FI – Seiren – METANORN

First Impression – Seiren

Three for now, three for maybe later?

winter15-highw “Let’s get the gang back together” can be a good thing, or can be kinda misleading

Which Way Was It Going to Go

The real OTP: Ikuo and Shouichi

As more and more information trickled out about Seiren in the lead-up to the Winter season, the comparisons got stronger and stronger. To what? To Amagami SS, of course. The highly successful (at least in giving the fans what they want to see) series is the best example of a non-harem omnibus romance show. And it’s a format that, surprisingly, isn’t used more often, because it would seem to give romance and VN fans what they want: the ability to develop the relationship between the MC and all of the heroines individually, much more like the structure of many bishoujo visual novels. In fact, there aren’t many I’m aware of where there is an explicit harem in the game, focusing instead on individual routes where the couple gets the focus, and the rest of the characters are mostly just around as friends. And that’s exactly how Amagami SS handled it, splitting 24 episodes into 6 routes with 6 different heroines all finding their love with Junichi.

Hikari Tsuneki is number uno

She just had to pick *his* desk to sit on?

So when the news came out about the staff of Seiren, like director Tomoki Kobayashi who was an episode director for Amagami SS and the series director for the follow up SS+, and then series creator Kisai Takayama, who did the Original Character Design (and may have been the series creator for Enterbrain) for the previous series, people’s thoughts immediately turned to wondering about how it would be set up. And when the key visuals and character names came out, it was obviously tied into Amagami SS, even using Ai-chan’s younger brother Ikuo as one of the supporting characters. But still that question remained. We’d all been a little disappointed when Photo Kano, another Enterbrain adaptation, had changed the series plan to 5 common episodes and then 1-3 episodes per heroine, leaving a lot of them rushed and unsatisfying. But from all indications in this first episode, Seiren is going with the full split, and I think everyone rejoiced.

When you get waved over by the girl you like, you should go

How is the Actual Show?

But happily eating lunch with them probably won’t make you many fans with the other guys

Our protagonist is Shouichi Kamita, a second year student who is starting to think about his future (in this story) and isn’t particularly notable. The show spends a little of time introducing other characters, but compared to Amagami it was nowhere near as much. In particular, we don’t really get to know the other heroines of the show at all. In fact, the only mention of one of them is in passing as Shouichi’s older sister Tomoe mentions yukata shopping with her. Instead, the show gets right into setting up Shouichi and Hikari Tsuneki, the “cutest girl in the class.” Runner-up in the Miss Santa contest, she’s usually with her friends Yukie and Youko, and they seem to act like typical girls, although watching the show a second time, there’s definitely some interest from Hikari towards Shouichi. Things like sitting on his desk to force an interaction with him, or inviting him over to the girls’ table during lunch, as well as inviting herself to join his study group with Ikuo, are the kind of signs that signal that kind of thing.

Hey, can I butt in?

Who looks at this and thinks “She’s totally dating that guy”?

And from Shouichi’s point of view, it’s not really a problem, but he’s certainly not overreacting as far as interest in Hikari. He does get a little jealous about the spurious story from Ikuo, that his sister thinks Hikari is dating some older guy, but seeing her with an older guy with a beard, I’m sure the whole audience was thinking “What? That’s just some guy she’s working with, not dating.” Or the spurious story about her spending summer break with a bunch of 3rd year boys at the beach. It’s surprising that Shouichi didn’t actually listen to her when she said she was going on a trip with her family. But he’s heading to a summer cram school camp in the mountains to better himself. What’s going to happen now that she’s crashed into his room at the camp?

A tell… tail?

When it became obvious they’re limiting the number of heroines for the series to 3, and focusing on just one girl for now, I think everyone was pretty happy. Now we can relax and focus on the content rather than the structure. I thought that this first episode was pretty laid back. There’s not much overreaction happening on anyone’s part, and the characters all seem rather chill. They are also fairly likable, with no annoying flaws. So now it’s just to settle in and watch the rest of the show.

Eventually they’ll get to Kyouko-kouhai

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Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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4 Responses to “First Impression – Seiren”

  1. HannoX says:

    I’ll give it another episode, but I’m probably not going to stick around for this one. I really don’t care for the romances where the hero spends 2-3 episodes getting a girl, then it starts over with a new girl. That seems more appropriate for a game where you take different paths to get each girl in turn. For an anime I prefer a single narrative path, although the hero might consider more than one girl before settling for one.

    Besides, I’ve got Fuuka and Masamune to watch which are more in line of what I want in a romance. And two romances in a season is enough for me.

    • Highway says:

      Ah, I love this kind. It’s like a series of shorter stories that saves some time by letting you be emotionally invested in all of the characters. I like it much more than the typical harem setup, which like I described for Kiss Him, Not Me feels more calibrated to sell merchandise and set up arguments between fans, while never ever giving the payoff to a romance.

      I like to see couples. Way back when I did my intro podcast for Metanorn, one of the questions was “What rule would you like to see in anime?” to which I answered that all romance shows should end with at least one couple. To that end, shows like Amagami SS and now Seiren give that, they give the result, and for the most part don’t really tease the viewer. And I like that, because to me that’s a lot more like reality. Sure there’s the chase, but there’s also gotta be catching for the chase to have any meaning. That’s why I’m really down on a show like Fuuka. Yes, we watch TV in part to see extraordinary things, but I also think that seeing the everyday from a different perspective is fun. And I love to see people not just fall in love, but BE in love.

      I also wonder about your comment of “a single narrative path”. Harem romance shows certainly don’t have that. Instead, they have a muddle of wandering in the woods, following different paths, before you either just get to the other side of the forest, or stay hopelessly lost in the middle as time runs out. It’s only perceived as a single narrative because they don’t explicitly stop and say “That was the end of that, and now the beginning of this.”

  2. belatkuro says:

    I don’t think Takayama was involved at all in Photokano, in the game as well as the anime. It’s not as big as Amagami and Kimikiss, who has Takayama on board. And I heard that even if he’s just credited as the character design, he’s mostly at the helm of the project, supervising it from behind the scenes. So I have some hope for this series since he’s heavily involved as the character design and the series composition.

    So far it’s good. As usual, Takayama’s designs are godly. Each girl are unique in their looks and has the perfect balance in their anatomy and looks. I’m still salty that I couldn’t the character he designed in FGO, Medb. More so that she was also voiced by Sakura Ayane, who voices our first heroine Tsuneki. So far, she’s okay. Flirty, playful, and definitely has some hidden sides to her. We’ve seen her initial impression so it’s time to develop her further, though I’d need an explanation as to why she crashed the place because it’s just unnatural for her to be there even if it’s for getting them together for the story.

    Shouichi is somewhat okay, though nothing really stands out about him. He doesn’t really have a backstory presented like Junichi who was sporting a heartache and was a major thing for him to overcome as he encounters each Amagami girl. Shouichi’s uncertainty about what he wants to do is kinda generic. Of course not everyone needs to have a sad backstory but it’s hard to define him right now in this episode besides being the male lead. Like I said in the Fuuka post, he needs to step up a lot to match the girl.

    It’s still the start so there’s bound to be issues but I’m still hopeful for some good things to happen later on as it should be. In Takayama I trust.

    • Highway says:

      Well, even the amount of heartache that Junichi had to overcome varied by storyline in Amagami.

      I’m trusting in Takayama as well, and figure that there’s going to be a reason for Hikari to be in the woods, although why she’s climbing into his window is going to be more of the difficult question.

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