Shuffle! is based on a dating sim (of the hentai kind) by Navel, and it shows. WOWOW gave this a rating of 15 -- and that is a fair assessment. This one has lots of nudity (Boobs! With nipples!) and some pretty 'mature' situations.
Ten years ago, the gates between Earth and the worlds of both Demons and Gods have opened. Since then, Gods and Demons have immigrated, and they are now a part of every day life.
The main character, Rin, has lost his parents in the same accident as in which his childhood friend, Kaede, lost her mother. And then her father goes on an extended business trip, leaving the two of them living together in a house, unsupervised. (First rule of anime: get rid of the parents!)
The neighbours have all moved, and when Rin and Kaede get to school, they find out that the kings of both kingdoms (gods and demons) have moved to next-door, and that their daughters will be going to the same school as Rin. Of course, they met Rin when they were little, and have been desperately in love with him ever since -- while Rin has (obviously) forgotten all about it.
And so begins the harem anime. The five girls (Asa-sempai joins in the fun too, as well as jail-bait Primula) get a weird dynamic going: even though they like eachother as friends, they are rivals. Rin doesn't choose, and tries to keep friendly with all of them.
The series is rife with comedy -- rather than being a bland object of female attention, Rin has personality, and frequently gets locked in a verbal battle with his friend and classmate. The four girls have their own fanclub, who detest Rin, which gives a couple of amusing chase scenes.
But of course, there has to be a deeper plot. It can't stay happy and sunshine forever!
So we get an elaborate plot about how both kings wanted to create an artificial being with super-magical powers. And that had a pretty severe effect on almost all of the girls -- this is all revealed later on in the series. It's pretty harsh at times, and you genuinely feel bad for what the girls have to go through. This shows a completely different side of the girls.
The animation is amazingly detailed -- this must have been a high-budget series. The voice acting is good, though some of the voice actresses have to strain to give their voice that high-pitched 'cute' sound...
- A harem anime with a male character that has personality;
- Interesting plot (when it hits);
- Lots and lots of fanservice! (One episode is called: 'The panties date'...)
- No resolution! Rin doesn't decide, not even at the very end of the series.