When I first read the premise of this series, I expected nothing of this series. A swimming-club where the main female lead likes to swim around in the nude. Fanservice anyone? Imagine my surprise when Umisho actually turned out (*gasp*) enjoyable. That’s probably the first for any fanservice-anime out there.
So, yes, there’s fanservice, and a lot of it. But while most other harems and similar series have characters with what I’d like to call the “paper-bag-syndrome” (by not being able to think for themselves, having no personality and being as interesting to watch as a paper bag), the creators of Umisho have put a bit of extra work to them. Fair enough, they all start out as clichés, but right from the start it becomes clear that every single character has one or more elements that go way beyond clichés and make them really fun to watch. Think of a shy big-breasted girl who is actually secretly a pervert, or the childhood friend who used to horribly abuse the male lead in the past, and of course the male captain of the swimming-team, who for once isn’t a huge pervert but instead a giant creep without any sense of shame. You’ll understand when you see him.
There’s also been a nice amount of detail put in the setting, where the competition between different swimming-clubs gets a nice amount of development, and every member of the club has at least an identifiable character-design. The character-designs are rather “pleasing” to the eye and the soundtrack gives the series a light overall tone. Overall, it’s one of the best fanservice-anime I’ve seen this far.
But yeah, there are enough times when this series loses itself in its excessive fanservice. Some scenes were just too outrageous and blatantly obvious that it nearly became painful. This series would definitely have been even better without the useless fanservice. Then there’s also the matter of the obligatory drama and romance that show up once in a while. It works in about 40% of the cases. The others are a tad too forced and aimed at fanboys.
It’s really nice to be finally proven wrong in my bias against fanservice-anime. Umisho is energetic, has likable characters who can think for themselves (really, at times we hear huge inner monologues when certain characters are attempting something stupid), and I laughed quite a bit at times. It’s nowhere near the best series out there but it remains fun to watch.