Summary: Finally, a show that's got more to offer than the summary led me to believe. A high-school life show that subverts enough of the typical cliches to feel just a little bit fresh and different.
Often, I try out a show that seems like it's going to be really boring and generic just to see if my expectations are met. More often than not, the show is exactly what I thought it was going to be, and I wonder why I wasted my time. However, the nice thing about this habit is that every once in a while, I get to be pleasantly surprised. Seitokai Yakuindomo didn't knock my socks off, but it was a hell of a lot more entertaining than the lukewarm harem hijinks that knowledge of the premise had led me to expect.
Read on for what's particularly interesting about this unassuming little high school title.
Probably the most important thing to know about Seitokai Yakunindomo is that, while it's unquestionably a show about a lone guy surrounded by a bunch of girls, it's not a harem anime- or if it is, it's on a technicality only. I was going to say that there's no fanservice, but after going through parts of the episode again I realized that there was some, but it's significantly low-key that I didn't really notice the first time. The blink-and-you'll miss it fanservice is like a breath of fresh air after the hyper-crassness of High School of the Dead (look, I'm not saying it's a bad show- I'm saying it's not for me. Capice?)
Instead of a story about a guy constantly being confronted with boobs and panties, the show is a more realistic take on the idea of a guy hanging out with a group of girls; while he occasionally feels a nosebleed coming on when one of his classmates takes on a sexy pose, more often than not he's stuck rolling his eyes while the girls discuss their periods. The show also pretty much says straight out "look, this isn't going to be one of those harem anime, mmmkay?" I have to admit though, I wonder if this show can sustain thirteen episodes without pulling out a few tired harem routines, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt for now.
While there is a little bit of the "girl beats up guy" humor, thankfully it's kept to the bare minimum, and actually makes sense in context.
The set-up- with new male student Takatoshi being recruited into the student council of a recently integrated, formerly all-girls school- isn't particularly interesting, but like all shows that make good use of cliches instead of wallowing in them, SY doesn't waste time with a whole lot of set-up. Takatoshi is recruited right at the beginning, and then we can spend the rest of the episode basically hanging out with the characters.
None of the characters thus far extend too far beyond typical character types you've seen before; the little, pushy one, the hot and kind of spacey one, and the student council president Alpha Girl. However, one REALLY nice touch is the fact that Alpha Girl (Shino) doesn't take an immediate dislike to our protagonist, and doesn't pretend to. She says right up front that she's interested in him and thinks he would be a good addition to the student council. I can't tell you how much not having to go through the typical tsundere routine adds to the show for me.
Shino's eccentricities are nothing we haven't seen before, but they pull it off with enough charm that it's still entertaining to watch her do her schtick.
What's most interesting to me is the this show is the third in a trio (the first being Chu-Bra!! during the winter season and B Gata H Kei in the spring) that deals with sex from a female perspective. I don't know what this means or if it's indicative of anything significant, but I'm interested to see how it develops from that angle. One of the reasons that Takatoshi is of interest to Shino and co. is that they see guys as kind of mysterious, and want an excuse to get to know one. Usually, it's the female characters that are the mysterious "other", while the males are assumed to be our vantage point. It's an interesting dynamic to have the main character only partially serve as the POV character- at this point, it seems to be almost as much about how the girls see him than vice versa.
The animation is surprisingly fluid, and the character designs are somewhere between Ken Akumatsu's designs for Negima! and Clamp's famous string-bean people- kind of a strange hybrid, but I find myself liking the elongated character designs. A big part of the appeal of this show is how it looks.
Like a lot of shows that start out promising, I'm afraid this show is going to repeat the same jokes and start to get tiring by about episode 5. Still, based on the quality of this one episode, it's the pleasant surprise of the season for me.
From other sites around the web