Anime Review: Venus to Mamoru

venus_to_mamoruAs a storyteller at heart, I appreciate the importance of a good title. “Venus to Mamoru” is more of a strange title than a good one. It doesn’t really roll off the tongue, and requires a good deal of translation. At first, knowing that the Japanese “to” translates to “and” in English, I thought it meant “Venus and Mamoru,” which made some sense considering it’s the story of a young boy and a gorgeous girl.

However, thanks to Google and Wikipedia, I found that the original title for this manga/anime is “Mamoru-kun ni Megami no Shukufuku o!” It translates directly to English as “To Mamoru, the Blessings of the Goddess!” That being a mouthful, and native English speakers preferring short and simple titles, they took the “goddess” motif and the “love story” and came up with “Venus to Mamoru,” as in “To Mamoru, From the Goddess of Love.”

…translating across languages and cultures can be tricky, can’t it?

The time and effort it takes to explain the title of Venus to Mamoru is actually a perfect sampling of the show itself. There are a lot of things which need explaining in this show. But, small detail: that explanation of the title came from me. The people behind the show? Nope. They never. Explain. Anything. Ever!

When Venus to Mamoru got past my one-episode rule, I was actually quite hopeful. There was clearly a great deal going on, including a magic system based on some sort of “Beatrice” energy (what is this energy, how does it work, and why is it called “Beatrice” of all things?), the female lead having a formidable, ferocious reputation (how did this happen, what are her past exploits, who are her rivals and equals, and they specifically mentioned her as one of four particular girls at school, so who are the other three?), and more.

Not one of those questions, and a hundred more, was ever answered. (My reaction was much like this guy’s)

"JUST! EX! PLAAAAIN!"

“JUST! EX! PLAAAAIN!”

I didn’t expect the answers to come in the first episode, of course. In fact, I was just laughing at the over-the-top melodramatic humor. Speaking of, moving on.

Mamoru, a baby-faced pipsqueak, is beginning his first year at a prestigious high school, and as he enters school grounds on the first day, he meets a girl, Ayako. He apparently makes a really good first impression, because she asks him out right then and there in front of everyone. The entire school is shocked that she, the terrifying head of the disciplinary committee and practically a force of nature, would do that, so Mamoru quickly becomes the center of attention. Among this attention, the student council, led by their president, uses Mamoru as a means to make fun of Ayako, much to their amusement (and peril, as she is one of the strongest people in the world, but they survive everything anyway).

That is basically episode one: boy meets girl with superpowers, girl likes him instantly, humor ensues.

I was intrigued by this! So I kept watching!

I rather wish I hadn’t now. It was mostly a waste of time.

Not nearly so bad as Xam’d, mind you, but that is a really low bar.

The story went pretty much nowhere, the humor of the student council teasing Ayako and Mamoru got tedious and obnoxious, the “love story” made little to no sense, the “action” was mediocre at best (and that’s grading on a substantial curve), a lot of the plot was insensible (just happening just because) and didn’t really go anywhere, and on and on it goes. For twenty-four episodes.

And they never explain why Ayako instantly fell for Mamoru, but I observed a few things which have horrifying implications. Ayako was spoiled by her grandfather and protected by her uncle (or, at least, I think that fellow was her uncle) but her own parents discarded her as a freak. Wherever she goes in school, the other students are instantly terrified at the sight of her. Maybe not in the halls, but anytime she enters a room, the students within scream in terror. So, as a complete outcast, it suddenly makes sense why she puts up with the student council’s relentless harassment, as they seem to be the only ones who’ll give her the time of day. Then Mamoru crosses her path, mentions the world “pretty,” has no fear of her, and even gives her a radiant smile. So she instantly falls for him.

a32c608af64ab319962bda9f20bd6eb52f8d5ee7a45020d56c7b57f591537bb3…that is disturbing on so many levels!

Mamoru might be the envy of every boy, having a gorgeous, strong, intelligent girl throw herself at him within a minute of their first meeting. But between Ayako’s overwhelming power, her penchant for violence, and especially her obsessive behavior originating from psychological scars… well, she’s not exactly my ideal pick for a girlfriend, ya know?

Granted, there were, at least, some genuinely funny moments. Like when Mamoru sees Ayako wearing face cream. Ayako’s horrified reaction: “NOOOO! DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THIS!” Accompanied by an explosion of her power that levels the building (it’s a cartoon, everyone lives) and reduces a satellite in orbit to space debris..

Overall, though, I just feel like watching this anime was a waste of my time. I was bored. Which is the opposite what entertainment is supposed to do.

Rating: I’ll give this one 4 stars out of 10.

Grade: D-minus.

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