Seiren – 04
We’ve reached the end of the Tsuneki Arc of Seiren, and it was an ending that stands out as quite different from the ones we typically got in Amagami SS. On balance I’d say it was pretty realistic, but if you asked me whether it was satisfying I’d have a harder time affirming that. Of course not everything that happens in life has a specific point – most things, in fact, don’t. But since this is a piece of narrative fiction I do think it’s fair to ask: what was the point?
In point of fact this was a rather odd final episode in many ways, starting with Hikari’s muted reaction to the way her “friend” ratted her out to the Morals Committee (living in the times we are, that phrase sounds especially ominous) in order to shoot down her chances with Araki. Frankly that kind of “all’s fair in love and war” bullshit annoys me, and given how much piss and vinegar Hikari has generally displayed thus far, she disappointed me there. There’s also the larger question of the way she’s treated Shouichi, which on the whole I think has been pretty lousy. I expect the male MC to be hated by the fans in series like this – it’s basically a given. But Shouichi has done an awful lot for her, and he deserved better than to be cold-shouldered to protect her reputation.
In fact I give Shou credit for being rather persistent in his understated pursuit of Kaneki-san, and even a bit forceful at times. I think their courtship has been halting and clumsy in an endearingly realistic way – they’re typical kids who don’t really know what they want, except that they’re hot and bothered about each other. I though when things ended up at the beach we might be in for something a little more definitive, but before Shouichi could even properly confess Hikari cut him off and told him she’d be going “far away” (she wasn’t kidding) to study cooking. As such, she didn’t want to start a relationship that would be doomed to break up when they graduated in a year anyway.
So there. It was an interesting way to end the arc – no romance at all apart from an undersea kiss. You could call the flash-forward an open-ended conclusion, but using those is kind of a cop-out – the arc properly ended with Tsuneki going to away to Spain. Again, realistic enough but ultimately unsatisfying – for me at least. I sort of liked Hikari (I’d put her in the middle of the pack of Amagami heroines) but I hope in the next round Shouichi finds someone who treats him with a little more respect.
Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujou Ou-hen – 05
Meanwhile, on Ao no Exorcist, some stuff actually happened this week. And that’s a good thing, since the first three episodes have felt something like an extended rehash of the first two-thirds of Season One.
I’m not certain at this point if I’m going to continue with either of these series, but AoEx seems to be the more in jeopardy. Essentially I see two major issues. First, there seems to be very little progression with the major themes of the story. Rin is still struggling to control his Satanic side (at least he managed to light the damn candles) and his friends are still for the most part showing a disheartening lack of loyalty. And second, there’s too much treading water in terms of the plot. The character development just isn’t subtle and complex enough here to merit the actual plot progression being as slow as it is – there’s no way it should have taken us four episodes to get where we are right now.
That said, there were a few encouraging signs in the second half of this episode. While it was galling to see Rin lose his cool and erupt in blue flame yet again when he knows the consequences (this show really takes the trope of the hotheaded teen boy doing dumb things out of youthful passion too an extreme), the moment when he confronted Bon over his condemnation of his father was the strongest of the season so far. I’ve always thought the stuff involving Rin and Yukio’s relationship with Shirou was the most emotionally effective element in AoEx, and he spoke with real moral authority when he chastised Bon for his disloyalty (though of course, we still don’t know just what Bon’s father is up to).
Plus, Kuro was really cute.