Shelf Life Sekirei
by Paul Jensen,
I'm not sure what kind of licensing deal led to every episode of ReLIFE being available at once, but it's kind of convenient. By the time I finish watching it, I should have a backlog of at least a couple episodes to binge through on all the other shows I'm following this season. Gotta love not having to wait a week after every single cliffhanger ending. Welcome to Shelf Life.
Jump to this week's review:
On Shelves This Week
A Certain Magical Index II - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 600 min - Hyb - MSRP $49.98
Currently cheapest at: $37.49 Right Stuf
Synopsis: Index and Kamijo's troubles continue as they are drawn into the search for a powerful grimoire called The Book of the Law.
Synopsis: Ichigo's life is changed forever when he meets a Soul Reaper named Rukia and acquires the power to fight against evil spirits called Hollows.
Extra: Bleach has been around for a long time, but this the first time it's been available on Blu-Ray in the US. You'll find reviews from the show's early days here and here, and your streaming options include Crunchyroll and Hulu.
Synopsis: Tired of living paycheck to paycheck, Kimimaro agrees to put his life on the line in a mysterious realm called the Financial District in exchange for a huge sum of money.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices - [Sentai Selects] BD+DVD
Sentai - 116 min - Hyb - MSRP $19.98
Currently cheapest at: $12.72 Barnes and Noble
Synopsis: After her father dies, Asuna spends most of her time listening to the crystal radio that he left behind. Her search for the meaning behind the unusual music that the radio plays leads her to a strange and hidden world.
Synopsis: In a utopian world managed by a complex computer network, an antique electronics collector named Clain finds himself caught between two dangerous factions after saving a runaway girl.
Kamisama Kiss - Complete Collection [S.A.V.E.] BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $29.98
Currently cheapest at: $22.49 Right Stuf
Synopsis: When ordinary high school girl Nanami becomes a Land God, she relies on a fox spirit named Tomoe to help her deal with the responsibilities and romantic predicaments that come with her new job.
Synopsis: As a new employee at a high-tech company, Tsukasa's job is to help collect humanoid androids that have been in use long enough to become unstable.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie - Parts 1 and 2 BD
Aniplex - 241 min - Hyb - MSRP $84.98
Currently cheapest at: $69.98 Right Stuf
Synopsis: Eighth grade student Madoka's life takes a dangerous turn when she makes a contract with a mysterious creature named Kyubey and becomes a magical girl.
Synopsis: Tennis enthusiast Asuna and the other members of her school team are aiming to for the championship, but the team's laid-back atmosphere and abundance of quirky characters make it more of a social club.
Extra: We've got a handful of Preview Guide entries for this show, but that's about it. I also wasn't able to find it streaming anywhere, so enlighten your fellow readers in the comments if you've seen it.
Synopsis: As her search for the legendary dragons continues, Yona must hone her fighting skills and avoid Su-Won's army.
Shelf Life Reviews
We're taking a trip into the wild world of fanservice this week with my review of the Anime Classics rerelease of Sekirei.
The series starts off with a luckless slacker named Minato, who finds himself searching for his purpose in life after failing his college entrance exams twice. That purpose arrives in the form of Musubi, a super-powered girl who falls out of the sky and lands on top of poor Minato. Musubi is a Sekirei, a special life form who can unleash some potent supernatural powers with the help of a human partner. She immediately takes a liking to Minato, and ends up getting him involved in an ongoing battle to be the last Sekirei standing. This citywide free for all is overseen by a shady corporation called MBI, and Minato's sense of justice eventually leads him to oppose the company's villainous boss. Naturally, he'll have to recruit a few more incredibly busty women if he's going to win the tournament and stick it to the man.
Sekirei is a pretty good fanservice show, particularly in its first season. The animation is decent enough and the character designs are up to par. The girls' busts seem unaffected by the laws of physics as we know them, but that's hardly unusual for this genre. Crucially, the writing and direction are able to walk the fine line that makes a fanservice series silly and entertaining instead of generic and sleazy. Musubi manages to make the bubbly airhead routine work, and Minato has enough of a personality to keep him out of the bottomless abyss of bland harem protagonists. The show as a whole seems happy to be doing what it's doing, and that positive energy allows it to fill the screen with cleavage and get away with it. It feels like it's embracing the tropes of the genre rather than just cynically recycling them and expecting the audience to keep watching anyway.
The problem is that as the episode count starts to climb, Sekirei starts trying to tell a serious story. There's a sprawling backstory behind where these super-powered girls came from and why MBI is having them fight one another, complete with a mysterious island and an alien spaceship. Minato's struggle against MBI quickly takes a turn for the dramatic, with plenty of tragic supporting characters and awkward attempts at getting the audience emotionally invested in the plot. It still feels like Sekirei is trying to do a good job as stumbles from one storyline to another, but it can never quite make the pivot from silly action to serious drama.
Part of the problem is that the series gets too overcrowded for its own good. The main characters are generally amusing and likable, and there's a good balance of personalities amongst the girls that Minato ends up recruiting to his team. But once you add in three rivals with their own Sekirei squads, the MBI baddie, Musubi's arch-rival, Minato's little sister, and enough minor characters to start a baseball team or two, there's not enough screen time to let the audience really get to know anyone. As a manga adaptation, Sekirei also has the all-too-common problem of starting plot threads that it never gets a chance to finish. The story has an ending of sorts, but it leaves loose ends lying all over the place. Is all this convoluted storytelling really necessary in a show about gravity-defying boobs and outfits that magically explode into tatters in the middle of a fight?
While I'm not sure I'd list Sekirei as an “Anime Classic,” Funimation has done a respectable job with this rerelease. The case doesn't take up much shelf space considering the high episode count, and the discs include a pair of OVA side stories and some episode commentaries. The English dub is fairly strong, with a cast that turns in solid performances without taking the material overly seriously. The dub does occasionally struggle with the show's more dramatic moments, but there's only so much that can be done with a plot this clunky.
If you're looking for a mix of fanservice and action, Sekirei is one of the better shows out there. The first season qualifies as a very strong Rental, while the second season is tolerable enough to keep the series as a whole out of Perishable territory. I would've rather seen it stick to its guns from beginning to end, but I can't be too mad at a show that tries to reach beyond the usual limits of its genre.
That wraps up this week's review section. Thanks for reading!
This week's shelves are from Credibility6:
"Hello Credibility6 on YouTube back with a new anime collection video, its been 1 year and 9 months since my last collection video. My collection never stops growing and I've been doing it for years now. I'm focusing my money on box sets now to hurt my wallet less, I have dozens of them. I think I have one of the biggest anime collections on YouTube at this point. Thanks for watching!"
I think this is the first time I've gotten a collection in video form since I started running this column. Thanks for sharing, and for giving me a one-week vacation from organizing photos for Shelf Obsessed!
If you'd like to show off your own anime and manga collection, send me your photos (or video) at [email protected]snetwork.com!
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