Visual Novel / SHUFFLE!
is an H-Game
that was adapted
into a successful Harem Anime
. The series is notable for its vivid character designs, catchy tunes, and interesting plot twists. While still a comedy, SHUFFLE!
is far more emotional than many of its counterparts in the harem genre.
The series is set in a world much like our own, but which diverged from ours when, about a decade previous to the start of the story, a gateway to the world of the demons and the world of the gods appeared (in spite of their names, the gods and demons aren't any more or less evil or good than humans, the only difference from humans being their ability to use magic and their pointed triangular ears, and the only difference between the gods and the demons being the length of the ears). Gods and demons begin migrating to Earth, and in spite of the presence of magic and non-humans, everyday life continues on much as it had before.
The story starts when the ordinary lives
of Rin and his childhood friend
Kaede is disrupted by the arrival of the king of the gods and the king of the demons, both of whom have decided the human Rin is to be the heir to their kingdoms... meaning that they each want him to marry their respective daughters, Lisianthus (Sia) of the gods and Nerine (Rin again in the Japanese version, Rina in the dub to avoid confusion with the Unlucky Everydude
) of the demons. Soon thereafter the mysterious, emotionless
Primula (or Rimu/Rim
) shows up. Together with Kaede's senpai
Asa, these are the five girls from whom Rin must choose his girlfriend.
There's also a second season, SHUFFLE! Memories
(which is basically a recap of the first anime), an Updated Re-release
named Shuffle! Essence+
and three spin-off games: Tick! Tack!
, Really? Really!
and SHUFFLE! Love Rainbow
. The original game, Tick! Tack!
and Really? Really!
were officially released in English by Mangagamer.
This work provides examples of:
- Accidental Kiss: Refer to Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends. Completely by accident, Kaede ends up falling over Sia and kisses her due to the momentum. Doubles as Les Yay and a Ship Tease. It may be possible they become Schoolgirl Lesbians, but it's never explained.
- Happens in Really? Really! with Kaede falling on Rin.
- Accidental Pervert: Rin with just about any girl.
- A-Cup Angst: Mayumi
- It is not that she dislikes her breasts, in fact far from it, it is just she hates being teased about it.
- Really? Really! retcons her not disliking her breasts by having her adjust their size in multiple memories. She always gets called out on it and gets depressed that nobody goes along with it. Though another memory shows that she's about b-cup, meaning the teasing doesn't make any sense.
- Adaptation Dye-Job:
- Asa's hair in the Visual Novel is a different shade of green, along with slight hair colour changes in other characters as well.
- Mayumi got a dye job to her eyes, of all things. Her heterochromia are much, much more obvious in the game than the show.
- Against the Setting Sun: Rin confesses to Asa, and they kiss Against the Setting Sun.
- Amusing Injuries: Mostly involving God's head being connected to Sia's choice of chair for the day.
Itsuki: (Referring to Primula) Don't worry Rin, it's healthy to embrace your fetishes...
Rin: You bastard...
Mayumi: Huh, what do you mean?
Itsuki: What I'm trying to say is that Rin is a Loli-Pedo...
Rin: (SMASHES his fist into Itsuki's solar plexus)
Itsuki:' Wheeeze.... (Dies)
- Averted with Kaede's treatment of Rin in the past.
- Artificial Human: Primula and Nerine's clone Lycoris.
- Badass: Just watch the beginning of episode 4 and try saying with a straight face that Nerine isn't.
- Shortly afterwards, in the same episode, Rin's teacher Ms. Beni scared both the dads when saying it's time for a parent\teacher conference (to put this into perspective, SHE SCARED GOD AND SATAN).
- Batman Gambit: Forbesii and Eustoma constantly use this to encourage Rin to choose their respective daughter over the other.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Both Sia and Nerine towards Rin.
- Berserk Button: Kaede, see Clingy Jealous Girl below.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Nerine: sweet, kind and gentle, but say anything about Rin and you go explodey
- Kaede. Very sweet, but take Rin away from her, and... hoo boy... Though only in the anime.)
- Bishōnen: Arguably Rin, but YMMV.
- Bokukko: Asa AND her Mommy Ama, the latter of whom amazingly is still girly in spite of her use of masculine pronouns to refer to herself.
- Book Ends:
- The scene in the first episode where Kaede gives Rin his lunch while forgetting her own is replicated in the last episode, where Rin is replaced by Primula.
- The first and last episodes both show Kaede wrapped in a green towel after a bath.
- Break the Cutie: This happened to Kaede when her mother died. She was so hopeless that Rin made her think that he was at fault so she'd at least live to hate him since she was just fading away otherwise.
