With a new eye-catch, Ep 12 ushers the series into its story-centric phase beginning with Primula’s tale. Much as I would like to classify eps 12-15 under the Primula arc, the equal emphasis on Nerine’s story and Asa’s major plot revelation/character development in these same eps resist such a designation. This is what I personally deem to be SHUFFLE’s greatest strength.
Unlike many HGTAs (h-game turned animes) which feel heavily segmented (complete with clumsy transitions) as girls’ tales are resolved individually, SHUFFLE does a wonderful execution of parallel stories, developing most of the female cast simultaneously. Eps 12-15 attest this to masterful storytelling as Primula’s story unfolds and concludes concurrently with Nerine’s arc. The twin intertwining tales are undergirded by immense Asa/Rin relationship development setting the stage for the subsequent plot, providing connectivity and improving the flow of the series. (Yes I have the benefit of hindsight of up to ep 18 :P)
Too many HGTA have also their female leads erased from the series once their stories are resolved (Kanon, Air for example) Contrast this with Nerine/Primula’s continual influence(not mere existence) in the series after ep 15 (Nerine’s impact on Sia in ep 16 and Primula sensing Kaede’s growing uncertainties in later eps) and we have in SHUFFLE an intricate script that manages to skillfully graft ‘expended characters’ onto the remaining stories. Magnificent storytelling indeed.
SHUFFLE achieves a feat I have yet to see in any other HGTA and that is the impeccable weaving of multiple storythreads into a flowing tale, while incoporating much of the game’s plot elements and retaining the spirit of the original game (check out Zyl’s very excellent SHUFFLE game expositions). A truly tremendous accomplishment since major elements in the individual girls’ stories can sometimes be diametrical, making the integration of these critical elements into a seemingly natural tale, close to impossible. Kudos to the ingenuity of the SHUFFLE team.
As of ep 18, SHUFFLE ranks up there with Kiminozo and DaCapo on Stripey’s HGTA charts. If only DCSS had the strength of SHUFFLE’s scriptwrights..