First Impressions Digest – Seiren, Fuuka, Demi-chan wa Kataritai

Seiren – 01

I certainly didn’t dislike Amagami SS, though as a whole it was nothing special.  It was one of the better examples (especially the first season) of the omnibus romance format that was all the rage for VN adaptations for a while.  Also it featured Morishima Haruka, one of my all-time anime crushes, and that can’t be a bad thing.  So when Seiren came down the pike I didn’t think much about it, but when I saw the PV this week it did remind me that I sort of liked the original series.

Things have shifted over to Studio Gokumi (does AIC even exist anymore?)  but Amagami SS+ Plus director Kobayashi Tomoki provides some continuity (he’s very experienced and quite good, having Sola among other shows on his resume).  And things feel pretty much like a third season of Amagami, though most of the names have changed.  The new MC is an underachieving plain yogurt named Kamita Shouichi.  His best friend and literature tutor is Nanasaki Ikuo, who’s of course the younger brother of one of the original heroines Nanasaki Ai.  Shouichi has an older sister too, though I don’t remember Tomoe from the original show.  Their relationship is actually the best part of the premiere for me – it’s very natural and rather sweet.

As for the heroines, in Amagami fashion they all make cameos in the setup episode, though it seems like Tsuneki Hikari (Karakai Jouzu no Tsuneki-san) makes the biggest first impression.  She loves to tease the boy she likes in classic elementary-middle school style, and it’s obvious she likes Shouichi (though to be fair, he’s one of those boys who gets teased by pretty much every girl).  None of the motivations for the other girls are really clear yet, but we get a decent sense of who Shouichi is for a first episode, and Ikuo seems like an actual character in his own right rather than a prop.

It’s all fine, very pleasant, nothing too exciting – I suppose we’ll see how interesting the romance side is, and that will decide things.  But one of the things I rather like about Amagami is that while it certainly trades in gender stereotypes and objectification sometimes, it never gets too mean about it by anime standards.  Both the boys and girls are people and there’s some genuine affection between them, and on the whole that makes the franchise rather more likeable than most of its kind.

 

Fuuka – 01

That may be the fastest I’ve ever dropped a series.  Less than two minutes – it’s close.

Listen, I’ve seen worse (barely) than the intro to Fuuka.  But here’s the thing that struck me: what does it say about a series that this is how it chooses to introduce itself?  Sure, it’d likely get better – and probably even suck me in a little.  But what do I want to persevere for?  What’s eventually going to happen with a Seo series, even if I decide to stick it out?  I’ll hate it sooner or later anyway and my bucket list if full of things I’d rather be doing (including re-watching anime I actually like).  So fuck this.

 

Demi-chan wa Kataritai – 01

This was certainly more pleasant than Fuuka, though that’s a pretty low bar.  Demi-chan wasn’t really on my radar but a couple of folks recommended I check it out, and I watch most first eps anyway.  I guess I was hoping it might turn out to be this season’s Flying Witch for me, but I didn’t find it anywhere near that charming.

Basically this strikes me as a cute demi-human girls doing cute things” show – which is fine, if that’s your thing.  It’s cute and not too obnoxious but I don’t see anything here to differentiate it from the thousands (it just seems that way) of clones out there apart from the hook – I mean, all the male students are movable mannequins and all the girls talk in hyper-self aware kawaii slang and there’s implied yuri all over the place.  Does it really matter if some of them carry their head around on a pillow?  Also, having just watched Ao no Exorcist it’s stark reminder that production budgets seem to vary more with A-1 than any other production house – they run the gamut from platinum to tin.

About that “hook” though, let me just get this off my chest.  In case you think the world was created in 2007 or something, please realize that this specific premise has already been done – Petopeto-san did it far, far better, with a balanced cast and infinitely more social awareness.  I’m trying to find some way Demi-chan isn’t a blatant ripoff of that show, but so far I haven’t had any luck.

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8 comments

  1. R

    I can’t believe you didn’t like Demi-chan wa Kataritai (okay, I can) but don’t insult the animation quality. I thought you’d appreciate the MC being an older biology teacher and some run of the mill high school boy. I still can’t call whether or not you’ll be into a series with 100 percent accuracy, there’s always some things that seem inconsistent to me in what elements make or break a show for you.

  2. He’s a lump. If he’s a lump, what does it matter if he’s an adult or a kid? He didn’t strike me as an especially interesting person based on one episode – just a device to get the story to the vamping.

    TBH I have an axe to grind here, because Demi-chan strikes me as so transparently a ripoff of Petopeto-san. Except without the authenticity and the biting social commentary. Maybe it’s just the difference a decade has made in anime.

  3. Must admit that I literally chuckled aloud at hearing of how fast you dropped Fuuka – you are a braver man than me in that respect.

    As for Demi-chan … coming from another viewer who also loved Petopeto-san, to me they are two extremely different series. Demi-chan is sort of a quiet look at the demi’s. It does touch on a couple of very general themes that are similar as Petopeto-san, but in a different way. I guess the focus is more “slice of life’y”, yes … and curiously you are not the first person who has mentioned that it reminded them a little of “Flying Witch” – which was surprising for me; it had never occurred to me to compare the two stories.

    In many ways the core of the series is in the actual discussions the teacher has with the demi and shedding light on their mutations using contemporary vocabulary and concepts while dispelling some of the large body of folklore and rumors and myths that have grown up around them. Different folks have different struggles (the quiet focusing on the other human students not knowing how to speak or even if they should speak about the dullahan carrying her head around is an example), but in general it is a “quiet” story that is “oddly semi-scholarly and semi-comedy” all rolled up in a slice-of-life burrito wrap, I guess?

  4. I had never heard about this Petopeto-san so I’ll try to check it out. I thought of “Flying Witch” too regarding Demi-chan but only with regards to how it treats the mundane side of the supernatural – atmosphere and mood are very different. You could alternatively describe this as a less bonkers “Actually I am…”, I suppose.

    Personally I liked the way it used its conceit to imagine a lot of very subtle details about how the lives of these weird mutants work. It’s still early to tell whether the male MC is a grown-up Potato-kun or has some personality – I imagine that could emerge from his future interactions with Succubus-sensei, who I’d bet will turn out to be a romantic interest.

  5. I tried to read a bit of Seo’s works back in the day, but it didn’t stick. Not really because of the you-know-what, they’re just… fundamentally not good.

    Who’s your favorite mangaka in terms of romance series/writing, Enzo?

  6. I don’t read many romance manga to be honest. I think Adachi writes romance very well (sometimes), but romance is only one part of what his series are about. There’s probably no one mangaka I could point to and say they’re a “favorite” in the romance department.

  7. I’m surprised that you’d compare Demi-chan to Petopeto-san, because their struggles and parallels with racism are more like the mutants in X-men minus the campy superheroics.

    Having read the manga, I like the sensei a lot. He reminds me of the Producer in Im@s: Cinderella Girls, and he serves more as a mentor and guardian to the schoolgirls instead of being a run-of-the mill harem protagonist. But if you’ve never liked the Producer in Im@s, I doubt you’d ever like him.

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