- Bumbling Dad:
- Sia's father, Eustoma.
- In the H-Game, both Sia and Nerine's dads.
- Camera Fiend: Mayumi. If there's a relationship development and she's around, it's getting recorded for posterity.
- Catch Phrase: "My my my!" from Kareha.
- Chekhov's Gun: There are numerous examples scattered throughout the series. A few examples: Sia and mirrors, the flashback with Kaede, and Rin getting the boxcutter in episode 23.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Kaede, who tends to wait on Rin hand and foot.
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Shown in one mini-scene in the ending credits of the final episode, rather than in the series itself.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Some of the girls towards Rin, but especially Kaede. Five words: "Give Rin-kun... back to me..."
- Clone Degeneration: The clone of Nerine was never expected to live very long.
- Color-Coded Characters: Each of the eligible girls has a different hair colour, which can also be related to her personality and one of the five Japanese Elements.
- Kaede is orange haired, with a very down-to-earth and dependable attitude. (Earth)
- Nerine has blue hair, with hidden depths and a mostly calm demeanor. (Water)
- Asa has green hair, and tends to be energetic and capricious. (Wind)
- Lisianthus has red hair, and a bit of a fiery temper (especially if you're her dad). (Fire)
- Primula's hair is purple, and at first she seems to be an empty Emotionless Girl. (Void)
- Conspicuous CG: The teacups at the love theme park in episode 18 stands out.
- Cool Big Sis: Asa-senpai, oh, so very, very cool.
- Covert Pervert: Kareha. Only covert in that she doesn't say out loud what she's imagining. However, whenever a situation that could be construed as romantic or perverted presents itself, she will Squee and glow.
- Cutting Off the Branches: Averted. Barring Primula, each girl wins in a different continuity or followup. Lisanthus gets the manga, Asa the anime, Really? Really! is a continuation of Kaede's path while Tick Tack is a sequel for Nerine.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Demons here aren't evil. In fact, Forbesii is a really Nice Guy though he is fairly savvy to common anime fetishes like maid and catgirl outfits.
Forbesii: "My wife and Nerine-chan won't let me do chores at home because they're worried about what others might say..."
Rin: "I bet the number of devil worshipers is decreasing..."
- Date Peepers: When four people conspire to create the perfect date for a couple, don't expect them to let the date happen naturally.
- Dirty Kid: There's a little kid called Masato who likes to pull up the girls' skirts at the tea shop Kareha works at. She's not very disturbed by it. The temp waitress, on the other hand, is terrified, for the simple reason that she lost her panties earlier.
- Driven to Suicide: Killing himself is the ONLY way that Rin can save Asa from dying. It forces her to use all the built up magic in her body to bring him back to life, which was the very problem that was killing her.
- Attempted by Kaede in the anime after she learns the truth about her mother's death. She only lives because Rin pulled her back a moment before a truck hit her.
- Emotionless Girl: Primula. Though as her own route reveals, its not that she doesn't have emotions, she just doesn't know how to express them. Her actual personality is really very bubbly and cheerful.
- Extreme Doormat: Invoked by Kaede. She absolutely refuses to let Rin do any work without Rin taking a long time to convince her.
- Eye Catch: Either some happy frolicking cats if it's a happy episode or the girls looking serious if it's a dramatic episode.
- Eye Scream: In their flashbacks together, Kaede is seen dropping a boxcutter in such a way so that it slices Rin's eye. He gets better, though.
- Eyes Are Unbreakable: Rin's eye suffers no permanent damage from Kaede cutting it by dropping a boxcutter that cuts Rin's eye.
- Fan Disservice: Especially later on in the anime: if you see a naked breast, clearly, something is about to happen.
- Fanservice: Plenty all around. You see every major female character's breasts at one point or another, with Asa being the first.
- Fantastic Arousal: Nerine's ears.
- First Girl Wins: Averted BIG time in the anime series. In the Visual Novel, there's no clear main heroine, so it's mostly averted.
- Played straight in the manga with Lisianthus, although she's apparently willing to share!
- Floral Theme Naming: A lot of names are themed around plants, especially flowers.
- Freak Out: Kaede after her mother's death and in the anime once Rin starts spending less time with her and more time with Asa
- Gainaxing: Everyone, but Benibara-sensei deserves special mention.
- Genki Girl: Asa and Sia
- Heroic BSOD: Kaede goes into one at her mother's funeral. She no longer had any will or reason to live due to the shock. Another occures when Rin starts spending more time with Asa.
