Anime List

4 Ecchi Series with Unexpectedly Engaging and/or Complex Plots

Introduction

What do you think of when you think an ecchi anime series? Your list probably includes pantsu, falling towels, and lots of bouncing breasts. What your list probably doesn’t include is an engaging, complex plot, possibly with fascinating and/or deep social commentary!

Yes, I said fascinating and/or deep social commentary.

For some reason, I see that ecchi series have a bad reputation in some circles. I think that’s a shame, because there’s a wide variety of series in this category. Chobits, for example, is a touching love story. Food Wars, another example, is a strong drama with great characters. This just goes to show that not ecchi series focus on the elements that make them ecchi. In other words, they’re not all like Rosario + Vampire!

And no, I’m not trying to bad-mouth Rosario + Vampire, To LOVE Ru, or similar shows. Sometimes you just want to watch something fun and mindless. But sometimes, you want to watch something fun and engaging. Read on for four suggestions!

Warning! There are spoilers beyond this point, so please be cautious!

I Couldn’t Become a Hero So I Reluctantly Decided to Got a Job

The show starts in completely not the way you’d expect an ecchi/Rom Com to start: The Demon King’s last stand against the heroes. The battle takes place on the slopes of an active volcano, and the evil army of skeletons, giants, and other beasts fall in droves before the might of our heroes. We quickly get two clues that this isn’t a run of the mill fantasy romp. First, the armor of Airi Oltined, the lone woman among our heroes, consists chiefly of a material that looks like sheer black nylon. And second, after the heroes win the day, we get a shot of the heroes being disbanded (because why fund them if there’s no enemy, what with the Demon King falling and all) before we see another of the heroes, Raul Chaser, working as a salesman at a magic shop called Leon (this world’s equivalent of Best Buy).

Guess who joins him as a junior salesperson? Fino Bloodstone, the daughter of the late Demon King. Yes, hijinks ensue.

Truth be told, I love the show asking the question of what comes after the destruction of the Demon King. It asks a logical question about heroes and their relation to society. And it doesn’t stop there! Despite a more than generous quota of flipped skirts, accidental exposures and even a swimsuit episode (to see product, of course!), the show veers into serious political commentary.

Sure, it’s easy to see what happens if there’s no enemy. The government redirects the funds away from the heroes, their compensation, and their schools! If you’re a hero, though, do you meekly accept this? Well, Raul, a true hero, does. No enemy, no need to fight! But there are others who aren’t so wholesome. They missed their time in the spotlight. And they set their sights on restoring Fino to her father’s throne to restart the war and the bloodshed — so they can be heroes again.

If you gave the show a pass because ecchi’s not your thing, you might want to reconsider. The characters are a lot of fun, too! Seara August, the store’s manager, turns out to be a lot more than she first appears. Even minor characters like Lamdimia Do Aximemor (and don’t you share shorten it to Lam!) turn out to be important. It’s much more than it appears to be on the surface.

It’s available streaming on Crunchyroll.  Amazon also has it available for purchase:

High School of the Dead

Chances are, if you hear the title High School of the Dead, three things come to mind (in this order):

  1. Breast physics
  2. Pantsu (and more pantsu)
  3. Zombies

Yes, in this show that’s about a zombie outbreak, zombies are nowhere near the first thing most folks remember when they think about this show. And you know what? That’s too bad. Because after watching such a diverse range of zombie movies from the original Night of the Living Dead to 28 Days Later to The Walking Dead (the comic was better), I think that this anime series has them beat when it comes to a realistic portrayal to how society would come apart in the event of a zombie infection. Cell phone coverage crumpling under the weight of emergency calls, the surge in hedonistic attacks by gangs, and even opportunistic despots staking their claim plays out in a very realistic fashion.

The show follows a group of friends who band together in an attempt to survive. The group dynamics were fantastic! Takashi Komuro, Saeko Busujima, and Rei Miyamoto form the core of the fighters. Saya Takagi is the strategist, Kouta Hirano is their weapons expert (okay, he’s a gun nut), and Shizuka Marikawa is their doctor. The team came together and organized itself in an organic and realistic way.

Some scenes that felt particularly authentic to me included a woman who kept insisting that the entire scenario was just attempt to control them. That same woman even rallied the adults against Takashi and his friends — which led to consequences you can probably imagine.

