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Seiren – 07

「宮前透 第3章 ブラコン」 (Miyamae Tooru dai 3-shou – Burakon)
“Miyamae Tooru Chapter 3 – Brother Complex”

Finally, the romantic tension is—no, wait, never mind. Still waiting.

Blogging changes the act of watching. After over five years of blogging anime, I’ve gotten pretty good at compartmentalizing this, of identifying how I would react to a show if I weren’t forced to think about each episode so much. Seiren, though, is proving a puzzle to me, because I’m not enjoying most episodes all that much. The question is, why? Is it Seiren’s fault, or is it mine?

The reason I’m worried is that I’ve not been in a good anime-blogging state as of late. Since I blew out my right knee two weeks ago, it’s taken nearly all my energy to do simple tasks, and I still have two paying jobs I have to hold down. Even when my knee doesn’t hurt, it’s swollen and in the way; is that why I’m not enjoying my anime? I feel like I’m not even laughing at KonoSuba as much as usual. Or is it that Seiren just isn’t all that good, and my physical circumstances are enough to tip a pretty decent show into the unenjoyable column?

This was thrown into especially stark relief for me because, after months of threatening my hopeless romantic (and typically non-anime watching) roommate with a viewing of Amagami SS, last week we finally sat down and watched the Haruka arc. With it fresh in my mind, here are two takeaways: 1) Amagami SS really is better than Seiren, and 2) It’s not as good as you remember. Those aren’t mutually exclusive! In the one arc I’ve rewatched so far, there were multiple instances of overly convenient scripting, rushed development, etc. All of that likely stems from Amagami SS’s visual novel roots—why was Haruka sitting at that fountain? So the player can approach her there, instead of another girl somewhere else. But the characters in Amagami SS are soooo much better, so lively and lovely and consistent through arcs (Junichi excepted, for good reason), and the bones of each romance just work. In the Haruka arc there’s actual romantic tension, something Seiren lacks.

To wit, when I look at this episode, I find myself asking: Where’s the tension? There need not be high drama, but there’s too little tension. Seiren seems constitutionally intent on defusing or sidestepping any tension that develops, just like in the Hikari arc; there it was with gossip, here with interpersonal strife brought about by an oblivious Tooru. (Or the brocon thing, which fizzled out before it began.) That could have been a big theme, but Tooru appears to have learned the lesson Hikari intended of her off-screen, and way before she met Shouichi to boot. Which means, why did they tell us about this at all, exactly? Now we’re just watching a young couple slowly come together, which is fine, but then I ask myself: Why am I not laughing?

If you’re going to give us cotton candy, it needs to be sweet! I was laughing during that rewatched arc of Amagami SS, and sure—part of that was undoubtedly nostalgia. But the dialogue was funnier, sweeter, more engaging. My roommate was laughing too, and he isn’t a reliable anime watcher, nor has he seen it before. Seiren seems too easy, and simultaneously, not easy enough. But how much of that is the show’s fault, and how much of it is because I was watching it at 4am at a job I don’t want with a leg that doesn’t work?

That’s the frustrating thing for me, because I can’t tell how much I would enjoy the episode past my own meatspace issues and the series’ clear storytelling deficiencies (lack of tension, muddled themes, too few lovey-dovey scenes, replacement-grade dialogue). I saw things I liked in the retro arcade scene, and Shouichi’s loyalty to Tooru paints him in a better light, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. This arc is a marked improvement over the first arc, that’s clear, but execution without enjoyment is still a miss. But is it them, or is it me? All I can say is that most episodes are failing the subjective sniff test for me. I wish there were more flirting or good jokes, to be honest, or characters I cared about. More Moe-nee, is what I’m trying to say, and maybe more Ikuo. I could work with that.

Random thoughts:

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: The Carcer Principle; Fire, further; Fire; and Starting a story with a bang—and when not to.

 

Preview

February 18, 2017 at 9:02 am
22 comments »
  • February 18, 2017 at 9:47 amAex

    I’ll call this the strongest episode since it reminded me of Ai’s arc and Shoichi finally grew something resembling a spine. I was so happy to see him snap back at Hikari I almost clapped. Where was that last arc?

    I don’t really miss dramatic tension. That was never a huge part of Amagami aside from a few little scenes and Tsukasa’s arc. It showed up more in SS+, and by then we knew the couples were solid anyway.

    Romantic tension is something they keep dancing around in Seiren, then just skip. I think that bit with the ticket was the best we’ve seen, and that says something. I will say I think Tooru is a much stronger character than Hikari, though. Not Haruka or Ai level and miles below Tsukasa and Hibiki, but maybe Sanae or Rihoko.

