One of the better generic harems.
[contains some generalized spoilers, point of view from someone who didn’t play the visual novel]
Mashiro-iro Symphony (TV) is one of the two visual novels adapted this fall season.
From what I know, the Visual Novel sold extremely well[#1 Oct 2009], but it was also extremely average[7.68@VNDB]. Unfortunately, it being “average” appears to carry on over to the anime. The characters are extremely generic and linear; there’s very little character development [There’s two tsunderes, the nice girl, the maid, and the sister]. In most romance series, relationships form, characters mature, they grow, they get more intimate with each other, it’s gradual, but it’s there. However, in Mashiro, it’s mostly rushed development, and the development is more so for storyline, rather than for the individual characters. The characters are basically static from the pilot to the finale.
However, Mashiro is a visual novel, and visual novels aren’t exactly the easiest to adapt. They have multiple paths in visual novels; you choose one of the girls and you see her being developed constantly, along with your own thoughts as the main protagonist. While in anime, you view the entire story in third-person, and it’s not just one character being developed, but multiple characters. Given this, anime adaptations more often then not take the harem route, which usually isn’t bad,; as long as they stay true to the characters [I don’t really have any experience with the visual novel itself, so I can’t really say how well or how badly they portrayed the characters, but they appear to be fine]
Anyhow, to sum it up, Mashiro is extremely predictable, and it’s riddled with bad dialogue, and silly plot developments. But that’s to be expected, it’s a generic harem. As a whole, Mashiro is a pretty decent way to kill some time, it’s not irritating to watch, and it does have its plus sides. It manages to create a pretty calm and enjoyable mood, it’s relaxing. It has a fitting OP and ED, and the characters are generic, but they’re not the irritating type of generic [like those over-optimistic shounen leads].
On a side note, the last two episodes are actually pretty decent, they “redeem” some aspects of the show. It develops the characters slightly, but it’s still rather linear. But, it did give a different perspective on things. In most harem romances, the guy usually dates the girl he picks, and the other girls basically fade away. However, in Mashiro, their thoughts are shown, and it’s done pretty well. It shows how they cope with not being chosen. To sum it up, Mashiro is one of the better generic harems out there, it doesn’t end with an irritating harem ending.
Objective Score: 4/10. It’s “bad” when it comes to actually portraying human emotions, it’s rushed and it’s pretty damn linear. But it’s the type of “bad” that isn’t irritating to watch; it’s “bad” because it’s not the most original.
Subjective Score: 5/10 : Mashiro on its own really isn’t the most unique anime. It’s generic, it’s predictable, it doesn’t offer anything new or rare. It’s still enjoyable, but there’s just so much room for improvement. But the enjoyability is still there.