It’s really too bad that the scene this show’s most remembered for involves Takashi using Rei’s breasts as a brace for an AK-47. The show’s a lot more than that!

You can watch it streaming on HIDIVE. You can also buy it from Amazon:

Trinity Seven

This show and Demon King Daimao (see below) start with a similar idea: What if the people around the main character say that he’s this thing of myth: a Demon King destined to challenge and destroy the world — but the main character has no idea what that means of why he’s it? In this show, that’s the question facing Arata Kasuga, who, at the beginning of the first episode, is happily living with his sister Hijiri Kasuga —  except she’s not really his sister and they’re not really living together.

It’s complicated.

The arrival of Lilith Asami from the Magic Academy introduces Arata to a new world of magic, and the magic system is the first of two things that sets this show apart from other similar shows. It’s an elaborate and fascinating system based on the idea of a Thema. Based on the idea of the seven deadly sins, each magician selects the Thema that’s farthest from their own personality (and Arata seems endlessly delighted when he finds out that Lilith’s Thema is Lust). When they practice magic, they first have to switch to Magus Mode, and they can use the spells in their grimoires. Arata, being a Demon Lord candidate, is so powerful that he ends up with more than one grimoire.

The second thing is Arata’s camouflaged respect for the women around him. I say camouflaged because he’s more than open about his appreciation for them — and I’m not talking platonic appreciation (though that’s part of it, actually). Several of them respond positively, like Arin Kannazuki, who claims to be his wife (and I think it’s hilarious how he doesn’t argue with her about it!). Others, though, take serious offense, like Mira Yamana, who tries to kill Arata — on more than one occasion! But he shows his respect for her in an episode where he could easily have ogled her undressed, but he deferred so she wouldn’t feel embarrassed or harassed. He was open with his feelings, but he tried to protect those around him, too.

This is all interesting enough, but it gets even better. There’s a fear in some circles who fear that if all of the Trinity Seven (basically, the most powerful women in that Academy) align with Arata that he will become a Demon Lord. Worse, with their powers at his disposal, they fear that Arata will crush all of creation. There’s a great shot of what things might look like if he succeeds, and I have to say it was pretty cool!

With this show, you might show up for the ecchi but stay for the characters and intricate, interesting magic system. And get a tiny bit of political commentary thrown in for fun.

You can watch Trinity Seven streaming on Crunchyroll. You can also buy it from Amazon:

Demon King Daimao

This is the show that gave me the idea for this post. I watched it on a whim because I thought Junko Hattori looked stupidly attractive. On that front, I was not disappointed! But what kept me watching was the sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle social commentary!

The story starts with Akuto Sai riding on a high-tech train to his first day at a new school. He’s excited about becoming a Priest so he can help people, and his fervor and zeal attracts the attention of Hattori, who’s from a family prominent in that society. They hit it off until this show’s equivalent of Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat loudly proclaims that he’s the next Demon King.

Hattori immediately thinks he was lying to her; all his classmates think he’s going to destroy or enslave them. Everything he tries to do to convince them he has no intention of becoming the Demon King backfires. They even misinterpret his agreeing to become the class janitor as some sort of power play and his plea that he wanted everyone to be free to make their own choices as a thematic assault on society’s status quo!

What really caught my attention was that large corporations and even the government wanted him to play the role of Demon King — some for the purpose of giving them a reason to use their huge military budget, some for their own gains. Some of the students had even been biding their time until the next Demon King was announced. Fujiko Etou, for example, had prepared an elaborate scheme to ensnare him and force him to do her bidding.

I really respect that kind of social commentary. I even liked how Akuto turned their expectations back on some of them — and made alliances with others. Sure, there was an astoundingly high ratio of pantsu shots (rivaling even I Couldn’t Become a Hero So I Reluctantly Decided to Got a Job!), but what stuck with me (well, mostly!) were its themes.

You can watch the show streaming on Crunchyroll. You can also buy it from Amazon!

11 thoughts on “4 Ecchi Series with Unexpectedly Engaging and/or Complex Plots

    1. The whole thing was just a lot of fun to watch! And I agree — the last episodes were dramatic and filled with great and subtle political commentary. That’s my favorite kind!

