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9 of 9 chapters read
~ STORY ~
Truthfully, it's difficult to judge as short stories tend to not be deep as they're not presented with the length required to completely flesh out themes and characters- and Hideout is no exception. However, I don't mean this as a point of criticism. Most of us know the popular horror score- the main characters finding themselves trapped in the clutches of a psychopathic/sociopathic killer is nothing new to the horror genre. It was unfortunate that it was slightly predictable, but the characters brought the story to life. The flashbacks were excellently done- however simple, I felt myself feeling more and more despair and sorrow for the tragic events that unfolded before the protagonist.
~ ART ~
To say that Hideout's art is "good" is a GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT. Seriously, it is worth having a peek at Hideout for its artwork alone. Never (in a long time) had I encountered a manga artist that places so much detail in every inch of every page. In order to fit in with the horror theme, Kakizaki masterfully utilises shading and gory detail. I rarely, rarely feel creeped out by artwork alone, but Kakizaki's depictions of mad expressions and the "Monster" truly unnerved me. If somebody said that Kakizaki is one of the most technically skilled manga artists they know of, I can completely understand, and even agree.
~ CHARACTER ~
Again, a tough assessment due to Hideout being a short story, but Seiichi, the main protagonist of the series, was truly well done. A down-trodden, struggling author is nothing new, but in just 9 chapters, I honestly felt for Seiichi by the time the finale arrived. He loses everything, but his desire to start over keeps him going. It is the light at the end of a dark and unforgiving tunnel. It was such a shame that such a beaten-down, nice guy- that just wanted to write and have a family- meets with a torrent of misery... but therein lies the goodness of Hideout.
~ ENJOYMENT and OVERALL ~
I don't really have anything special to add here. The plot is nothing new and Seiichi isn't anything particularly deep or original, but the execution of Hideout was good, and made for an enjoyable short read. It's not too short, and definitely not too long, neither. If you're looking for something original and established, Hideout isn't for you. However, for those with short attention spans, Hideout- with its riveting art and sympathetic protagonist, Seiichi- is a highly recommended read. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
The long and short of my review is this: If you can ignore the near-absence of plot and character development in favour of gorgeous guys with nice voices, then look no further.
~ Story ~
Very basically put, S☆S' plot revolves around the lives, trials and experiences of the students and teachers of Seigetsu High School, diving into 13 story arcs. It's essentially a slice-of-life series. There is a special emphasis on the show's only female protagonist, Tsukiko Yahisa, as she is involved in all 13 story arcs in varying degrees of significance. I also view S☆S as a "reverse harem" series, as Tsukiko is the only female student of the previously boys-only school.
This is wherein my first point of criticism lies. Give me a break! I'm supposed to be lead to believe that Tsukiko is THE ONLY female that wanted to enrol after Seigetsu High went co-ed? Having witnessed a boys-only school go co-ed, I can tell you that an equal amount of girls enrolled along with the new boys. It's not only "Mary Sue-ish" on Tsukiko's part (though it isn't her fault), but patently unbelievable. Yes, one doesn't go to anime for believability, but if it's a slice-of-life series, that's a different story.
Moving on, the story arcs are divided by the number of male characters that each correspond to one astrological sign. The thirteeth, for those unfamiliar with astrology, is Ophiucus. Each character gets a two 10-minute episodes each, and the said arcs progress in the order of the months the astrological signs are assigned to (starting with Capricorn and ending with Ophiucus).
This, of course, is foolhardy, because the creators are essentially trying to condense a couple of years worth of drama CDs and visual novels into twenty minutes for each character. As a result, you don't really learn a lot about each character, nothing really happens and nothing feels satisfactorily resolved. You just feel like you stared at colourful pictures for 10~20 minutes. To make matters worse, S☆S is riddled with poorly-executed cliches and plot devices. Some episode arcs managed to feel longer than 20 minutes, or worse, one EPISODE felt like a standard 22-minutes episode- not good at all.
~ Art ~
The animation was pretty shoddy, but not God-awful. Again, I suspect that the S☆S anime isn't supposed to be an attempt at a fully-fledged series, so I suppose the budget was low. Despite the subpar animating, the art itself was beautiful. The entire cast were colourful, and pleasant to look at. A special mention goes to the Seigetsu High uniform designs- absolutely brilliant; it was also nice to see how the personalities of the students somewhat reflected how they wore their uniforms- Kanata and Hayato being good examples. The background artworks ranged between mediocre and great- an example of great being scenes involving spring.
~ Sound ~
Not possessing even an opening or an ending, as well as a bland BGM soundtrack, the music of S☆S is frankly, nothing worthy of note nor mention. HOWEVER... I've watched many series and movies, but trust me- there are few works out there that can rival the magnitude of the awesomeness of S☆S' voice cast! Read the cast list and pinch yourself to believe it. Even the supporting-borderline-extra characters have some pretty well-known seiyuu!
~ Character ~
A common problem a large cast experiences is a lack of depth of its characters, S☆S exemplifies this too well- despite most of its cast members having two episodes dedicated to them and them alone! This of course, can be largely attributed to the shortness of the episodes; technically giving only 20 minutes to each member. On a positive note, with 13 different young men with different goals, aspirations and personalities, the advantage this large cast is the fact that you can't help but be drawn to at least one of them. Yes, their characterisations are shallow, cliches or both, but at least they're mostly realistic and tap into themes that are relatable.
Another large grip- more like disappointment- I had with S☆S was Tsukiko. If you have played the visual novels, you would know that Tsukiko is a Mary Sue merely there for the gamers to step into the shoes of. Focussing on the anime, though, she is merely underdeveloped and as flat as a sheet of paper. We learn a bit about her thanks to Kanata, Suzuya and You's arcs, but all-in-all, she's just there, like a ghost. If she didn't have her parts in some flashbacks, she's practically an extra borderlining on a supporting character. She's definitely one of the most underplayed and underused "main" characters I have encountered. To make matters worse, when she does make an appearance, she is so boring. She's the archetypal Shoujo heroine- clumsy and overly determined (to the point of self-exertion; "I'm fine"; "I can carry on!", etc.), but not truly "flawed".
~ Enjoyment ~
If taken at face value, S☆S is enjoyable. Who doesn't like a bit of eye and ear candy? If the fact that the plots are cliche doesn't bother you too much, you can probably enjoy its simplistic executions. It's especially good for those that don't like being confused or feeling trapped in a complicated chain of events. Everything is flat, but straight to the point and transparent... to a fault, in my opinion.
~ Overall ~
It's mediocre- VERY, VERY mediocre- but most of all, just disappointing for me. Once the novelty of the legendary voice cast and the hotness of the male cast wears off, the cliches- and maybe Tsukiko- made my eyes roll around a few times. Definitely NOT for anime enthusiasts that want a good plot- you won't find it here. I can almost guarantee that the visual novel fans will just watch the arcs of the characters they like. read more