When they were little kids laughing and playing together, Izumi Norimoto and Kazusa Onodera were like siblings. But as their bodies matured into middle school, Kazusa began seeing him as something different; unfortunately for her, so did the other girls. Ostracized, Kazusa had no choice but to distance herself from him going into high school. After joining the literature club, however, she finds friends that keep her mind occupied. Known throughout the school for reading aloud sex scenes in literature novels, the club's reputation has kept all teachers from accepting the task of being their adviser.
During a discussion about what they would put on their bucket list, one of the girls says one thing: sex. This single word sends ripples throughout the five girls, as the thought of sex begins taking over their daily lives. And, after walking in on Izumi during a very private moment, Kazusa is sent into a spiral of emotion that forces her to face her true feelings for him. Now, with their hearts racing and the literature club facing immediate disbandment, the five girls must work hard to keep both their sanities and their club alive.
When we’re young, love and sex seem larger than life—it is the most embarrassing thing imaginable. Maidens of the Savage Season captures all those emotions in the most melodramatic way possible. It skips all of that pesky build-up, the characters are stereotyped, it’s oftentimes predictable, and so what? Who cares about all that crap when it’s so damn entertaining?
So why, why did they ruin it with gross NTR and pedophilia? I watched this for the entertaining melodrama, and that’s what I got for a while. I didn’t sign up to be creeped out.
Melodrama is what Mari Okada is known for, Araburu Kisetsu no
Otome-domo yo is no different. Anything she writes that isn’t edited heavily by a director will surely be overflowing with melodrama. She’s an ambitious writer, however she stuffed far too many ideas into this show. Sex, love, jealousy, homosexuality, social commentary, pedophilia, netorare, the list goes on and on. As someone who loves analyzing themes and the author’s intent, after watching Araburu I have no clue what the hell she was going for. There’s one thing I can say for certain, someone really needed to tell Okada when to stop.
Half of me hates the Maiden of the Savage Season and the other half loves it. So few rom-com anime are written over-the-top to the point where it’s hilarious. If you came here expecting a subtle drama with in-depth writing, you will be disappointed. Anyone who says this show is realistic is a liar! Sure it’s relatable at times, but it’s so intentionally unrealistic to be as enjoyable and shocking as possible. It will gut punch you immediately with the main point: sex, love, and growing up. Prepare to be beaten over the head with embarrassment until you cringe. After it grabs you by the collar and gets your attention, it slaps you in the face with endless sex metaphors. Trains going through tunnels, stimulating bowling balls, mushroom innuendos. Once it has your attention, the roller coaster is already moving and it’s too late to jump off. You’re stuck on it for every tight turn and 200-foot drop. It’s a thrilling ride, I loved it at first.
Then the roller coaster came to a screeching halt. The writing worked, I wouldn’t call it good writing, but it worked. Eventually it stopped being a cheesy coming-of-age romance about love and confronting adulthood. Instead, it was about jealousy, love triangles, cuckolding, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and childhood trauma. It stopped being relatable. Rather than cringe-inducing, it was frustrating, uncomfortable, and creepy. Everything I liked about Araburu was still there, but it felt like an afterthought. When you try to force a cheesy romance to be serious, you get terrible NTR moments like this: Person A and Person B are in love, suddenly Person C inexplicably develops feelings for B. Rather than confessing their feelings, C forces B to grab their ass, cuckolding Person A. Romantic tension like this can work in a story with the proper character writing, and like I’ve said before this show does not spend time on that. We know who the characters are solely based on their personalities, which is fine for a comedy/melodrama. The moment the characters were shoved into a drama that actually wants to be taken seriously, the whole thing collapses. All of the characters are simplistic people.
The story follows five distinct heroines, in the same “savage season” of their lives but moving in different directions. Kazusa, the most prominent of the five has it rough. Imagine walking in on your crush beating their meat before ever being exposed to sex, it’s maddening; that’s the kind of laughable nonsense Kazusa has to go through. Her encounters are always contrived, which made them all the more entertaining. For instance, when Kazusa drops off the food at Izumi’s house, rather than calling his name or his phone, she just opens the door and walks up to his room. Something was bound to happen. Ignoring how predictable the scene is, the direction is so heavy-handed it’s comical—and it’s so good. The fear in Kazusa’s expression, the slow opening of the door, Izumi’s house shrouded in darkness, the distant rock music with a vertical slice of light shining down the long staircase. The anticipation is overwhelming. Unfortunately, the entire narrative falls apart by the end, Kazusa’s story included.
