Random Curiosity

Seiren – 02 »

Seiren – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「キミの花」 (Kimi no Hana) by Oku Hanako

「ケツダン」 (Ketsudan)
“Tsuneki Hikari Chapter 1 – Decision”

Will lightning strike twice?

What interests me most about Seiren is that central question. Can the Amagami SS lightning be made to strike twice? Or maybe they’re not trying to, I hear you say, but let’s be serious—they totally are. The uniforms are the same. The genre is the same. The omnibus format is the same. There’s even character continuity via Nanasaki Ai’s younger brother, Nanasaki Ikuo (Asari Ryouta). Their desire is transparent, so. Can they pull it off?

This first episode points toward a series that may very well be a lot like Amagami SS in a whole ton of ways, but is lacking one central feature that threatens to steal that shine that made its spiritual predecessor so enjoyable. That feature is embodied in main character Kamita Shouichi (Tamaru Atsushi), our romantic lead for this excursion.

I’ve said this often, but the most important part of the harem anime is not the haremettes, nor the harem-dudes when there’s a female lead. It’s the harem lead. Obviously, right? They’re the main character. We have to spend all our time with them, and if they suck, the story is going to suck. That’s why it’s imperative to establish, as quickly as possible, why the hell we should care about this person falling in love. Or, stated in a way that’s applicable to main characters of all stripes, the story needs to establish who the main character is, and that’s best done by showing what they want. In other words, we need to know what animates them as a person.

What animates Kamita Shouichi? I don’t know. He’s aimless in this first episode, unsure of what he wants to do with his future, and look. I get it. I’ve been there myself. But this isn’t the time for that. We need to know who he is before a loss of purpose can matter to us, like it did with Chitose in Girlish Number. Here, all it brings to mind is one of Pixar’s rules of storytelling:

“#13: Give your character opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.”

That’s a problem, dear reader. This wasn’t an issue with Amagami SS, where we knew what animated Junichi from early on: fear. He got stood up on an important Christmas date, and is still damaged by it. That tells us a huge amount about his personality. With Shouichi, we don’t get that. We don’t know who he is, other than an aimless young man who seems nice enough. That’s poison to the audience.

For all that, everything else was pretty good. The haremettes have gotten, to absolutely no one’s surprise, the pre-show development that Shouichi probably never got. That’s typified by Tsuneki Hikari (Sakura Ayane), who’s flirty, pushy, cheerful, and may have more going on than initially meets the eye. Does she have me howling best girl yet? No, but there’s time, and at the very least there’s some interest there.

The rest is reliable enough. The animation is a touch lacking to my eyes, and the tertiary characters are hurled into the story without any framework for us to absorb their relationship with Shouichi—Tatsuya Araki-sempai (Eguchi Takuya) comes to mind for me, who I didn’t realize was Shouichi and Ikuo’s friend until they were suddenly hanging out with him at the arcade—but the omnibus format allows for three romances in a cour, and four episodes is hopefully still enough time for those romances to breathe.

The question remains. Can they make lightning strike twice? For that to happen, the planets must align and all sorts of minor details, the kinds that casual viewers don’t even realize are important until they’re missing, must all fall into their proper places again. So far, the answer is no. From character interactions that could use some work—Tsuneki and her friends edge on bullying a time or two, and was the tired old “are you gay because you have a good friend?” quip really necessary?—to a central flaw that needs to be patched over yesterday, the secret sauce isn’t quite there.

I’ll still be watching Seiren even if I don’t blog it—though I’m considering blogging it, since I feel like I’ll have plenty to say—but they’re going to have to do a lot of things really well, and fast, in order to recapture that old time magic. Mostly, give Shouichi some opinions. Once we know what he wants, the story can really soar. Until then, it will forever exist in its predecessor’s shadow.

Random thoughts:

  • An onee-chan instead of an imouto this time? I’m fine with this.
  • To clarify for people who enjoyed this episode and are preparing to flame me for “hating” on it, I enjoyed it too. All I’m doing is poking at the question that’s most interesting to me, and adjusting my expectations accordingly. When the best friend character (Ikuo) is more interesting (and better developed) than the main character, something’s off. That’s what I tried to put into words.

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for exclusive content. At stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Why I never give characters temporary names, Conflicted feelings on the Electoral College, Voting Reform: Single Transferable Vote, and They didn’t feel heard. I don’t feel heard. This is a problem.

