I suppose one could call it ‘the nipple factor’. With the exception of R.O.D. the TV, every show that has female nudity and actually includes nipples, rather than trying to be artistic and tasteful with the Barbie-doll factor or concealing crucial areas, has been catering to the lowest common denominator, ended up being trashy rubbish and actually removed rather than enhanced most of the attractiveness of the characters. Let’s face it: a drawing is a drawing, and dots for nipples aren't going to do it for most.
Anyway, Shuffle! got a fairly bad rep in the anime community. And a lot of it really is very bad. However, it actually manages to be better than expected, but only because the first and second halves of the series seem like completely different shows.
The first half is pretty awful. Rin, an ordinary sort of a boy, is surrounded by cute girls, including one who lives with him and acts virtually as a servant of her own free will. Not only this, but the world he lives in is populated not solely by humans but also by demons and gods, distinguished mostly by their kawaii~ pointy ears. Rin’s daily life is disturbed when two new girls transfer to his school and announce that not only are they both princesses (one of the gods, the other of the demons), but both want to take Rin as husband and make him ruler of an entire dimension.
The absurdity only increases. We have the normal harem nonsense of beach episodes and comedic mix-ups. We then get utterly trite angst with the channelling of dead twins and split personalities, and an overlong subplot about little engineered lolis who can only be saved by the power of love.
The second half, however, mostly ignores this sort of rubbish as Rin seems to be leaning towards another girl altogether, a long-time friend who is the least cliché of all the girls. This part actually begins to work, even when jealousy is taken a very long way, but then it all tumbles down again because of lazy writers falling back on magic.
In the end, Shuffle! isn’t dire, and at times it actually leans towards Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien in a rather appealing way, but ultimately it’s laden with too much crap to be considered anything like a good series.
However, it brings to anime the rather excellent term ミスターロリペドフィン!
(originally written 11.12.08)