When it comes to hobbies, watching anime isn’t as highly regarded as other interests such as playing sports. If you declare a fondness for Japanese animation it is not unusual to have people class you as a perv who drools over hentai (adult cartoons in case you didn’t know, it has nothing to do with chickens wearing neck garments.) It’s an unfair criticism as anime comes in all shapes and sizes. Scan the shelves of a stores’ anime section and you will find a range of titles including stuff for kids, comedy, horror, romance, science fiction etc. There’s some pretty deep stuff out there such as Ghost in the Shell, Death Note, Samurai X, Grave of the Fireflies… oh and Sekirei, which stars big breasted ladies tearing clothes off each other. Bah there goes the point I was trying to make.
Sekirei stars a regular student called Minato Sahashi who is struggling to pass his entrance exams to get into college. His world gets turned upside when the city he is living in gets selected by the mysterious MBI Corporation to host “a game” that pits one hundred and eight aliens called Sekireis against each other. Sekireis may look human (a high percentage of them are attractive females as the box art suggests) but unlike us regular homo sapiens they have unique superpowers, which are unlocked when they kiss an Ashikabi. As it turns out Minato is amongst the select group of earthlings who can grant Sekireis powers via smooching, so against his will he gets dragged into the alien conflict after a chance meeting with the lead heroine Musubi. Aliens duking it out until only one remains? This is starting to sound like Highlander… only with fewer swords and more boobs.
As the story progresses Minato bonds with Musubi and recruits more girls to his cause (or rather they force him to become their Ashikabi.) Much hijinks ensues as Sahashi’s harem bickers amongst themselves over who deserves Minato’s affections whilst at the same time battling for their lives against rival Sekirei. Normally when typing out a review I am wary of giving away spoilers, but there isn’t really much else for me to say concerning the show’s plot. It’s not that the series is shallow eye candy, although I am sure there are some critics who would accuse it of that, but that the set only contains the first twelve episodes which comprise season one. On my first viewing I was wondering where things were headed, in terms of story, as after seven episodes we were still being introduced to new characters.
With the ending in sight we get teased with some flashbacks concerning MBI’s origins, where the Sekireis come from and Musubi’s past, but it is nothing substantial. I guess those aspects will get explored further in the follow up once it gets translated and brought over to our shores. Although there is more to come from Sekirei at least the show avoids ending things on an unsatisfactory cliff-hanger. We get a short story arc in the last few episodes that revolves around Minato helping a fellow Ashikabi, who is in love with a weak Sekirei, to flee the city so they don’t have to take part in MBI’s deadly game. The self contained story is a good way of ending the season as it gives us some closure and show cases the abilities of the main cast ahead of their upcoming adventures.
Despite only having twelve episodes to play around with Sekirei manages to give a good amount of screen time to its large supporting cast. From the main characters Minato Sahashi comes across as a regular Joe who is thrust into a surreal situation. He’s not as colourful as the other characters surrounding him, but that works when you consider that he is the hero of the piece. He’s accused of panicking when things get tough, but despite that he does his best to protect his friends despite not having any super powers of his own. His morals are just so you don’t see him taking advantage of the girls throwing themselves at him. Even with heavy flirting he doesn’t make a move (be it due to shyness or convenient interruptions whenever things start to get saucy.)
Of the four main Sekireis Musubi, the good natured super strong lass, comes across as the lead female character. She is upbeat, cheerful and dedicated to Minato although a little naive. She doesn’t even seem to mind when the other girls make a move on Minato. Her chief rival for Minato’s heart is Tsukiumi, a powerful Sekirei who uses the element of water when fighting. When the series begins Tsukiumi is actually against bonding with anyone and even tries to assassinate Minato for a brief spell. Since joining his group her opinions on the matter have however changed drastically. She now considers herself Minato’s wife as she is the mightiest of the quartet. With such sudden mood swings can you blame us guys for not understanding women?
The other two members of Minato’s group are Kusano and Matsu. Kusano is in the show to satisfy the audience who like cute girls (quick someone call Chris Hansen.) She is the most timid girl in the troupe, but when push comes to shove she conquers her fears and helps out via her ability to command plants. The bespectacled Matsu on the other hand is more feisty, but keeps her distance when the action starts. For most of the series she stays home hiding from the MBI who is pursuing her. From the sidelines she supports the team through her computer hacking skills. She might be my favourite of the four ladies, as she loves to cause mischief and is the most direct girl when it comes to seducing Minato which leads to some funny scenes.
It’s hard to judge Sekirei based on this first DVD as it is only the start of the story. After watching the first episode I had a feeling that this would turn out to be a rather mediocre anime. As the season chugged along I did however start to get more into it. The characters may be your typical anime stereotypes, but I still enjoyed watching their humorous interactions. I would give this show four stars and I eagerly await to see how things turn out. If the next season builds on what has been set up I think Sekirei could turn out to be a top tier show. If they go overboard with the quirky romance and neglect the plot surrounding MBI’s game the series could however degenerate into another of those forgettable harem shows.
Without a doubt Sekirei would be classed as a guilty pleasure as it isn’t something I would proudly declare to liking. The reason for that is the heavy fan service that features throughout the twelve episodes. I don’t mind a bit of eye candy every now and then, but this show takes the biscuit when it comes to displaying unrealistic female figures in needless bath scenes. Practically every fight has someone losing their clothing, which is distracting to say the least. How are you supposed to feel concern for the safety of your favourite characters when your eyes are drawn to the cartoon nipples on display? It’s all in good fun though and nothing hardcore (think of it like nudity in Carry on Films) but it’s something they may want to tone down in future editions.
Sekirei is promoted with the tagline “WARNING! Otaku wish fulfilment in the extreme. May feature occasional nudity and Japanese oddness!” It’s no secret that Manga Entertainment are trying to lure the teenage male audience with that type of marketing, but I feel the smut also scares away viewers who may actually like the mix of romance/comedy/action on offer. Sex may sell, but I genuinely believe that the story and characters alone could carry the show. On a totally unrelated topic, could someone please advise me where to buy a new DVD remote? My pause and zoom buttons seem to have worn out from overuse during my screening of the show. I have no idea why.