What Hell Looks Like - Musings on Uta no Prince-sama

With this, the Summer 2011 season is over for me. I wonder why I chose to let it go out with such a bad anime; I should have saved one of the better ones to do last.

This anime was a typical shoujo series, with a perfect heroine and multiple guys professing their undying loves for her. While the animation made it generally visually appealing, the story full of cliches (placed as though they had been thrown in the moment they were thought of) made it very difficult to sit through. I can't see someone who likes shoujo - the kind with lots of drama - liking this anime; there was just no growth of any kind.

Isn't it clear which guy the anime prefers?

There was quite a lot of detail in this anime, creating scenery that was generally very good-looking (and reused...). The character designs were very intricate as well; all of the main and important characters were very fleshed out. Of course, any background character was so ridiculously plain that it made me wonder how the detailed characters weren't getting mauled constantly out of jealousy. Design-wise, I questioned the lead female's ridiculous eye colour - yellow irises and green pupils - while everyone else was demure in comparison, but I understand the need to make the heroine stand out (doesn't mean I agree with it, by the way).

I might have put up with their antics if they were all in chibi form.

The premise was that Nanami Haruka had just gotten into a vocational musical school called Saotome Academy, and right away met 6 guys that would eventually fall in love with her. This isn't any kind of spoiler, by the way; it's pretty obvious from the first moment that such a thing would happen. The story from that point on was full of various cliches and overused tropes such that everything only loosely held together. It felt like typical shoujo, honestly speaking. This was a very arc-driven series, although the "big picture" (that Haruka wanted to become a composer) definitely never faded because it was reiterated constantly, usually in the form of Haruka's voiceovers of letters she was writing to her grandmother. It got to be really tiring because the entire situation just became superficial.

They're supposed to be a diverse group.

Story Presentation
Given that this was an arc-based anime, the episodes needed to be very well-written. Such was not the case, because everything was just rushed. Problems created within episodes were generally solved in the same or succeeding episode, leaving absolutely no lasting effects. This caused the stories to ring hollow, as there was never really any chance to fully understand the problem before it got solved. There was little down-time between arcs, especially at the end, leaving no chance to really absorb what had just happened. I'm not wishing for filler; I'm just saying that jumping from one major arc to another without something in between is rarely a good idea.

There's a "hidden unlockable love interest" character here.

The characters were really just pawns to make all the cliches "work", and so they got really no development (even Haruka, the impeccable main character who could do no wrong). There really were no feelings in the characters and their actions; the guys were in love with Haruka simply because the episode said they were. With no internal growth, the characters also had no development with each other - nothing that was realistic, at least. Their interactions felt stunted and mundane, and scenes where all the characters appeared together saw them relegated to one-line wonders just so they had some kind of presence. Despite defining traits that was supposed to differentiate them, the similar traits were really just too indistinguishable and so there ended up being little contrast between them.

This is what happens when you have childhood friends and fangirls.

Final Words
I picked this anime up because I thought it had a chance of being a good shoujo. I didn't know that it was far deeper into the realm of shoujo than I usually care to tread. The flimsy love system that was created with Haruka in the middle was hard to swallow, given that each boy got one episode to state their feelings before the story moved on. Judging by all of the scenes depicted in the insert songs, I'm pretty sure that the boys were given a lot more focus in the original work, the PSP game, which was a dating sim targeted at girls. However, I'm reviewing the anime and not the possibilities of the game. I don't want to suggest this at all - not even the first episode - but I can't be that biased; I think the first few minutes of the first episode is enough to understand what kind of anime this is. Just remember: there was no growth. Anywhere.

I didn't understand at that time...

Scoring - [4.0/10]
With so many overused cliches and rushed stories, this anime was fun to toss around for a while. The moment I took a hiatus, though, it was just painfully agonizing to get back to. That makes my feelings pretty clear.