Episode 7

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Seiren ?

I'm afraid I'll have to hold off on the “week in Seiren non sequiturs” segment for this writeup. As ready as I was to start picking them out, virtually none of the lines in this episode felt absurdly out-of-place, ridiculous, or sexual in a way that didn't make any sense. Pretty much every conversation this episode furthered both the plot and our understanding of the central characters, all while coming off as naturalistic in a way Seiren is inconsistently capable of accomplishing.

That's right: for this week, Seiren was a legitimately good show.

The episode opened with Shoichi cornering Tsuneki and asking her to explain Toru's “dark past.” This was already satisfying storytelling on two levels. First, on an overall dramatic level, this gracefully avoided using Toru's history as some cheap reveal down the line. Backstories are often used to provide dramatic impact at key moments, but for a story that's trying to resemble real life, having those backstories offer context for characters from the beginning is generally preferable. And second, this choice reflected well on Shoichi. Instead of stewing in doubt about Toru's secrets, he directly confronted the person who'd first mentioned them, displaying some backbone and personal interest without coming off as pushy or obsessive.

Tsuneki's explanation was equally satisfying. Apparently, the pair of them had both been members of a group of girl gamers back in middle school, and some boys had attempted to join their group. Because Toru treats both boys and girls the same, the boys had gotten a false impression of closeness from her - but Toru's interests were purely related to the games, and when she'd crushed enough egos, both the boys and girls abandoned her. Toru's backstory was both totally believable and appropriate for her personality. Additionally, the idea that Shoichi's lack of ego would prevent a similar thing happening again also felt reasonable for his character. Through one well-chosen conflict, this episode was able to make effective use of both Toru's single-minded hobby obsession and Shoichi's kinda limp personality.

The strong character work continued in the next sequence, when Shoichi visited Toru's house after school. Toru's brother offered a reasonable explanation for her early game obsession, and the following conversation about career plans between Toru and Shoichi felt grounded and endearing. The one point that felt perhaps overplayed was Toru's negative reaction to the group's breakdown; but even if that felt slightly out of step emotionally, it was still where this set of conflicts was always going to go.

The episode's final act was even visually compelling, which has pretty much never been the case for this show. After a charming afternoon of gaming at an old-fashioned arcade, a scene of renewed intimacy between Shoichi and Toru made excellent use of the arcade's neon backlighting. The glow of the light seemed to cast a warm haze over their conversation, and shots focused on their shadows made Shoichi's offer of a band-aid feel almost like a proposal. By the end of that sequence, I was fully on board with their relationship, happy to see the episode end on them reaching a new level of both self-assurance and confidence in their bond.

In short, I have basically no complaints about this one. There was virtually none of the dramatic aimlessness or situational absurdity that generally derails the show's storytelling - this episode really felt like two full-fledged teenagers starting a relationship. Congratulations Seiren, you nailed it this time.

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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