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Seiren – 09

「桃乃今日子 第1章 カテイブ」 (Touno Kyouko dai 1-shou – Kateibu)
“Touno Kyouko Chapter 1 – Home Ec Club”

There is no pivot. There will never be a pivot. This is what Seiren is.

Not gonna lie—this is the episode where my hope for Seiren dies. Not necessarily because it was that bad, but because it proves that there’s no pivot. There’s no change. Any relative strength in the Tooru arc as compared to the Hikari arc was the bigotry of low expectations, and the Kyouko arc isn’t looking like it can reach Amagami SS heights, or even that of an average replacement-level romcom. Seiren can’t get the little things right, much less the essential spirit. With that in mind, I think it’s time for an update on my Amagami SS rewatch.

Since I last mentioned the Amagami SS rewatch marathon I’m doing with my hopeless romantic of a roommate—who doesn’t generally watch anime, I might add, but is loving this one—we’ve watched the entirety of the Haruka, Kaoru, and Sae arcs, as well as half the Ai arc. While Kaoru remains best girl, here’s a controversial opinion: even the Sae-chan arc, historically my least favorite, is much better than anything Seiren has put forth. Her seiyuu’s voice might be annoying, and Junichi might be almost intolerably dense in that arc, but it still knows how to do romantic tension, and every episode was still funny and fun! It’s only in comparison to the better girls in better arcs that Sae looks bad. Compare her to the Seiren girls, though, and she’d stomp them, and I’m not just talking about with her oppai loli breasts. Also, I get sad every time Ikuo shows up in the Ai arc, because anyone related to Ai deserves so much better than Seiren.

As you might guess, romantic tension is the key, which is why I keep bringing it up. Seiren is not aiming for high drama any more than Amagami SS was—even the most dramatic arc, Kaoru’s, was quickly defused when she herself admitted she was overreacting (and she admitted it quickly). So romantic tension, the titillating fun of fumbling and flirting, is the name of the game, and Seiren is still shit at it. It had a few moments here—I liked the “Are the dumplings good?” “Yeah, very pretty.” moment, that was good—but not enough. And it’s hamstrung by all the other basic elements it keeps fucking up.

Hikari keeps showing up too often. All the Amagami SS heroines had their own supporting characters—Kaoru’s friend Keiko, Rihoko’s tea club sempais, Hibiki for Haruka (and a little for Ai), etc—who expanded the setting and made each arc different. They also—and this is crucial—kept Junichi from spending too much time with other heroines. This is blasted important! Aside from Kaoru and Rihoko, who are old friends and thus excused—their main hurdle is to change the nature of the relationship, not establish it—any interaction Junichi had with other heroines is a chance for him to go down that route instead of the route he’s on, so the less interaction he has with the other heroines, the better. I noticed this when Ai hardly showed up during the Sae arc, and Sae hardly showed up in the Ai arc. It keeps each story from muddying the waters when the other heroines show up infrequently, and don’t play large roles.

But Hikari keeps playing a role in every arc, which is a minor annoyance compared to what’s next: this takes place after the summer camp, and after Shoichi still actually traded that item with Tooru—which, what the hell? Why didn’t he decide to go to the summer camp? And especially, why didn’t he go after Tooru when he stood at the friggin’ precipice of her arc! This presents a marked departure from the Amagami SS formula, and not a good one, because instead of Junichi starting at nearly the same place for every girl and, through a combination of decisions and happenstance, choosing to go down a different arc, Shouichi made a completely different decision for no reason we know of (the summer camp) and actively refused to persue Tooru for no reason we know of. Where Junichi always started the same and then changed (or revealed himself to be different, depending on how you want to look at it) based on the arc, Shouichi is always different, and the storytellers are determined to keep starting the arcs at different times for no damn good reason, requiring awkward exposition as to explain why he knows Takeshi or what Hikari was doing over summer.

I’ll simplify. The assumption is that if A happens, then B will happen. If Shouichi isn’t on some other girl’s route when he trades the item with Tooru, then he will go down the Tooru arc. He should start from the same base, and then change from there. Otherwise, if he wouldn’t make the same decision given the same circumstances, then he’s not the same person! But he makes different decisions for reasons we’re not informed of, so Hikari|Shouichi is a different person from Tooru|Shouichi is different from Kyouko|Shouichi, and that ruins any sense of attachment we have with the whelp because there’s no common thread.

Those are probably the most fundamental mistakes of Seiren as a whole, and it’s become clear that they won’t fix ‘em. Those aren’t even the ones that tripped me up the most while watching this episode, though. No, that was when Kyouko’s new sempais showed up, and I thought they were a cameo of Rihoko’s sempai from Amagami SS. Because, you know, the new sempai look just like the old sempai, albeit with a visual downgrade. That was so confusing that it utterly derailed me for several minutes before I finally admitted that they weren’t lying, they weren’t playing a joke, and these actually were new characters. What the hell, get some new character designs, jeez!

