「宮前透 第1章 コウカン」 (Miyamae Tooru dai 1-shou – Koukan)
“Miyamae Tooru First Chapter – Trade”

What is with this show and deer?

I’m never sure how I feel about a premise or character that seems almost workshopped. “Gamer girls are in right now, let’s have one of them be a gamer girl!”, I can imagine some executive in a suit saying, while smoking a cigarette and drinking cheap scotch in a run-down yet comfortable bar just far enough away from the office to be respectable. I’m not a fan of that kind of thinking, but I also can’t remember the last time I saw a gamer girl as the heroine? So, ya know. Welcome change and all that. It just borders enough on mercenary to make a part of me frown.

Then you get to the episode, which is like a steroid shot right to the arousal and/or loneliness center of every boy who’s ever wished to meet a girl who loves video games. (Or anime. Same idea.) (I don’t think steroid shots work like that, but I’m on a roll.) “Would you trade items with me?” Hot. And everyone wants the beautiful gamer girl to join their group of gamer friends. My main qualm is that it all seemed too easy, like she slipped into the group too quickly, and the flirting began without any effort. Which, ya know, it’s wish fulfillment, so probably not bad. I just wish Shouichi had to work for it a little more.

Actually, I lied. My main qualm is one of those foundational, meta things I love to talk about so much, and it’s this: the characters aren’t the same characters in this arc as they were in the last arc, Moe-nee excepted. Shouichi and Ikuo went from worried about their future to hardcore gamer otaku, Hikari went from competitive with Moe-nee to squeeing over her, and Araki-sempai—okay, he’s the same too. But it’s a problem with Shouichi in particular. And I do realize that Junichi wasn’t really the same Junichi in every arc, but the crucial thing he had was the foundation—the x-mas trauma bound all the Junichis together. Shouichi flows too much, and others flow too, which is disorienting. Ikuo and Hikari need to be the same as last time at least, or the Ikuo we see this time needs to be more obvious last time. Otherwise it feels like they’re new people.

All this sounds like I didn’t enjoy the episode, but that’s not the case; it’s one of those episodes where the negatives are more interesting to talk about, while the enjoyable parts are fairly milquetoast. I laughed out loud at a few points, and Tooru’s character is admirably understandable so far—she’s lonely, she’s secretly competitive, she let herself go too far in the past, and through playing with Shouichi I bet she’ll get over some or all of those. Even Shouichi is actually better this arc when taken alone (caveat: so far), because what he wants is also clear: to play games and get closer to the hot gamer girl. While the meta issues are still there—and has the animation taken a nosedive?—this arc is off to a promising enough start, and at least the Shouichi issues aren’t as pronounced. I’m still cautiously optimistic about where this one’s going, since, even if the inclusion of a gamer girl came about because of mercenary marketing thinking, how often do we get a gamer girl as the main heroine? A little wish fulfillment isn’t a bad thing, after all.

Random thoughts:

  • Seriously though, what is with this series and deer? Araki-sempai doesn’t have the weirdest fetish, Seiren does.
  • Still need less tell, more show. They didn’t even show Tooru singing? Perfect chance for an insert song!
  • That guy, that cliffhanger. Cruel. Not that I expect it to lead anywhere.

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.


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    1. So I watched it and… Just what was up with that dude in the bathroom scene, ugh… I hope it’s nothing real serious bro cuz man if it is, aiyaiyai…

      I still wanna pop a cap in Shou-busta’s ass but for the most part, he was ‘tolerable’ in this episode. Ikuo turned into somewhat of a bro this time around and that is most definitely a step in ze right direction. Don’t want no stuffy cats man, those dudes kill everyone’s jam.

      Anyway, gamer girl is pleasant. Definitely someone you could be friends or lovers with.

      If there is one thing from this arc that puzzles me it’s the games. Those are some pretty out-there games in terms of setting even though the mechanics are pretty much standard fare. I definitely wouldn’t play ’em, but if they were real, I wonder if people would… Any takers here?

