"Sekirei" Season 1 (Re-release): Boobies Do Not a Good Show Make
Now that I’ve got your attention, read the review.
Sekirei is yet another entry in the tired “battle royale” genre of anime, where super-powered women duel to the death against each other in the hopes of winning “the game”. In this show’s case, the heroine is a sweet, extremely well-endowed gal named Musubi, a “Sekirei” who literally lands on down-on-his-luck teen Minato Sahashi one day. She’s in the heat of a battle with two of her opponents, on a day when most of the city decided to stay indoors for some reason. (And those who are on the street don’t seem to care that three girls are fighting each other with fantastical powers!) Anyway, it turns out that Minato has special genes that allow Musubi to charge her powers, and the two form a partnership, even going so far as to live with each other. This results in hi-larious hijinks where Minato gets embarrassed when the immodest Musubi is half or fully naked around him.
Through a mix-up, Minato is kicked out his apartment, so he and Musubi look for a new place. They stumble across a boarding house where they’re taken in, and Minato’s life only gets weirder from there out: Specifically, more Sekirei keep entering his life. And most of them want to bond with him too. This includes Matsu, a glasses-wearing, flirty hacker whose vast array of far-reaching surveillance equipment goes beyond creepy (Does she watch people in the household while they’re on the toilet? Makes you wonder); Kusano (nicknamed “Kuu”), a young girl who has the ability to control plants and who provides the cute but typical “big brother!” reactions; Kazehana, a sake-lover who can manipulate the wind; and Tsukiumi, a prim and proper woman who can manipulate water and who speaks in upper crust olde English sayings. She wants Minato all to herself, which only accentuates how unoriginal the show is; with all these girls under one roof, all loving the same guy, this is basically a harem show with some fighting as window dressing. This is especially evident when you consider that the Sekireis becomes so friendly with each other that they don’t want to go through with killing each other in the game, despite the rules stating they have to.
I’ll get right to the point: I couldn’t get into this show. There were simply too many characters, introduced one after another to leave much impact, and they were too underdeveloped for me to care about them. The plot is overused “conspiracy run by an evil, major organization” nonsense that’s hard to get into. The dialog is bland and clichéd, particularly Musumi’s determined declaration that she’ll win the tournament no matter what. The character’s outfits are awkward-looking, particularly Tsukiumi’s. Aside from the final two episodes, the battles in this show are short and underwhelming, typically consisting of the characters showcasing their powers and then declaring the equivalent of “We’ll really go at it next time!” And Minato and Musubi’s romance felt underdeveloped and old hat, reciting the same clichéd dialog as we’ve heard in numerous other shows.
What really hurts this show, though, is its lack of relatable characters and situations. That’s not to say that all series should be down-to-earth, and there is something to be said for escapist entertainment in settings and scenarios you couldn’t get in real life. But even amidst fantastic plotlines, there should be something to keep the audience invested, whether it be in its themes, characters, action, or settings. I just felt that there was nothing to latch onto here; unlike some fantasy films which create living, breathing worlds (see The Lord of the Rings), the settings here are nothing unique, and the action isn’t anything special either; characters attack each other with various uninteresting projectile and far-reach moves. We also get the cliché of females’ clothes shredded by an attack while their body is left untouched. I liked that in Ikki Tousen, but this trope is really getting old. Do something new. Moreover, without giving too much away, the series felt pointless, since it was designed solely to set up the sequel series.
If all you want out of this show is fanservice, then I guess you’ve come to the right place, but it certainly doesn’t make the story any better. I can attest that some nipples and bouncing breasts weren’t enough to keep me interested in the show; they could only do so much. (And anyway, why does nearly every woman in the show have mammaries the size of twin basketballs? They come close to being unattractive when they get that big.)
The dub is serviceable but uneven. Alexis Tipton does a good job as Musumi, giving her a genial, gentle tone that fits her character. But there are minor gaffes like Tsukiumi saying “oh hey, landlady”, which seems a bit too informal for her. Some characters, such as Uzume (a character who lives at the boarding house), have pretty obvious accents that just feel out of place. And why does one of the characters hum the Freakazoid! theme song while in the shower? It was strange hearing that in an anime.
With this release, Sekirei is now available in Blu-ray format, but I couldn’t tell you how good or bad the video quality is, because I was only sent the DVD version for review. And unfortunately, the picture is another mediocre FUNi transfer. From a general softness to jaggies to artifacting, it’s very easy to see flaws in the image even if you’re sitting a decent distance away. Also, there’s some tampering with the original video at the end of episodes 1 and 12: a black credits bar is plastered over the bottom of the image, obstructing part of the animation. A similar issue occurred in Birdy the Mighty Decode when the action was squashed into a small box while the credits ran on the right. Why does FUNi continue to do this? It’s actually more work for them to mess with the video, so why not leave it untouched?
Special features on the 2-disc set include clean openings/endings, FUNi trailers, and an 11-minute OAV episode, “Kusano’s First Shopping Trip”. As with many OAVs, it’s comedic filler, this one involving Kusano joining Tsukiumi and Musumi in the daily race to get groceries. Tsukiumi and Musumi want to help Kuu make her first shopping trip a success, so they tail her and guide her in the right direction from afar. It’s cute, but nothing special.
I would say to skip Sekirei, but apparently a lot of you already bought it upon initial release; the series sold quite well for FUNi, and they even picked up the sequel series. So what do I say here? Well, I hope you enjoyed it, because I sure didn’t. I feel like I’ve seen this one before.