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[R2 DVD art.]
AKA: セキレイ (Japanese)
Genre: Action, comedy.
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by FUNimation.
Content Rating: 13+ (Violence, fanservice, redshirt offscreen death.)
Related Series: Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~ (season 2), Sekirei OAV
Also Recommended: My-Hime, Fate/Stay Night.
Notes: Based on manga by Sakurako Gokurakuin, serialized in Young Gangan.
Rating: Two StarsTwo Stars
 

Sekirei

Synopsis

Having failed in his second attempt to get into college, Minato Sahashi is at a loss of what to do. As fate would have it, however, a girl falls out of the sky and lands right on top of him. Her name is Musubi, and she's a Sekirei, a girl destined to become involved in a large-scale battle. She immediately takes Minato as an Ashikabi -- a special partner who has the ability to grant her powers with a serious upgrade -- and together they set out to find their path.

The two move into an apartment complex which is already inhabited by various girls, and... hm? What do you mean it all sounds very familiar for some reason?


Review

I realize that coming up with something original gets harder by the day. And it's not like I haven't seen my share of knockoffs already, both good and bad, but it has to be said anyway; Sekirei is one of the most derivative, by-the-numbers shounen series I have laid my eyes on for quite some time. But don't take my word for it. Let's do a rundown of a few of the elements you see in the first episode alone.

Boy fails to get into college, moves into dorm with a group of girls? Check. (Although we've already covered this one.)
Boy and girl team up to fight others of the same kind for some sort of intangible reward connected with "heaven" somehow? Check.
The girls seems to be tied to some sort of ancient or alien technology, and a kiss awakens their full potential. Check and check.

Hell, even when Minato and Musubi were sitting outside in the rain after having visited several realtors in an attempt at finding a new place to stay after Minato was evicted from his earlier homestay for bringing girls into the premises, I hysterically wondered what he did with his motorcycle.

I guess it's always possible that the creators of Sekirei eventually figured out that lending elements so frivolously probably wouldn't be a good idea in the long run, so -- to be fair -- the similarities pretty much go away after a couple of episodes. That's not to say the show turns all that much more interesting, though. The problem with it is basically that it tries to come off as more well-written than it really is, which it does by tossing out several lures in the form of story elements that never really gets followed up on for the rest of its runtime. It does its darnedest to appear all secretive and mysterious, which only works when you actually DELIVER said secrets at some time during the show. Or at the very least some of them. And, I guess, the creators of Sekirei realized this too. So what do they throw in your face to distract you?

Big balloonious boobies. At least half of the girls in this show are just as voluptuous as most of the girls in Divergence Eve, or at least somewhat close. Also, the battles -- the few there are (more on that later) -- tend to only rip clothes, leaving the girls to cover up whatever remains of their dignity with their bare hands.

And in case you were wondering; yes, there are bathing scenes. Curiously enough, none of those takes place in a hotspring or at a beach. In fact, all of them are limited to the bathing area of the boarding house our main team find in the second episode. To make up for that, however, most episodes tend to feature one of those. There's even some uniform shenanigans in the middle set of episodes. Sekirei certainly knows what its audience likes.

Well, ok... not really. Thing is, I mentioned that this show has a nasty tendency to throw the audience several bones, only to have said audience realize that there are absolutely no meat on any of them whatsoever. Which is fine if you're a dog, I guess. It's also one of the biggest teases ever; it's a show about fights between super-powered girls, and yet there are hardly any fights to be had. Most of the time, the Sekirei participants meet, only to throw off a half-hearted attack just to showcase exactly what kind of powers they have. Then, they talk some, and the fight is either blown off or interrupted somehow, and we're back to square one. I don't think I've ever seen a fighting show that has so little fighting in it.

The characters are equally shallow. We know little else about the main lead other than that he wanted to get into college, and that he's... nice. Groundbreaking originality there to be sure. Most of the girls (there's a few male Sekirei, actually, but they're strictly a minority that noone probably cares about anyway) are, likewise, simply made to cater to a specific audience. Musubi is your average ditzy, cheerful airhead. There's also the angry, hardheaded girl, the little girl who likes her "onii-chan" and the somewhat crazed, secretive hacker girl. And those are the ones that get a bareboned minimum of characterisation, because Sekirei features a really huge cast of characters, most of which barely get any screentime at all, and only to add the aforementioned angles that are supposed to keep you watching.

And naturally, the comedy fares little better. If you made a wager that most of it consists of the girls bickering over who is the main character's main squeeze, then award yourself a pat on the back. And yes, he does eventually build himself a harem, including, but not limited to, the aforementioned somewhat goth-ish girl with the largest breasts of the lot and a little child whom they rescued out of a tree. (Which actually involves one of the fights in this show that not only starts off, but reaches a conclusion with an actual victor.) Incidentally, Sekirei, thank you for not using said girl for fanservice scenes. I really mean it. Also, the scenes where she finally grows comfortable in her rescuer's presence and finally starts acting like a... well, a kid... is actually fairly amusing, partially because it's also one of the few gags this show doesn't beat to within an inch of its life with a dead horse. (She basically mimicks the people in her vincinity in a "copying the adults" kind of a way. Not to worry, though; it doesn't include any sexual stuff, save for that one prerequisite kiss so that she can get her wings.)

But what really galls me the most, however, is that this show basically pulls the same kind of crap that the Tower of Druaga anime did. With all the non-fighting, we wondered just how they planned on wrapping this show up by the twelve-episode mark. The answer? They didn't. This is all just the beginning. Isn't that great? They do all this building and hyping and building and dropping of hints of greater things behind the scene and more building, and then it just ends with a "things are really starting to heat up now". Well, sorry, Sekirei, but you've been singing that particular tune for the "better" part of twelve episodes, and I ain't listening to it anymore.

Some fun antics save it from the bottom pit, but not by much. Avoid it like you would avoid sweet, sweet promises tailormade for election day.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: While the fights were pretty scarce, they were also fairly brutal, if not necessarily gory. There's also loads of fanservice from a lot of the girls, mostly Minato's harem, but also with some of the other factions we don't really learn a lot about.



Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Sekirei © 2008 Aniplex, MOVIC, Seven Arcs.
 
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