 

ED1 Sequence

ED: 「瞬間Happening」 (Shunkan Happening) by Sakura Ayane

Preview

January 8, 2017 at 5:53 am
37 comments »
  • January 8, 2017 at 6:50 amgusto

    Please do blog.

    Without ni-shi-shi I can’t see it repeating the success of Amagami, but I keep my fingers crossed. So far it’s fine for me. Yeah, I’d like the MC to have more of a character, but I can see the potential in him to grow quickly.

    There seems to be a bit too many stills all across the show, but I like the fanservice in the ED. And the songs so far don’t sound as catchy as in Amagami.

    On the other hand, character designs seem better for me this time.

    I totally didn’t notice Ai’s otouto! Good catch.

    • January 8, 2017 at 7:10 amMike

      I’m gonna miss “nii-nii” and “nishishi”…..

      Hopefully the older sister becomes at least half as likable as Miya

  • January 8, 2017 at 7:26 amIncognito

    “An onee-chan instead of an imouto this time? I’m fine with this.”

    About freaking time, I say.

    Seriously, when the word “imouto” is mentioned in recent anime, I can’t help but feel that the infamous Incest Subtext isn’t that far behind. (Thanks a lot, Kirino Kousaka and Sora Kasugano…)

    “When the best friend character (Ikuo) is more interesting (and better developed) than the main character, something’s off.”

    On a similar note, it’s probably not a good sign that I’m actually looking forward to a cameo from Ai Nanasaki (perhaps with Junichi as her hubby) instead of seeing romance develop between Shouichi and the girl of the current arc (in this case, Hikari).

    Well, if Seiren will have the G-rated kinkiness of Amagami SS, I’ll be quite pleased. And I am wondering what made Hikari decide to go to that study camp, so I’m interested in tuning in next week.

    • January 8, 2017 at 7:44 amStilts

      To be fair, it’s perfectly natural to be looking forward to a cameo from old friends rather than the story about these youngbloods we don’t know a whole lot about yet. Nostalgia is a potent force. Doesn’t mean they should give it to us, though.

      Also, Kaoru best girl for Junichi, Haruka best girl for Stilts. FIGHT ME, BRO!

      • January 8, 2017 at 8:46 amHalfDemonInuyasha

        Yeah, if the Amagami girls were to make cameos, not only would they probably end up stealing the scenes from the main characters, but it would probably REALLY divert peoples’ attention away from Seiren’s story and, instead, be constantly questioning on WHICH ending Seiren’s setting follows, as in which girl is Junichi with in it.

        And yeah, Hibiki and Kaoru are definitely my favorites. It makes me wish Hibiki got a special episode…(I think one of the manga had a path for her done) I actually paid more attention to her than Haruka, lol.

      • January 8, 2017 at 10:20 amNishizawa Mihashi

        Kaoru for Jun’ichi hmm… Hey, that actually doesn’t sound too bad. And looks like brother Stilts likes to swing-swing with Haruka eh? I mean, I don’t mind Haruka. She’s my second choice if I had to choose; but BEST GIRL: HIBIKI will always be my first!

      • January 8, 2017 at 2:39 pmVelvet Scarlantina

        Psst… Ai Nanasaki, Ayatsuji and Hibiki are the best Amagami trio.

        *runs away*

      • January 9, 2017 at 12:21 amIncognito

        Actually, Kaoru (that bellybutton and “Sex Hair”) and Haruka (that gratuitous English and dem knee-pits) are pretty good choices as well, so no argument there… XD

        Ditto (Queen) Tsukasa, ensemble darkhorse Hibiki, Maya-sensei, and even the resident yandere Risa. (Also, I can’t help but remember that mecha from Kibitou’s Robotics Club–Tsukasa paints its legs in her arc.)

        Heck, it’s rare to find someone in Amagami who is a magnet for dislike. (OK, so Sae’s voice can get grating at times and poor Rihoko got unlucky in her own arc, but having Joji Nakata as the lemony narrator for Sae’s arc was quite funny while Rihoko did get her good end in Amagami SS+.)

      • January 9, 2017 at 1:12 amVelvet Scarlantina

        I know that bellebutton scene but sex hair? How did she get that name?

