In what might be the final episode of the Maken-Ki anime franchise, Xebec took quite the unusual turn, giving us a prequel season finale that seems more like a new beginning than an ending.
Though I assume this episode to be non-canonical like all the other season two TV episodes, we actually get some new and interesting characters, and even a little bit of plot and character development. Though this was far from the sexiest episode it was also a reminder of how much better this series could have been if it had actually been built around an actual recurring story instead of episodic fillers.
Fans finally get a chance to see more than a token amount of Aki-sensei and company in their younger forms, something that is oft hinted at in the manga but never really delved into too deeply. Young Aki might as well be a totally different character, and I wonder if one of these volumes will have fanservice specials for this previous generation of girls?
Not a ton of fanservice in this one, there was one scene worth watching for on blu-ray though.
There was a higher than average amount of soft service in this episode.
There was one scene near the end where the villain of the week gets blasted, but her clothing remains intact in strategic areas. High chance of redraw here.
Final thoughts on the TV series
It’s too early to judge Maken-Ki Two! as an anime. The blu-rays are guaranteed to bring big changes, and who knows, maybe even added scenes. Until all the episodes are out- including a potential follow up OVA- in their fully uncensored forms, we really can’t know how effective this series will be in its true purpose (shamelessly compelling fans to giddily fap to it).
But what I can say is how good of a TV series Maken-Ki Two! was, because the TV series is now in the books.
The verdict? Just wait for the BDs to watch this. Though the art and production values are more than solid, the cast diverse and fun, some of the ideas inventive and smart… the bottom line is that you just never really care all that much about anything that happens because the entire series refuses to latch onto a recurring storyline.
While I’m sure the blu-rays will be enjoyable, I fear that Xebec might have made a mistake by taking a non-story approach to an ecchi series. Being cool to like is what sells disks and merchandise, and if anything the reaction to the TV series has moved that needle in the wrong direction. Sure, people will still be excited to see the boobies on blu-ray, but they would be a lot more excited to see them if they had been engrossed in the anime each week for the past 3 months.
Basically, Maken-Ki Two! followed the same formula as Yuushibu, except with even less plot. Lots of self contained episodes, lots of nudity on re-draw, good production values (relatively speaking) and occasionally, some actual fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Yuushibu fan, but regardless of what I may think, the show is currently selling at a below average clip (currently at a 1,667 BD sales per volume average). Even with its product placement and marketing tie-ins, it is unlikely that Asread will avoid a loss from producing Yuushibu, and I fear something similar might be in store for Maken-Ki Two!
We’ll see how this series ends up selling, but I would think anime companies would have figured out by now that you need more going on in a show than bare boobs to make money (unless you are just utterly magnificent like To Love-Ru Darkness). I hope Maken-Ki Two! escapes the recent funk for ecchi series and sells 10,000 BD copies per volume, but I’m not getting that vibe. Honestly, I would be pleasantly surprised, even contented, if it sells 4,000 per.
This isn’t the previous decade where just about any show with good animation and gratuitous nudity was a lock to sell 7,000 blu-rays or more. These days, you have to have at least a little cool factor going for you. And I don’t think Maken-Ki! Two has any.
I think the perfect strategy for an ecchi series is to animate a non-nude manga as a non-nude anime with good story, suck mainstream anime fans in, and then surprise us with added nudity on blu-ray (shows like Mirai Nikki and the anime original Code Geass did this). That’s why I was pretty excited about this approach in Maken-Ki Two’s first episode, except that the series failed to get any kind of story rolling which meant it failed at tricking us into believing it was an actual real anime and not just high budget softcore porn.
Imagine if (and this will require a powerful imagination) Maken-Ki! Two had been the most compelling, edge of your seat emotional bad-ass ride of the young 2014 anime year. Imagine how much more excited you’d be to see the added nudity on blu-ray then.
It’s not every day you see a Code Geass or Neon Genesis Evangelion that enters various G.O.A.T. anime discussions while still delivering the goods, but even shows like Shuffle!, Gantz and School Days were very good anime that added nudity on DVD/BD. Ideally you’d like to find something less hard hitting than Gantz, Elfen Lied, or Mirai Nikki, but there are zillions of good manga out there and this really shouldn’t be this big a challenge to find a good story with potential for boobage.
Now, if I could clone myself (or most of the readers here) 10,000 times and each of those clones had cash to burn, the ecchi side of the anime industry would be doing more than fine. But the fact is, people like us that appreciate fanservice anime for what it truly is just aren’t that common, and most of us are perfectly fine with downloading stuff instead of paying for it. As much as I love companies pandering to pervs like me, I don’t think you can easily have much success without at least trying to lure some of the mainstream fanbase in too.
Even the most successful nude ecchi series, Strike Witches, actually sold significantly less than it’s non-nude alternative Girls und Panzer. It’s not like Strike Witches was a huge success because of the nudity. It was a huge success because of it’s masterful otaku pandering with decent production values- the nudity just came along for the ride (and thankfully so).
At any rate, I hope this anime sells. Ecchi series have had a tough go of it since 2011, another financial failure here despite the production values and directing talent would be a pretty big blow.