Episode 10

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Seiren ?

Seiren was in top form this week, I'm pleased to say. Shoichi's rapport with Kyoko felt as natural as ever, there were plenty of the strangely intimate conversations that define Seiren at its best, and the drama actually proceeded in a coherent fashion. So far, the show's third arc is turning out to be its most consistent by far, offering reasonable if not particularly exceptional romantic action.

A great deal of this arc's success comes down to the fact that Shoichi has finally found a partner he's actually compatible with. In Tsuneki's case, it felt clear at pretty much all times that Shoichi was totally overwhelmed by his crush, making his already lukewarm personality feel even more diminished by comparison. This episode even seemed to throw some shade on that fact, as both Shoichi and Kyoko admitted that Shoichi could never possibly date Tsuneki (Kyoko phrasing this in a particularly brutal way, stating that Shoichi was “far too much of a coward to ever ask Tsuneki out”). In Toru's case, her arc and personality always felt too far removed from reality to ever create a sense of believable drama or chemistry. In Kyoko, Shoichi has finally found someone as mild-mannered as himself, and has the benefit of a lifetime of friendship to offer solidity to their bond.

The conflict of this episode focused on two big issues: the home ec club creating Christmas tree decorations for the school's Founder's Festival, and Shoichi mustering some courage to ask Kyoko out for Christmas Eve. Taking place three months after last episode, this one rambled with relative grace through scenes of the home ec crew crossing barbs with the disciplinary committee chair, both Shoichi and Kyoko seeking romantic advice from Tsuneki, and our two lovebirds discussing all manner of idle topics. The two conflicts gave this episode a clear dramatic thrust while also allowing for the odd conversations that make Seiren unique.

There were certainly plenty of amusingly weird conversations here (I particularly liked Tsuneki's horniness-centric explanation of Christmas), but also lots of the exchanges that demonstrate Seiren's unique and often realistic grasp of conversation dynamics. Kyoko and Shoichi's conversations felt mundane in a way that made them come across as human, and lines like “I guess I'm cake fatigued” or “Let's have Locust Mask reincarnate into tree decorations and make the kids happy” emerged naturally from the fundamental variables of their discussions. Our idle conversations often are strange and ramble toward lines that seem absurd, and this episode really nailed that sense of off-kilter naturalism.

This episode's naturalistic approach also applied to its romantic moments. Seiren has always embraced weird expressions of intimacy, and sequences like Shoichi and Kyoko searching for sewing materials allowed for oddly charged moments like Kyoko trying on Shoichi's old pajamas. At its best, Seiren celebrates the smaller, weirder moments of romance that are often ignored by archetypal romantic dramas, and through both its conversations and dramatic setpieces, this episode demonstrated that quality from start to finish. It's been an uneven road, but it seems like Seiren may finally be pulling off its first unequivocally good arc.

Overall: A-

Seiren is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.

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