- Hexagonal Speech Balloon: The anime frequently uses arrow-shaped boxes when someone is talking, both when they're too far away to be seen, and when they're off-screen.
- Idiot Ball: Gets passed around in a few of the arcs, most notably, Asa's and Kaede's.
- Ill Girl: Asa and Primula, at least to some extent.
- Instant Fan Club: parodied mercilessly. Just look at Kitto Kitto Kaede and Ai Ai Asa.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: When Primula starts to lose control, the experimenters were planning on resetting her emotions to bring her back in line.
- In the H-Game, Primula pulls it with Rin. In a really inappropriate moment.
- Lecture as Exposition: The first lecture is the history of the gate opening between the human world and the realms of the gods and demons. Another lecture later on refers to medieval alchemy, relating to the development of science and relating to magic.
- Leitmotif: Some characters have this, the most obvious being Sia and Kaede, whose Leitmotifs evolved into their Image Songs.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Caring for Rin props up Kaede's entire life. When this is removed, it's not pretty for anyone.
- Lower Deck Episode: The episode that featured Mayumi and Ms. Beni.
- Manly Tears: For being the King of the Gods, Eustoma sheds quite a few of them.
- Marry Them All: Sia also notes that the world of the gods is polygamous, thus leaving things potentially open ended. A couple endings do build on this:
- Sia has two endings, one of which involves sharing Rin with her sister.
- Tick Tack, a Nerine spinoff, has something similar as an option.
- In Kareha's route Kaede and the other original Shuffle girls (apart from Asa, who is basically included in this decision despite her absence) pull Rin aside to let him know that while they're accepting of his relationship with her, they're not going to give up yet. When Rin tells Kareha about it, she just says that she doesn't know if she'd get jealous or not but if Rin wants to she doesn't really have any problem with the idea. She is from the world of the gods, even if she's been attending Rin's school for a few years. In Kareha's epilogue, Tsubomi invites herself into the relationship.
- Maybe Ever After: A few endings leave things open for Rin to be polygamous, though the story generally refrains from actually making it canon apart from very specific scenarios.
- Mistaken for Servant: Kaede is mistaken for Rin's maid when their new neighbors come to visit for the first time. Amusingly, she happily agrees that's more or less the case while Rin denies it.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Inverted with the final choice of Really? Really!, where you're asked by Kaede if you prefer Asa's hair long or short. A few in-game minutes later, Asa appears with the hair length you chose, despite her not even being near you when you answered.
- Mythology Gag: The covers of both the anime and the Visual Novels shows our heroines standing among sunflowers, even though they're never shown anywhere else in the series.
- New Transfer Student: Lisianthus and Nerine. Primula starts school as well, one grade below the others.
- No Antagonist: There's no bad guy, of course, but all the girls generally get along, so there aren't any real conflicts among them if Rin happens to like someone else. So the story is generally pretty free of conflict.
- Ojou: Lisianthus and Nerine.
- Older Than They Look: Primula has the appearance of a twelve/thirteen year-old girl. She's actually only one year younger than the main characters, who are in high school.
- Ama, Asa's mother also qualifies. She's way older than she looks. It seems like she's as old as Asa, and Itsuki hits on her before they're introduced.
- One Steve Limit: There are two Rins. The protagonist, and Nerine, who is called Rin because Lycoris named her after Rin when they met eight years ago. Primula is shortened to Rim to add to the confusion.
- The English dub tries to makes things clearer by changing Nerine's nickname to Rina and Primula's to Rimu.
- Only Sane Man: Let's just say that Rin's friends/love interests have some interesting personal issues.
- Only Six Faces: Seriously, half of the characters are palette swaps.
- Ordinary High-School Student: Rin, Kaede and Asa.
- Our Demons Are Different: The only notable difference between demons, gods, and humans is that the two former can use magic and have longer ears.
- Panty Shot: The camera is often set far far lower than it has any other reason to be. Funimation's previews of the anime uses nothing but panty shots as the entire selling point.
- Parental Abandonment: Rin and Kaede: Rin's parents and Kaede's mom died in the same car crush and their tutor, Kaede's dad, is frequently away in business. Also, Sia and Nerine's mothers are never shown.
- At least not in the anime; their mothers both appear in the game sequels Tick! Tack! and Really? Really!, with Nerine's mother being at the center of the plot of Tick! Tack!.
- People Jars: Primula and Ama
- Please Don't Leave Me: Kaede does this several times to Rin late in the anime. Once while naked and holding him in bed, and later when Rin makes the decision to move out of her house.