      Nishizawa Mihashi
  1. Ehhh… Improvement, I guess? They should’ve kept the worries about the future and maybe the cram-school(could’ve started this route after he got back, minus Hikari). As been said, Junichi was a little different in each Amagami, but only as much as some minor event didn’t happen so his focus went to a different girl. Liking a girl will change a guy, and how can definitely depend on what she’s like, but almost every character getting an overhaul? A consistent Ume-chan really grounded Amagami at times it needed it.

    I mean, Shoichi as a gamer is good(?), but it could’ve been a casual thing that became more serious after the encounter with Tooru. Ya know, that whole “character development” thing. Make me care, then make him work for a good ending.

  2. I have to say that so far, this arc is a considerable improvement over whatever that last arc was. I have to agree that without that background arc that had made Junichi’s arc in Amagami SS so compelling, this feels like just one-off stories that don’t really go anywhere or accomplish anything. Still, glad that they gave some dimension to Shoichi this time around with being a gamer and (instantly?) becoming infatuated with the main heroine. (Curious question, but was there any attraction with Hikari? Didn’t feel like it to me). I don’t feel like that last arc was a very good introduction for this series at all. I appreciate that there were more supporting characters that Shoichi and Tooru were able to interact since apart from a few select scenes in the last arc, were really sparse.

    I am amused about how they have really jacked up the deer factor in this sequel series. I remember that there was deer that popped up and was used as an excuse for not going into the mountains…I think it was Ai Nanasaki’s arc in Amagami SS+. Heh, go figure.

    Oh yeah, was there anyone else that kind of cringed when Hikari briefly popped up? I did and it looks like she is going to pop up in the arcades in the next episode if the preview was any indication.

  3. …when the male character is so nondescript that it feels like tea brewed with a teabag that has been used before. Twice.

    Can someone please give us at least Junichi from Amagami? Heck, I’m not even asking for girls of Ayatsuji calibre (Miyamae-senpai is fine with me), but I seriously hate the wussiness of the entire male crew.

    Coooaaaach! Check who you have on the bench, please!

      1. And Kaoru. =)

        I really did like Hibiki though. I found myself watching her more than Haruka, even in Haruka’s own arc, lol. Makes me wish the anime gave her (and Maya-sensei) one of those one episode specials like they did for Risa and even Miya. Though, IIRC, the manga has one for her.

  4. I know what you mean when it comes to Shoichi having no foundation like Junichi did, and the obvious wish fulfillment. As I mentioned with the first couple episodes, I feel like that may be why Shoichi is far more generic a male MC than Junichi was – easier for (male) viewers to self-insert.

    Despite that, I still found Shoichi to at least be a lot more tolerable here than the last arc. At least here, he is showing a bit of initiative and, so far, only one fetish that feels at least more relatable. It’s also nice to see a bit more interaction with Ikuo and Araki.

    Also liking Tooru, of course.

    1. But generic doesn’t make it easier to self-insert—or, to use the real term, empathize. Humans empathize with other humans, even if we’re not exactly like them. It’s not hard! We’ve been doing it for millennia! It’s actually harder to empathize with a boring blank slate, ’cause they’re boring. People just think generic self-insert protagonists are easier to empathize with; it don’t make it correct.

  5. Shouichi and Ikuo went from worried about their future to hardcore gamer otaku, Hikari went from competitive with Moe-nee to squeeing over her

    Arc 1 started with the characters in summer uniform. This arc starts with them in winter uniform. This arc can be in the Spring, Autumn, or Winter, but I suspect it is the spring, given that Hikari is still working at the cafe.

    We know it was the career counseling session that drove Shouichi to take his future more seriously–he did turn in a career choice that said “horned beetle”. Arc 1 covers particular periods of the school year that makes studying more important than here, with imminent exams followed by summer school. By the time these two periods ended, it was the last episode, and there were conflicts to be resolved. It is not surprising that we did not see much of Shouichi’s gaming habits.

