Seiren – 04 – METANORN

Seiren – 04

Just to give everyone the wrong idea

winter15-highw It is pretty boring when your home internet and TV go out for a couple days. But everything’s fixed now and time to catch up on the last episode of Hikari Tsuneki’s arc on Seiren.

No Hard Feelings

I invited you out here to reject you once and for all…

So it looked like Hikari was pretty ticked off at the developments last week with Yukie and Araki. And Shouichi was convinced that she suspected him (and she did). It also doesn’t help that Hikari is now giving Shouichi the cold shoulder, certainly a change from before the summer break. But that doesn’t stop him thinking about her.

So far the Disciplinary Committee member is the only person to be wearing lipstick…

Hikari is the one that makes the first move, however, inviting Shouichi out behind the school for a talk / chance to return his sweats. Shouichi was completely unsmooth getting the note too. You find a note on your chair, and you just stand there in the middle of the class and read it? I was kinda surprised that he didn’t get more attention doing that, but he manages to pull it off without being a spectacle in the classroom. But Hikari takes the opportunity to tell Shouichi that now is not the time for them to be friendly, because she doesn’t want to give Yukie the satisfaction of being right about Hikari finding someone she liked at the summer school camp. That goes out the window immediately with the information from the world’s least effective Morals Committee member, Makoto, who has just seen Araki and Yukie fooling around in the rabbit pen, and also gives up Yukie as the person who informed on Hikari’s working.

It’s confrontation time

That leads to Hikari getting the chance to confront Yukie about the goings on, and pretty much everything is according to the obvious: Yukie did it to reduce the competition for Araki, and somewhat suprisingly, Hikari doesn’t really get upset at Yukie about it. It’s not often that the “loser” ascribes to the “All’s Fair in Love and War” theory, but Hikari seems to firmly believe that, she just wants to find out where she screwed up, and why Yukie did it. She can’t really argue too much, since Yukie would go to that length to try to hook him, and to be honest, it’s kinda obvious that Hikari’s not that interested in Araki anymore (if she ever was, since she said she was going to support Yukie).

In the end, we find out who Araki-senpai *really* likes

No Good Resolution

Finally taking a little bit of a chance

Yukie’s right, Hikari is more likely to push him down

So having solved the non-mystery of who actually informed on Hikari, we see that she and Shouichi are having a little more time together. She makes him a squid ink paella to ‘apologize’, and explains why she wasn’t talking to him. Shouichi finally does something to stand up and advance their relationship when he invites her to the beach with him, to give her the chance for fun she didn’t have over summer break. And they actually have a lot of relationship progress there, with some help from a wave. Throw in some kinda pervy talk about bathing with their uniforms on, or even worse about Shouichi wearing Tomoe’s uniform in the bath, which even though Hikari admonishes him for seriously thinking about, she meant for him to think about it. And even more about what she does next, pushing him down and kissing him under the water. Everything’s going great so far…

A lovely underwater kiss

But then the reality of rejection

Until they start talking again. Shouichi tries to confess his feelings, and Hikari bulldozes him to lay out her plans for the future: To go away for a few years. She has realized that she has been protected all her life from those banalities of adult life, the ones that are never celebrated but are really the indicators of what a grown up is. And this has made her want to be a more independent woman, with a career, and more confidence in herself and her abilities. And Shouichi is someone who helped her realize that, with his approval of her efforts. So she’s gotten a recommendation from the owner of her former workplace to be a live-in trainee… in Spain. After they graduate, almost 2 years away. I know that a lot of the theme of this arc has been “discovering your future,” but Hikari shuts down dating Shouichi for now, not wanting him to “make her happy” and possibly shortcut her efforts to make her own happiness. And giving Shouichi a little credit, when she asks him to not stop her, he puts his rejection away and smilingly supports her. And apparently they spend the next year and a half not really talking to each other. But the epilogue shows us the two of them meeting again 5 years later, as Hikari comes back from Spain to be the new head chef at the same place she worked before, and Shouichi is working to become a dietitian.

5 years later, she hasn’t changed her hairstyle at all?

This is one of those things that must resonate with some portion of the intended audience, because this isn’t the first time I’ve seen it. The “I know we love each other, but I’m not good enough to be with you / to satisfy myself, so I’m going to go away for some unreasonably long period of time, not have any contact with you, and make myself better, and then maybe I’ll be worthy of you” ending has annoyed me in other works as well, like Toradora, Nozoki Ana and Velvet Kiss, and I’m hoping that Lily Love doesn’t do it (“So, Highway, how many sex-filled manga have you read?” You’re better off not asking). It just always seems dumb to me. Ok, it’s great you want to better yourself. But it can be a lot easier to do that with the support of someone you like, who likes you, and who wants the best for you. But it’s also true that if the person isn’t supportive, it can be a lot harder, or even derail you completely. So I can see that there’s a point to it, but it always feels so pointless to me, like it embodies those puritanical values of self-punishment and needless deprivation that bug me.

So in the end, I didn’t really care for the resolution of the arc. It was almost there, but the direction that it went just wasn’t for me. I’m sure there are some people who liked it, but it just doesn’t resonate with me. It’s not cute at all, it’s not really loving, it’s more like some “responsibility is attractive” thing. But it is the way it is. As I said, there’s gotta be an audience for that, because there are a lot of stories that end this way. I just hope the other endings are different.

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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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11 Responses to “Seiren – 04”

  1. Smiley says:

    The end of Hikari’s arc didn’t do much for me either; it really lacked a sense of conclusion. It’s a poor choice in story-telling to end the arc on such a lukewarm note, like closing a piece of music with a dissonant chord.