      • January 9, 2017 at 3:35 amNishizawa Mihashi

        Wait… ‘Sex Hair’ Whuuu-? :O

        Man it’s been so long since I saw Amagami that I must’ve forgotten that. I only remember that Tsukasa is possessive and is almost like a Yandere and that one of the ‘interesting’ things that happened with Haruka was the uh… ‘Knee-thing’… Man, this is sad I can’t even remember much. How long has it been bros… SEVEN YEARS… Oh Goddamn. I can’t believe that it’s been 7 years…

      • January 9, 2017 at 11:58 amStilts

        Sae is still shit tier. Rihoko is great, she’s just got no manner of luck. At least SS+ gave her her long overdue moment.

        An how have you not heard about sex hair? C’mon man, Kaoru has the classic after sex messy hair, just all the time. 10/10 would sex hair again.

      • January 9, 2017 at 9:01 pmNishizawa Mihashi

        You guys call that ‘Sex Hair’? Oooooooookaaaaaaaayyyy

        Sae is still shit tier.

        Oh lol, guess that’s what happens when you’re a walking moeblob

      • January 9, 2017 at 10:23 pmOkabe_Rintarou

        Nishizawa, remember that first entry in a series of “special materials” about BEST GIRL aka Hibiki? We’ve found it. =)

      • January 10, 2017 at 5:05 amNishizawa Mihashi

        Found it!?

        Where, where, where!? Hhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnnng //Blows steam pwwwwfffssshhh

        I bow down to thee in gratitude~~~

      • January 10, 2017 at 5:45 amOkabe_Rintarou

        Show Spoiler ▼

        Show Spoiler ▼

        . Enjoy.

    • January 8, 2017 at 3:36 pmVelvet Scarlantina

      Almost forgot the sensei

  • January 8, 2017 at 7:28 amVelvet Scarlantina

    Stilts nee-chan… You HAVE to blog this here or your credibility as an ecchi lover takes a beating.

    I didn’t realise that the MC’s sidekick is actually Ai’s sister. Now the question is, like Fuuka and Love Live Sunshine, how many years after Amagami is this? Will we see the Amagami girls making a cameo?

    Anyway, let the guilty pleasure festival and the best girl war begins!

    • January 8, 2017 at 8:13 amStilts

      But I-I’m not the ecchi blogger! >_<

  • January 8, 2017 at 7:33 amZhinvu

    This was already on my anticipated anime list because it’s from the makers of Amagami, but I honestly didn’t expect it to be set in the same universe as Amagami. I really thought they were just recycling the same uniform design and Miss Santa contest idea and I really forgot Ai had a younger brother that I thought they were just recycling her design for a genderbend character. Tsuneki is already catching my attention because I find her more flirty than Morishima-senpai and the way she showed up at Shouichi’s window makes me curious what other interesting quirks she might have. I’m also very curious about the arcade girl, as a gamer girl is a big appeal, at least to me. Tsuneki’s friends and the Shouichi’s teacher are a cute bunch too.

  • January 8, 2017 at 8:36 amEmperorBeta

    Beta lead, supermodel 15 year olds, unrealistically extroverted females in a society of introverts. Here we go boys and girls, the white bread among a selection of exotic edibles for this anime season.

  • January 8, 2017 at 8:42 amHalfDemonInuyasha

    The girls definitely stole the episode the whole time, even the more minor best friends and classmates, which is good on one hand, but not the other since, as mentioned in the blog, it takes away time for the MC to get known too. Unfortunately, unless we get some sort of background next episode, it seems like they’re trying to make Shouichi more bland and generic in order to allow more males to self-insert with whichever girl they prefer since, if the MC has an established character and background, then obviously less males can do that.

    Already loving Hikari and her personality so far though and even if Shouichi doesn’t improve, I’ll probably stick around just to see the girls, lol.

    • January 8, 2017 at 9:31 amStilts

      The girls had the right amount of screentime. It’s just that what screentime was used on Shouichi wasn’t used effectively.

      I hate the self-insert protagonist idea. It’s pernicious, and only works in one place: games. In games, especially video games, not as much personality is required (in certain situations) because we get to PLAY THE GAME, and when you’re taking active part in the action some deficiencies in storytelling are tolerable. It doesn’t work at all in a passive medium like anime.

      Storytellers should consider main characters to be more like the audience’s close friend who we want to be happy and/or succeed or whatever (this is for main characters who we’re supposed to empathize with and root for in a positive manner, btw), not as someone we can seamlessly insert ourselves into. That betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about how empathy works. We empathize with fully formed human being ALL THE TIME. Personality helps keep us form getting bored while that happens.