Maybe Seiren can still pull it out. Maybe I’m judging too harshly based on the first episode of this arc, and the next three will be better. I doubt it, though. I’ll finish blogging this show because I finish what I start, but I would expect the last few posts to be pretty short. I don’t have time to get this worked up on a lost cause. Jeez!

Random thoughts:

  • I have no problem with the kiddie crossdressing by the way, but stop treating it as deviant, Japan. (Also, everywhere else.) And stop acting like a penis can cause memory loss, because, christ, really? That’s just stupid.
  • Is that supposed to be Junichi? DON’T BRING HIM INTO THIS SHITSTORM YOU FUCKS! (That’s my job.)
  • Another small element they fucked up: Moe-nee’s panties. If you’re going to have a discussion about them, you need to either show them, or in some way hint to us what’s so crazy about them. If they’re leapord-print, show a leapord, things like that. The way they did it was jarring, because we didn’t have context.
  • Moe-nee best girl.

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.

Full-length images: 34.

 

ED3 Sequence

ED3: 「恋のセオリー」 (Koi no Theory) by Kimura Juri

Preview

March 4, 2017 at 6:57 pm
41 comments »
  • March 4, 2017 at 7:59 pmAex

    …The hell? That had to have been the most… forget romantic tension, almost this entire episode was so bland I felt like it was running in fast-forward!

    Kill the pointlessly bad exposition! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!

  • March 4, 2017 at 8:11 pmMagnus Tancred

    Oh, that was most definitely Junichi.

    http://uupload.ir/files/d5qt_amagami_1.jpg

    • March 4, 2017 at 10:03 pmhjerry

      Amag-ception

    • March 4, 2017 at 10:25 pmStilts

      Those bastards…

    • March 7, 2017 at 1:49 amVelvet Scarlantina

      YEAY! JUNICHI RETURNS!

      Though that screen cap would be -10 Seiren so that’ll be in Amagami timeline.

  • March 4, 2017 at 8:48 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

    In terms of Nao and Koharu, apparently those two types of characters were also in Kimikiss, as in the same appearances and voices, but just different names/characters.

    • March 4, 2017 at 10:24 pmStilts

      Oh, so they’re like Biggs and Wedge in Final Fantasy? Except I think only the names were the same for those, not appearances, so this is more annoying. But at least they’re reliable about being annoying, so there’s that!

    • March 7, 2017 at 1:53 amVelvet Scarlantina

      Gee… And i thought we only had Kami-Madoka and Kami-Honoka of space and time. It seems that we also have Kami-senpai of space and time. Are we REALLY sure that KimiKiss, Amagami and Seiren aren’t time travel anime?

      Or is this the will of the Steins;Gate?

      El psy congroo.

  • March 4, 2017 at 8:56 pmZen

    No, that was when Kyouko’s new sempais showed up, and I thought they were a cameo of Rihoko’s sempai from Amagami SS. Because, you know, the new sempai look just like the old sempai, albeit with a visual downgrade.

    No wonder seeing those two gave me an uncanny valley feeling that I couldn’t quite pin down- subconsciously I must have remembered them from Amagami

    • March 4, 2017 at 10:07 pmhjerry

      Yeah, I admittedly didn’t pick up on that first until reading this review (though I did feel like the whole thing was a carbon copy of the Rihoko arc).

      I’m not sure if this indication of laziness or just trying to cater to Amagami fandom…or maybe both.

      Yeah…it’s probably both.

    • March 4, 2017 at 11:32 pmWhatsapp

      They were in Kimikiss and Amagami. Just like not!Keiko in Tsuneki’s arc.

  • March 4, 2017 at 9:58 pmhjerry

    This felt like Copy and Paste from the Rihoko arc.

    I can only hope that the ending isn’t copy and paste as well.

    • March 5, 2017 at 12:51 amIncognito

      I’m one of those still hoping that this could be the “childhood friend romance” route done right.

      But with that start (and the uncertainty if Shouichi’s childhood humiliation conga was meant to increase audience sympathy toward the character–personally, it just made me uncomfortable), it’d probably be a miracle if they successfully pull that off.