The cracks started to appear midway through the series, motivations for a few of the heroines were still unclear. Kazusa and Sonozaki were the best out of the five because it was plain and simple what they wanted: to figure out their relationships in spite of anxiety and a desire to remain pure. Momo had no clue what was happening; it’s so obvious from the first episode that she’s a lesbian and unfortunately that’s defining character trait. She supports her friends, always with a smile, yet her scenes are underwhelming because she’s too busy being oblivious of her sexuality. If you’re totally uninterested in dudes, but tear up at the thought of a girl not liking you, then you’re probably gay—just saying. Her personality is so underdeveloped that her actions make no sense later in the show, making her seem like she’s bipolar. This is a huge issue past the halfway point in this series, at the drop of a hat as if half the cast suddenly becomes bipolar.
On the other hand, Hongou wanted to grow up faster and gain knowledge about sex. Hongou is a more subdued character, not quite standing out in the group aside from a few crude comments. She’s an aspiring erotica writer, regularly sexting with guys online to make her writing more authentic. Her motivations are clear, I liked her scenes, at first. Soon she finds out fabricating sexual experience is much different than the real thing. Her perspective focuses on the problematic pseudo-relationship with her teacher. Their encounter is totally unbelievable. Out of thousands of people on illicit chatrooms, they somehow meet each other. Later they decide to meet in real life, lo and behold they’re student/teacher. It’s absurd, but I wouldn’t expect any less of Maidens. Even his username is Miro, one letter off from his actual name Milo; you would think a teacher would try to hide his identity while sexting a random person online. Seeing her blackmail Milo and push around him is hilarious, at first. Eventually, the writers forgot Hongou was trying to become a more experienced writer, and she starts trying to get with Milo. There is very strange sexual tension between them; I won’t go into spoilers, all I’ll say is that the teacher also engages (don't forget she's underage). I came into Araburu expecting to cringe, laugh, and enjoy the emotional roller coaster, not to be frustrated and unsettled. There were points when it was uncomfortable to watch, however, nothing came close to the most disturbing parts of Nina’s story.
Conversely, the dark horse of the cast, Nina is by far the most flawed heroine. She’s messed up from childhood trauma (it’s not graphic, but enough to cause a warped perception of sexuality). As we all know, a flawed character doesn’t equal a bad character. However, when handled poorly they can be the worst members of the cast. Unsurprisingly Nina is the most hated character. The things she does are objectively wrong; however, you can explain most of her actions with development abuse. I wish that I didn’t need to assume ‘because trauma she is a bad person’. You could argue it was the writer's choice to keep it ambiguous, but the parts the writer left out feel more so out of misunderstanding of complex mental trauma. Rather than connecting her trauma and insecurities to her actions in the present, the show just gives us more of Nina's pretentious self-loathing thoughts. The pedo's actions are always condemned. It’s pointless shock value—though I will admit the scenes are directed exceptionally to be frightening. These themes shouldn’t have been in Araburu, it’s as simple as that. Barely anything that occurs throughout the show matters at the end, and given this is a complete adaptation of the manga it’s especially disappointing. There are consequences characters face for their actions, Nina included, due to the nature of melodrama. It’s a black or white story: you do good, you get good. If you treat people badly, you will get bad in return. For example; the one-dimensional bullies, portrayed as sex-crazed sluts get what they ‘deserve’ for trying to pick on the pure girls and steal their boys. Dramas are meant to pull in the reader gradually so you can identify with the characters, to believe they could be real people, this is not a drama.
There's not much to say about the art. A washed-out palette plus a strange foggy filter makes it feel like your watching everything through a cloud. On top of that, the animation is very lackluster. From a distance, all the characters look off-model. Backgrounds often look hideous even up close. There were a few instances when the art style was changed for laughs, and they worked, but I wish there was more. The CGI cars look ugly and completely out of place. Personally I liked the character designs however they look much better in the manga; there is plenty of well-timed visual gags thanks to the director, however, the animation only serves to weigh it down.
Maidens of the Savage Season was a roller coaster ride. Exciting at first, then it rapidly spiraled downwards—out of control. I loved it for its flaws because it knew what they were and played them for laughs. Over time it became less and less funny. It took itself far too seriously, then it became a jumbled mess of unclear themes, empty character motivations, and no playoffs whatsoever. My favorite character, Kazusa, is still the best heroine, but even she gets an infuriatingly bad ending. She deserved better than the rushed cliched bullcrap she got. This is what happens when you have something great and ruin it by trying to unnecessarily add more ideas. No one told Mari Okada enough is enough, at some point, an author needs to know when to stop.
At the start of this series after finishing the first episode I will admit I found it dumb and cringy, but as I kept on watching it the series grew on me in a way I never thought it would. What to me seemed to be the start of a melodramatic series became something wholesome, relatable, hilarious, and down right awesome.
