Fairy Ranmaru is a new anime from the same studio that brought you Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, this time going for a sexier aesthetic with fae boys who can shed their modest human disguises and transform into their stripperific true selves by kissing ladies who need their particular brand of help. But is this ecchi adventure actually worth your time, or is it just shallow fujoshi bait? Let’s take an up-close and personal look at Fairy Ranmaru!
Mild Spoilers Ahead!
Turn Your Brain Off and Enjoy
Have you ever watched an anime that seemed like it was made for the sole purpose of getting chopped up into YouTube compilations? You know, like “Best Magical Boy Transformations” or “All Fairy Ranmaru Shipping Moments” or “Anime OPs/EDs That Are Way Better Than the Shows They’re Attached To”... that sort of thing. Maybe we’re showing our hand too early here, but if there’s one thing that you should know about this anime, it’s that the good parts are spread thinly between generic “save the badly animated girl of the week” nonsense and equally generic tragic backstories for the main characters. They try to mix things up occasionally by having some of the girls turn out to be just as bad as their oppressors and there’s a mystery plot with the fairy world’s past that doesn’t go anywhere interesting, but it all might as well be filler just to get to the battles and songs.
Still, if you can turn your brain off during the boring parts (or just watch the YouTube compilations to save time), there are a few genuinely entertaining moments here. The OP and ED are undeniably catchy and their visuals are way better than they have any right to be - especially the lovingly painted shibari poses in the ending. On that same note, the main characters’ fairy forms all have gloriously horny designs and the transformations make sure to zoom in on every codpiece, high heel, and skin-revealing hemline as they sparkle into existence. The battle arenas (which take place inside the soul of that week’s villain) are also surprisingly creative, looking almost like living paintings that move in uncanny ways to represent how broken the villain’s mind is. It reminds us a lot of Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s witch labyrinths, except that those girls never had to deal with costume-melting acid from a flower that looks like it belongs in a psychedelic music video. Being an anime pretty boy sure has its struggles...
But If You Keep Your Brain On...
Even though this anime can be great fun under the right circumstances, there’s just so much about it that doesn’t work at all. There isn’t a single character whose personality has any real substance, the overreliance on stock footage (even outside of transformations) is embarrassingly obvious, and the cute mascot characters just come off as annoying. But above all that, we’re particularly incensed by the exploitative way that gay romance is used in this series.
We love thoughtful LGBT representation in anime - Yuri and Victor from Yuri on Ice are portrayed as a realistic couple who aren’t sidelined or killed to make way for a more “normal” heterosexual relationship, and Lily from Zombieland Saga is a trans icon whose struggle to make her dad appreciate her for who she is speaks to the experience of queer kids everywhere. Fairy Ranmaru, on the other hand, uses homosexuality as either a punchline or a titillation tactic. Horny character designs and playful flirting are fine to use as intentional ecchi elements since those are aesthetic/attitude choices that the characters made themselves, but sprinkling in some gay kisses for sexy points without really developing the relationships behind them (and implying in both cases that at least one party would rather be with a woman) feels like it’s in poor taste. If you can look past this and enjoy the gay moments for what they are, then we’re happy for you. But we can’t help but wonder why it had to be this way.
This anime has some high points for sure, so if you like the idea of scantily clad magical boys, you’ll get what you came here for. We just wish there had been more substance to it than what they showed in the very first trailer.
What did you think of our review? Do you enjoy Fairy Ranmaru for its good parts, or did you get bogged down by everything else? Did the romance plots feel shallow and exploitative to you, or did you like them? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!