“Unlimited Fafnir” a Harem Twist on the Magical Girl Genre
In a world where monsters known as Dragons roam, humans strive to protect themselves and the world they live in. After the Dragons’ arrival girls with supernatural powers similar to those of the dragons began appearing, who became known as Ds. With their ability to call upon and manipulate dark matter, their abilities became the world’s best defense against the roaming dragons. One day Mononobe Yuu, the only known male D, is sent to Midgar, a school where Ds learn to control their powers. Once at school he reunites with his sister, Mitsuki, and works with his fellow students to hone his abilities and help protect Midgar from Dragons and any other forces that threaten its inhabitants.
I have very mixed feelings about this anime due to its nature as part of the harem sub-genre. When looking at the harem aspect there is nothing really unique about it. The women are stock characters with their mixture of body types and personalities, from the large-breasted innocent to the flat-chested prepubescent overly conscious of her rivals in love. Though each of them has their own endearing traits they can be lost in the blatant competition for male attention. Since the male, in this case Yuu has a budding friendship with multiple female characters his intentions can easily be interpreted by those female characters as romantic. Thus, whenever Yuu assists the girls in battle or aids them in any way, they seek to “thank” him in unconventional ways, such as showing Yuu their panties or organizing an occasion where he can see the group of girls naked in the bath.
Yuu does not take advantage of any of the girls, which is a trope of the harem genre but also makes the anime a tad more bearable. However when he refuses the direct advances of the girls they become offended, causing Yuu to have to balance between keeping the girls happy and having them remain decent. Generally he has to push it off using the phrase “any guy would be excited if a cute girl…” to both compliment the girl but remain distanced from his own desires. Though this leaves Yuu as almost a blank character, his kindness can be appreciated.
Whenever I began to wonder, “Why exactly am I watching this anime?” a dragon would attack and the harem aspect would be drowned by battle sequences or heavy plot. After awhile, however, I did wonder why I kept watching. The show teases multiple aspects of a larger back-story involving Yuu as an assassin, but does not delve in any further than a quick flashback or two, which answer no questions. There is the interesting concept that Yuu trades his memories in order to become more powerful, but that is only mentioned without diving any deeper into what that actually means. Unlimited Fafnir seems to value the harem aspect over the story, and decides to spend more time creating situations appropriate for fan service than working on the larger plot.
Still, the concept is interesting and acts as a twist on the magical girl genre. Each girl can summon a weapon to conduct their powers through, like a bow, staff, or even a spell book. The animation, though nice, seems disconnected at parts because the dragons are animated differently than the rest of the show. Though this works nicely to show their otherworldly status, it is a bit of a shock the first time the camera cuts to a dragon. Diomedea, the same studio that made Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, uses a softer animation style to give Unlimited Fafnir and its characters a more earnest look. Though this anime may not be for everyone, especially if they are irked by harem tropes, it does set up an engaging story.
Unlimited Fafnir is a weekly anime series, based off a light novel of the same name, which began airing in Japan January 8, 2015. The series is being simulcast via the anime-viewing website Crunchyroll, and is approaching the end of its first season.