    While Ikuo may have started earlier, we also know that he can unwind–he readily agreed to Shouichi’s suggestion to visit the next town’s arcade after the mid-terms. We also saw him unusually happy at the start of episode 4, apparently having something to do with having found a girl he likes (or maybe he was just happy for Araki, but that is very oddly happy for his friend). We therefore know he is not adverse to non-studious pursuits.

    We also know from arc 1 that these 3 are fairly dedicated gamers, what with all 3 being able to recognize an opponent in the arcade using option select, with Shouichi being specifically able to identify the commands that their opponent was hedging. These are not things I would expect a casual gamer to be able to do.

    I thought Hikari’s reaction to Tomoe was a rather interesting tidbit. We never saw the two interact–we just took her friend’s words that she disliked Tomoe. It is an interesting explanation as to why Hikari gave positive rather than negative attention to Shouichi at first in arc 1.

    Incest Emblem
  6. Welp, I liked it as a starter. At least a better (faster?) start than Hikari arc, where they didn’t have character tension until episode 2.

    Considering just how far Jounichi varied from arc to arc (Sae arc vs. Nanasaki vs. Rhoko, etc.), I’ve never really felt there was a ‘it’s the same guy’ vibe between them. Especially considering how little the backstory mattered to most of most of the arcs.

    Saying that, I’ll say that this character reset doesn’t bother me, especially since I don’t see anything nearly as wildly divergent between the Shouichi of last arc and this arc. Or rather, it’s rather clear what the divergence is- that Shouichi doesn’t worry about his future, and so is happy enough to goof off with his friends rather than study. IE, the exact same character difference between Jounichi in the Tsukasa vs Kaoru arc- where one time he went responsible student council route, and the other he never bothered.

    One thing I like to do with stories like these is see the divergences in the plot. Here, it looks like one such is that opportunity early on for Shouichi to go to the arcade. Last time, he didn’t, and it led to Hikari rumors. Here, he did. I’ll be interested if Nanasaki-bro goes to the study camp alone this time.

    Another thing I was hoping/trying to do was look for cameos by other characters. I was wondering if the girl at the resteraunt was a disguised Hikari at first, honestly, since I was looking for her as a cameo. Was it really her, though? It’d make less sense if it was, but when I saw the girl gush over Shouichi’s sister my first thought was ‘wow, Hikari shows more interest in that one scene than in four whole episodes, lol.’

    Meta-wise, going with gamer-girl strikes me as about as much wish-fulfillment as any other romance route in these series. Which is to say, pick your flavor. Best-friend fantasy, sexy sempai fantasy, childhood friend fantasy, split-personality tsundere fantasy, whatever. Gamer/anime geek girl? Sure. Why not. Glass houses and all that.

    Mechanically… I actually like this episode as a starter.

    Last arc had a slow buildup, with a lot of set-up on themes and such that ultimately fell short. Here, the story pretty quickly gets the main couple interacting- which is good- and gets them on common ground and having fun together. Character interaction is good. Common interests is good. Hikari-route was more about being stuck by circumstance, but here you have being closer by choice and shared interest.

    Looking at our Beat System…

    Beat One, the introduction and initial hook, basically was this episode writ large. Characters meet in a way that will foreshadow the nature of the relationship. Which was… video games as the hook, duh. What’s less duh, though, is the possible/probably character dynamics being set up.

    Here, of course, Shouichi is less concerned about his future… but at the same time, in the first scene, concerned about his presence/reputation. The boys are playing hidden away, sounds low, because they know their hobby may invite mistaken interpretations. It’s a not-so-secret shame that they enjoy while being discrete… which we find will parallel Tooru’s character, who is open to cosplay but doesn’t want to be seen by someone who will know her. She’s has interests, but it’s burned her in the past when she goes too far. Her grades, singing kareokee for herself, and gaming, etc.