While watching this series each episode felt like a roller coaster. During one moment im laughing my ass off or cringing from how I felt like this before to then being in awe of what would happen next. I was felt with great
joy while watching these girls try their best to understand their emotions and how to properly express them, which is something most people of all ages find difficult to do.
Now I feel like I have seen many different series and a great number of them at that, not just with anime but all medium in general, and there has been very few times were I can say I really did not know which direction the series or Movie will take and how it will end. I can say that this is one of the few series series were I had no idea how things would turn out. Almost everything that happen was a shock to me and in a great way. Especially with the last 2 episodes. Can I just say wow, those last two episodes had me glued to the screen not being knowing what was gonna happen and it was such a refreshing experience. They were filled with emotion and warmth, it was a feeling I haven't felt in a long time, and even more for the ending which is one of the most satisfying ending I have ever seen.
I absolutely love this series and is something I can see myself coming back to over and over again and each time while watching having the same feelings I am having right now. As someone who did not like this series at the start I would like for people to give this a chance and maybe you will like it to. I hope for the people who have already watched it and the people who will watch this in the future will be able to enjoy it as much as I have.
In a season stacked with big Shonen shows, all with high production values and great advertising, alongside many sequels and the usual isekai spam, it is easy to overlook true gems.
Maidens in your savage seasons is one of those easily overlooked gems. At first glance this anime looks a lot one of those basic Ecchi shows that just focuses on lewd dialogue, sex jokes, and random sexual shots of girls and boys inadvertently walking in on each other undressed. However, this show differs in that it does all of this with exceptional dialogue and execution, it is the difference between some basic otaku pandering Ecchi
show and highbrow erotic art.
The characters in this show all are young high schoolers who are sexually repressed, as they are youth, in what is a fairly sexually conservative society. As the story unfolds each girl has their own backstory given to us through their interactions with the cast and some flash backs. Kazusa has a childhood friend who they realize they are in love with when they inadvertently walk in on them pleasuring themselves. Hongou is an aspiring writer and tries to “seduce” a teacher in order to learn more about romance and improve her writing. Momoko is likely gay but is having a hard time coming to terms with it. Rika is an uptight reserved girl who actually is just jealous that she is missing out on sex and romance, so she copes by looking down on people with fulfilling love lives. Finally, Niina has had a fairly fucked up view on romance as she was mentored by an obvious lolicon for most of her childhood but developed some weird sort of Stockholm syndrome for him and is actually mad that he did not molest her. These girls are all crafted wonderfully with lots of nuance through interactions with other characters, foreshadowing, and their internal monologues which greatly humanized them and made them very likable.
While the plot execution does take a wild turn in the last few episodes, it actually is preferable to similar shows where cast falls apart due to backstabbing and fighting over each other’s boyfriend. The writing is very good, far more than one would ever expect from a show with this premise. Short comments by side characters, lines from the novels the girls were reading, and dialogue early in the show foreshadowed most of what happened in the story, but it isn’t obvious until the viewer finishes the show. This show is definitely worth a watch not just once but twice, one time to see it unfold and a second time to see everything that was overlooked and carefully foreshadowed the first time.
Another aspect about this show that was great were the production values. Visual directing is hard to master for action shows, let alone a rom com coming of age anime. The show has great framing and cinematography, excellent effects, and clean animation when it counts, these things are normally lacking in most low brow Ecchi shows. The sound is also quite impressive, although the opening does pale in comparison to the fire fighting anime, the sound and animation still place it in the top 3 for me this season, the background music and effective change in pace during confessions were also quite exquisite.
Finally, and most importantly, the overall message of this show is delivered perfectly. Love is a complex thing, most of our media revolves around it, most people in our society seek it, and it is something that is hard to define. This anime encapsulates love and carnal desire from the point of view of teenage girls in a serious manner, something most anime will tend to shy away from doing. It tells people that girls are sexual beings just like men and they have to come to terms with their sexuality, while understanding that everyone is an individual who may have a different approach to coming to terms with themselves.
If you take a teenage soap opera, add some sex jokes, and make an anime version out of it, the result would be something similar along the lines of Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo. It goes without saying the show appears to be a clichéd romantic drama about teenagers growing up. The journey to growing up isn’t without obstacles and for the Literature Club, they learn that the hard way.
