Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Series Review: Will They Just Let The Franchise End Now?

How much mileage can you get out of a parody concept of magical boys who don’t really want to save the world? Well, this franchise has asked that question again and again but if there is one thing Happy Kiss has taught me, it is that Cute High Earth Defense Club Whatever needs to just stop now.

Review:

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On watching the original Cute High Earth Defense Club series I was sceptical but ended up pleasantly surprised that despite the formulaic monster of the week approach, it actually did a pretty solid job as a magical girl parody and it gave us enough interesting dialogue and random conversations between the boys to make it worth the while. It didn’t amaze me but I had a reasonably good time with it. Then we had a sequel. Which I didn’t finish. And an OVA. Which I didn’t watch. Most recently we were introduced to Happy Kiss with a whole new group of boys and I decided, probably poorly, to give the show another go. After all, it was a comedy show I’d finished a season of. It couldn’t be that bad.

And that assessment is probably right. It isn’t that bad, but neither is it particularly good. While the first episode has flashes of those intriguingly random musing between the boys and each character in the new group could potentially be interesting, as the season progresses you will realises that this series has absolutely nothing to say. While the first season was undeniably a parody and some of the monsters were truly inconsequential it still offered up some half-decent social commentary and just some random food for thought. Happy Kiss brings nothing to the table other than the tongue in cheek apathy of the main cast and giving the audience a knowing look asking us to find it hilarious as they bemoan yet another transformation sequence.

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But even then they couldn’t commit with the final episodes seeing boys joining forces with the henchmen of the previously evil brother and willingly throwing themselves into a fight against a suddenly propped up villain that the audience has legitimately no reason to care about. So the boys didn’t even manage to be consistent in their apathy.

Actually, I do have a couple of positives. I mean, I did get through the entire season so it isn’t like it is an unwatchable steaming pile of overcooked spinach.

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Firstly, I kind of loved the song that they played every single time the boys used their final attack. Well I say final attack but generally it the only one because mostly they just kind of made stupid comments until Karl (the talking otter who is actually a prince) tells them its time to make everyone happy and then they attack. But the song is pretty infectious and it definitely got stuck in my head every single week.

The other thing I really enjoyed was that at least the main characters called the villains on the pathetic nature of their complaint. It was something I always wished the Sailor Scouts would do when someone gave in to something really petty and transformed into a monster.

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Outside of those two things though, there isn’t a lot to love about Happy Kiss. The cast don’t develop at all, the rivalry between the Defense Club and the Student Council seems forced and doesn’t really go anywhere until near the end and then it is kind of just over, and even the two princes don’t really do much more than repeat their formulaic lines week after week.

I’d honestly say that you would be better off watching the original than this if you’ve never watched anything in the franchise. The writing is undeniably better and more amusing. I’m clearly not recommending this anime and I’m kind of hoping this is where the franchise stops but somehow I doubt it.

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 12: Another Cash Grab Ends

If I ever get around to writing a list of most pointlessly depressing sequels and follow ups, Happy Kiss is most definitely ending up on it. From start to finish this was pretty uninspired and pointless, and this final might as well not exist.

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I should have realised that final episode or not, this anime never had anything more to say than tell someone they aren’t unhappy and then sing a bit before zapping them into a bath and everything will be solved. That’s literally what we watched for 12 episodes and the final boss fight doesn’t vary from this routine at all except that the song takes longer and the boys use their magic sticks as pseudo microphones while the tin soldiers dance. It’s a little depressing to be honest.

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And while the student council and Kyotaro’s group now seem to all be getting along, we kind of realised that there wasn’t any reason for them not to be other than stupidity in the first place. Where earlier seasons of this franchise had a little bit of cleverness to them and some amusing observations, outside of the first two episodes, this iteration delivered nothing other than formulaic drivel. On the bright side, at least it is over now. At least until we get the ‘Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Super Love’ spin-off which almost sure to be the next cash grab for the franchise.

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 11: He’s That Upset Over That?

While I’m kind of used to this show trivialising things, particularly motivations, finally finding out the cause of Ata’s deep rooted resentment was even more vapid than I had suspected. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss has one more episode and then I will fortunately say goodbye to this one.

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The whole season has seen Ata glaring daggers at the more or less oblivious Kyotaro and really I’ve just wanted him to get over it from the start. However, if it had at least been based on some kind of rel trauma or slight that might have made it bearable. But no. Instead it turns out Ata is just a petulant child blaming others for his own shortcomings and interpreting everything as a slight so that he can continue to feed his petty hatred. And while this in itself may have made for an interesting character exploration, it hasn’t been explored. It was screamed at us during an over the top boss fight and then resolved in more or less an instant, except that it isn’t because Kyotaro once again ran off and left Ata.

