Seiren – Review
Original Air Dates: January 7th, 2017 – March 25th, 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.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Seiren is a very character centric romance series, focused on building a relationship between Shoichi and the focal love interest in each of the series three distinct romantic arcs. Each builds to a conclusion that flashes into the character’s futures before resetting back to square one. The four episodes are generally quite lens focused on these budding romances and while there’s a narrative behind each, the focus is more so on the interactions Shoichi has with each of the girls and how that gradually springs into love.
Linny: The reset/anthology like story telling style is one of Seiren’s most unique features. It gives itself a chance to woo viewers by teasing of a potentially better heroine/love story with each reset. However, despite this, the show has a set style it sticks very closely to. There’s a particular brand of humour in each story, humour that’s a bit strange and might leave some more puzzled than tickled. Every story arc features comedy that can be downright crude and outright weird. It also contains a have a fair amount of sexual humour and while it will make more sensitive audiences uncomfortable, it isn’t obnoxiously depraved, with its ultimate effect being to make the viewer go ‘wtf?’ rather than to titillate.
Tom: What I feel keeps the series fresh is, in fact, the quirky writing that Linny describes above. Characters say the darnedest things often straying into sheer puzzling sexual territory. All three lead girls are exceedingly quirky, not always in a sexual way, and at times that can make them feel almost honestly real. But that can and does stray too far at times, causing to Seiren lose some of its down to earth type charm. For example Tsuneki Hikari, our vivacious love interest, is a very sexually charged, flirty girl. This works quite well during her four episodes and gives her a kind of tease like appeal. But later on the series hams up her character, and while she’s no longer the focus, she starts to feel larger than life. The same can be said for the other girls as well, but it always seems to be once these characters are relegated to the background during the other romance arcs.
Linny: There’s also the fact that with each reset and new heroine, the girl/s from the previous arc’s undergo a personality reset too. For example, Tsuneki, unabashedly sexual in her arc suddenly becomes a judgemental puritan the next. Combine this with the fact that the show has mostly simple and realistically plain character designs and you might find yourself struggling to recognize girls from older arcs when moving onto a new one.
Tom: Shoichi, compared to the girls, is a fairly standard and relatable lead. While his fantasies are his biggest and most outrageous quirk, he generally feels like an acceptable straight man lead. While his character could be interesting, even if perhaps a bit bland, the series has a tendency to not just reset him at he beginning of a new arc, but completely change up the focus of his interests just like Linny mentioned above with our heroines. For example in the first four episodes Shoichi is interested in bettering himself and catching up with others in terms of growing up and becoming an adult. But later on he’s more focused on enjoying video games and living a carefree life. There’s no consistency to his character, almost making him feel like a different individual between arcs.
Linny: Seiren also suffers from a fair number of harem cliches, specifically the more sexual ones where the hero often finds himself in really outrageous situations that ‘require’ him to engage in something intimate with a blushing heroine. For example, in one story line, he has to help locate the zipper in a cosplay costume that the heroine has put on so she can use the bathroom, which means he has to intensely stare down her back to her butt to her crotch…
Tom: In terms of animation Seiren is no prize pig either. The series often sits on the lower end of quality with frequent wonky off models both in long shots and mid. This is particularly a problem in the back half of the series and can really pull you out of the action. Another issue is Seiren’s desire to adhere to real world visuals. In an effort to keep things grounded, many of the character designs are quite realistic. No crazy hair or colors to take away from the series’ down to earth visual approach. But in that attempt it’s made telling a number of the girls apart quite difficult, as so many have the same shade of brown hair and couple that with wonky, non distinct models it can be difficult to tell which girl is which.
Linny: The art really is nothing special, but the realistic approach to character designs make for an interesting contrast against the weirder elements of the story, adding to the ‘wtf’ factor as you watch ‘normal’ people engage in bizarre activities. On the other hand, it also helps to enhance the romance and real life aspects of the story in the rare moments when Seiren goes into a more reserved mode.
Tom: Despite it’s troubles I still feel quite satisfied with Seiren. What makes up for the animation troubles and wishy washy resetting, is that quirky writing. It adds a sense of fun and unpredictability to the series that keeps it lively even when other aspects fail. It’s not a great series by any means, and fans of its predecessor, Amagami SS, maintain that this series is a significant drop in quality. But I still think it’s quirky approach to romance, coupled with its desire to try and keep things feeling grounded, makes it an enjoyable watch for those with a touch of the romance bug.
Linny: Seiren isn’t the best of anything as it struggles to sell itself outside of its strange humour and unique reset mechanic. Even then, there are plenty of shows that do strange humour better and the reset mechanic alone isn’t something that makes it a must watch. The low quality art combined with the lack of a winning narrative means Seiren can safely be put on the bottom of your watch list line up, or even not at all.
Seiren is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com