「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.
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.