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Really this continuation continues to be pretty vapid and pointless with characters who have ended up fairly uninspired. The one hope is that the return to Karls’ home might make for an interesting final episode at least, but I won’t hold my breath.

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 10: The Silver Lining

Well, the one thing I consistently liked about this anime, the song they use when transforming the monsters back, was butchered this weak by the geriatric versions of the cast. I’d call it quits but I’m thinking there’s only like two episodes left.

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There was something that could have been quite funny about this episode. The situation is so inherently ridiculous and while the boys transformations are funny enough, having the old versions of them transforming could have been pretty laughable. Instead, this all feels very lazy. From the slap dash and fairly uninspired interaction in the bath before that serves as a clumsy lead in to the theme of the episode, to the presidents rising anger, everything is all just kind of obvious and lacking in any kind of depth. And while over the top and obvious can work, here is just seems like we’re going through the motions because we can.

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I’ve mentioned before that the dialogue was something I really liked about the first season of this franchise, but with the exception of the first couple of episodes, Happy Kiss has just not delivered anything even close. The characters have inane conversations and they are just inane. There isn’t any subtlety or interesting points to pull apart. The villains are poorly thought out and realised and not even in a parody kind of way. They are just badly done. The only light shining here is that we finally broke formula at the end of the episode so maybe something vaguely interesting might happen next week.

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 9: Roll the Dice

While this isn’t the worst episode of this anime, that isn’t exactly a resounding recommendation as we continue to get no plot development and a formulaic approach that has already worn out its welcome.

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Try that defence in court.

It is festival time at the school and the club have to come up with a compelling activity because… reasons. Something about the student council being annoyed at them if they don’t. Given the council are annoyed at them anyway I’m not sure why. Something about their attendance was mentioned, but they would be at school anyway even if they did nothing. So no compelling motivation really other than festival episode.

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Then we get a series of set ups and punch lines that most revolve around putting the boys in positions that could be deliberately misconstrued for amusement purposes I guess. Maybe someone found it amusing. What really drives the nail into the coffin on this episode though is that even the villain realises he serves no purpose and doesn’t fight. At all. He stands, waits for them to transform, and then they change him back. Done. No fight at all.

Sigh.

Linked Reviews:

 

  1. Episode 8: Endless Summer, Endless Formula
  2. Episode 7: The Less Said
  3. Episodes 6: Rinse and Repeat
  4. Episodes 4 + 5: Are You Happy?
  5. Episode 3: Ridiculous Villains Here
  6. Episode 2: The Hero’s Indifference
  7. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss First Impressions
  8. Cute High Earth Defense Club Series Review

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 8: Endless Summer, Endless Formula

While we’re sticking true to pattern with this episode, it at least did have a few chuckles along the way and turning the usual anime summer antics on their head was kind of entertaining even if nothing else really changed.

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When the most remarkable thing about episode seven was that I managed to review it in exactly 100 words, episode eight of this parody anime didn’t have a high bar to jump over to be considered better. And it is better but better in this instance is not synonymous with good. Let’s be honest, I don’t enjoy most of the normal summer anime activities so watching Kotaro shoot most of them down with logical reasons why they won’t be fun was pretty entertaining in its own way even if the story itself didn’t notably improve.

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Once again, we have a villain of the week dealing with some petty personal problem and seriously over-reacting. What makes it worse is that he’s kind of idiotic in his decision making even before he gets transformed into a monster by the student council. So yeah, not a lot to recommend here though still a bit more entertaining than last week.

Linked Reviews:

  1. Episode 7: The Less Said
  2. Episodes 6: Rinse and Repeat
  3. Episodes 4 + 5: Are You Happy?
  4. Episode 3: Ridiculous Villains Here
  5. Episode 2: The Hero’s Indifference
  6. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss First Impressions
  7. Cute High Earth Defense Club Series Review

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episodes 7: The Less Said

Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss = make one episode and relocated it 5 times.

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This franchise had most definitely run dry with ideas and this latest version is clearly just a cash grab rather than an inspired redeployment of creativity. Seriously, Team Rocket (aka the student council) need a new battle plan already and the main cast were seriously devoid of even vaguely interesting dialogue this week which is about the one saving grace this anime had.

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But I’m not going to argue this episode was demonstrably worse than any other. It isn’t. What it is however, is more of the same without any flair to set it apart from its basic formulaic premise.

And just a fun note, I managed to review it in exactly 100 words. All I need is an episode that does nothing and I can hit the target without going excessively over.

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episodes 6: Rinse and Repeat

I get that magical girl anime are formulaic at times, but a parody needs to do more than replay over and over again. We get the joke already.

