Like it or loathe it, comedic fan service shows are still in vogue at the moment and there appears to be no end in sight so it’s a relief that a couple of such shows that have turned up this season manage to mix up the formula a little. One of those series is ‘So, I Can’t Play H!’, and its available on Crunchyroll here in the UK.
The plot line here is that shinigami survive by absorbing strength from especially powerful souls from the human world. The more power a clan pulls in, the higher their status. After learning about the rumoured existence of an especially powerful soul, a shinigami named Lisara travels to the human world to track it down. In order for her to continue to remain in the human world and keep using her powers she forms a contract with a high schooler named Ryouske. She will suck out his energy and in exchange she will change things to extend his life. Thus begins our story, which naturally mixes in the standard fighting tropes where the purpose of basic attack moves is to cause the opponents clothes to tear around the erogenous zones.
So far this is all very standard, but the twist that makes the series stand out is that Ryouske is that rarest of things in anime – a male character who isn’t a bland cardboard cut-out that you’ve seen in a million other shows. Ryouske is an unashamed pervert and he revels in it (Are we sure he isn't a member of UKA's staff? - Ed); this becomes the source of Lisara’s power and the show's title as she discovers that the source of his strength is equivocal to his sexual desire, which is a resource that is easily replenished in the kind of battles she is fighting. The side effect to Ryouske’s disappointment is that he can’t muster up much strength in his ’kingdom’ to enjoy himself elsewhere.... by the end of the third episode the joke is starting to wear a little thin, but this is also the episode that introduces a hint that there is something bigger going on behind the scenes. It remains to be seen if the series will drive itself into the dust or pull something interesting out of the bag.
The animation here is good enough, though by no means particularly special. Watchers on Crunchyroll in particular should be aware that Crunchyroll only has access to video assets for the censored version of the series rather than the uncensored one airing on Japanese pay-per-view channels. This really does hurt the series as it takes the form of obscuring 80% of the screen in white, even if only a small area needs to be censored - frankly it draws far more attention to any fan service going on than an unedited version would as its much more annoying and distracting. As this is the same issue Crunchyroll had with Queen’s Blade Rebellion earlier this year you can’t help but wish they’d just sort things out and put in an age verifier for this kind of show or make them only available for paying subscribers, as it’s not like this series has any likelihood of a physical release in the west so there’s no need to use the same tactics the Japanese use to drive Blu-ray sales. Since Crunchyroll is heavily region-locked it’s not like there will be much "reverse importing" of the stream! It’s not, after all, as if this is hentai or even particularly erotic.
Despite what you may have heard elsewhere this is not the worst show of the season. It’s not the best either of course... it’s not even top five material but it is watchable and pretty funny at some points, so you could definitely do worse than spend half an hour watching an episode of this far from memorable but fun series.
You can currently watch So I Can't Play H! in streaming form right here at UK Anime Network!
Japanese audio with English subtitles. Video is available in 360p, 480p, 720p and 1080p resolutions; HD formats and removal of advertisements available to paid subscribers.