  • March 5, 2017 at 12:37 amIncognito

    http://randomc.net/image/Seiren/Seiren%20-%2009%20-%20Large%2002.jpg
    No. Just… no. I did not need to see that. Also, they dragged poor Joji Nakata into this, didn’t they?

    http://randomc.net/image/Seiren/Seiren%20-%2009%20-%20Large%2003.jpg
    I wonder if the Junichi in this timeline didn’t get with any of the girls? (Or got Risa’s Bad End in the Amagami game?) Man, compared to that shot of him being amused with Shouichi’s crossplay, Junichi just looks so…sad/lonely in some of his full body shots… Perhaps the spectre of that Bad End came to haunt this timeline and affect Shouichi’s own pursuit of love.

    • March 5, 2017 at 4:38 amAex

      given the timeline this is probably when he was stood up on Christmas Eve before any of the routes started.

      • March 5, 2017 at 7:44 pmStilts

        Aye, what Aex said. As for which arc it follows from, I always assume it’s the Tsukasa arc since she’s the canonical end girl most often, but the only hint we have is the mention of people doing something crazy in the pump shed—which would mean Haruka arc. We really don’t know, though.

  • March 5, 2017 at 2:26 amWhatsapp

    There’s a timeline on the official website that highlights all the route’s common events. Reading it will make your watching experience more enjoyable.

    • March 5, 2017 at 7:46 pmStilts

      Yeah, maybe, but it’s that age old saying: if it needs supplementary material for it to work properly, it didn’t do its job. If it’s not in this show, it’s a failure! Sure, you can get extra by knowing about other material, that’s fine, but if it’s confusing without that, it’s a failure.

      Besides, it doesn’t absolve my criticism. If this takes place after when the other two arcs would have started, we need a reason why he didn’t act like he did before, especially if he stood at the precipice of the Tooru arc.

    • March 7, 2017 at 5:32 pmSK

      Took a look at the timeline, and it doesn’t do a whole lot for me. It has the branch points, but it’s literally just “Shoichi does (not) X” at the decision point. So the Tooru branches occurs when he decides to chase after her. If everything up to that point is the same, then why the hell wouldn’t he? If there is something different, we have no indication of it. It really looks like a VN game mechanic, where a player would have to make enough of the right choices before they can even decide whether they want to take a given heroine’s route. Only thing the timeline establishes is canonical events through all timelines. It doesn’t address Stilts’ point that they need to explain why he makes a different choice without some change in circumstance.

  • March 5, 2017 at 6:34 amtheirs

    Seems like they’re making a VN with a common route that branches off during different times. If you choose this, it goes to Tsuneki’s arc. If you choose something else it goes to Toru’s arc. What are those choices? Who knows, maybe even the writers don’t know yet. This anime might just be the first draft of a future Visual Novel.

    Damn that part about Moe-nee’s panties. Never really interested in an anime girls panties. But they gave a slight tease, and then kept on talking about it. Goes on and on and on about it, then omits what makes it so special. Didn’t do either show or tell. Really?? Why, just why?

    • March 5, 2017 at 12:20 pmWhatsapp

      The timeline is on the official website. It specifically tells you the divergence points for the currently aired girls routes so far.

    • March 5, 2017 at 7:48 pmStilts

      @theirs

      Agreed. This is like a first draft, which means it’s shite—all first drafts are shite. (Well, nearly all; I’ve heard of some authors that write through to the end once and are done, but they’re monsters and/or aliens.) We need to UNDERSTAND why the choices were different, or they at least need to happen around the same time so simple happenstance is answer enough.

  • March 5, 2017 at 1:48 pmFabio

    I miss Hibiki… :(

  • March 5, 2017 at 5:45 pmJuan

    I agree with this review so much.

    One minor thought, surprisingly if any character has consistency it’s actually Hikari. If you go through her cameos and her own arc she surprisingly is the most consistent character in the series. They should have just made her the MC

    • March 5, 2017 at 7:51 pmStilts

      True-ish. Moe-nee and Araki-sempai are probably the most consistent, and Ikuo is close. Hikari is probably the most consistent main character so far, though honestly, none of the heroines change any more radically than they should (’cause not falling in love with the schlub is a fairly big change). The problem is that the writing sometimes yanks characters off course, and Shouichi is a bad MC.

  • March 6, 2017 at 6:14 amMediafag

    “This next girl is the ‘Childhood Friend Romance’ so let’s put our legacy characters in it to remind viewers of Rihiko from Amagami, which is sooo much better. PLEASE WATCH OUR SHOW, WE BEG YOU!!!”

    Aaaaaand dropped.

    • March 6, 2017 at 6:21 amMediafag

      And by “Rihiko” I mean Rihoko. YES I SO MAD, I MAEKING LOTS OF TYPOS!!!

      Seiren feels like a bad “continuation fanfic” of Amagami. Like it was made to make you feel nostalgic about an old game/show that you loved so much. If they are honestly trying to make a proper sequel, then they are doing a very, very, VERY bad job at it.

