Sekirei

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ThePatches's avatar By ThePatches on Sep 27, 2009

Story

If I had to choose a moniker for Sekirei, it would probably be, "The Little Anime that Couldn't". It offers ecchi fan-service without being racy, peddles action while failing to be engaging, and sports an interesting setup that the show never puts to effective use. While it's possible to read the series as making fun of itself, the harem genre, and tournament-focused shounen shows, a second look reveals that the show means everything it says--much to my dismay.

A quick summary of the series reads like Pokemon, but with tits. The first installment follows the hapless protagonist as he bumbles and sweet talks his way into acquiring of an increasingly powerful and scantily-clad team of humanoid aliens called Sekirei in preparation for a tournament sometime in the near future (read: second season). Thankfully, the parade of buxom woman in various states of undress meshes well with the show's simplistic focus on escalating confrontations. When two Sekirei meet for the first time, they fight. When Minato encounters new potential teammate, there's a fight. When MBI (the evil corporation behind the whole thing) seals off Neo Tokyo, the gang finds an excuse to fight. These high-energy smackdowns, which increase in frequency, participants, and outrageous displays of power as the story progresses, take a good deal of the pressure off the flagging narrative.

The show does demonstrate on occasion that there might be a decent yarn hiding behind all the cheesecake, but then refuses to follow up on any of these more interesting tidbits. For example, the first episode introduces the Sekireis' extra-terrestrial origins, but the subject gets dropped once MBI enters the picture. The dealings between Ashikabis (this world's trainers) also receive cursory treatment due to the series' singular focus on Minato, squandering an opportunity to provide him some character depth by comparison; and glossing over subplots that could have held the viewers' interest between battles. In the Kuu-chan mini-arc, the presence of another girl-wrangler and his cohort add tension and conflict to what would have been a boring meet-and-greet. But where the anime could have used the greedy antagonist to draw out the hero's underlying character traits, the remainder of the series chooses to leave this antagonist as a shadowy figure.


Animation

Sekirei's visuals sport modern coloring and finishing techniques, but lack the consistency of more polished anime. For every excellent water, fire, or lightning effect associated with the fighters' powers, there's a scene where the animation turns blocky or the characters look odd. Additionally, combat sequences cut a lot of corners; the chase scenes or jumping receive the lion's share of screen time that should have gone to the use of the Sekireis' impressive powers or dramatic hand-to-hand fighting. The show also hamstrings its own dramatic buildups by dropping into an unattractive deformed style during important interpersonal moments in a weak attempt to add levity where none is needed.

Additionally, the artists spent their limited imaginations early in the design process, leading to a plethora of derivative cuties. The lead's harem consists of four over-developed beauties in each of the four normal hair colors (blonde, brunette, redhead, raven-haired) and an adorable loli-girl who barely talks. While one character's interesting kimono and another's attractive black dress certainly provide some good eye-candy, two of Minato's girlies basically wear bedsheets, and a third wears an equally-unimaginative purple frock. The remaining cast coughs up such original creations as an outfit cribbed from Kill Bill, a guy dressed up like Neo from The Matrix Reloaded, and a set of twins in matching two-piece zippered cat suits (use the non-furry definition of cat-suit). Since the characters' costumes don't reflect their powers, each design merely allows the viewer to tell Sekirei apart at a glance and nothing more.


Sound

Starting with the bland OP, the series' soundtrack does not disappoint, but also never surprises. Most of the incidental music follows in the grand synth tradition of middling anime, sounding familiar and hitting all of the "right" notes at the expected times. Accompanying an unapologetic fan-service slide show, the bubbly ED ends each episode on a sonic high note--assuming listeners ignore the coyly submissive lyrics ("The truth is I want you to hold only me / I'm feeling turned on / Is it ok to show signs?"). Sadly, the voice acting doesn't deviate from the standard set by the score. None of the characters miss their cues or offend the ears, but the readings add no nuance to the broadly drawn character stereotypes. The only memorable performance comes from Seki Toshihiko as the MBI Chairman; his over the top mannerisms and showman's shouts add much needed camp, but receive tragically little time in the limelight. Be warned, this series also includes a mewling youngster in the form of Kuu-chan. The little girl's cooing would have rapidly gotten annoying save for the fact that her seiyuu makes some entertaining non-speaking sounds.


