Hen Semi (or Zemi for some) is one of those under-the-radar shows that hardly got the attention they deserved. I mean this show has a hundred times more context and ten times more sex humor than an average anime show and yet very few care about it. That is just sad; the industry is going through hard times and most result to rehashing the same old boring but safe formulas, and this show takes a step forward to be uncommon and not many paid attention to it. Well here I am, I paid attention and I am telling you to throw away your Baka no Tests and your Dog Days and your B Gata H Keis BS and watch this anime instead. You will never bother with those soups again after you taste the bon fillet that is Hen Semi.
The first thing that makes this show so good is the erotic humor. It is so bold that it is not JUST bordering hentai; at times it actually IS hentai. Well, you won’t see anything actual on screen but there are several cases were the characters admit they did it. And not just casually and normally; that is just boring. The name of the anime is short for Hentai Seminar, and thus the characters are constantly studying the cause and effect of deviance on a person’s mentality. That means that they are constantly doing the most depraved things you can possibly imagine and DAMN is it funny. Well, I can’t describe it so you just have to watch it for yourselves. Down to it I love it for being REAL erotic humor and not juvenile, watered down, or NOT EVEN EROTIC as most ecchi shows want to make you believe they are. The characters here don’t get nosebleeds over a pantsu shot, nor do they blush because someone is not wearing a shirt. That is NOT erotic at all. In Hen Semi you will see how the experienced are almost cynical about things a hundred times more bold. And not just theories or words either. They “actually” do it and have lots of fun instead of crying and running away like it’s a bad thing. Forget those ball-less characters and just have fun with the (almost) real thing, times hundred.
The second thing that makes it good is the characters. They are not just stereotypes defined by a few personality quirks. Half the duration is spent on getting to know them as people. They don’t indulge into all this deviance without a mindset; they actually explain why they like doing it, how their childhood experiences were the root of their fetishes, how it opens up their horizons. All this erotic humor is not just there to provide shallow entertainment; it also serves as a way to delve into their minds and getting to know them through their dark side. Thus they weren’t born the way they are, nor do they do all those depraved things without an in-story reason. It is all very well excused and makes them far more than ephemeral fapping material. I really did those guys.
Another less important aspect of the show is the subtle story continuity. Although it appears to be episodic on first glance, it actually uses information from earlier events in later episodes, thus there is a sort of light development going on here. It is nothing much but it does show how the characters change and so do their relationships. The story and the characters are evolving along the way, which is a thing rare in comedies yet a sign of quality.
The production values are nothing much in terms of animation or soundtrack but they are quite bold in what they show and they use lots of artistic censorship in both image and words to cover up the obvious, which makes it even funnier and special. The characters are drawn to look cute and innocent as well, yet they are all beasts of deviance inside, which again makes the jokes even better.
I highly recommend this show not just to ecchi fans but to people who want substance in places they would normally not find. This show is a lot better than it appears to be.
Panty and Stocking
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (typical)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (artistic censorship)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (typical)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (loose)
Complexity 2/2 (interesting themes)
Plausibility 1/2 (so-so)
Conclusion 0/2 (none)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (vivid)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 0/2 (none)
VALUE SECTION: 6/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you dig its style)
Memorability 4/4 (extreme to the point of forever remembering it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Art 0/1 (looks lazy)
Sound 0/2 (sounds boring)
Story 1/3 (good concept but loose plot)
Characters 3/4 (they are zanny)