    The crux of the first meeting is Shouichi finding a rare item and being willing to trade- but less for an item, and more for an attempt to bring in the Sempai as a friend to their group. We see Shouichi, right after considering reputation by actions, try to expand the circle of friends. This correlates well to the episode ending, where Shouichi chides Tooru- his semai, remember- about the merits of playing nice, while also giving the gamer kids a toy after they were brutally killed by a higher-skill player. Here we can garner that the future arc will likely entail Shouichi helping temper Tooru so that she doesn’t harm relationships or things she cares about.

    The final crux of the first meeting is Tooru’s reciprocation gift for Shouichi. Tooru doesn’t trade any high-level item she might already have- she spends all night playing to get him something customized to him. Here we can see Tooru’s passion and investment- working hard for something that Shouichi just found by chance- and a possible hint at her own sort of isolation. Not socially, she has friends, but they aren’t necessarily the friends she can get into her real passion and hobby of gaming with.

    Take it together, and we get one of the outputs of Beat One’s setup- conveying the ‘need for romance.’ In the Hikari arc, Shouichi needed a goal and Hikari needed a goal and someone who was honest. In this Arc, Shouichi… doesn’t necessarily have a ‘need,’ per see, but it’s balanced by Tooru’s stronger and more applicable thing. Tooru needs someone who she can enjoy her hobbies with, but who will also keep her from getting carried away with them.

    As far Beat One goes, that’s a pretty good start for the first five/ten minutes- and reinforced across the episode. As far as beat two goes…

    Beat two, the First Major Conflict that brings the protagonists closer together, started at the end of the episode. It’s not clear, but it’s probably not the mystery man/family member at the very last scene of the episode- someone I bet is part of the reason Tooru wants to keep her hobby and cosplay secret. Rather, the Second Beat was the prosect of competitive play on the not-gundam game, and Tooru asking Shouichi to be her partner as she gets back into the game.

    Beat two will probably be much/most of next episode, and focus on the training and contest of the game. Trial will bring them together, affection will increase, and so on for the happy Beat 3. But the Second Major crisis- the one before the black moment- will probably entail their victory being found, and causing negative consequences.

    Or so I predict. We shall see. But as far as the story setup goes, this one has some clear potential. I’m not even too concerned about the pacing. Yeah, the last arc got through Beat 2 (First Conflict) in the first episode, but it stalled in the middle. Here we have a good momentum going, and the character relationship timeline looks like it will be less awkwardly compressed than the Hikari route.

    Glad I stuck around, and am looking forward to next week’s edition of White Toast Vanilla Romance.

  7. Since episode 1, the moment the opening credits rolled and I saw Tooru playing in an arcade I had a feeling she was gonna be my favorite so far in Seiren. Her introduction episode confirms it. She’s a gamer and likes anime/tokusatsu songs. My personal best girl right there!

  8. That guy, that cliffhanger. Cruel. Not that I expect it to lead anywhere.

    It’s the guy from the Cram School, who also happens to be Tooru’s brother: Miyamae Souta. This is not a spoiler, it’s in the end credits cast.

  9. Kinda surprised that none of the Amagami Veterans commented on the shoutout to Nanasaki’s arc: when gamer girl sung (and did the pose of) the theme song of Inago Mask (the in-universe expy of Kamen Rider) in this episode of Seiren. XD

  10. Very late to the party but I think Stilts hit it right on the head. Something was bothering me this episode and now that I read the review I agree that it was the abrupt change in the personality of the characters.

    These kinds of series are generally attempts at doing dating VN style story arcs. While I agree that the characters will tend to change between these arcs because of the development of the characters or simply the difference between their “public self” and “true self” (we all have that :P) I have to agree with Stilts that the difference was too drastic. It would have been better if their “common route” was more consistent with the characters branching off and developing from the common point rather than having “new” characters all the time.


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