For high school students like Shouichi Kamita, university entrance exams and the future are common concerns. It is also during this time in life that a mysterious emotion that vexes people of all ages may begin to weigh upon one's mind—love.
At this point in his teenage years, Shouichi finds three girls he could see himself having a future with: the ever-cheerful Hikari Tsuneki, who teases Shouichi without mercy, but actually has a softer side; the competitive gamer, Tooru Miyamae, who has difficulty communicating with others; and Shouichi's childhood friend, Kyouko Touno, the sometimes immature shoujo manga enthusiast. Seiren follows Shouichi's relationships with these three girls across three separate arcs, as their feelings grow from mutual interest and blossom into something more beautiful.
This review contains mild spoilers.
Seiren offers an insurance policy against the inherent risk of harem anime. You don't have to worry about best girl getting her heart torn to shreds by some milktoast dude choosing the worst possible option. Instead, the milktoast dude chooses every single option in different timelines. Everybody wins!....or do they?
What Seiren gains in having multiple routes it loses in meaningful character progression. You won't feel the ultimate satisfaction from watching two lovers grow together over a dozen episodes nor is there any conflict to set up an emotional payoff. This problem is further compounded by boring character designs barely distinguishing
each heroine from the other and the bizarre decision to not have the most interesting girl, Hikari, end up in a relationship with Shouichi. She decides it's more important to focus on her career and never talks to him again until a random five year timeskip where they run into each other in a shop, The End.
Shouichi is your standard harem protagonist with zero motivations, zero backbone and zero backstory explaining his personality. There's absolutely nothing going on in his life aside from these random hot girls who want his dick. There's no reason to give a fuck about him and his relationships. Why should anyone root for his success?
In Seiren's spiritual predecessor Amagami SS, lead character Junichi got stood up by a date on Christmas. The pain from that night gave him a complex about being rejected. We as viewers were given a reason to cheer for his success, bringing a level of catharsis to each arc where he got over his mental hurdle. Amagami SS had better arc resolutions, better designs, 26 more episodes to explore it's concept and most importantly - better girls. There is more personality in the hair of Kaoru than anyone in Seiren altogether.
There is still merit in watching Seiren if you desire a basic eroge game styled rom com. The girls are cute. The OP/ED themes are catchy. There are certainly some beautiful moments, most notably the underwater kiss in episode 4. Seiren has good qualities, they're just interspersed in an overwhelming dredge of crap that only the most tolerant of romance fans can hope to shift through. If you aren't in that crowd - avoid this like the plague and go re-watch Amagami & Kimi Kiss Pure Rouge for your fix of a satisfy all romance anime.
Teenage hormones are a powerful thing. The trials and tribulations we went through in our adolescence involving relationships and such can seem trivial by comparison to our current lives, but when we were in the moment they seemed so monumental. Whether it was timidly asking a girl out for the first time, or the lucidity and nostalgia of a summer romance, not much can compare to our teen years. Seiren randomly popped up on my radar before the winter season started (probably due to the plethora of attractive female character models), and after its conclusion I can assuredly say two things:
As a married man in
my late twenties, I am clearly not this show’s intended audience
Being a teenager is awkward, and it doesn’t translate to quality entertainment
“Seiren”, meaning honest in Japanese, is just that. It tells three girl-centered anecdotes from highschooler Shouichi Kamita’s life, a life in which there are plenty of perverted inner monologues and awkward exchanges with females. The writing is actually pretty accurate given the subject matter, but it doesn’t make the anime any better. Kamita gets nervous around basically every girl he meets (surprise!), with a relatively introverted attitude and a love for gaming. He’s also not that great of a student, or good at pretty much anything he does.. So he’s essentially the anti-Gary Stu character. Each story gradually develops a teenage romance, one scene at a time. Although the result of each relationship is often disappointing or lackluster, the buildup is the real focus of the writing.
As boring or predictable as Seiren is, the writing is quite accurate. Whether it’s the slow burn of the romance itself or the fickle nature of Kamita’s female counterparts, the writers nail teens in a nutshell. Awkward, irrational and hormonal. That’s not to say that Seiren has a “good” story, because there’s only so much enjoyment one can have in watching two people fumble over themselves for 20 minutes at a time. There’s lots of eye-rolling to be had here. Not to mention the melodrama is thicker than Chun-Li’s thighs. Oh, and the constant blushes emblazoned on the face of Kamita and his peers is mind numbing.
The main problem I have with Seiren is that the subject matter is just, dull. There's quite a bit less comedic dialogue than a normal slice of life, and the relationship building and love scenes aren't nearly as strong as a romance anime. It's essentially having the worst of both worlds, which for entertainment’s sake, is never a good thing. Would you want to watch a show about your awkward teenage years with lots of missed connections, social inebriation and awkward conversations? I think not. It's why we get older and grow up (at least some of us do), and I can't imagine many of us would care to relive that profound age of existence. It'd be one thing if the relationships “went” anywhere, but again they are stifled by abrupt changes in the way someone “feels” about moving forward. That or the writers play out “what-if” scenarios in which Kamita succeeds in his apparent life goal of becoming a school bus driver. I can't make this stuff up.