  2. belatkuro says:

    It was going well already with the fast conclusion of the snitch(though the way Hikari was okay with it was questionable) and the romantic thing in the beach and kissing underwater(totally loved this part). But it suddenly tripped in that final talk. What’s worse is that they didn’t even seem to be talking to each other and even texting from what Shouichi said. They really didn’t have to say that at all and I could have been fine with it. Because it kinda dampens the very last part of them meeting again. I don’t really buy that they would still have feelings for each other for 5 years when they barely had contact save for the 2 weeks in the summer course and none afterwards. I can respect not going for that final push to date each other since that doesn’t irritate me in other works. But the no communication thing feels like they isolated each other. And with a somewhat weak foundation of their romance built in the summer course, the final meeting doesn’t really have that much weight in it if they made themselves better for the other person when they treated each other as strangers before that.

    It feels like this is just a Good/Normal End in a VN and we missed a flag or two along the way. The second season of the show is still uncertain for the other 3 heroines in the OP but now I feel like the True/Best ENd is also uncertain, or more like being held hostage, under the pretense of getting enough attention and profit from this anime to fund a supposed VN for the actual endings. Which makes me worried for the routes of the gamer girl and the childhood friend if we’re going to get the same type of ending that was just “good” or “normal”. I was looking forward to listening to the full version of the ED but it sort of leaves a bad taste when I listen to it when we got this ending. I really hope this is just like the Rihoko ending that was lackluster and we get better endings for the other girls.

    • Highway says:

      I dunno, this felt a bit like a try for a Good / Hopeful end, since Hikari came back. Like I said, I’ve seen this same kind of ending in plenty of manga and anime, and even the VN I played, and even though I don’t like it there either, it’s gotta appeal to some group, or there’s no reason to do it. Even what you said, where they don’t even talk to each other or communicate is normal for that kind of story ending. Some thing about “I can’t be distracted by my feelings for you!” Personally, I find it really baffling that it could appeal to people, but there you go.

      It’s possible that they could hold things hostage for a possible VN, but the problem with that is that if they make the anime too unsatisfying, they’ll kill the chance to sell any discs. Anime are sketchy profit-wise anyway, although one like this where there’s no franchise / rights holder to suck up a large portion of the gross probably has better prospects in that direction. But as I said, I think this was less a ‘Normal End’ and more an audience-specific Good End.

    • Highway says:

      I thought the conclusion of the snitch part was fine, if a bit internally consistent for a high schooler. “I would do that kind of thing, so I can’t be too mad at Yukie for doing it.” Plus, the impressions were that 1) Hikari was not interested in Araki-senpai, maybe she knew about his bunny fixation, or maybe she just wasn’t interested, and 2) Hikari was much more interested in Shouichi at that point. Hikari even says she was going to root on Yukie. And Yukie says she did it because she thought Araki was interested in Hikari, not that Hikari was interested in Araki. So for me, all of that put together worked out to make it believable.

  3. Jrow says:

    A bad episode overall and disappointed how this arc played out with a very unsatisfying conclusion. I feel like if this were a 24-episode series and this arc was somewhere in the middle I’d be accepting of this route, but to start a 12-ep series with this wasn’t a good idea. Now my thought is whether each arc will have a mediocre conclusion rather than will it have a good one; not exactly the ideal precedent for a series of this nature to set, imo.

    • Highway says:

      Like Belatkuro, I thought that most of the episode was good, even very good, just that it went a direction I didn’t prefer with Tsuneki’s journey of personal growth. I liked the general feel of the arc throughout, with the more relaxed, less contrived happenings, but I do think that it dropped the ball at the end.

      Again, tho, I’m hopeful about the other arcs, because this is more the kind of thing that you see in one route of a VN, not usually the kind of thing that will repeat. So we’ll see how that goes. Personally, I’d much rather the couple get together earlier, not wait until the last minute.

      • Jrow says:

        Very good is a bit much, imo. Some of the arc was good, but the payoff of these arc-conclusion episodes are pretty important for shows like Seiren. This isn’t exactly an anime that’s about “appreciating the journey” or anything like that.

        This is a pretty awkward-looking yet kinda sad graph that shows preorder numbers for the BDs dropping after the episode aired. It’s hard to tell what these mean anymore with regards to a show getting new seasons or w/e, but it can at least be gleaned that people didn’t like the finale that much.

        • Smiley says:

          This is going off on a tangent, but holy crap, whoever made that graph did a horrendous job presenting the data.

  4. theirs says:

    As someone who actually enjoyed Velvet Kiss and its ending, I can say this doesn’t really compare well to that. It was more on the way the episode was presented, and perhaps time. They just didn’t have enough episodes to get this type of ending to work. Instead of an emotional roller coaster that got two people together, this felt more like longing for someone after a one night stand.

    In a best case scenario this ending would be like Nozoki Ana. I completely forgot how that ended and had to take a quick peek to refresh my memory. On the other hand, I might actually remember this ending. Which isn’t good, as I really enjoyed the first three episodes.

    I can really see how people can dislike this ending. Sadly, I can’t see how anyone might find this acceptable. Maybe it’s a Japanese thing? But with no real sense of duty or any sort of promise, I have a hard time thinking it might be acceptable for them too.

    • Highway says:

      Like I said, I think it is a niche Japanese thing. I’ve encountered this kind of ending often enough that it’s 1) frustrating and 2) familiar. So there has to be some group of people who find it resonant (I don’t know if anyone actually *likes* it). Of course, it could be just some big mistake on the part of Takayama and other writers to think that people like this sort of ending, when really they just accept this sort of ending to an otherwise good story (like Toradora).

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