You may have seen the embarrassing trailer, but with two episodes out now, how does the “magical boy anime” measure up to expectation? In short, a pink wombat and a green hedgehog act as mascots for the opposing factions trying to take over the Earth – starting with Binan High. “Will love or the loveless win” – is not actually a major focus of the plot. True, there’s nude Sailor Moon transformations and the enemy is downed with a heart-shaped mushroom cloud. But don’t write this show off solely as another shipper-baiting bishounen fest just yet. Cute High Earth Defense Club (Binan Kokou Chikyuu Bouei-bu!) is before anything else, a comedy that targets the current generation of otaku.
Yes, the premise of the show is intentionally sparkly shoujo-fashioned boys. However, what the trailer leaves out is that Earth Defense Club is written with Daily Lives of High School Boys style dry humor (which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since they have the same director). The entire episode consists of actively calling out overdone anime tropes only to amp them up further.
Half of the dialogue is filled with tsukkomi/bokke banter and self-aware parodies. From the start, none of the characters particularly have any ambitions or problems beyond their normal lives. Although appearance-wise each seemingly fall under a certain type, they spend more time complaining in a bath house than actually fighting.
What’s more, in lieu of Shugo Chara or Princess Tutu-esque episode structures where each infected student opponent “learns” a vital lesson from the exchange, the chosen victims instead have inane fixations and turn into bizarre parody monsters. Thankfully, no one takes espousing the meaning of love seriously, which hopefully eases the viewer’s shame over names like “Battle Lovers” and other English titles that are all the rage with alien animals. The (traditional, order-imposing and transforming) enemy team get somewhat obscure gemstone names while the main cast is color-coded, as it should be.
One of my favorite highlights happens to be the macabre reasoning behind how their teacher came to be possessed. Upon arriving on Earth, Wombat accidentally trips and kills their 77-year-old teacher. Naturally, he factors this into his impromptu decision to protect the Earth by conveniently preserving his body and using it as a mobile. Wombat then proceeds to treat said body rather negligently, which becomes one of the more morbid of the running jokes.
Another shining moment is the device to explain why magical boys can’t be identified in uniform despite their obvious recognizability. Apparently, alien “science” auto pixel-censors their faces and pitches their voices in real time. If you needed more reasons to watch the show, you also get to see the posh student council holding a very serious “Binan High School Conquest Project” meeting, presided over by the vengeful hedgehog, Lord Zundar.
As you can see, there is not nearly enough screenshots to capture the essence of this show, nor can it conclusively be deemed a riot or even if it deserves its shoujo tag. In terms of quality, it falls slightly short of causing outright laughs. Some terrible Japanese puns are thrown around, and it’s not an anime you see developing any drama or causing deep sentiment. I feel you have to be the certain kind of long-term anime fan to enjoy the wordiness. However, it is a bit of indulgent fun if you have twenty minutes to kill that would’ve gone towards answering Buzzfeed quizzes instead.
I do think they could have improved their appeal a bit with a catchier Free! like OP and ED and creating characters you are more likely to become attached to. It remains to be seen whether or not the power of nakama has any effect in the world of Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! Overall, my recommendation comes with a shrug and a “don’t look at me like that, see for yourself” expression.