Character wise, Seiren makes an attempt at creating diverse and complex characters. Unfortunately the anime falters in this respect as well. Although Kamita represents an awkward high school teenager decently, this is the same old character trope we've seen time and time again. He's virtually indistinguishable from some other SoL protagonist I've seen in the past, and the repetition is really starting to get tiresome. Tsuneki is quite easily the most dynamic character in the entire series. She's popular, pretty and wants everyone to know it, most notably Kamita… who for some outlandish reason she acts like a tsundere to. Apparently all it takes for her to fall for him is a few gauche interactions at a summer study camp and him accidentally popping a boner in the men's washroom. But this sizzling romance is quickly extinguished when Tsuneki makes the abrupt announcement that she wants to pursue life as a chef… which evidently can't involve boys whatsoever.
Next up Tooru Miyame, or as I like to refer to her: every teenage pizza-faced nerd’s unicorn. A hot girl that plays videogames, and is actually good at it? Not to mention that she’s single and ready to mingle with our main protagonist? Ok, this one is straight up in fantasyland. Through my time in YouTube I've actually met some decent looking girls who are into gaming, so that part’s not entirely out of the question. The most implausible factor is how easily she is drawn to the charismatic Ken doll himself. The writers attempted to use the two character’s common interest of video games to create a relationship between them. The result? Unbelievable at best. They even go as far as to paint a future with a child involved at the conclusion of the arc. This is just bad writing.
Lastly, we have the obligatory “young crush”. Every guy that's ever become a senior in high school can admit to having an interest in a younger girl. That's just how testosterone works. In effect, the storyline is probably the most believable of all three. A cute underclassmen shows up, is extremely impressionable and wants to experience the elusive romance she's read about in teenage manga. The result is a morally questionable relationship that is never meant to go anywhere and spawns a “what if?” scenario of its own. The least entertaining of the three arcs, but probably the most believable. It's a shame they saved it for last.
The animation and art style in Seiren is attractive in some scenes and dull in others. The inconsistent nature of this plagues the side characters because their models are virtually carbon copies of each other. This could make for some confusing moments in the series where you're not entirely sure who's talking at a given moment. Luckily the girls are pretty cute, which is what I think initially brought me to the show. It's okay, but we should be a bit more detailed in 2017.
The sound is pretty atrocious. Neither the opening or the endings were really that convincing in making me want to watch the show, in the background music is virtually absent. The voice acting is mediocre, and really could've benefited from having a big-name actor accompanied to the anime. It was like listening to the lite version of your standard slice of life series.
Unless you're a glutton for punishment, or really enjoy watching teenagers stumble over there words professing their love for each other, I would say avoid Seiren at all costs. It can be quite boring at times, and there isn't anything in service to take your mind off of things. Combine this with blend art in nonexistent music and you have a recipe for a snoozer. this is not a show I can recommend to anyone, and is possibly the worst series I watched this season. As always, thanks for checking out the review and be sure to look out for my other winter 2017 reviews this is not a show I can recommend to anyone, and is possibly the worst series I watched this season. As always, thanks for checking out the review and be sure to look out for my other winter 2017 reviews!
Seiren is the spiritual successor to the previous anime, Amagami SS, an anime that I have a conditional history with. So coming into Seiren which would follow the exact same system of allowing 4 episodes per girl to tell their own story, I was disjointed about how much I would actually enjoy the show. But I ended the anime pleasantly surprised. Pleasantly surprised about how it has improved everything compared to Amagami SS to an extent.
The story is rather vague, surrounding a guy in high school with him being chucked at random girls allowing for the story to progress. There is very little of
anything progressive when it comes to the story due to it being rather basic in the setup as well as character dynamics. MC is typical MC however he comes rather timid than the average, allowing for many comical scenes. Whilst the girls feel far more fleshed out representing the connection between MC and the girls far better than many other romance shows. It also provides indication about why MC is going for the girls instead of it being left unanswered so plot-wise there is something there to sustain it.
The art and sound is also extremely typical, nothing to elevate its place above any other anime this season however would I would class as industry standard. They have tried extremely hard to make it look like its predecessor due to it being made by a different studio and by different people however they have accomplished their goal.
The anime makes for a decent romance story, the method of it being multiple girls and not stuck with same girl throughout the series elevating this. I feel that the girl characters were far too streamlined and they didn't feel like they had enough complexity surrounding their intentions or personalities. Despite this the anime was pretty enjoyable and I had a fun time watching and rooting for specific characters.
If I had two words to describe Seiren, one would be “uninspired” and the other would be “bizarre”. I’ll be honest, I’m one of those consumers that values unquantifiable things like creativity, innovation and, if at the right time, something that pushes the boundaries of the medium.
I don’t expect all shows to have this sort of thing, after all part of why I value those things is because of their sparsity within the medium. More often than not I just come across shows that have varying extents of those things and that’s definitely serviceable; I’m not expecting every show I watch to be the next
Mushishi or Millennium Actress. Every shows at least nudges some kind of boundary within the medium and that alone is usually somewhat entertaining to watch.
