Also known as: Maidens Are Falling For Me
Seio Girls Academy will have a new student attending this year: Mizuho Miyanokouji. Mizuho is academically gifted, beautiful, graceful, athletic and charming. It's not surprising someone with these traits becomes instantly popular at school. In fact Mizuho is nominated as the school elder - a role for the girl who is considered the role model attendees at the academy aspire to be. Not a bad accomplishment considering Mizuho is secretly a guy.
Mizuho's grandfather left specific instructions in his will for Mizuho to attend the all girls academy, even though he's a boy. With some makeup tricks, and a style adjustment, he turns into one of the hottest girls in school. Only the school head, his teacher and his childhood friend are supposed to know she's a he... but the secret gets hard to keep. Especially when Mizuho is the center of attention at school.
Given that the premise is rather... dumb, you'll have to be accepting (or seeking) a fluff anime. Otoboku embodies much of what I consider wrong with the industry, so it's a little embarrassing to admit I liked it. Similar to many titles drowning in stupidity, Otoboku hits many of the expected faults, but never gets stuck in any particular pitfall. The only thing I'd consider a complete failure is the music, although far enough in the background to ignore. The comedy is hit and miss as well. Sometimes it works, sometimes it tries too hard.
My main gripe is with the premise. Mizuho is for all intents and purposes, a girl. He makes some token male actions at first, but is generally more girlie than most girls thereafter. His voice is more effeminate than some of the cast (apparently he never hit puberty), and some parts even show him with cleavage. If you're expecting the cross dressing thing to be a central point, it's not. Which is annoying considering it's the main setup describing the show. I still can't be too harsh on that point considering this show is better than expected.
Kindness and positive attitude are what I like most about Otoboku. Anime has no shortage of central male characters who are the "nice guy", but usually it's due to dumb circumstances and completely unconvincing. Mizuho on the other hand has a sincere thoughtfulness allowing him to pull it off. Problems are addressed by taking a positive approach. Where drama is concerned, fluff anime often becomes stupid as they succumb to uncharacteristic melodrama. In Otoboku there's drama, but it's not because anyone is deliberately mean. This also means the drama is never really "biting" and you may find it dull.
Aside from the oddball weird ghost story, the story is predictable and pretty shallow. The characters likewise stick to standard archetypes. They're prone to occasional stupidity, but otherwise aren't intentionally dumb or overplay their part. While hit and miss, I didn't hate any of them as I had expected. But maybe I'm overlooking faults due to finding the "trap taming the tsundere" idea so appealing.
While I liked Otoboku, it lacks enough strong points to even make it average. I'm disappointed the cross dressing thing never went anywhere (Strawberry Eggs is still champion there), and annoyed with the ambiguous end, but I can't say there's anything I hated about it. While most will want to skip this one, it hooked me just enough to like so maybe its worth checking into if it looks interesting.
Takako: I think we're too different for that sort of thing.
Mariya: But the opposite of the opposite is the thing itself. We're so alike that we're opposites.
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