Seiren Episode 12: First Love [Final Impression]
It’s finally over.
A good arc that ended well. What were the odds? I felt like this Shouichi was particularly upfront (‘manlier’, I guess) compared to the Shouichi in the other routes, and that really worked to his advantage. He knew he was in love with Kyouko, and knew that he wanted to go out with her, and acted on that. In the other routes, he felt comparatively more… fumbly, I guess? Not much could have been done about that around Hikari, who tends to be more straightforward and bold in interacting with guys anyway, but Shouichi’s personality was precisely what hurt in Tooru’s route, because she was just as uncertain and wasn’t as keen to take the initiative. Both Shouichi and Tooru were fumbly and so the route had trouble getting anywhere. What changed this time? Ikuo getting rejected, for one. I felt pretty sorry for him, it looked like he took it really badly. It also means his previously chipper attitude at the end of the other routes wasn’t due to him going out with that girl (as this route is set further in the future than the others) but probably because he’d met up with her again and started talking with her. It’s a bit of a shock actually, he’s an ikemen if I’ve ever seen one. The other factor that might have made Shouichi more assertive is probably the fact that Kyouko’s both younger than him and his childhood friend. It might have been harder for him to do that with Tooru. Which means that, ironically, Kyouko being his childhood friend actually saved the route instead of ruined it like what happened with Rihoko in Amagami. Who’d have thought?
I did get slightly frustrated with Kyouko at times. I understand that it’s due to her fear over moving her relationship with Shouichi forward, but I think she gave too strong a message that she wanted to maintain the status quo and keep things as they are. If she really has romantic feelings for Shouichi, and Shouichi was less assertive than he ended up being, Kyouko would never have gotten anywhere. I’m not just referring to the whole ‘onee-san next door’ thing, but also in how she kept trying to avoid meeting with Shouichi on Christmas Eve. Most people would take her response as an implicit rejection – she said she had to be at the stall, then at the meeting afterwards, then she had to clean up after that. I know she does actually have to do those things, but that sort of response suggests she’s not interested, and is trying to indicate exactly that to Shouichi without hurting his feelings. If she were, she’d come up with some other time of her own initiative. Of course, the many scenes involving panties (I have no idea why this was the designated fetish for this route) suggested otherwise, as they were conscious of each other then, but Kyouko was sending mixed messages to me.
Finally, I liked the Founders’ Festival setting. That was important for Ayatsuji-san’s arc in Amagami in particular, so it’s nice to see staples like the Miss Santa contest and the Swim Club’s oden return. As for whether boys want girls that badly on Christmas Eve – it’s more romantic, sure, but it’s not like guys are in heat then. It makes more sense in the context of Amagami, which revolved all around Christmas Eve and the idea of getting a date by then. For those who have watched or played it, you’ll know that Junichi was of course stood up two years before the story starts on Christmas Eve, and from then on he’d always withdrawn himself in at around that time in his self-made planetarium. So there was actual meaning to trying to get a date for the Founders’ Festival, and to find love by the time Christmas rolled around, because that was when he’d previously been hurt and he wanted to make a symbolic change to his love life. He wasn’t suddenly hornier during Christmas, the occasion meant something to him and that was the time limit that you, the player, were given to work with for the duration of the game. Seiren is different as Shouichi never really had that sort of goal (or any goal, really) but it’s fitting that the best route ended up being the one most like Amagami. Gee, I wonder why.
Vantage’s Overall Thoughts
Ah, Seiren. Where do I even start? It was a huge pile of wasted potential, for one. Despite being hyped as the spiritual successor to Amagami, it ended up being a bootleg version of its worst route (probably Sae’s) at best. I can’t believe the two are even related to each other. To Amagami and Kimikiss (the latter of which is Amagami’s own spiritual predecessor), Seiren is probably that disowned family member that no-one really talks about. It didn’t even fulfil its full potential, because there’s no second season (and I doubt there’ll be given its sales) for the other three girls that could potentially have routes, which are Miu (the redhead from the summer camp) Ruise (the DC head and Founders’ Festival chairman) and that first-year from the DC whose name escapes me.
Apart from Kyouko’s route, which was pretty good all things considered, the romances took way too long to get off the ground and never really amounted to much in the other two. The other two were too caught up in their settings. They were about a summer camp and about gaming respectively, not romance. Romance was an add-on. In comparison, Kyouko’s route was about Kyouko’s relationship with Shouichi. That’s an important difference. Shouichi clearly saw Hikari and Tooru as girls, but just seemed overwhelmed by their sexuality and just let that simmer in his fantasies until midway through the fourth episode, and even got rejected by Hikari. What was even up with that route? It’s like the writers were learning on the job, producing increasingly better routes as the show went on. That generally falls in line with my opinion of the girls as characters, too. Kyouko had actual character development for her route, as did Shouichi. You could clearly see the both of them having changed. I guess you could argue a similar thing happened with Hikari, in that she realised she wanted to become a chef, but my reaction to that is disbelief more than anything, because literally the only thing that inspired that was Shouichi telling her that her food was good. And then Shouichi was clearly pining for her even after she’d left the country (and probably moved on, seeing that five years had passed), because he decided to become a dietician and work in the same cafe she used to work in.
I don’t feel like saying much more, I’ve ranted enough during each of my posts. I guess I didn’t hate it (i.e. it wasn’t unwatchable), I’m just disappointed that it’s not what it could have been. If you’re going to advertise yourself as being an Amagami sequel, don’t drag its good name through the mud along with you by crashing and burning.
Nikolita’s Overall Thoughts
I decided to share coverage of Seiren because I had never seen, let alone reviewed, a series with different character routes before. I was familiar with the concept, but it wasn’t something that overly interested me. Then Seiren was on the setlist for the winter season so I thought I’d give it a try.
What do I think? Maybe Seiren wasn’t the best show from this genre to watch. Character development was painfully slow, almost non-existent sometimes. Relationship development was much the same. Also, Hikari in the first route was a (marginally) better character in every other route than her own, where she was a bit of a bitch.
Watching Hikari’s route was like pulling teeth. Toru’s route was much more interesting because of her gamer lifestyle, but as a romantic option she wasn’t much better than Hikari. Kyouko’s route was pretty obviously the one where Shouichi would finally find a girlfriend, but given that the first two routes were lacking I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.
I didn’t really enjoy Seiren as much as I had hoped. Kyouko’s route was the most fun to watch, even though it was somewhat predictable. Though I don’t understand her route’s obsession with panties. :/ To each their own I guess.
Overall, after hearing Vantage sing praises for multiple-route shows like Amagami, I feel a little disappointed by Seiren. I feel like it could have been much more than it was, but instead the ball was dropped a few times. If all the routes had been like Kyouko’s, Seiren would have been a much more enjoyable and memorable show to watch.
Nikolita’s Final Score: 6/10