Reviews of yesteryear: Sekirei

I don’t know why people ask me to review harem anime. Yes, I’ve found a few that I liked, but most of them are heavily misogynistic and treat the women like prizes to be won or vapid automatons that have been programmed to chase after this one very ordinary guy regardless of how he treats them or how obviously he rejects them. Who knows, maybe my general distaste for the genre makes people want reviews to see if their particular one will be one of the exceptions or maybe it’s a case of people wanting to see me tear an anime a new one and they figure a harem title has a good chance of filling that role. The series was created by the manga artist, Gokurakuin Sakurako or Sakura Ashika. An artist best known for her shounen ai. The anime adaptation was handled by Seven Arcs, the studio behind Inukami, which was bad and Mahou Shoujp Lyrical Nanoha, which was good. Let’s take a look at Sekirei and see if it’s one of those rare good harem anime or one of the many that isn’t even remotely worthwhile.

Our story begins with a ronin named Minato who’s just failed to get into University for the second year in a row. As he’s walking down the street a girl, Musubi, falls on top of him. She’s being chased by lightning hurling twins. She grabs Minato and runs. It turns out she’s a Sekirei, a being with super powers that are fully activated by kissing an Ashikabi, which is the title for their masters. Dumbest way to gain super powers ever. The idea is that a hundred and eight of these beings will fight until one is left to claim the ascension prize. The story from there primarily focuses on the various Sekirei that flock to Minato. Just about everything in the series is pretty typical for a harem series. The only real exception is the powered being battle which, as the only potentially interesting element, is pushed into the background. Plus, the execution for what they do have of it is crap. Get this, one of the rules is that Ashikabi are forbidden to mention the Sekirei plan to outsiders, and yet you see the Sekirei fight out in the open where anyone can see them by walking by, opening a window installing a security camera or through various other means. And yet this is supposed to be a secret. That goes past Twilight and to All Star Batman and Robin levels of stupidity. Then we have the whole issue of multiple sekirei having a single master. If only one can win then why would they the vague prize then why would they flock to the same boring dude? It’s just going to lead to major problems later on.

The humour is another element that fails. Sekirei does have an occasional funny joke, but you can count them on the fingers of one hand, assuming a normal number of fingers. The ending is absolute rubbish. They set up for a sequel while having a pandering, arbitrary triumphant moment. The worst aspect of the work as a whole is the absolutely vile treatment of the female characters. They’re quite strongly objectified right down to having masters who can, quite literally, claim them whether they like it or not. This is probably the best example of internalised misogyny I’ve ever seen since it was written by a woman.

The characters are about as nuanced and developed as tissue paper. They’re fully typical for what you almost always see in bad harem anime. You have the ordinary protagonist with no special attributes who you’re supposed to root for because he’s a generically “good” character. The perky and air-headed girl. The more aggressive girl. The loli (ewww) and so on. You will never find a real woman who acts like any of these characters, but they’re designed to appeal to incredibly shallow and hormonal men so… mission accomplished, possibly?

The artwork in this could be generic, but there are several factors that bring it down. The first, and most obvious, being the absurd fan-service. Expect a lot of random panty, ass and breast shots. The fight scenes would be good, but they have the same problem as the action sequences in Highschool of the Dead and Ichiban Ushiro no Daimou, they like to break up the action with fan-service scenes and use the fight scenes as a flimsy excuse to strip the protagonists. Sekirei, stop being stupid. No one is going to do that in a fight. You’re going to aim for causing injuries, not ripping someone’s clothes. The only way you’re going to go for someone’s clothes in an actual fight is if they’ve got loose bits that you can use to pull the person to the ground or to hinder their mobility. Possibly tearing through clothes to get to flesh if one is using a weapon. The backgrounds are largely dull too.

Don’t expect great vocal performances in this. It’s almost certainly a case of dull, uninspired characters having voice actors who are good, but can’t add depth where the script calls for none. And the problem certainly isn’t the actors. You’ve got Hayami Saori (who was good in both Ano Hana and Sasameki Koto), Inoue Marina (who was good in Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight and Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Strikers) but if I give examples of good performances for every voice actor this’ll be exceedingly long. The point to take away from this little exercise is that the actors are capable, their performances in this are just bad. The music is the best part of the series. It isn’t good, it isn’t even mediocre, but it’s not bad.

The yuri factor is a 4/10. There are some decidedly yuri moments in this.

Sekirei is terrible. The story is largely typical harem schlock and the atypical element, super powered characters competing for a prize, has been done by several, vastly superior anime. The characters are a joke, the treatment of the female characters as objects to be collected is appalling. The sheer idiocy of several of the elements is headache inducing and the fan-service is just ridiculous. I will give it some credit for it’s few funny moments and occasional good action sequence, but they certainly aren’t worth sitting through the rest of the series to get to. Final rating 2/10. I just hope the next thing on my review request queue is better. Let me see… Sekirei: Pure Engagement. Insert as many expletives here as you like, it probably won’t be enough. I’m going to take a couple hours to read Gail Simone before moving on to that, but expect the review next week. Incidentally, Pure Engagement is the final review I’ve done but haven’t brought over to this site. I’ll have to find something else to do for you gents and ladies on weekends, but whatever I settle on will have to be just Saturday or Sunday not both. 

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