my favourites last season. Thanks for the review! ~kitty