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This episode served as further evidence that the less actual plot an episode provides, the more likely we are to get a full transformation sequence. In the villain of the week’s defence, he was pretty useless and his attacks were pretty much brushed off like water off a duck’s back. And even before transforming, the character in question was certainly one of the more pathetic we’ve seen thus far.

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But rather than bemoaning the samey nature of this episode after the last couple, I kind of liked the dialogue earlier in the episode. There were some genuinely funny moments, some good timings in the responses, and an oddly passionate declaration of why purple is a pretty good colour. It adds to the overall watchability of an anime that really shouldn’t be all that entertaining as it milks a very narrow band of humour for the third season in a row.

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episodes 4 + 5: Are You Happy?

We continue our plot of over-simplistic villains and solutions that make no sense as our brave (or rather reluctant) knights continue to thwart attempts at… You know, I’m not even sure that the villain in this anime has an actual plan.

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Episode 4:

Dad obsessed with finding buried treasure drives son to ranting at people in a bath house. Then son seems fine but somehow the student council decide he is resentful and transform him into a monster. Fortunately, the heroes are also out digging for treasure because there are some embarrassing secrets hidden inside time-capsules right where the treasure dig is taking place. Without a single twist, this plot just drives along its standard path right to the end of the episode.

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Episode 5:

I should never watch episodes of this anime back to back. Like ever.

I always had this theory with Sailor Moon that you could always tell if an episode was going into a serious battle because you would get a full transformation sequence for each character early in the episode. The only other time you would get full transformation sequences were on throw-away episodes where even the filler-monster-of-the-week characters couldn’t actually fill the twenty minutes run time. Why is this relevant? Because Cute High gave us full transformation sequences of the boys, I think mostly because there was no way the villain of the week was ever going to have enough substance to carry even this insubstantial episode. We definitely hit a low point with episode 5, unless you happen to like the boy’s transformations.

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DamePri Anime Caravan Series Review: Take Standard Reverse Harem With Just a Touch of Parody

There’s something to be said for a anime that can be so silly and yet take itself fairly seriously when it comes to dishing out some serious drama. DamePri kind of walks a fine line throughout most of its run time but the end result is pretty entertaining. What did you think?

Review:

Given I’m not big on comedy and normally by mid-season any comedy I’ve picked up is starting to wear me down, my overall reaction to this anime is a bit of a surprise even to me. That isn’t to say that this anime didn’t have a mid-season slump. Episodes 7 and 8 were definitely a low point for this otherwise fairly charming if mostly harmless series. Yet, the final arc really let the drama of the story with political intrigue between all three Kingdoms play out even while the characters persisted with their comedy moments of Ani’s deadpan reactions, Narek’s narcissism, and Ruze’s general co-dependence on his prime minister.

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This isn’t a story that is easily explained given there’s a lot of interconnections but at the end of the day you don’t really need to get the bigger picture as this show doesn’t jump between times or locations but rather tells us what we need to know, when we need to know it. The focus is always on the characters, particularly the young Princes and the Princess as they form a fairly tight friendship (and a bit more given most of the Princes are crushing on the Princess who remains mostly indifferent to their advances but respects their growth as people).

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The political shenanigans are therefore just a backdrop to give these characters room to show off what they can do and while individually they might become annoying, the mix of ‘types’ being presented here works with none of them staying long enough to truly make you wish them harm (Narek is touch and go early in the series but as the anime continues, has one of the better character progressions). Of all the ‘main’ characters, Teo, Ani’s knight, is probably the one who is used the least in a meaningful way, though he does still get at least one cool moment in the final episode so he wasn’t totally forgotten in amongst substantially more interesting and colourful characters.

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Mare (Mea – depending on your subs) is by far my favourite character. A shut in and the brother of the shining Ruze, he talks mostly through his doll though that pretence fades more and more as the series continues and Mare is one of the most open about his feelings for Ani. Most scenes with Mare hit their mark for me and I quite enjoyed his screen time.

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Visually, this is bright and pretty but nothing exceptional. The character designs are distinctive and probably the only real point of note, other than the sparkles around Ruze at times. The same is pretty much true of the music with the ED being pretty cool but not a lot else of note.

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If you are looking for a reverse harem with a down to earth female character and an anime that isn’t afraid to make fun of itself or its obviously generically constructed cast, then you will probably have a bit of fun with this. It isn’t exceptional by any means, nor is it particularly bad. Some jokes will be repeated a few times too many and other visual gags will just kind of leave you rolling your eyes, but the feel good tone of this show and generally quick pace as you move from one set up to the next for the cast will mostly keep you entertained with more hits than misses.

I’d love to know what you thought so if you watched the show please leave me a comment below.

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Karandi James

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