But let me just say that the only boundaries Seiren pushes are the number of fetishes it can pander to. Boobs and ass are the prerequisites, but legs, feet, navels, urophilia, coprophilia, plushophilia, exhibitionism, BDSM, and whatever the scientific term is for arousal from chicks that look like animals.
As I said before Seiren is bizarre, it’s this high school romance show with a mixture of issues that range from inherently poor writing to flatout awful production—the way these episodes are organized and put together don’t even work as a saving grace for the show. Hell even the art quality goes to shit quickly. But this incongruous mixture of issues pulls out a show with just some bizarre moments… Man, I consider myself to have a fairly strong command of the English language, but I can’t help but keep circling back to this same word. It’s not even bizarre in an overt fashion like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure or anything, it’s just these subtle bizarrities that spawn from things like retconning or overall poor writing.
Characters who are introduced to be petty and resentful, and warned about with lines like “oh you don’t want to get on her bad side, otherwise all the girls in the school will be against you” suddenly turn into magnanimous priests who bestow forgiveness upon those whose sins include lying, betrayal and infidelity. Things like that could really be justified with a small shard of personality, but because of lack of oversight it’s not thought about at all, and when they play out towards the end of arcs it just comes off as bizarre.
Another example of a bizarrity within the show that really got me laughing was when Kamita nonchalantly pulls out a fucking PSP from his trousers and starts googling the meaning of words mid-conversation. Like, if the Googling of things mid-conversation isn’t strange enough, why is he doing it on a freakin PlayStation Portable? What happened to smartphones? Then it’s put away and never mentioned again. What the hell? Why include strange things that raise questions and not address them? Who goes to school with a PSP in their trouser pocket?
The shows omnipanderance also compounds onto its already bizarre subtleties, you’ll have a character walking down the street, seemingly musing an innocuous thought that actually turns out to be a BDSM-fetish fantasy, and it’s just dismissed as normal! Where does this come from!?
The protagonist Kamita is a pussy, for a lack of a better word. Actually, there are plenty of better words, but I’m gonna keep calling him a pussy because this major league dork will cum in his pants at the slightest interaction with a girl. Girl does his laundry? Girl brushes her arm against him? Girl shows her bellybutton? Oh this is too much! I’m gonna bust! I legitimately hate Kamita because he represents this trend of anime protagonists that collectively form a malignant tumor within the medium, metastasizing throughout each and every genre whilst promoting this “stuttering, breathless beta-male gets hot chicks” agenda of sorts that is honestly just dreadful. Seriously, fuck this guy.
The show’s 12 episodes are evenly divided into three separate arcs, all involving a different female lead, with the a convenient time reset after each arc ends. This division of episodes is much better in theory than it is in practice, because for some reason studio Gokumi thought it was logical to begin with the best girl and then just regress into more and more generic leads and arcs as the show progresses. The first girl Tsuneki is by far the best in the entire show as she possesses a rare trait the other girls do not: a distinct personality.
Tsuneki is unique and dynamic, a character that exudes confidence and terrifying levels of spontaneity, always keeping you on your toes and wary of her next actions. She’s frisky and intimate, and is a character you won’t easily find in any other high school romance show. What this show does with her and her arc is not only laughably bad, but also just straight up bizarre. After Tsuneki it’s all downhill, the female leads just become more and more generic as the show progresses.
The next girl is Tooru, that one girl who has a smooth voice, and is cool, calm and collected at most times. She’s also a gamer girl, which apparently constitutes “original” in the eyes of studio Gokumi.
The finale female lead, I think her name is Kyoko or something (who actually cares) is by far the most generic; it’s like the writers just gave up at this point. A soft-spoken, innocent childhood friend who’s only meaningful development is understanding that yes, taking a male, childhood friend to shop for lingerie with you is indeed weird, and so is asking him if those rose-coloured panties look good on you.
If you hadn’t already guessed it, one of Seiren’s biggest problems is, like many other anime, pacing. Four episodes doesn’t give anyone much room to work with when trying to develop a natural, romantic relationship between two leads. Trying to replicate something as special as the blooming of love takes care and time, it’s something that stems from allowing characters to bounce thoughts and emotions off of one another and letting intangible things like their chemistry develop naturally. The spontaneity of the first girl, Tsuneki, made that task marginally easier, but four episodes is simply not enough. It’s frankly a little depressing how they took a great character with a stellar character design and an outstanding voice actress and threw it all out the window by trying to rush her whole relationship with Kamita in four episodes.
Seiren is an uninspired, bizarre, clichéd high school romance show that manages to follow virtually every convention one would come to expect from the genre, only ever subverting it in unrealistic, often cringeworthy ways that leave you questioning the bizarrity of what you just watched. It is simply lame, pointless, represents many of the horrible trends in this medium and somehow adds onto that list with its incessant omni-pandering to fetishes. I wouldn’t recommend this show to anybody.
I hope this review was informative and helpful. And maybe got you to smile a bit as well.