  1. Demon King Daimaou is definitely an underrated show, and very few people even seem to have heard of it. I only heard about it because a fellow blogger had assigned it to me in one of those “I’ll watch what you say if you watch what I say” kind of things for a post. But I really enjoyed it. As for the others in your post, I didn’t really care for Trinity Seven as much, too much difficult to follow “reasoning” for the magic, and too much of the characters I didn’t care for as much, although I really love Yumi Hara’s (as Lilith) repeated “arimasen!” lines in the show, she just does that so well. And “Couldn’t become a hero” was quite a fun show to watch, with so much of their ‘daily lives’ integrated into the show.

    (I’ve never seen Highschool of the Dead, so I can’t comment on it)

    And I would more put Highschool DxD in the category of the shows in this post, rather than mindless, although a lot of that is informed by my having read the books, due to TNK’s big quality slide through the three series they did (and that Passione reversed fairly well with this recent 4th series). Unfortunately that leaves a lot of big story hole in the anime series, but I still find it very engaging with the overall story of the world of devils, the efforts toward peace between devils, fallen angels, and heaven, the coordinated fight against a loosely affiliated terrorist group, and the very involved romance between Issei and Rias, where both of them act like teenagers, for all good and ill. Plus I think that Issei’s a great protagonist, motivated by love for others and wanting to do the right thing for those he cares about, and even those he fights.

    1. “And I would more put Highschool DxD in the category of the shows in this post, rather than mindless…”

      That’s a really good point. I considered including it in this post, but I had it stuck in my mind with “Heaven’s Lost Property” as an ecchi series that was utterly dedicated to executing its premise — to the exclusion of other categories it’s a part of! I focused so much on Issei’s relationship to oppai that I lost sight of just what you said:

      “with the overall story of the world of devils, the efforts toward peace between devils, fallen angels, and heaven, the coordinated fight against a loosely affiliated terrorist group, and the very involved romance between Issei and Rias,”

      My creative process betrayed me!

      I may have to write another post on this topic!

      Thanks for your comment, and glad you visited!

      1. Actually, since you mention Heaven’s Lost Property, and I thought about it for a day, it’s actually a show that sets up a very complex world, and very interesting characters… and then just absolutely throws it away with super-deformed Tomoki and panties and sneaking into the girls locker room with gender changes. Eishirou spends the whole two series and a movie trying to drag the show back to something that actually resembles a plot, but ultimately it’s hopeless against the power of Tomoki being a perv.

        1. Thinking back, I think I disqualified Heaven’s Lost Property, at least in part, because of the flock of migratory flying panties.

          Hard to take a show seriously after that! I mean, I can respect its dedication to its perversion, but wow…

          And in spite of that, I would have loved to have learned more about Daedalus. I would have loved to have seem more about Alpha — I think she borders on awe-inspiring when she uses Aegis and Artemis. So much fascinating complexity!

          “Eishirou spends the whole two series and a movie trying to drag the show back to something that actually resembles a plot, but ultimately it’s hopeless against the power of Tomoki being a perv.”

          Beta tried to help him a now and again, but even together, they were powerless!

  2. I haven’t seen any of these except for some of the ones you mentioned at top. Ecchi is not really a genre I watch but I like this topic. It’s always great when series has complexity to them. 😀

    1. I think Demon King Daimao surprised me the most. Given how the first episode went, I wasn’t expecting the level of social commentary. Everyone from fellow students (like the student council) to the government refused to listen to him when he said he didn’t want to be the demon king — all because they needed a demon king to justify their existence or powers!

      Too many parallels to today!

      I think it says something about the quality of the writers and artists involved with anime with a genre seen as frivolous as ecchi can have such depth!

  3. I haven’t seen any of the others on this list, but I agree with you on HOTD. I think the actual zombie outbreak component of the narrative is realistic and suspenseful. The music and animation are also quite good. My issues with that series, stem from having read much of the manga first and finding that the anime adaptation didn’t quite hold up as well as I thought it would.

    Sadly, said manga will probably never even conclude because the creator died.

    1. I hadn’t heard the creator died! That’s a real bummer. I agree with you about the manga. The parts that I read (where they met Rei’s mom?) were really well done. Reminded me a lot of the earlier Walking Dead!

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