Seiren – 03
「常木耀 第3章 オトコユ」 (Tsuneki Yō dai 3-shō otokoyu)
“Tsuneki Hikari Chapter 3 – In the Men’s Bath”
Finally, it’s time for the conflict—though what that conflict is isn’t clear yet.
Before anything else, there was a comment on the episode two post that you need to read. Deano’s comment on the classic seven-beat structure in developing a romance is a great rundown on how romance stories develop. Borrowing from that, we can see where in that structure this episode takes place: mostly in #4, the False Happiness, though at the end is dips into #5, the Last Obstacle. Or does it?
That’s what I found odd about this episode, in both a good and bad way. There were several times during the night pool scene where I thought “Here it is, the drama is coming!”—only it didn’t. “Do all girls lie through their teeth?” didn’t do it. Hikari suddenly having reason to suspect that Shouichi ratted her out didn’t do it—or not immediately, though I have a feeling that’s not the reason why she suddenly stopped talking to him. That would ignore the question of why she had a secret job in the first place, and that complex look she had upon seeing her friend dating Araki-sempai (though her friend seemingly lying to her would be enough—was she the one who ratted Hikari out, to remove a threat to her Araki-sempai pursuit?). I also think back to the day pool scene, when Shouichi was talking about her fitting in and it deliberately avoided showing her face. Maybe she doesn’t want to fit in? Or more likely, knows she won’t, since she’s an unwilling rumor/slander machine.
I said the episode was odd in good and bad ways, and the good is how they didn’t take the obvious routes, which makes Hikari less cookie-cutter and predictable. The bad is that I’m still not sure where they’re going with this, which made the cliffhanger lack impact—though maybe making us wonder without a ton of drama was the point, which would fit into Hikari’s character. In which case, mission accomplished, and the choice was more good than bad!
One thing needs to be noted now, and for anyone who’s going to whine about SJW/politically correct bullshit, you can skip down two paragraphs or kindly piss off, because I’m gonna say what I damn well please. Now, even though I feel like this shouldn’t need to be said—though I’m not so naive as to think that’s where we are—using homosexuality as a punchline like this, where the purportedly gay individual tries to creep out someone who is subsequently creeped out, is what’s called punching down [at a disadvantaged group] and therefore not cool. You might not see the problem, and it wouldn’t be a problem if this wasn’t how it’s almost always treated! It’s also lazy, when a “no thanks” or “that would be improper between a student and teacher”—or even just awkwardness due to the flagrant boner, which is always appropriate, because boners are weird—would have worked just as well or better. Some of you may be going “blah blah, don’t want to talk about this in my anime, lighten up,” and I can certainly let it go since I’m a heterosexual guy and all that, but I can see how this would be intensely annoying to someone who’s LGBTQ. They’re probably not watching Seiren though, so small mercy. Either way, I’m not asking y’all to get outraged or go on a crusade or anything. Just recognize how messed up it is that this is the go-to depiction of homosexuality in most comedies, frown, and then you can go back to enjoying cute anime girls.
(And if you’re going to whine or threaten to stop reading RandomC because I’m bringing this up? You’re free to leave. I’m not afraid to fire customers in my professional life, and I’m not afraid to do it here.)
Now that I’ve ensured some obnoxious backlash—an occasional hobby of mine—the most imperative issue to talk about is, of course, fetishes. For a seemingly milquetoast protagonist, ‘ol Shouichi spends a lot of time thinking about how depraved his fantasies are, from soles to bed wetting back to navels (this time with sweatpant marks) to definitely not smelling Hikari’s underwear (when did he even have the chance? Right then? Boy works fast). I kind of miss the laser-focused fetish scenes of Amagami SS, the back of the knees and the bellybutton and all that. It’d probably be passe to do all that over again, though, but—neeeee! I want it anyway. If you’re going to dangle these fetishes, at least have him kiss the soles of her feet or something, make it all deliciously awkward. That’s what legends are made of.
Also, porn. That’s what porn is made of. But that probably goes without saying.
What’s undeniable (to me) is that these last two episodes have done a good job of making me actually root for Shouichi x Hikari, even if that’s far more due to Hikari than it is Shouichi (though they’ve slid a little more characterization in for him too). It remains to be seen if Seiren will be able to match its predecessor, but it’s enjoyable in its own right, so let’s leave that for the final post. Which will not be the next one, ’cause I’m gonna pick this one up. Let the’s see how this arc ends, and what the two after that entail!
- Two other odds things I forgot to mention. First: Why not show Hikari getting dizzy? It robbed the scene of any urgency, since from the sound she made could have just been her splashing around.
- Second: the entire scene between Mako and sunglasses-sensei seemed out of place. It partially excuses the bath scene (with sensei lacking confidence overall), but unless his & Mako’s thread goes somewhere next week, it’ll seem like a waste of time.
- Take up Moe-nee on her wingman offer, Shouichi! Who wouldn’t be extra receptive when they stand a chance of getting Moe-nee as a sister-in-law too? The answer is the people who will go for Moe-nee instead, but they’re just smart. Still, this would be fun to see.
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: Starting a story with a bang—and when not to, If my mother was a politician, Why I never give characters temporary names, and Conflicted feelings on the Electoral College.
Full-length images: 11.