A quick note on my plans for this show: it appears that S2 of Seitokai no Ichizon is going to be a web-only broadcast this season, on Niconico (the same as Ebiten) followed by a traditional TV broadcast next season. The quality of the video is so poor for these webisodes that I’m probably going to wait and cover it in the Winter – just looking at the screencaps hurts my eyes, as if the pants on the school uniform weren’t hideous enough…
So I’ll summarize this prequel “Episode 00” – or, “Z”, or “Crimson” – briefly. It’s great to have SnI back. This was one of my favorite comedies of the last few years – smart, with snappy dialogue and great timing, and a good sense of drama to boot. There have been some changes – in studio, from DEEN to AIC (the only time I’ve ever heard anyone complain that a series isn’t animated by DEEN). And two major cast changes, with Chizuru changing from Saitou Yuka to Mina, and Mafuyu changing from Horinaka Yuki to Nomizu Iori. As these two are nearly absent from the episode I’ll withhold judgment for the moment, and as the encode is LQ I’ll also withhold judgment on the overall look. The character designs look fundamentally fine to me, and the animation seems OK – it was never all that slick in the first place, so no big deal there.
Episode 00 focuses mostly on hero Sugisaki Ken (Kondo Takashi) and his quest to secure a seat on the student council by becoming the #1 ranked student in school. His rival for the score – though not, as it turns out, the seat – is Minase Runa (Kosuge Mami) a megane. girl who also works as a shop assistant at the store where Ken picks up his dating VNs. While the overall tone of the episode is relatively serious by SnI standards, the interaction between Ken and Minase is excellent, and I found the episode to be consistent with what I loved about the first season. It’s only in the last few moments, when we return to the present, that the more familiar madcap tone and fourth-wall breaking really enters the picture.
I’m not sure this would be the best introduction to SnI for the new viewer – it’s anything but a typical episode, and watching the first season is a much better idea. But for fans of the material it’s no surprise that the series can be fairly low-key and serious when it wants to be, and I think the essence of why the characters and premise are successful shine through. As to the cast changes we’ll just have to wait and see, but for me the characters who are most vital to the show’s success are Ken – one of the best main characters in the genre – and Kaichou Sakurano Kurimu (Honda Mariko), who consistently makes me laugh more than anyone in the cast, and both of them are unchanged. I expect this to once again be a very funny and occasionally moving series – I just wish it were getting a traditional broadcast this season.