Make Seiren great again.
So Tooru was widely touted as the heroine who’d make Seiren great
again. Is she delivering? Mm, kind of. I think she’s better than Hikari, but featuring a better girl doesn’t automatically mean that the route will improve by a great deal. It still feels like something’s off. Like it’s still very much a poor man’s Amagami. Even though Tooru and her rhombus-shaped pupils are super cute and she’s a generally likeable heroine, they haven’t done very much with her character so far and I think this is a huge part of why Seiren has been falling short in general. The same happened with Hikari – things happened, and there were events depicted in each episode, but they didn’t necessarily have much to do with her romance with Shouichi at all until the third episode at least, and that’s a little too slow-paced for my liking. With Tooru, the only scene of real value to the romantic aspects of the route was when she went to that cafe with Shouichi and had their deer mate with each other. I guess it was also quite helpful for Ikuo to confirm that he wouldn’t end up as a rival to Shouichi this arc. They could definitely have had a conflict along those lines – remember how we never found out why he was so happy at the end of Hikari’s route? The most obvious explanation would be that he found himself a girlfriend. It’s not impossible for that girl to have been Tooru, but it seems like it’s more likely to be his first love at that cram school at this rate. As for Araki, there’s no way that furry is actually into real girls. He was interested in that bunny strap not because Tooru made it, but because it had a freaking bunny on it.
Speaking of which, Shouichi isn’t doing much to help his case either. Giving away that strap at the end of last episode seems nonsensical. If I were Tooru, I’d feel quite hurt that something I’d hand-crafted for someone was just given away to a random kid just like that. It’s honestly worrying me a little that we’re going to get a repeat of the Hikari route with a botched ending, not least of all because next week’s episode looks like it’ll reveal that Tooru is a brocon. There’s also all that stuff that Hikari implied about how Shouichi will have trouble staying around Tooru, and it seems like the crux of it is that it’s hard for anyone to keep up with her gaming habits. These games are super strange, by the way. Driving around and ticking off bus stops? Feeding and stroking deer? Some furry game about rabbits?
I’m also slightly confused about the timing of Tooru’s route. There seems to be a bit of inconsistency, and I’m not sure whether that’s just because it’s anime-original or if it’s something else. Does this happen way before the finals? I presume Ikuo and Araki will stop gaming as much to focus on exams, leaving Tooru and Shouichi by themselves more often? From a VN perspective (although I know this isn’t a VN) it’s really hard to see where the routes diverge. I assumed that the first episode was a common starting point, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I was also really surprised that Hikari seemed to have a strangely different personality from the way she was in her own route. It felt like she didn’t think much of Shouichi at all, which to me is really strange because back in the first episode, even before her own route properly started, she didn’t seem as antagonistic towards him as she was here. It might just have something to do with her history with Tooru, but then that brings up a related issue – that we had no idea she was a former gamer until now, or that she had anything to do with games. It’s a completely unknown side of her personality that was never explored in her own route, and it could have been something really nice for her to bond with Shouichi over, since it was established very early on that the latter liked gaming. You know, as opposed to one midnight snack and him perving out over almost every part of her body all the time.
Still a more enjoyable route in general, though. Tooru a cute! A CUTE!