While the opening minutes of the first episode doesn’t seem too unusual, the second half of the premiere may change your mind. It’s not every day we get to see a guy getting caught masturbating in
anime after all. But backtracking a bit, it also became clear the show wanted to make a story about characters growing up. The adolescence experience is a complex journey and for our main characters, they want to make the most of it. High school student Niina Sugawura makes her intention clear when she declares her intention of experiencing sex. In probably the bluntest way possible, this anime isn’t intent in hiding its adulthood culture. In fact, it’s easy to look at this anime with some controversy from the start.
The staff in charge of this anime includes script writer and original creator, Mari Okada. To me, this wasn’t a surprise considering the amount of drama that blew up as every episode progressed. Initially, it all began with the curiosity about sex. Then, it transformed into a plot about the characters wanting to grow up and experiencing it. Okada gives an appropriate tone with her writing by adding elements of drama at any chance possible. To do this, there’s plot with blackmail, dark troubling background stories, and various school drama shenanigans. However, this anime doesn’t hit home with its emotional drama, at least from a storytelling perspective. While some of her previous projects can be tearjerkers, Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo never once managed to make me feel emotional about its plot or character drama. As far as teenage romantic drama premises go, the series does seem to show some promise to craft realistic ideas. Spawned from curiosity, the Literature Club seeks to learn about sex as much as possible. Don’t take this as a sex education though. The anime sells the idea of adolescence with the characters growing up. Sex is just part of that process. In the meantime, the anime’s script goes through phases of letting characters experiment with their own ways of growing up.
While each character in the series has their own personality, most of them all fall under the ‘teenager syndrome’. In other words, they are constantly changing with puberty playing a prominent role. Characters experience a variety of feelings ranging from jealousy, sadness, anger, and other common mood swings. But don’t take this anime as some sort of psychological study. This takes the direction in tone with coming of age style of story presentation. Likewise, I believe the character cast all must learn about themselves before they grow up into adults. The main character, Kazusa Onodera, shows signs of fear in early episodes. Due to her infatuation with her childhood friend Izumi Norimoto, she has trouble breaking out of the friend zone. As part of a love triangle, Niina begins to develop feelings towards Izumi after growing to understand him. The anime pits the three characters into a romance angle that tests the limits of their feelings. Does this seem like trashy soap opera-esque writing? The answer is yes and no. With the growing amount of love in the show, we have to come and understand why characters feel the way they do. The anime does a decent job at showing this but sometimes fall short on overall execution. I won’t spoil it but it’s easy to point fingers at certain character behaviors and their how they feel attraction towards the opposite sex. One example is Hitoha Hongou, a novelist who develops feelings for an older man. The anime doesn’t commit much on their character relationship other than based on how Hongou wants to pursue a relationship with him. It’s the type of character drama that show little improvement and lacks importance to her overall growth as a teen. On the other hand, I do feel it’s worth getting invested by the main love triangle between Kazusa, Izumi, and Niina. While childhood romance dramas can be very cliché, this show contains a degree of realism that touches on more sensible subjects. Blending between the line of childhood romance and genophobia, you have to wonder how far the anime commits to its romance elements. However, do also be aware that the anime itself sometimes isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. This is especially true in early stages with the amount of jokes reinforcing the idea of “sex is evil”.
With a cast of teenagers on hormones, you have to also wonder how much the anime planned to develop each character individually. At its very base form, characters hopes to break out of their shell and become adults. Some even undergoes physical changes such as the case of Rika Sonezaki when she gets rid of her glasses after being told she looks beautiful without them. Others develop a more psychological change such as the case of Momoko Sudou. If you don’t believe me, just look at how she begins to see other girls in a different way, in particular Sugawara. To be honest, I think these type of character behaviors are common norm in our society. We all undergo changes especially during high school years. It’s during those years that characters experience growth in countless ways. Otherwise, I also find many of the characters relatable to us. Whether it’s speaking through their actions or personalities, there’s no doubt you’ve countered similar people in your life.
With a variety of projects under their umbrella, Lay-duce made this anime look and feel like what it is – a teenage romance drama. Character designs looks polished that makes the most of its character expressions. In fact, it’s especially important for this anime to bring out character expressions to show how they feel. Other times, I do feel the anime may be over the top with the way characters reactions, in particular Kazusa. The fear of sexuality hits hard that is all over her face. Some viewers may even wonder if she needs professional help. But on most parts, this anime managed to bring out the most of its animation qualities by illustrating character behaviors. Similarly, I do want to praise on the voice cast. It made me understand more about the cast’s personalities on more relatable terms.
Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo isn’t a niche anime but it can be a bit different than what people realize. While the initial first episodes can generate some controversy, it does manage to capture the elements of a romance drama. Love is probably a subject humankind will never truly understand. For the characters in this show, they took the first steps in becoming adults and at the same time, trying to experience sex and love.