Seitokai no Ichizon 01 – First Take

October 10, 2009 at 4:47 AM | Posted in Anime, Episode, First Take | Leave a comment
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I decided to take a look at this mainly because of the post on Random Curiosity about it. The post didn’t really detail the show very well, but what caught my attention was the mention that there were some shitstorms in the internet anime community about the show. The only such community I keep tabs on is 4chan’s /a/ board (as much as I can, anyway), and I hadn’t seen much indication of that there, but I do enjoy shows that are polarizing. Part of the reason why I like GAINAX’s and Shaft’s works so much.

Anyway, I had read an older post on Random Curiosity about the light novel, so I had some idea of what to expect. The show turned out to be a lot more goofy than I expected, but at times a lot more serious. The former was a good thing, the latter a bad thing. And I could certainly see why it polarized anime fans.

First of all, the show is extremely self-referential. The episode actually starts with the president of the student council (the short, red headed Sakurano Kurimu) explaining to the rest of the group why it’s important to understand the differences between media, namely the transition of Setakoi no Ichizen from light novel series to anime. References to other popular anime are dropped liberally throughout the episode, often calling them out directly by name.

Then there’s Sugisaki Ken, the sole male member of the group, who only got in because he had the highest grades in the class. And he only got the highest grades because he studied his ass off in order to get into the student council, so that he could make the rest of the council part of his harem. Yeah…

Much of the episode is devoted to his thoughts on this goal, and the girls beating him up (sometimes literally, but mostly using words) over it. Sugisaki is shown to openly play some eroge on the computer in the room at times.

The self-referential, almost self-degrading humor was enjoyable, but at the same time felt a bit overdone, a gimmick that the creators didn’t know when or even how to stop using. The show was laughing at itself more than I was laughing at it.

Then there were the more serious moments, which fell flat. Sugisaki is such a reprihensible, chauvinist character that the only way to like him is to see him as for what he is: an over the top caricature. But at times, particularly at the end, he is more serious and shows genuine affection and sympathy for his fellow members. This just doesn’t work. It’s not making his character deep or multidimensional. It’s stapling on a contradictory characteristic to try to make a truly detestable character more likable.

As for the design and art, I must quote /a/nonymous: “Moe is the cancer that is killing anime.” Now, I don’t agree with that statement, but this show certainly seems to support it. The female characters are, as Sugisaki says, quite cute. But to a fault. The ridiculous pandering results in characters with nothing to call their own, nothing that separates them from any other high school anime out there, right down to the slutty uniforms (as a side note, I’d love to see a light-hearted maybe harem high school show where the girls’ uniforms had a more realistic design, like skirts that reach down past the knees).

So I don’t think I’ll continue with this series. Maybe another episode to give it a chance. I love the type of self referential humor in this show, but I just don’t think it’s being done right in this case. It works well when it’s done all the way to the point of wackiness, as in the case of Szs or done very dryly as in the case of Suzumiya Haruhi. But trying to mix in seriousness with the over-the-top wackiness is very difficult, and this episode didn’t pull it off.

Notes:

  • Here is the Anime News Network page of the show.
  • According to a posting on Random Curiosity, Bakemonogatari episode 13 will be shown online on October 28, same time as the Mayoi Snail arc DVD/BD release. Can’t wait for it.
  • On another post on Random Curiosity, there will be a movie based on The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, one of the novels in the light novel series. Head over to the posting to see a short teaser. Supposed to come out Spring 2010. I was greatly disappointed by S2 of Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but knowing how good the first season was, I know that KyoAni has the potential and the ability to do this right. Let’s hope it turns out well.
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