O Maidens in Your Savage Season
Episodes 1-3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
O Maidens in Your Savage Season ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
O Maidens in Your Savage Season ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
O Maidens in Your Savage Season ?

If there's any time of life more difficult and confusing than adolescence, I haven't found it yet. O Maidens in Your Savage Season, based on the manga of the same name by Mari Okada, really takes that to heart, zeroing in on the way that hormones and an awakening awareness of sexuality can utterly derail you, especially when that comes with conflicting messages about who's doing what, who should be doing what, and the whole ridiculous notion of purity and what that even means. The focus, as the title suggests, is primarily on girls and female sexuality, but Kazusa's childhood friend Izumi provides a little counterbalance in pointing out that guys can be just as confused.

The Izumi/Kazusa storyline is perhaps the most gradual in these opening episodes. It really starts to come to a head in episode three, but it begins in episode one with Kazusa walking in on Izumi masturbating in front of his computer. She's never even imagined that he'd be interested in something like sex and it completely throws her, especially since she's been forced into an awareness of sexuality by the books chosen by the literature club at school. She's known that Izumi is a guy in a terms of attractiveness since middle school, when he became a sort of heartthrob among other girls in class and they began bullying her because of her friendship with him, but this is a whole other level of knowledge – and she's definitely not sure she wanted it. Episode three reveals that Izumi has his own issues with Kazusa realizing that he's male in a sexual sense, but also that he's known since middle school what other girls have been doing to her, and he feels terrible about it. Essentially both of them are completely confused, by themselves, each other, and sexuality in general, and because things have gotten awkward between them, they aren't really able to talk things out.

And both of them truly do want to talk to someone. Izumi'd like to talk to Kazusa, but she's not comfortable with that. She tries to talk to her parents, but her poor phrasing in episode three gets things totally confused, and that leaves her with the books read in Literature Club as her only sources of ready information. (Well, that and parenting manuals she reads in bookstores.) That's something true of all of the girls, really – they're getting most of their ideas and information about sex from fiction. That can be somewhat unreliable, to say the least, because romance novels aren't renowned for their fidelity to physical feasibility and the euphemisms can absolutely get out of control. (I remember reading one in high school involving “man roots” and “pleasure caves” and I'm honestly still not sure what was going on in it.) That the school clearly doesn't think that anything involving sex is appropriate reading material – the assistant principal flat-out calls it filthy in episode two – just reinforces the confusion for Sonezaki and Hongo specifically, albeit in opposite ways.

Hongo is trying to write an erotic novel based solely on sex scenes she's read in fiction, so she's angry that her source material is being discounted – and that her potential editor keeps telling her that her books are “unrealistic,” which especially smarts, because she's really just mimicking what she's read in published works. Her answer is to engage in online sex with an anonymous stranger—who turns out, in episode three, to be a teacher at her school. (That's why you should be careful online, kids!) While this does net the Literature Club an unwilling faculty advisor when she blackmails him, it doesn't solve the bigger issue of what her editor is perhaps unwittingly forcing her into in her zeal to be published. Hopefully the one woman editor in the office we see this week who takes the guys to task for laughing at Hongo's work will step up and mentor her later on, because it would be nice to see someone take Hongo under her wing and help her work through this.

Sonezaki, meanwhile, is buying into the idea that sex is filthy and shameful, even as she resists the idea. She's interested, but ashamed of her interest; she runs away from a boy who tells her she's attractive and seems actively afraid of being seen as attractive. She wants to be able to see sex and sexuality academically, but she's having trouble with that, as we can see this week when she demands that she gets a paper wrapper to hide her perfectly innocuous fashion magazine leaving the bookstore. (She's even reading it specifically in the foreign classics section of the store to hide what she's doing – we get a clear view of The Great Gatsby and Atlas Shrugged on the shelves.) She's trying so hard to be seen as serious.

By this point, it's probably clear that I don't think O Maidens in Your Savage Season can be easily defined as a sex comedy. It feels too true to life. It does seem to have a few issues to iron out in balancing the stories of the five girls – Niina has barely scratched the surface in terms of plot and Momo's been limited to what look like longing glances at Niina, implying that this will not strictly focus on heterosexual experiences, which is important – but overall the show looks like it will be a frank discussion of developing female sexuality and the stigmas that can come with it. With the pastel colors working to create a vague sense of nostalgia and a catchy opening theme, there's a lot to enjoy here, even if the memories the subject matter stirs up aren't necessarily from the best times.

Rating:

O Maidens in Your Savage Season is currently streaming on HIDIVE.


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