The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Seitokai no Ichizon

Title: Seitokai no Ichizon
Genre: Comedy
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2009 – 19 Dec 2009

Synopsis: There are five seats on the Hekiou Academy Student Council, four of which are decided on a popular vote, while the other is reserved for the student with the top grades. That student is Sugisaki Ken, and he is currently the only male member of the student council. On the day that Ken joined the student council, his first announcement was, “I love you. I really love you. Let’s all go out! I swear I’ll make you all happy!” You see, much to the chagrin of the other members, particularly the president Sakurano Kurimu, Ken sees the student council as his own personal harem.

The Highlights
Comedy: A mix of references and repeated character gags that actually works better as the show goes on.
Drama: Serious moments feel forced at first, but (somehow) come together well later.
Backstory: Surprisingly enough, ends up being more memorable than the comedy.
Music: Better than I expected.
Shadenfruede: Moderately humorous, but occasionally gets too extreme.

Seitokai no Ichizon is a funny anime, but not always in the “ha ha” sense. As a comedy, it’s fairly by-the-numbers, taking cues from Lucky Star and not doing all too much to distinguish itself from the ever growing catalogue of assembly-line produced moe meta-comedies. The show is filled with “manatee joke” styled references, some of which are shoehorned in so awkwardly that they have to remind the audience what was going on in the story afterwards, and that’s for the episodes lucky enough to actually have story. And, yet, strangely enough, it was the story that I ended up liking the most about this anime. The irony of the harem setting is that, by the end of the series, it’s completely clear just why the student council is so special to all the characters involved in it.

The comedy is inconsistent, a similar mix of mundane conversations that build to a punchline (or several) and anime-relevant references that marked Lucky Star. Both series are hit-and-miss… some jokes are simply hilarious while others are either far too blatant or far too subtle to impress. There were a couple of episodes in the first half that particularly annoyed me… the swimsuit episode, the Tokyo episode, basically the episodes where the usual schadenfreude against Sugisaki is ramped up and taken to awkward extremes.

By the middle of the show, the comedic formula becomes fairly obvious: the student council gets onto a random topic of conversation, often spawned from the little bits of amateur philosophy Kurimu writes on the whiteboard, and Sugisaki walks around the student council table interviewing each girl on said topic. Along with references to Death Note, Junjo Romantica, Strike Witches, Higurashi and any and every series from KyoAni, the following staple character jokes are generally made: Kurimu is childish, Mafuyu likes games and yaoi, Minatsu is hot-blooded while Chizuru is cold-blooded. Yet, it’s the second half of the show that is much funnier (or maybe I just tuned in with its sense of humour). Akihabara culture and the differences (and similarities) between male otaku and female fujoshi get a couple of really deft backhands, and there’s a certain simple pleasure in seeing how the girls, adamant that they have no romantic interest in Sugisaki, get jealous after a few choice character interactions.

In the earlier episodes, the few dramatic moments feel really forced. The first time they got truly serious, I was certain they were building to a punchline and didn’t know what to think when it didn’t come. However, in the latter episodes, the events start to become more meaningful as we learn the characters’ pasts and come to understand the roles each girl played in Sugisaki’s backstory. At face value, the plot strains belief, but perhaps because the early episodes suggested that this was going to be entirely a meta-comedy, the expectations for story are lowered and it became a little easier to buy the coincidences at the crux of it all. Nonetheless, it’s strange that there’s so much genuine sentiment in an anime that, at the surface, appears fairly cynical. It’s even stranger because that sentiment not only somehow works, but it becomes the show’s highlight.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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