Ladies versus Butlers throws everything at you that the comedy/ecchi/harem genre has. That includes the kitchen sink, but if you can survive that, then the series should be somewhat bearable. Using “somewhat” extremely lightly.
Title: Ladies versus Butlers!
Episodes: 12 (+6 specials)
Genre: Comedy, Ecchi, Harem, Romance, School
Recommended/Similar Titles: Kanokon, MM!, Hanaukyou Maid-tai
If you know the definition of the word “garden-variety” then that in a nutshell sums up Ladies versus Butlers (LVB). The basic premise chronicles around Akiharu Hino that goes to the boarding school, Hakureiryō Academy that breeds maids and butlers that serve the higher class ladies. In a series of events that lands him the disfavor of Selnia Flameheart and meeting an old-childhood friend; he now begins his disorderly school life alongside others at the school. Needlessly to say, the common scenario works well in order for the story to do what it needs to do, but other than that, it is somewhat average and adheres to formulaic and often laughable tropes. The overall story does have a nice pacing, with each episode or so focusing on a specific character and the rest trying to maintain the romantic comedy/ecchi/harem appeal that is so desperately inserted into the series. Especially ecchi, since not an episode passes without it. Despite this, LVB remains moderately entertaining and enjoyable for a while, but does begin to lose its charm as time wears on due to the limited pool of jokes and poor execution of them.
With such a story, at least the characters of LVB are entertaining; though admittedly, some are average. It does not stray away from the common archetypes such as: the clumsy maid (Sanae Shikikagami), pervert guy (Shingo Todoroki), sadistic lady (Tomomi Saikyō), and reverse trap among others that are firmly locked within their respective caste. Although with a prolific and extensive cast of seriyu like: Ayumi Fujimura, Rie Kugimiya, Kana Hanazawa, and Yūko Gotō to name a few, it is enough for balance and allowing the personalities and humor to flow unrestricted. Most of the time that is. Becoming attached to the cast of characters is relativity easy for some, but others might not warm up to them at all.
Xebec is the animation studio and directorial arm behind LVB and one that has done a very excellent job on the visuals at least. If you are familiar with work such as: Kanokon, To Love-Ru, MM!, Softenni, and various others, then you can expect the same level of quality and detail. It obviously supports the art well-enough, as far the characters are concerned (especially for the ecchi/fanservice moments), but also in a general sense when speaking of backgrounds, etc. Overall, very smooth and visually appealing, but in need of better control. The other aesthetic production of music also does a fine job of standing out, if only noticed minutely, but does attribute to the mood greatly. Surispingly enough, the director for LVB is Ryouki Kamitsubo who has worked on some very well-know projects such as: Hyakko, Hidamari Sketch, Kyou no Go no Ni, and Softenni to name a few. It is definitely a great gap between these works, but it is noticeable of how similar they maybe in terms of the enjoyment that Kamitsubo tries to insert.
Having fond memories of LVB and taking some time to revisit it, I still find it mildly entertaining, but lacking as well. There is nothing particularity noteworthy or even remotely fascinating which might be the general consensus of other viewers, but it is a nice filler series if you are looking for something to watch on a slow day. I would not recommend it to a veteran looking for a more structured series – even one containing romantic elements. Although, if you value ecchi, light laughs, and somewhat interesting characters then this series might be able to please you. My favorite character(s) would have to be the Shikikagami sisters, which are very bizarre characters in their own right. Nothing more better than a clumsy maid and the other that strips without disregard.
LVB is not for everyone and definitely will not bend to everyone’s taste. As aforementioned, it is a very average title that does nothing remotely special and can be considered the same formulaic harem/ecchi trope of things, but does have a tagert audience that will welcome it. If you liked the recommended titles above like Kanokon or one’s like: He is My Master, B Gata H Kei, or even to some extent Seikon no Qwaser (minus the battles, story, and keep some ecchi devices) then LVB might be something you can appreciate. If none these titles fit your fancy or you can not get engage within two or three episodes, then the series is best not trifled with and you can safely walk away without missing out on much.
Pros: Fine animation and artwork, bizarre and interesting characters, nice pacing
Cons: Comedy elements somewhat stale, can be considered formulaic
Additional: Special episodes have near hardcore ecchi content (NSFW).