Sixteen episodes in, I have finally reached the point which urges me to write a review to this series. Being not familiar with both the manga and the original run, I decided to pick it up due to omnipresent excitement and love towards the title. Needless to say, I was disappointed to the boot.
I really wanted to like the story, I swear. The concept itself is not THAT bad, but really - it's too cheesy, even for a shoujo series. Later on, the author tries to add a darker twist to the plotline, which by itself wouldn't be such a bad idea if it wasn't done poorly. There are so many plot holes I just want to be filled and this anime fails to answer all of them, leaving the viewer with even more questions. The storyline just keeps flowing, events happening, and the cast goes along with it like no big deal - they're barely engaged in their own lives for some reason. The worst part- it feels like everything reloves around the main character, Tohru, as if she were the singularity of the world they live in. And that wouldn't be so bad either (since she's the mc after all) if she weren't the most boring person in the world - which leads me to my next point-
Bad. Extremely bad. One-dimensional, boring, with one personality trait. Tohru Honda is a prime example of that. You can't just justify the characters entire personality by saying her mom died and now she's smiling through pain to make everyone happy. No normal 15-year old acts like that, and I refuse to believe there isn't some savior complex going on there, because holy crap - she lets everyone treat her like a doormat just to trigger a monologue scene where the animation is suddenly 10 times better and the other party starts praising her kindness and input in their life. Her entire personality revolves around being cute, polite, an overall ditz, and of course - her mom being dead, so why not please everyone around her just for the sake of forced emotional crap? If it wasn't enough, she also cries all the time and for everyone, which makes the series annoying to watch. And that's just the mc - her male love interests are equally as bad. One is the prince, the other the angry tsundere, and they both suffer from traumas we know nothing about. They manhandle her, scream, treat her like a housemaid (i bet she pays the rent too), and of course, both fall in love with her because she cured their trauma and saved them from the heavy emotional baggage just being the vegetable she is. Of course, let's add the perverted older man to the mix (who is surprisingly one of the more decent characters), a parody of a person suffering from a bipolar disorder (you know, he has two sides, pure and horny), and a villain whose motives are known to very few, because so far, they only were shown hurting people without any reason. Despite that, I'd like to praise Tohru's friends, because Uotani is a damn nice character. Can't say much about the other one yet, but she seems decent too. Sadly a few characters can't carry the entire series on their shoulders, so this anime fails miserably at story-telling and keeping the viewer engaged. It becomes more apparent in later episodes, though.
The arts pretty nice, you can see that the animators are doing a great job at their work. However, the quality isn't consistent (all the budget goes to the monologue scenes, probably) and something about the way Tohru is drawn just ticks me off. She just looks too cutesy, even for the animes own art style, and her eyes are for some reason twice as big as others?
The openings and endings are pretty nice, especially the second ones, and they're the entirety of my rating. Why? Because the sound in the actual anime is dreadful, especially the sound effects accompanying comedy scenes. Other people have already written about this issue, so I won't paraphrase their words. It's just really damn bad.
Sometimes I am physically not able to watch this series. It fails to keep me engaged, I get annoyed at most characters and the slow-paced story-telling keeps getting on my nerves. Despite that, I still want to know what exactly is going on in the Souma household and how the story will resolve, so to a certain extent, the story has to be interesting. After all, it's widely known all around the world. If you want something to just watch with your brain turned-off - sure, go on, maybe in that state, you might find the cross-dressing gags about Yuki, which occur every other episode, funny. But do I recommend it? Definitely not.