    • February 18, 2017 at 9:49 amAex

      And by Sanae of course I mean Sae… yeah. >.<

    • February 18, 2017 at 11:35 pmStilts

      Aye, this is probably the best episode so far. I don’t mind the lack of dramatic tension, though I do enjoy it when it’s good. It’s the lack of romantic tension that kills me. I just watched the first two episodes of Kaoru (best girl) arc with my roomie, and there is OODLES of romantic tension. It’s great. Here? This episode is the best we’ve gotten so far.

      Sae-chan shit tier. I like Rihoko though. Still on the lower end of Amagami girls, but Amagami girls are awesome.

      • February 19, 2017 at 6:20 amAex

        I have and shall always blame that gods-awful narrator for Sae’s arc being the worst. Take time from the girl to give it to a random, disembodied voice… Seriously, wtf?

  • February 18, 2017 at 12:01 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

    There’s definitely a lot more between Shoichi and Tooru than there ever was with Hikari, but it does still feel, most of the time, a lot more like just good friends hanging out more than anything.

    Oh well…

    http://randomc.net/image/Seiren/Seiren%20-%2007%20-%20Large%20Preview%2003.jpg

    …at least we can look forward to this face next episode. <3 lol

  • February 19, 2017 at 7:51 amtheirs

    The most interesting part of the episode was that complete Sega Mega Drive system. I was a little sad we didn’t get to see them play it. Especially since I didn’t really manage to play any 32X games.

    I find the episode to be okay, but I’m not sure if that was due to my lowered expectations. Can’t really compare it to Amagami SS, since the only arc I really loved was Kaoru’s. Will need to see next weeks episode before I can make a conclusion compared to the rest. The weak point is still Shouichi. He seems to be a lot better with Hikari (as a victim of her teasing) than Tooru. Someone more competitive would’ve been a more amusing match. Like Araki…

    Speaking of Araki, he actually has a fetish for bunnies not just bunny girls? More towards zoophilia than furries? Poor Yukie, she never had a chance.

  • February 19, 2017 at 10:34 amMediafag

    I swear to god, if this arc ends in a “lol friendship”-End like the last one, I’m dropping it and hoping the 2nd cour gets cancelled so Ruise and Miu don’t suffer the same fate.

  • February 19, 2017 at 11:11 amMediafag

    On the subject of “Amagami > Seiren”, I think Haruka’s arc was a very weak opening arc (the very first episode was notorious for making people almost drop it), but Kaoru more than makes up for it. It was enough for me to power through some of the more mediocre arcs (Sae and Rihoko), and Tsukasa’s arc was a great finish.

    With Seiren, they fell flat with Tsuneki, and are now just meandering with Tooru. With the third arc before the end of 1st cour being a girl I don’t care about, I don’t know if I’ll be interested enough to watch the 2nd cour (if it doesn’t get cancelled first).

    Maybe it’s just the nostalgia talking. Then again, when your marketing for Seiren pretty much boils down to “the sequel to Amagami”, you’re already setting the bar for these kinds of comparisons.

    • February 19, 2017 at 12:54 pmAex

      The three-episode rule saved me with Amagami since I think I hated Haruka after Ep.1 but got over it in Ep.2 and loved her in 3. Sae’s arc was the test for me, and by then I’d seen her as a side-character enough to be invested pretty heavily. Being best friends with Miya and Ai plus being stupid-cute got her lots of points, so really I just wanted to shoot the narrator.

    • February 19, 2017 at 7:42 pmStilts

      Ya see, I think Haruka’s arc was a good opener, and that it was a strong arc throughout. So what if Junichi gets shot down at the end of ep1? Sure, it’s a bit of a downer, but it happens. What Haruka has is miles and miles of personality, and the arc is FUN. That’s something many stories forget—if it’s not entertaining (fun, titillating, horrifying, thrilling, whatever they’re going for), then what’s the damn point? All the flirting in Haruka’s arc was fun, so it succeeded in my book.

      Granted, Kaoru’s arc was better, but then again, Kaoru best girl. All hail Sexhair!

      Sae-chan was definitely the one I had to struggle through for sure.

  • February 19, 2017 at 3:05 pmVelvet Scarlantina

    Well Stilts, the more we watch and the more we think about the shows critically, we’re bound to feel how you’re feeling. It’s just hard for us to turn our brains off. Though the question that we should be asking is… Are we having fun watching the show?

