Ladies Vs. Butlers Pilot – The Second Cumming of the Ambitious Harem?

You don’t need to read any ‘Ladies Vs. Butlers’ impressions. They are all going to say the same thing – that this is harem comedy at it’s absolute most generic. And maybe they are right – maybe I’m over-analyzing things. It wouldn’t be the first time that I acted on a show’s defense and found myself disappointed. But at the same time, I’ve also watched shows that I didn’t expect to like and found myself loving. One such show was 2008’s surprise win Kanokon, and with the same director, studio, and character designer, Ladies Vs. Butlers is poised to leave a similar mark. The question is: will it? I don’t know, but I do know this – the first episode of LVB was NOT like any other harem anime I’ve seen, and that seems rather significant to me.

So, you may ask, what made this show any different? I won’t lie – there was very little to like in this episode. We have a bitchy female who appears to be the leading lady, a main character who seems to be at the mercy of fate in a world divined to fansrvice, and a student body made up of every imaginable cliche. There was no evident plot in this episode, just the main character running around the school accidentally molesting hordes of what we can assume are future characters that, with as many as there are, show us nothing more than their design and not even a glimpse of personality. On this front, the battle doesn’t look easy. But it’s not all bad.

The production values are way the hell up there, to the point you may want to cry if you’re the type who gets jealous for your favorite low-budget show. This regard is much like Kanokon, which also looked very nice – and that brings me to the excellent character designs. Like Kanokon, there’s a girl for any crowd, with a ‘breast range’ so immense I swear to god they covered every cup size. The annoying lead girl has gargantuan breasts. Meanwhile, there is a loli so tiny that she could belong in Kodomo no Jikan, but she claims to be 19. I guess that proclamation is enough to allow her to get groped to hell in this episode. I am not complaining at all. She was my pick of the litter, among a few other interesting prospects. But really, having nice animation and character designs, while a positive, does not mean the show is unique by any means. It is also sort of equalized by the fact that aside from a few trusty actors, the vocal efforts seem pretty grim. Mai Nakahara is an unusual level of annoying as the twin-drill girl, which is quite a bit disappointing.

But enough about the production. What set this show apart from the other harem anime I’ve seen was pure and simply the directing. Is it good directing? Better than other harems? I can’t tell. So far, all I know is that it definitely feels different. The opening scene of the episode is very slow, quiet, and unmoving. For some reason, it features a conversation between two girls who obviously don’t like each-other but are trying to keep up appearances – but the conversation is entirely pointless. Meanwhile we are shown glimpses of things that will happen later in the episode.

One glimpse is of the twin-drilled girl complaining that her breast was groped by the young man next to her on the ground. About 7 minutes later or so, we see it happen – and it is less annoying than just seeing a boy fall on a girl’s breast, because it is so inevitable. It is no longer ‘lolwoopschance’ but instead a predestined action that we just knew was coming. Is this good directing? Does this make the act more tolerable? After this perplexing beginning, the show continues to confound me. There is little music in the episode, and there are many seemingly long silences. Even though there is all of the insanity of a harem comedy, it’s like the overly manic energy is gone. Rather than being swept under a maelstrom of fanservice, it’s more like looking at the fanservice at a relaxed pace – like walking around an art museum looking at nudes, only they aren’t artistic or anything, it’s all just close-ups of vaginas and women groping their breasts.

And yet, I cannot be confident that this is the show’s intention. The fanservice is at times rather tame, not exceeding a groping or two, but in one seen a maid lands on the lead’s face and starts basically masturbating by rubbing her crotch all over his chin. There are a number of scenes in the episode that have been an obvious victim to MASSIVE censoring with white-outs and black-outs of large parts of the screen – many times where it’s rather obvious that full-on breasts would have been shown. How risque does the show really want to be seen as? Even though most of it is silent and strange, there are still a couple of scenes where generic music plays over a frentic moment, though they are short and few, and the actors are all playing by the harem book. Am I just looking too far into it because I like Kanokon so much? Kanokon wasn’t special in this way, anyway, it was special because of fun characters and extreme fanservice, so is it right to expect this show to be special in some other way?

I might have lost my confidence were it not for the exceedingly odd ending of the episode. It is revealed that the girl who was arguing with Drills at the beginning was the childhood friend of the main character… only the truth is that she mercilessly bullied him as a kid and intends to do so now, as she has some kind of established dominance over most of the school already. She announces to a crowd that the main guy’s childhood dream was to become a ‘beautiful bride’. Is this true, or is she making fun of him? I don’t know, but either way, this is weird. This is definitely a show I will watch until either my questions are answered or I grow weary of asking.

12 thoughts on “Ladies Vs. Butlers Pilot – The Second Cumming of the Ambitious Harem?

  1. i hope it’s not going to be too much like kanokon… i do want to see a little bit of development here. i know i’m in for ecchi to the max and while yet it looks pretty there’s only so much pretty can do if the show is boring. Some characters have grabbed me. his childhood friend for one. She will either make or break this show imo.

    • Kanokon had plenty of development! Though the most important part was after the credits of the last episode…

      I agree, the childhood friend will make or break the show. I want to be on the show’s side very badly, but even I won’t be able to tolerate it if it never excels beyond this episode.

        • I don’t mean to sound like an elitist for saying this, but could you stop saying ‘ecchi’? I know this is a problem that is way more widespread than I have a hope of tackling, and I know that language evolves when it comes overseas, but the word ‘ecchi’ in Japanese literally means ‘sex.’ If you called something an ‘ecchi’ or ‘H’ series, that would literally mean it was porn. Meanwhile we use the word ‘hentai’ for porn, which actually means ‘perverted’, so it just gets more confusing. Because I deal both with people who do and don’t use correct Japanese terms, I opt out of either term and just say ‘fanservice’ – I think it would be awesome if everyone else followed my lead.

          Anywho, I can’t blame you for not liking fanservice, but yeah, it’s not easy to like a show such as this without liking it. Mayhaps you should just avoid.

  2. Hey, nice review, got a nice idea of the show.
    I haven’t watched the firs episode yet (the pre-release), because I’m waiting for todays normal release, to see if it’s still censored too.
    Which episode did you watch, the special from december? or the one that aired today?

    • I watched the one from December – is today’s ep out already? Fansub Wiki and Anime Calendar have contradicting airdates, but either way I’ll be waiting for the sub before watching. I’m sure the TV broadcast will probably contain some amount of censoring, but hopefully only to the extent of Kanokon, which was able to get away with a lot.

  3. hum.. i didn’t know about the contradicting air dates, fansub wiki makes more sense, seeing how the show airs tomorrow at 22.00 it’s a more probable timeslot for the anime to be uncensored.
    I’ll wait for some raw or new fansub to see all of this.

    thanks

  4. “only the truth is that she mercilessly bullied him as a kid and intends to do so now”

    Oh. That’s interesting.

    “She announces to a crowd that the main guy’s childhood dream was to become a ‘beautiful bride’”

    Well, hell. Now I have to watch this.

  5. Is it bad that I am actually starting to enjoy Kanokon graphic? At least over generic anime graphic like that in flying Panties anime?

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