- Power of Love: Primula is saved via Lycoris/Nerine and Rin's love for her.
- In the game, Primula's storyline includes her wiping Rin's mind so he won't miss her when she leaves. The next time he sees her, the memory is miraculously restored. The Devil King gives some elaborate theory as to why this could have happened, but in the end says they might just as well call it... That's right. Primula stays.
- Petite Pride: Mayumi, who wears it as a badge of honour. "A flat chest is a symbol of status! A rarity!"
- Recurring Extra: Masato, a kid who appears in a lot of Navel and Basil games, as Soul Link and Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai, and mischievously lifts the skirts of the heroines.
- Relax-o-Vision: Used when Sia is beating up her father with a chair, when he showed her a wedding dress at the wrong moment.
- Remember the New Guy: Sakura in Really? Really!. She's Rin's and Kaede's childhood friend who lives in the same town, but hasn't been introduced in the anime or game.
- Running Gag: Fortunately, the world of gods allows polygamy! It's never followed through on in the game outside of the ending of Primula's route, though.
- In the dub, Kitto Kitto Kaede (now the Knights of Kissing Kaede) always follow up their name with "...Not the guys with the sheets."
- Scare Chord: A couple in the game. Uses such as when Benibara Nadeshiko first appears or when Rin and Kaede realize their history teacher may give them a really tough assignment are borderline parody.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Used to full effect in the anime by Itsuki numerous times. However, it is usually done as emphasis of expression, not really for intimidation.
- Second Year Protagonist: Though there aren't any first-years shown.
- Sempai/Kohai: Used to address Asa until late in her route. She gets irritated over it when they start dating.
- In the anime, the Badass Adorable cat that appears in the show-to-commercials transition ends his combo with a Hadoken.
- There's a Nyandam transformable action figure at a toy store.
- Really? Really! has scenes similar to a certain series' cross-examination. It even has Rin point his finger out and shout "Really!" (which sounds similar to "Igiari", the Japanese equivalent of "Objection") when you present evidence of a contradiction.
- Sick Episode: Primula in episodes 12-13, and Asa gets a few episodes due to a childhood condition that comes back full force.
- Split Personality: Nerine's clone, Lycoris, is a partial example, and Sia also has the soul of her dead sister living inside her.
- Stepford Smiler: Kaede gives off these vibes, before flipping out.
- Tantrum Throwing: In the Visual Novel, when Rin walks on Primula while she's changing, she starts throwing pillows at him. He mentally notes that if he doesn't leave, she will start throwing heavier things. And when she runs out of heavy things, she will start throwing magic.
- Theme Naming: Most of the characters are named for plants. Kaede is maple, Primula is a kind of flower, Nerine is a genus of flowers, Benibara means red rose and then more obvious names like Daisy or Sakura.
- Theme Tune Cameo: In the anime, the theme song is played in the arcade where Rin meets Primula.
- There Are No Therapists: Being the main character means having to take over all the responsibilities.
- Trapped in the Past: The main plot of Tick! Tack!.
- Two-Teacher School: Ms. Beni is the only faculty member ever shown at school.
- Unwanted Harem: All the pressure to choose a romantic interest among the 5 girls ends up leading to each of them developing their own problems over the whole issue.
- It gets worse in the manga adaptation for Tick! Tack! and Really? Really!.
- Weapon of Choice: Sia always has a chair at the ready to wallop her father with. Folding, Patio, School Desk, Recliner.. She has a LOT of chairs to choose from.
- It may even be that she has a spell to summon chairs. It would be useful for dinner parties where more guests show up than you have chairs, but, obviously, Sia has found another use for it.
- Wham Episode: Episode 19 is when it becomes obvious that this isn't just another happy comedy harem series.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: So, what did happen to the Instant Fanclub each girl developed, anyhow? (Though their absence can be Hand Waved by noting that it would have been Mood Dissonance to have their presence in the second half of the series.) Perhaps explained by the action of the Gonk stalking the main cast every now and then by the final episode he was thanking Rin for choosing Asa making the other girls available, so the Instant Fanclubs were no longer needed to deal with Rin and they simply disbanded.
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Three out of the five girls in the harem are variations on Yamato Nadeshiko to varying degrees.
- Despite the teacher's last name being Nadeshiko, it's actually averted with her.
- Yandere: Anime only: Kaede starts heading down this path very quickly near the end when it becomes clear she didn't get Rin.
- Subverted. She pushes Asa down. Even that made her feel horrible. It might have been worse if Rin hadn't been there though.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: And Orange, Green, Red, Yellow, Purple...