How To Make A Trashy Harem Anime Spinoff

I watched Futakoi Alternative in the span of one week, having picked it up due to my unwillingness to tackle my backlog. I think it’s a solid show, and one that should always be brought up every time ufotable is discussed.

For starters, FutaAlt is very pretty. The shot composition is great, regardless of what the show is doing–action, drama, comedy. There’s no single bad cut I could remember throughout 13 episodes. The animators are fond of the Itano Circus (even parodying Macross DYRL’s legendary Budweiser missile), and even ordinary scenes of Rentarou and the twins running around are pretty damn good. I also love the direction of some episodes, like the letterboxed episode 7 which also had a grayer color palette than the rest.

The music is great. There are some standout tracks, like the Theme of Awesomeness that plays during those hallmark scenes, and the slow guitar themes that set the mood. Even the eyecatch guitar is good. It all fits in to create an end product oozing with style. The show is just cool like that.

I also think the show is very interesting in a few unique ways.

First, it’s impossible to succinctly describe FutaAlt in a few words. Sure, I could link people up to a clip, but which part of the show should I show them? The brilliant first episode? The angst that plagued the second half? Kicking squids? One of these is representative of the show as the others. I daresay that the first episode will be the one that most people will like, but it would still be misleading. How many people dropped the show when it didn’t follow up with more of the same?

The second one is the show’s penchant for mood whiplash. FutaAlt frequently alternates between crazy fun time and serious drama. One episode I’m watching some comical conflict involving wayward yakuza and gothloli twins in masks, while the next involves a mundane case that acts as a vehicle for Rentarou to reflect on his relationship with the twins. At some point, the drama starts overpowering the comedy, and then the next episode opens up with Rentarou grabbing an elephant trunk in the public bath.

Because of this, I’m always on my toes. I can’t stop and think, “man, that was some great drama, I hope they keep it up for the next couple of episodes”, because the show will just change it up in the next one. Sometimes I just tune out during drama scenes, expecting some gag to be thrown later, and it really bothers me that I can’t linger on anything.

And then there’s the angst. This show has a lot of angst with its drama, reaching Jun Maeda levels of hair-pulling agony. I’d drop a lesser show with lesser characters, but Rentarou is a very likeable not-harem lead. He had just the right amount of existential quandaries and didn’t stay down for too long. But angst is still angst, no matter how expertly done. Those episodes were so intense that I don’t think I could stand to rewatch them.

At any rate, I enjoyed the show a lot. Do I think it could have been better? More of the other twins (I understand that they were holdovers from Futakoi, but aside from Gothiloli Mask, they figure so little in the show), more Snatch-like episodes, more Giant Robo squids? Maybe. But that would mean taking away much of the show’s curse of heavy mood swings, which is also its greatest charm. It’s such an anime anime!

I still can’t tell if the staff was just mucking around or if everything was meticulously planned. But one thing is clear: they went all-out on whatever they did. The show might be guilty of some flaws, but you can’t fault its masterful execution.

And sometimes, that just trumps everything else.

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13 Responses to How To Make A Trashy Harem Anime Spinoff

  1. Like other shows that pull the same mood whiplash, such as Angel Beats or Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, the series will reward you in the long run. A lot of people get bothered by the breach of their narrative expectations while watching a show… but once the show is over and you’re reflecting on it, or when you’re rewatching the show, you know what to expect so it’s way less jarring. This is why I feel that it’s okay to complain about the feeling having watched it as you do here, but holding it against a show in the long run feels pretty weak. Then again, some people just watch shows once and keep whatever opinion they had on it forever.

  2. Oh and to quote something great Mike said while I was over there, “nothing is ever over with me.” Indeed, the way I see it, you’re never done with a show. The experience of it is something continual, and a show like this only gets better.

    • schneider says:

      It’s just that Rentarou’s problems in some episodes mirror all too closely with mine. I don’t doubt that I’ll have a higher opinion of the show once I rewatch it, but I don’t feel like subjecting myself to it again so soon.

      That said, I rewatched episode 5 a few times over, because I really love it.

  3. dm says:

    Oh, Futakoi Alternative…. along with Manabi Straight one of my most-desired-for-licensing series (I even went so far as to buy the unsubtitled DVDs from Japan).

    You didn’t mention how the last episode is an elaborate (while still serious) send-up of Castle of Cagliostro!

    It is true that the show doesn’t live up to the expectations it sets up in the first episode, and it leaves a great deal unexplained (why do Rentarou and the twins live in an apartment with a gaping hole in the roof? — well, I imagine the squid was responsible, but….)

    Maybe it’s time for me to rewatch it.

  4. kluxorious says:

    I watched Futakoi and that was bad so excuse me for having some reservation at first to watch Futakoi Alternative. I have never been glad though because this show just freaking blew my mind away. Riding a roller coaster ain’t as fun, in my opinion. One of the memorable anime for me personally.

    This is the right way to make a harem.

  5. ToastCrust says:

    This was in fact one of the earliest anime I watched fansubbed.
    It was a great ride and I enjoy bringing it up occasionally to this day.
    That, and it may have had a formative effect on my taste for the kinds of characters I like in harem shows now….

    A really great part of the show is definitely it’s repudiation of a real harem plot for the tighter triangle of just Rentarou and the main twins.

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