      • January 8, 2017 at 9:14 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

        Same here, hence why I hope they do something to build up Shouichi a bit next episode. As you said, Junichi had an established character with quirks and such, so we actually paid attention to him. Since they didn’t do such a thing with Shouichi this first episode, I find myself not really paying any attention to, or caring about what he’s doing because there’s not much rhyme or reason behind it (yet). Heck, even unlike Junichi, who was the one who usually approached the girls in one way or another, here, it’s the girls who have much more approached Shouichi and so, again, the attention is much more on them while Shouichi is just sorta…there.

  • January 8, 2017 at 8:47 amSkexiz

    I agree, the main lead has zero appeal. He is milquetoast and wishy washy. Barring the girls “photo shoots” most of the episode felt like a promo video for the Mormon Church. “Gee willikers I better study hard and get my life on track! Thanks super friendly and supportive teenage peer group members!”

  • January 8, 2017 at 10:15 amNishizawa Mihashi

    Oh FUCK me. THIS episode with all its friggin walking stereotypically mainstream sheep-minded normie people drive me fucking nuts. It’s a very, VEEEERYYYY painful reminder of why I run straight for the fucking jungle each time I spot one with my own eyes. FFFFFFUUUUUU—-@#$%

    In any case! I’m making a tactical withdrawal for now and will be back for Gamer-senpai’s turn to prove herself. Hasta la Vista RandomC cuz I’m out spring cleaning my mind from the attack of the normies. !PEACE!

  • January 8, 2017 at 2:21 pmSol

    I’ll never understand how there’s demand for half-sexed shit like this. Either make a hentai, or put the money into some other genre.

    • January 8, 2017 at 2:43 pmVelvet Scarlantina

      The best eroticism is one that boders on full blown hentai. It teases you with it yet it pulls back right at the right time. It leaves you wanting more but it sadistically pulls back.

      SHAFT’s Monogatari is the best example. P

  • January 8, 2017 at 3:07 pmDeano

    Huh. Contrasting Stilt’s impression, I was modestely satisfied with the protagonist and reserving judgement for the heroine.

    I agree that Junichi’s past hurt was significant for making him more of a character and less of a self-insert, but as much as I remember Amagami fondly I can’t think of many times that actually mattered. Maybe one of the Christmas Eve resolutions? But aside from the Kaoru arc- which established the friendship with the pickup after that failed date- it didn’t seem to matter much. Junichi’s personality varied too much by each arc to be say there was a set character. (To be clear, I think that’s a good thing- from the puppy love Sempai crush to the best-friend banter, ranging from immaturity to maturity.)

    But while our newest protagonist doesn’t have the baggage, what I did like was that he quickly distinguished himself from a lot of ‘everyman’ protagonists by applying himself. He’s neither a super-competant wizard or a lazy apathetic teen. It’s quite clear from the start he doesn’t have a clue what to do with his life, but that’s just the starting point to applying himself- rather than be lazy and goof off like Tatsuya, he instead gives up a good part of his summer vacation (brief enough as it is) to study hard and prepare himself… and in the process, puts himself closer with his friend than chasing after a girl he’s encountered but barely interacted with.

    I like that- that does a better job at the ‘everyman’ mundanities and insecurities that most ‘unexceptional’ protagonists never have even as they claim to be just another highschool student. It also marks him as having actual diligence, and not being driven by hormones- he’s not chasing Sempai out of puppy love or general harmless perversion, which was one of Junichi’s few static quirks.

    There’s a conceit in romance writing, particularly about the 8-beat romance model, that the first step of the romance story (the introduction of characters) should not just introduce the characters but also introduce a need for at least one of them to have the romance. Junichi had that- the Christmas heartbreak- and admittedly Kamita doesn’t, unless uncertainty is the hook.

    But that’s where Tsuneki comes in, and why I’m reserving judgement. Both participants don’t need the need, so to speak, and Tsuneki’s suspect background- again, a great example of showing rumors in action rather than just telling the audience ‘there be rumors’- could offer that.

    Why is she working a job? Why is she so desperatly in need at the end of the episode? Is she in trouble? Is she working hard for a goal, a goal which might fulfill the need of Kamita’s aimlessness and uncertainty of what to do with his life?

    So I’m pleased so far. I like that the main character is applying himself despite uncertainty. I like that the show is casting friendship as something constructive rather than shared perversion. I even like that the character, who is applying himself, isn’t just doing so to get the girl- even if it will certainly tie in.

