The bubble may tale a little longer than usual to pop this season.
Seiren – 03
I’m still fairly pleased with Seiren, though in all honesty it doesn’t give me all that much to work with as a writer. What can I say, I just like it – there’s a blend of ecchi and innocence to it that the original Amagami SS had that works. In fact this version rather seamlessly continues the narrative of the original, seems to me – I don’t see any dropoff in quality. And there’s just not much out there in anime romcom these days that shoots for this particular vibe.
What I’m seeing in the reactions to Seiren is that viewers just don’t seem to respond to this sort of romance anymore. They either want Shou to be decisive and dominate Tsuneki, or Tsuneki to completely abuse and humiliate him. There’s no appetite for the middle ground these days – conditioning I guess – and my guess is if Amagami SS came out in 2017 it wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it was at the beginning of this decade. In the big picture five or six years is less than a blink, but in anime terms it’s an eternity.
Me, I like the teasing-dancing around the obvious flirtation between Shou and Hikari. Truth is girls often have a measure of power over guys in this age group, and Tsuneki is one of those girls that’s aware of it. It could be argued that she’s mean-spirited in the way she teases him, and she certainly takes him for granted. But on balance it’s not a bad deal for either of them. Shou actually has a relationship with a girl, there’s some healthy adolescent titillation, and nobody really gets hurt.
The real question is whether there’s true romance developing here. One of the frustrations with the omnibus format is that as soon as things get to the stage where a courtship becomes a couple, we’re yanked out of that reality and forced to start over. Seems we’re likely running short on time with this pairing, and I admit we haven’t seen a ton of progression in actual romance terms – not even a bowl of ramen could fast-forward the eroticism that much this time. Shou and Hikari right now are somewhere in-between childhood friends and potential lovers, and I’m assuming they only have one episode left to cross over from the one to the other.
Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujou Ou-hen – 03
I must confess I’m having a harder than expected time getting back into the swing of Ao no Exorcist. It’s tough to put my finger on just exactly why – and it’s always difficult when sequels are this far removed to tell whether it’s the material that’s changed, or me. But in thinking back over the last couple of years there have been quite a few examples of this cycle repeating – Durarara, D.Gray-man, et al. Everything happening on-screen seems fine, but I’m not feeling the magic.
If I were to analyze, things seem to be a bit stuck in neutral at the moment. Rin struggling to control his flames. Shiemi mired in self-doubt (and pity). Bon pissed at everybody, Kitten being an annoying little cantaloupe. Haven’t we kind of seen all this before? The details have changed and it’s been a long time, yeah, but it feels like all that is pretty much what was happening at the “true end” of the first season, before the anime-original arc started.
At this point I guess I’m ready for some hard-core action to kick in, because the character stuff is a bit too familiar. Maybe the kid with the puppet will finally do something, or Yukio (who I’ve always found kind of annoying to be honest, but at the moment I sort of miss his presence) will come back and start screwing over his brother again. There’s the foundation for some good stuff here, but right now nothing much seems to be happening either in terms of plot or character. Weekends are a graveyard this season (which is highly unusual) so I’m under no pressure to make a quick decision on either of these series, but if I’m honest, I’ll be looking forward to the next episode of Seiren more than Ao no Exorcist.