      • March 6, 2017 at 9:01 amMediafag

        And with regards to the awful implementation of “branching story arcs”, you can be sure as hell that Miu’s arc will start from the Summer Camp, which means MORE TSUKASA. I am not willing nor prepared for that kind of torture, even if I find Miu to be interesting. The only “wildcard” we have left are Makoto and Ruise, since we don’t really know their place in the overarching narrative.

        It’s funny because since this is actually not the worst type of “omnibus” format we’ve seen from an anime. That honor goes to PHOTOKANO with their atrocious decision to allot only ONE EPISODE per girl. And if you really want “branching story arcs” done right, watch Yosuga No Sora.

      • March 6, 2017 at 11:24 amMediafag

        And by “MORE TSUKASA” I mean MORE TSUNEKI. FUCK! SEE!? AMAGAMI IS JUST FUCKING BETTER THAN THIS!!!

      • March 6, 2017 at 5:22 pmStilts

        Photokano was really bad, agreed.

    • March 6, 2017 at 4:30 pmhjerry

      Reminding me of the Rihoko arc, doesn’t get me thinking about how much better it is.

      It only makes me rage.

      I still maintain that Rihoko was/is the best girl from Amagami. She was also the ONLY girl who loved Junichi regardless of any events from any arc (it’s established that she loved him from before any of the events of the series/game even began), so the way in which she was also the ONLY girl to friendzoned still pisses me off to this day.

      • March 6, 2017 at 5:24 pmStilts

        If it weren’t for SS+, I’da been pissed off forever. Needing the continuation to fix it wasn’t ideal, but at least it was fixed. I like Rihoko a lot, it would not have been cool if she was the only one who missed out.

      • March 6, 2017 at 9:45 pmhjerry

        Admittedly, SS+ made it better, or less bad at least, but her ending still felt a bit lacking to me, at least in comparison to what many of the other girls got.

        It just felt like most of the girls got their fairy tale endings, while Rihoko just got an ending, and needed a second series to even get that much.

        I dunno, part of me still wanted that “happily ever after” ending for her. I felt like she, more than any of the other girls, deserved it. I know that sounds kinda sappy, but I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for Schmaltz lol.

      • March 7, 2017 at 1:21 amStilts

        Kaoru and Ai never got a happily ever after in the original series, and they’re best girl and next best girl respectively. I wouldn’t want every girl to get the epilogue ending, tbh. I wouldn’t have minded if Rihoko was one of the ones who got it, though.

  • March 7, 2017 at 2:00 amVelvet Scarlantina

    Hmmm… Pretty much every one above me has pointed out the pit falls of the episode.

    The one that really takes the cake are the Kami-senpais of space and time. I really did like them back in amagami and I really thought they were joking when they said they were senpais at school.

    As for -10 Junichi, I really didn’t notice him till someone pointed out here.

  • March 7, 2017 at 9:40 amKiritsugu

    Since I knew that this how would focus on multiple routes, I had the idea that we would watch small bits that would explain how the older routes were avoided. Small events that would prevent the starting points, namely, so far, the decision to attend the summer camp and the deer game exchange.
    To my surprise, apparently, they both happened! Its almost as if everything but the last five mins of both Ending Chapters have occurred which makes no bloody sense… Shouichi is still close to “that beautiful Senpai who likes to play games” as someone said in this episode and Tsuneki keeps waltzing around as if we are watching that lost year in their relation…

    • March 7, 2017 at 5:40 pmWhatsapp

      Sorry to break it to you, but Tooru was written off in Tsuneki and Kyouko’s arc. Tooru goes off to study hard regardless whether you activate her route or not.

      As for Tsuneki still having a role in Kyouko’s arc, her problem hasn’t been resolved yet. Expect a cook-off with Kyouko and Shouchi praising Tsuneki’s cooking, leading to less Tsuneki in the second season.

      • March 8, 2017 at 11:34 amKiritsugu

        Well, I don’t care much about their presence, it’s just that I feel like this show had the potential to be a lot better than it is. All it should take would be the addition of a few minor details.

        Has a second season been green lit already? I’m quite curious about Ruise’s story/route.

  • March 7, 2017 at 9:42 amKiritsugu

    I’m starting to feel that they should have written a Moe-nee arc. I don’t care if they are siblings, that girl has personality and in the end that’s what really counts.

    • March 8, 2017 at 9:45 pmStilts

      They’da probably just fucked it up, though.

  • March 18, 2017 at 7:30 pmJoseph Joestar

    “But Hikari keeps playing a role in every arc”

    That’s because Tsuneki is best girl.

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