Seiren – Mid Season Review
Original Air Dates: January 7th, 2017 – ???
Synopsis: Shoichi Kamita is your average high school boy. He’s got an eye for the ladies, but isn’t sure what to do about it. With university entrance exams creeping up he’s begun to notice how everyone around him already seems to be growing up, especially the girls. He’s become worried about his future and wants to do something about himself, not only for his future, but maybe to actually get noticed by the girls? Seiren depicts Shoichi’s efforts to better himself as a relationship buds between him and three separate heroines in three separate story lines as part of an omnibus format.
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Seiren’s approach to Shoichi’s romance differs from most anime. It presents three separate arcs that don’t acknowledge the existences of either of the others. Each story is self-contained, focused on Shoichi’s efforts to romance one particular girl. By mid season, we’re half way through his second pairing, this time with Toru, a skilled gamer girl with competitive issues. It’s when meeting Toru that it becomes evident that Seiren’s heroines are all quirky individuals, with a flare for slightly larger than life personalities and dialogue, even delving into male fantasy type material, that keeps Seiren feeling fresh and fun, even when its romance isn’t all that much more original than your standard anime fare.
Linny: An important thing to note is that Seiren also seems to ‘reset’ the girls personalities with each arc. So a girl that may have been the heroine of last arc, for example Hikari, might seem different in the new arc when she’s no longer the focus. Depending on which girl is getting the spotlight, the other girls can seem like completely different people, although the show does help make them recognizable by mentioning something we knew about them from their own arc.
Tom: Shoichi is still fairly identifiable and relatable, although he’s quite quirky in his own right, particularly the few times we catch casual glimpses of his fantasies. However, his goals and desires change between arcs, as if he’s perhaps not entirely the same character. In the first arc he’s focused on growing up and bettering himself, where as in the second he’s much more focused on gaming and uncovering school drama. The only constant is Shoichi’s pursuit of romance, which is serviced to varying degrees between the arcs.
Linny: Shoichi’s obsession with girls and fantasizing about them is definitely the only main constant of the show and might make him relatable to younger, hormone fueled viewers. For others, it could come off as hilarious since his fantasies tend to be very strange while others might just find him plain desperate and weird.
Tom: Seiren’s narrative remains very character centric, often abandoning focus on progression of the plot for fun character moments, interactions and sides stories. The comedy lends itself to keeping things interesting, as without its more quirky nature there’s little original to Seiren’s romance. Seiren mainly utilizes innuendo for comedy’s sake and keeps the interactions mostly PG, so people looking for more sexualized relationships are going to walk away disappointed, as Seiren is no Scum’s Wish.
Linny: There’s a plethora of sexual innuendo jokes and references scattered throughout to a degree that might make you groan. However, like Tom points out, it never gets all out vulgar or visually graphic, often choosing to turn it all into one big weird joke. There are a few camera angles and zoom ins on more sensual body parts but ultimately, it’s more on the chaste side for a romance anime. Also, because of the ‘reset’ story style, there’s no finality in the tone of the show, so there’s a chance that you might end up liking one arc and disliking all the others or vice versa. It almost makes the show feel like a maze where you never know what to expect or what direction it’s going to take and that feels more of a risk than is worth investing in.
Tom: A minor problem is Seiren’s bizarre adherence to reality with its Art. Where as the dialogue is very much larger than life, filled with innuendo and a quirky atmosphere, Seiren’s art keeps its character designs grounded. No girl has outrageous hair color or styles, keeping the visuals feeling real, or as real as anime is every going to get. But this can also make it difficult to tell the girls apart for less attentive viewers. Recognizing the girl’s hairstyle is key and sometimes it’s not always immediately obvious without catching the girls head on.
Linny: I was absolutely bored by the first arc of Seiren. Hikari, the female lead, was made so aggressive/alluring to the point where it felt less like an empowered girl and just plain male fantasy. And while I am enjoying the second arc a lot more, it still feels like a really weird and contrasting juxtaposition for such realistic character designs to be combined with such strange premises..like a school that goes so far as to have disciplinary council members investigate game arcades to make sure their students aren’t in them even during their free time. In fact, one student is even admonished for using a purikura machine which feels ludicrous. If you like the sound of that, and generally enjoy rather strange humour and sexual innuendos, Seiren should at least get a chuckle or two. However, if you are looking for all out smut or a classic romance, you might want to skip this.
Tom: Unlike Linny I actually see the reset as more of a positive than a negative. It gives the show fresh life each time, allowing the story to refocus on a new female lead without forcing the narrative into convoluted harem trappings. It also means there’s always a chance for viewers uninterested in Hikari’s, the first heroines, lewd and seductively playful demeanor that they might enjoy the more gaming focused Toru instead. Overall I think Seiren has a lot to like and works well as a comedy, even if its romance isn’t anything special. I’m kept amused each episode and generally find each of the girls appealing for their more quirky nature.
Seiren is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com