What They Say:
Minato had no luck with the ladies until the day a well-rounded warrior-babe named Musubi fell into his life – and crushed his face with her ginormous cleavage. Hunted by a stunning pair of twin sisters, Musubi was searching for the right guy to give her a squeeze and unlock the hidden powers lurking beneath her ample assets. Minato fits the bill, and now he’s caught in the middle of a supernatural slugfest in which voluptuous vixens take turns beating each others’ clothes off!
Contains episodes 1-12 plus the Kusano’s First Shopping Trip OVA.
Sekirei is released with a bilingual presentation to it with the original Japanese language in stereo encode at 192kbps and the English mix done in 5.1 at 448kbps. The stereo mix is pretty solid throughout as it handles the directionality well when needed during the action sequences. And those make up a good portion of the series so having them come across well is a definite plus. The action ranges from fast running scenes with a lot of effects and a good deal of impact with hand to hand combat. Dialogue is well handled as well with a bit of directionality hitting at times though mostly it’s a center stage affair for the most part. The English mix essentially takes all of it up a few notches with volume and clarity but it doesn’t stand out in a huge way overall. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and there were no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is spread across two discs in a seven/five format with a few extras minutes allocated to the OVA on the second disc as well, though the whole thing could have been done in a six/six format without any problems. The series has a good clean look to it with lots of bright colors and some very vibrant moments when it comes to certain Sekirei aspects. The show has a fairly average bitrate and some of the darker scenes show more noise to them, but overall it’s a good looking transfer that captures the look and feel of the source materials and represents it well.
Sekirei runs with a standard packaging design of a thin slipcover that houses two clear thinpak cases. The slipcover is bright and outgoing and lets you know exactly what it’s about as it has Musubi in an action pose with her fighting gloves and a big smile that you notice after you see her breasts bouncing through the air in front of her. It’s bright and bold and it stands out in a very eye-catching way. The back cover carries the same blues with a sky look as it has Musubi falling from the upper right which is rather small overall. There’s a fair bit of text here, spaced well so that it can be minimal and yet fill things up well enough, that covers the basic premise of it and the fun of it all. A good selection of shots from the show are included as well as a good listing of what’s included and the discs extras. Production information fills out the remaining space at the bottom of the back while the actual bottom of the slipcover has the technical information.
Inside we get a pair of thinpak cases that show off the characters well as there are different groupings for the two of them. The first cover is really bright with Musubi and Tsukiumi together with blues and bright yellows while the second cover isn’t darker but has less color overall with the trio that’s there. The logo is like the slipcover and has a good clean look to it that’s easily readable. The back of the covers are very basic with just a black panel that has the episode numbers and titles together with a bit of color and a clear listing of the extras on the second disc. The reverse side is definitely nicely done as it’s fully reversible where the back covers are included and you get a different set of character artwork for each of them to tickle your fancy.
The menu design for the show is very similar to the look and layout of the front of the slipcover where it’s filled with bright blues and character artwork of Musubi with a different version of her with a big smile and obviously a look at her chest. The layout is the standard simple design for a FUNimation title with the main navigation strip through the middle and some upbeat music to it all. It’s a good looking menu that sets the tone right for the show and is quick and easy to use. Navigation has a smooth flow to it and submenus are quick to load and everything moves without a problem. It may not stand out hugely, but it’s bright and colorful in a way that sets the mood just right.
The extras are a bit minimal overall but there’s a good piece in here. We get the clean opening and closing sequences but we also get a ten minute OVA that’s all about the fun as the girls try to make Ku feel more included by having her involved in the shopping race. It’s short and fun and it works very well to tighten up a small bit of story into the main arc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Sakurako Gokurakuin, Sekirei is a twelve episode series that originally appeared in the seinen magazine young Gangan from Square Enix. The manga is still ongoing and this series, which ran in 2008, has a second season kicking off in the summer of 2010. Ten volumes of the manga have been produced so it looks like there’s some material to work with, though I wouldn’t be surprised at some padding.