    So modestly pleased at this episode, and optimistic.

    • January 8, 2017 at 3:53 pmStilts

      It’s true that Shouichi instantly became more likeable when he began applying himself. He still lacks the foundation, though, which is what Junichi’s trauma gave him. You’re right, it didn’t matter to most arcs, but it got us started and then we got to see where each arc took off from there. That’s what Shouichi lacks. It’s just “here is a high school boy, root for him.” And I’m like, okay? But why? No reason given. Yet.

      The nice thing is that, by the second arc, the intertextual element will probably have us rooting for Shouichi more than now because we’ll have remembered the previous arc. That’s one of the benefits of the omnibus format; the tale can build up cultural clout quickly, by virtue of being three stories instead of one.

      • January 8, 2017 at 5:09 pmDeano

        I can agree, in a YMMV sort of way. Junichi’s trauma didn’t matter much to me except when it mattered to the plot, and otherwise generally slipped my mind as a foundational aspect.

        Someone once called the Amagami style the white bread of romance anime, but I think that’s a good thing myself. Simple and plain was a large part of the Amagami allure to me, and seeing the protagonist go different routes by having a different personality not only made the story something less than a repetitive harem romance (where everyone likes the same blank slate for acting the same way), but also allowed the story to experiment with different styles and themes. Kaoru’s best friend romance route vs. the narrator-heavy comedic… was it Sae? You get what I mean.

        I like that the first route went with Shouichi applying himself. I think that sets a better frame of reference for him than Junichi’s first route, which was as puppy-love pervert. Even as I expect Shouichi to change for the other routes- say that next time he spends more time at the arcade playing video games, rather than applying himself studying- it’ll set a good context.

        But personally, I’m a sucker for omnibus format in general. I’m a bit RPG fan when it comes to games, so getting different results in different ways is important to me. The Amagami omnibus is just the vanilla romance anime expression of it.

    • January 9, 2017 at 8:16 ampaulrenzo

      Was supposed to write my on take on why I like the male lead, but you more or less share my sentiments.

  • January 8, 2017 at 8:41 pmstardf29

    Well, it’s not like Shouichi is completely lacking in identity. In the first scene with the teacher, we learn one notable part about him: he’s apparently good at drawing manga. For whatever reason, he seems unsure about actually making a career out of that, though that in and of itself can be an interesting point.

    So the issue, to me, is that the anime simply didn’t do enough to emphasize that particular point. I mean, I can at least imagine a scenario where, say, he once got rejected by a girl for being too much into manga, which would provide a similar springboard for romance redemption stories that we got with Junichi. But even without anything quite like that, maybe something more than just a couple of jokes about becoming a hentai mangaka to help establish just what his manga-drawing means to him probably would have helped.

    For now though, I’m interested in seeing what this show can pull off with its romance stories while I wait for clearly-best-girl Kyouko’s arc. Also, with best imouto already locked down I guess this show’s going for best onee-chan instead? Moe-nee is certainly making a strong play for that title.

    • January 9, 2017 at 12:01 pmStilts

      We actually didn’t learn that he’s good at drawing manga, though. Later on he said he’s never drawn a single panel of manga before. That’s just some nonsense the teacher made up and started talking about ’cause she’s silly, lol

      That this wasn’t clear form the episode probably proves my point, though. Nishishi~!

  • January 9, 2017 at 6:14 amShahir

    I enjoyed the Amagami because it has good character development. Which annoyed me that there isn’t an OVA that focuses on the main character making a move on the teacher. She was fun

    • January 9, 2017 at 8:07 pmVelvet Scarlantina

      I too want a route for both Amagami’s amd Seiren’s teacher as well

  • January 9, 2017 at 9:12 pmOkabe_Rintarou

    So I finally watched this properly 30 minutes ago. I’m not sure if Seiren can be the successor to Amagami SS that we need or deserve. I mean, I’m more interested in Nanasaki Ikuo’s growth as a character and how he matured vis-a-vis his sister, compared to the protagonist’s.

    (he has that hairstyle that is prevalent in H-Anime Main Characters though, just lengthen his bangs and his a straight up H-Anime protag) XD

    So yeah, Seiren didn’t got off to a great start for me. Here’s hoping the next few episodes will improve.

  • January 10, 2017 at 12:56 pmYanDaMan

    Man, the haremetters are just as important as the harem protagonist. If the girls arent interesting or attractive I wont care for no harem anime.

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