    Referring back to kimiKiss-Amagami-Seiren (for some strange reason i decided to see these 3 as a trilogy of sort), I have to say this is one of the better episodes thus far. That’s coming from my biased preference for Tooru over Tsuneki (or what ever her name is) arc. Though in terms of likability, Tooru’s arc doesn’t rank as high as Ai Nanasaki’s and Ayatsuji’s arcs and Tsukahara Hibiki, Nishishi imouto and Maya sensei.

    • February 19, 2017 at 7:44 pmStilts

      Kimikiss, Amagami, and Seiren are all based in the same world. We already know that Ikuo is Ai’s little brother, and Makoto is stalker-chan’s little sister, but apparently Ikuo’s crush is linked to a Kimikiss character as well (though I haven’t seen Kimikiss—yet—so I can’t verify that personally).

      • February 20, 2017 at 12:36 amVelvet Scarlantina

        Neither have I. My interest in KimiKiss has been piqued.

        So KimiKiss is in Amagami’s time period?

      • February 20, 2017 at 7:37 amMediafag

        Amagami is the prequel to Kimikiss. Both Kimikiss and Seiren occur 9-10 years after the events of Amagami.

        Don’t bother watching Kimikiss: Pure Rouge. It will make you rage like a mutherfucker. Instead, read the Kimikiss: Various Heroines manga, which is where the whole idea for the omnibus format started. If you’re gonna watch the anime, lower your expectations and do it to familiarize yourself with the characters.

        PROTIP: The girl Ikuo has a crush on is Nana Aihara, the protag’s sister from Kimikiss.

        PROTIP 2: Kimikiss’ real protagonist is Kouichi Aihara, who they also use for Various Heroines. For the Pure Rouge anime adaptation, they split the character into two: Kouichi Sanada and Kazuki Aihara.

      • February 20, 2017 at 2:28 pmVelvet Scarlantina

        So far my contact withKimiKiss has been their H stuff…

  • February 19, 2017 at 9:27 pmIncognito

    There’s something I finally realized a day after watching this episode…

    http://randomc.net/image/Seiren/Seiren%20-%2007%20-%20Large%2006.jpg
    So Tooru’s brother…

    http://randomc.net/image/Seiren/Seiren%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2021.jpg
    …is actually the teacher at the cram school during Hikari’s arc?

    Oh goodness, now I feel rather sympathetic for the guy after what happened to him in Hikari’s arc.

    Anyway, if Tooru’s arc finale ends up in a actual romance between her and Shouichi, consider this show redeemed (despite the lingering disappointment from Hikari’s arc). Also, I can picture the “ronery” otaku at Comike-…err, ComiMart (sp?) going, “Take your riajuu shenanigans someplace else!” when they see Tooru and Shouichi together.

    • February 20, 2017 at 12:44 amVelvet Scarlantina

      Took me a while to realise that as well. So it makes sense now. One of the complaints of the 1st episode was that Ijuonand gang were preoccupied in gaming and not studying. Chances are, the Tooru arc happened before the the Hikari arc. Though… Who is the girl in Hikari’s arc that brought all the disguises and all?

  • February 20, 2017 at 9:51 amKiritsugu

    Completely agree with the review, this arc needs something, a hurdle of some kind that would put their relationship in danger and force him to go over and beyond for her. So far, all we have are hints at sexual intercourse (the new game feature with the deers) and marriage (band-aid used as an alliance of some sort). Highly metaphorical…
    Meanwhile, I’m sitting here, waiting for the Ruise arc ^_^

  • February 20, 2017 at 11:10 amCHYRA HARRELL

    I understand what everyone says about the plot but I felt that the female love interests are interesting or in the least not your stereotypical girls. In the first arc Tsuneki is bold and brazen flirt and in the current arc Miyamae is not scared to compete just to protect the fragile male ego of her classmates. Granted their independence causes issues but I agree that the conflict or lack thereof hurts the series. His friends are more interesting and with the girls we seem to get better insight into their personality once their arc ends which is crazy.

    • February 22, 2017 at 9:24 amKiritsugu

      So far Tsuneki has been the best girl. It’s a shame that they utterly destroyed her final chapter. Why? IMO, because the lack of conflict in that “confrontation” with her so-called friend.

  • February 20, 2017 at 2:19 pmillusion

    Most of the reason for my non-enjoyment of this show comes from Shouichi being an absolute shitstain MC. His mannerisms, voice and lines are mostly annoying and cringe-worthy, Junichi is leagues above him.

  • February 24, 2017 at 7:11 amYanDaMan

    …well at least the girls are cute.