Characters

Sekirei combines a stereotypical cast with pathetic characterization to fall flat on its face where it could have shined. Given the show's ecchi pedigree, a hollow male lead comes as no surprise, but where other shows provide an interesting harem to make up for a lackluster main protagonist, this series coughs up a laughably generic group for Minato. As the female lead, Musubi's naivete brings in a few good chuckles as she wrestles with modesty, but her eagerness to please and penchant for violence quickly grow stale when she does not develop at all during the first season. The rest of his Sekirei come straight out of central casting: Tsukiumi fell of the truck on the way from the tsundere factory, Kusano follows the textbook definition of imouto to a "T", and Kazehana presents like Shakugan no Shana's Margery Daw with all of the interesting parts removed (but all of her lady-parts intact). Furthermore, the series substitutes mystery in the place of complexity at every opportunity, purposefully obscuring characters' histories so that they can act in unpredictable ways. Luckily, the low episode count both provides a convenient excuse and mitigates the characters' lack of development and unoriginality.

4.5/10 story
6/10 animation
5/10 sound
4/10 characters
5/10 overall
Otaku108's avatar By Otaku108 on Oct 3, 2009

Story/Plot: 5

It was mostly predictable but interesting enough to keep me watching. It's one of those times that predictability is more of a benefit than a hindrance to enjoyment. All in all though, there wasn't much meat to this and sometimes it just seemed like the writer was doing stuff just because they could...

Animation: 6

This varied from so-so to decent, it wasn't ever really bad, and sometimes the designs and fluidity of movement was pretty good. There wasn't anything that truly stood out for me in a good or bad way... unless you count the boobs :\

Sounds/Music: 6

I rarely notice when the background music is playing, and honestly this is typically a good thing since it's generally a mood setter and not something to be individually listened to. This time I did noticed a few points where the music abruptly stopped and I was "wrenched" from one setting to another. To me it should be a bit more fluid and unnoticeable. I wasn't so impressed here but it wasn't something I'll cry about to mommy either.

Characters: 7

Probably the most enjoyable portion of the whole show but even then had it's problems. There also wasn't a whole lot of development in the characters or their relationships but as this is what I suspect to be the first in a few seasons worth of anime I think I can over look that for future growth.

Overall: 7

I found myself laughing many times even during it's predictable moments. Though it did have a few issues, none of them were major. Aside from all that it had a very Ikki Tousen look to it, in other words, huge boobs on 90% of the female characters, clothing made of tissue paper that falls apart in combat, I even found that there were several character parallels between the two shows. A rare moment when the sum is greater than it's parts as you'll soon see.

End Note:

Despite it's glaring deficiencies, Sekrei was a very enjoyable anime. While it won't make my Top Anime list, I will be looking for possible future seasons to see how the story develops.

5/10 story
6/10 animation
6/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
AmimeCow's avatar By AmimeCow on Aug 21, 2011

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7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
hoffstyle's avatar By hoffstyle on Apr 26, 2011

Story: Minato has just failed his college entrance exam for the second time, establishing that he really has not a lot going on in his life when by fate a girl literally falls out of the sky introducing us to Sekirei and the story: Sekirei are 108 intergalactic beings discovered by the head of a generic Conglomerate known as MBI who for reasons unknown to us decides to use these beings in a game known as the Sekirei Plan where each has to fight the other until the last sekirei is standing and whose reward is to be able to spend eternity with her/his Ashikabi. As much as the idea of the story pulls me in, this is where it falls on it's face. While these creatures feel they must fight each other, no one ever seems to be in any real danger unless the main characters are fighting for a reason (i.e. helping another Sekirei and her Ashikabi escape the city) but it is during these confrontations that small glimmers of "Something else is going on that we are not aware of" appear.

Animation: 9, very vivid coloring, and does a great job of contrasting happiness and brightness with dark and foreboding. There is a lot of deformation however, and can be distracting when a character gets frustrated or angry at inopportune times. Nudity is very tasteful when it wants to be, but can become a distraction when it happens again at inopportune times.

Sound: This is where Season One shines. The opening song "Sekirei" is really upbeat, as well as the extremely catchy ending tune "Dear Sweet Heart" puts a smile on your face. The score is well done, down to the RPGesque boss battle sounding music during fights.

Characters: Far far far from one dimensional which is normal for a Harem anime, all the characters grow and begin reaching their potential throughout the series. Most notably Minato, who seems to be a  loser but shows there is much more to him. He truly cares about his Sekirei and there are moments of real heartache that makes you feel how he is feeling. Likewise for his Sekirei, they love him and put themselves through a variety of situations to prove it. Because long story short, this series is about love (not just romance) and is a theme that reveals itself especially at the end of the season.

Overall: A very well made story that will suck you in if you allow it to. As I stated, there is a definate something going on behind the scenes. The "game" as they call it is only part of what is going on. I forsee Sekirei going down a different path in the future. In the meantime enjoy this show.

7/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
8/10 overall
Dralha's avatar By Dralha on Nov 11, 2009

Minato Sahashi has failed the college entrance exam twice, but his life takes a lucky turn when a buxom girl falls out of the sky and lands on him...This ecchi comedy really was a great story, with high-power anime action and harem mayhem, and a dash of mystery in the blend to keep it interesting.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall