If you’re a fan of anime that feature copious amounts of T&A, then this could be the show for you, as the 108 Sekirei – who are mainly rather attractive women with a bad habit of having their clothes ripped off in combat – do battle for an as-yet unspecified prize. Please check your brain at the door before reading further…
What They Say:
Minato may not be able to pass the college entrance exam, but he’s about to learn something amazing about himself – He’s an Ashikabi, born with the ability to partner with the Sekirei – a special group of 108 beautiful girls with incredible powers!
Audio is presented in Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 versions – I listened to the Japanese track for this review. Good use is made of the available channels to bring some life to the battle scenes, while dialogue is clear and easy to pick out against the background effects. No issues to report
Video comes in its original 1/78:1 widescreen aspect, enhanced for anamorphic playback. This is a fairly recent series, and so has the visual gloss that newer shows all seem to possess – one of the advantages of digital animation, I guess. Colours are bright, there’s a good level of details to the backgrounds, and there are no obvious defects. No complaints here.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
Another Manga release, another simple-yet-effective menu setup. This set sees Minato’s first Sekirei, Musubi, take pride-of-place against a sky background, while options are provided for Play All, Episodes, Setup and, on disc two only, Extras. Screenshots from the show are used on the submenus. There are no transition animations, so it’s all quick and easy to use.
Along with the usual creditless OP/ED songs, there’s a 10-minute OVA short, Kusano’s First Shopping Trip, which is fairly explanatory. A decent little story to round off the disc with.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Japan, 2020, and perennial student Minato Sahashi has just failed his university entrance exams. Again. All he wants is some peace and quiet to come to terms with his failure, but when a rather well-endowed, cute girl lands on him from a dizzy height, it’s the sign that he won’t be getting his wish for a long time – especially as two other women are in hot pursuit of his hottie. The next thing Minato knows, he’s waking up in his bedroom – and the girl’s half-naked next to him. Just what is going on..!?
Sekirei, in case you missed it, is thirteen episodes of T&A fluff (T&A meaning “tits and ass”, for the more pure amongst us), ad you can find full episode summaries and screenshots on the following pages. The lead male, Minato Sahashi, has been taking lessons from Love Hina’s Keitaro – after failing his university entrance exam for the second time, he’s moved into a boarding house, and in the process has gathered himself a small harem of women – all of whom are Sekirei. At this point, a little explanation is required…
The series is based on a manga serial, and has quite the backstory to it – a backstory that only gets the briefest of nods in the anime. In 1999, a downed spaceship was discovered on a remote Japanese island by Hiroto Minaka and Minato’s mother, Takami Sahashi; inside the spaceship were 108 life-forms in various stages of development – the Sekirei. It’s now 2020, and Minaka has used the technology from the ship to create a massive conglomerate (MBI) and has developed the Sekirei Plan, which will see the Sekirei and their human partners, the Ashikabi, fight until only one Sekirei is left standing. As for what happens then… well, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Minato meets his first Sekirei when she quite literally falls from the sky and lands on his head. Her name is Musubi, and along with a charming personality and breasts that wouldn’t look out of place in Divergence Eve, she’s got an instant attraction to him – the attraction that all Sekirei feel when they first meet their Ashikabi. One kiss later (it’s the transfer of bodily fluids that creates the bond between Sekirei and Ashikabi), and Minato is unbreakably part of the Sekirei Plan. While a Sekirei can only have one Ashikabi, though, an Ashikabi can have many Sekirei – and so through a combination of good fortune and just being a darned nice guy, Minato also becomes master to Kusano (a young girl with the ability to control plant life), Matsu (a computer & hacking genius) and Tsukiumi (a high-ranking Sekirei with a strong sense of honour and an annoying olde worlde style of speech). Together they end up living in the Maison Izumo, a boarding house run by Miya, a ‘yamato nadesico’ type who appears calm and restrained but who everyone instinctively realises is more powerful and more dangerous than anyone else in the series. Also at the boarding house are Uzume (a Sekirei whose Ashikabi is mysteriously absent) and Kagari (an as-yet unpaired Sekirei). There are more characters than this to remember – a lot more – but that’s probably enough to be getting on with for now.
For the early part of the season, the show is in typical harem / romantic comedy ground – meet the girls, see how they make their connection with Minato, and move on to the next humorous encounter. The Sekirei Plan in there in the background, but the show is so heavily focussed on showing us the lovingly-realised details of the girls’ underwear and nipples that you don’t need to worry about it. It’s only from episode 9 onwards – a short arc that sees Minato trying to help a decidedly-weak Sekirei and her partner escape to somewhere beyond MBI’s influence – that the Plan really becomes central to what’s happening on screen.
So. On my first attempt to watch Sekirei, I got as far as episode two before giving up – there was simply too much emphasis on the T&A, and no apparent attempt to really explain anything that resembled a story, and that was putting me off. It was at that point that I hopped over to Wikipedia and read up on the backstory, which was intriguing enough to draw me back to watch the rest – after which it “clicked” with me a whole lot better and I was able to start enjoying it. The show’s first flaw, then, is incomplete storytelling.
It’s also one of a myriad of shows that ultimately boil down to a Highlander-esque “There Can Be Only One” idea, and that’s getting a little bit tired. Let’s also not forget that the fanservice-fighting genre has already been well served by shows like Ikkitousen and Tenjho Tenge, and by rights I should be tossing Sekirei on the “don’t bother” pile. I have to say, though, that there’s just something about it that’s undeniably appealing. The emphasis is less on the fighting and more on the romantic comedy, for a start, and there’s enough of a range of characters on show (with some fun signature gags that don’t wear out too quickly) to keep the series feeling fresh over its 12 episodes. It also doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to take itself too seriously, with most of the bad guys being more pantomime villain in their attitude than genuine evil bastards. Add that all together and, once I got past those first few episodes, I did start to enjoy myself. True, it’s fanservice fluff that requires very little in the way of brainpower to watch, but sometimes that’s just what you’re looking for – in which case Sekirei should fill the need quite well.
Don’t expect all the answers to the Sekrei Plan, though. There’s a second season (Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~) that continues the story – not yet confirmed for UK release, by the way, but available for streaming on YouTube – but even that only progresses things a bit and doesn’t get anywhere near the endgame. For wasting a few hours in a simple yet enjoyable way, though, you could do a lot worse.
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 5.1, English Subtitles, OVA: Kusano’s First Shopping Trip, Textless Opening and Closing Songs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: 15 August 2011
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: MPEG2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37” widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.