We Amagami now.
Firstly, apologies for having written this up so late. Work has increased in volume lately, and I’ve also had to set aside time to compile next season’s preview. I will admit, though, that my lack of enthusiasm over Seiren also played no small part. I remember having said before that it was a poor man’s Amagami, and after two routes it’s clear that it’s a poor man’s Amagami at best.
I did think Tooru’s route was better than Hikari’s, not least of all because it actually had a romantic conclusion (although it looked like it was veering dangerously towards a Rihoko-style ending at first) but overall it wasn’t fantastic. It wasn’t terrible, but it’s also not something particularly memorable, unlike something like Ayatsuji-san’s route in Amagami. I think the original issues I pointed out back in Episode 6 never ended up really being addressed – there were still too many ‘group’ scenes and not enough individual romance, and that’s a recurring problem with Seiren in general. In other words, it’s not focused enough. Even Comiket and the afterparty at Hikari’s cake shop featured the four of them as a group, and that took up the majority of this finale episode. That’s an issue that the route created for itself – because Shouichi got to know Tooru whilst in a group with Ikuo and Araki, it made it so much harder for the story to break itself away from that and focus on their romance together. It ended up having to spend a whole two episodes before Ikuo and Araki dropped out of the picture, and that’s way too slow. And given Shouichi’s visit to Tooru’s house in Episode 7 and the way it ended with the promise of a date, I thought amends were being made. Yet that’s not really what the first half of Episode 8 was about. The only scene of substantive value was the one where Tooru had to go to the toilet, and Shouichi helped her search for where her zip was.
Which brings me onto my next point – that I’ve finally figured out what the difference in fetishes between Seiren and Amagami is. The latter is a lot more tasteful, essentially. It’s still weird, but nothing overtly or blatantly sexual – Junichi was interested in things like bellybuttons or the back of the knee, and I suppose with Ai’s route there was that brief finger sucking scene. But they were all relatively wholesome, in that objectively they’re non-sexual areas of the body. In context, they become lewd. Now compare that to Seiren, which has liked to focus on butts, toilets, panties, pee, and so on. Objectively sexual things. It was far more blatant with Hikari, but even Tooru wasn’t spared this episode. I’ve always thought those photo crowds were pretty creepy, by the way. I know cosplayers are there to have photos taken of them, and you can’t exactly go to an event like Comiket and not expect to be looked at, but I’ve always thought it weird that there’s a tendency in Japan for cosplayers to be in the centre of a circle of men with cameras pointed at them from every angle. I’ve most often seen it at Comiket, and from what I know it’s not like that in Western conventions.
The last seven minutes or so turned extremely Amagami-like. Complete with an actual ‘amagami’ hickey (i.e. ‘playful bite’, like what Miya did as a title drop in the OVA). I actually think that should have been the entire episode – it should have been the date only, the Comiket stuff added nearly nothing. But in the end, it did get to where it needed to be. The ten-year time-skip was also nice. And although I would have liked more of it, there was enough interaction and development between them to the point where it made both of their interest in each other believable. Just about. It’s clear that Shouichi is head over heels for Tooru, but I didn’t really feel like the opposite was as signposted at it should have been. She didn’t seem to discriminate (positively) between Shouichi or anyone else – she never seemed to indicate that there was anything special about him, or that she took some sort of special interest in him beyond that of a gaming friend, just like all the other guys she used to play with. Even when he went to her house, she still talked about how it was unfortunate that Ikuo and Araki couldn’t be with them because that game’s multiplayer mode was a four-player.
Still, she’s a nice girl. I quite like her temperament and character, it’s just what they’ve done with (or what they’ve not done with it, rather) that’s sort of dampened the route for me. Third time lucky with Kyouko?