The series revolves around a young man named Minato, who as you can tell from every bit of promotional text about the show, has failed his college entrance exams only to have something more interesting fall into his lap in the form of a very busy young woman named Musubi. She’s being chased by some rather angry women in skimpy outfits that want to do her harm, so she blazes off and takes Minato with her. Where she promptly changes and shows that she has no issue in showing off her rather sizable cleavage, complete with nipples, to a complete stranger. It’s an awkward but not unfamiliar meeting of people as the two eventually do exchange introductions once things die down a bit.
Musubi seems fairly typical here at first as she’s all about the eating, able to pack away ten meals for one person (I suspect she stocks the food up in those massive breasts) but wants to do right by Minato in order to repay him. She’s very happy to have met him since he’s exactly what she’s looking for in something called an Ashikabi. Apparently it’s something that involves a guy fondling her breasts, which makes Minato a touch uncomfortable for all of a minute before he remembers himself. Musubi’s having a mixture of luck overall since falling into his lap as she’s gotten on well with him, but she’s still being sought out by the other two women who want to take her down before she has a chance to awaken. Yet every touch with Minato seems to push her close to awakening, and she has no choice but to take it all the way in order to protect both of them.
When I had seen the first episode months prior to this release, it really didn’t appeal to me and I didn’t follow through with it, figuring that I’d end up watching the season of a whole and perhaps it would be more interesting in that form. And it definitely proved to be true. While the show opens kind of awkwardly with a fighting style Ah! My Goddess in a way, once it gets rolling and sets Minato and Musubi on the path to knowing each other and understanding the Sekirei plan, the layers are better revealed. This season focuses more on phase one of the plan, which is getting the various Sekirei to be engaged by the Ashikabi that are out there so that the real adventure can begin. And while it may seem like a tease, it actually does work well in that we get a fairly concise first chapter here to a larger story of 108 Sekirei that are far more than they seem.
While the show does start with Minato and Musubi, the cast expands quickly when they end up in their new home with a dorm apartment that takes in unusual people. What isn’t a surprise is that Minato is essentially a large magnet for a number of Sekirei who find themselves drawn to him. That the cast grows and that more women fill the series is no surprise at all. There comes a shift, with the introduction of Tsukiumi, in that the girls realize that they’re taking on the role of wives to Minato and that introduces some more competition among them. Though they all get along fairly well, there’s a lot of fun to be had with the way it all comes together. The girls have their own layers to them and Minato’s nice guy personality may grate at times, but it’s the kind of wimpish male lead that is the standard and they make the most of it.
Sekirei’s animation is done by Seven Arcs and it has a good look to it with a lot of fluidity to the action scenes and characters that have good designs to them. This isn’t a high school show so we don’t have a lot of the basic stereotypes of that and they run well here with the slightly older characters, doing the college age range which gives them a bit more to work with. Nothing here really comes off badly and while there isn’t anything that jumps off the screen, it’s all competent and well done. What is amusing is that it goes the distance with the fanservice as there’s plenty of upper body nudity. Instead of making it so that you’re just teased, you get full on nipples which while overt and just going for the shock value at first, it ends up being a rather fun element to the show. It’s easy to be derisive about this part of the show, but if it gets you to watch and actually enjoy the rest of it, it’s worth it.
While I originally had a rough time getting into Sekirei, both as a simulcast and as a full set, it definitely did capture my attention once it got rolling and I took it in as a whole. It’s a very familiar story to be sure, and it goes through a lot of the standard routines to get to the point, but it has enough moments that helps it stand out as well. Everything here is focused on the fun and action of women beating the snot out of each other in service to a larger game that’s largely undefined, but there are moments where we get some tantalizing clues as to what the Sekirei are and what the mad plan is all about. Revisiting this season just before kicking off the Pure Engagement season was fun to do, though seeing the difference in the high definition versus standard definition release that we got here makes me wish this season had gotten a proper Blu-ray release at the same time.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 23rd, 2010
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.