Reviews: Shuffle

Okay Start, Good Ending

Since I did a spoilerfree review specifically for the game, I thought I'd write one for the anime as well. As the game is the source, I'll be comparing a lot to that.

After playing the game, I found the art in the anime somewhat jarring. It's not the best in animation, but you'll get used to it.

The anime starts off as your average light-hearted harem show, but in the later parts, the development picks up, leading to a much better ending than many other shows. The simple fact that it makes a clear choice marks it above most.

As for individual plots, the game was still better, which is the normal case in my experience. This doesn't mean the plots were bad, just not quite as good as in the game.

An anime has the benefit of allowing for a wider perspective than a route-centred Visual Novel. Despite this, I found the character interactions lacking. Much more could have been done, but instead most of it was focused on Rin interacting with the girls. Primula and Nerine could have had a lot more, and Asa only had a little notable interaction with Kaede and Nerine.

On the other hand, I found that the writers managed to merge the paths into one story quite well. It wasn't the one-path-after-another sequence you often see in Visual Novel adaptations, but a good mix. This greatly benefitted Kaede, as described below.

The most significant improvement over the game is Kaede. I had heard the word Yandere tossed around before watching the anime, which didn't exactly make me hopeful. However, I found how her relationship was treated to be much more enjoyable, and definitely one of the best for yanderes all around. While it didn't make much for my sympathy of her, it gave her a path to redemption. Most importantly, her character adds significanly more to the story when she has characters other than Rin to play against.

Primula was also more enjoyable in the anime. She's more of a little sister to them, as well as having several funny scenes. She could have been given more focus.

Overall it's a solid anime you shouldn't judge too strongly based on the early episodes.

Formulaic But Not Bad

This spoilerfree review is for the original game, not the anime. With the word-count limit, I'm doing better with a list than an essay-type review.

The Good:
  • Kareha and Mayumi. They're the two most interesting characters.
  • Lisianthus and Nerine. While they're very similar and hitting on the same themes, the ideas are interesting and well written.
  • Asa. She's the character with the most development, since she starts off much like a Childhood Friend, but unlike Kaede, it's a healthy relationship. She's a fun character who's interesting to read about.
  • Someone helping out in Primula's route. It's an event towards the end that may change your entire perception of one character.
  • The art is beautiful to look at.
  • The voices are performed well enough to my knowledge. I don't speak Japanese, but I am familiar with the tone they use, and I understand bits.

The Average:
  • Primula. I generally dislike Lolicon characters, but she's quite likeable. Most of her route focus on the plot rather than character development.
  • The music has its ups and downs. Nothing notable in either direction.
  • The game is formulaic. This means you can expect most things, but you also know what you get, for better or worse.
  • It's not a very long game. That means you're not going to get bored of the path you're on, but you're also likely to want more of the ones you like.

The Bad:
  • Kaede. She's a character who inspired a lot of pity but no sympathy for me. That she clearly needs psychological help removed most of my enjoyment for her route.
  • The H-scenes. These kinds of scenes aren't my favourite to begin with, but in this game they're particularly bland and clichéd, to the point where you can basically swap the name of the girl and the CGs and it wouldn't make any difference.
  • Kareha and Mayumi lacking routes. While playing through the game the first time, these are who I wanted a route with. They're in a new version of the game, but this review isn't about that.
  • The day-changing animation feels like a roadblock when you're skipping text.
  • The game lacks a scene replay function. There is one, but it only replays three scenes: the H-scenes and the ending.

In short, the game is good but short and formulaic. The characters resemble each other a lot, but still have their distinct temperaments. I quite enjoyed it.