Can an entire season be sustained just showing a bunch of teenagers doing silly crap in their club room? Let’s find out.
What They Say:
High school elections are often just popularity contests, but at Hekiyou Academy they’ve made a small effort towards compromise. So, while most of the Student Council seats are still occupied by the school’s most beautiful girls, one position has been filled based on academic achievement. Which makes things a bit rough on this year’s “Blue Chip” member, since Ken Sugisaki is not just the only male swimming in a sea of estrogen; he’s also a “dating game” addict who can’t help but fantasize about his fellow council members as his “harem.” Worse, one of his main tasks is to create stories about the many achievements of the Student Council, which already means manipulating the truth just a bit. Exactly who’s going to be his leading lady in those tales is still up for debate, however, as immature Kurimu, tomboyish Minatsu, twisted Chizuru and “boy love” obsessed Mafuyu are all trying to add their own personal agendas…even as their jealous rivals in the Journalism Club aim to shoot them down! The lines between facts and fiction disappear and what REALLY happened will probably never be revealed except at the STUDENT COUNCIL’S DISCRETION!
There is only a Dolby Digital stereo 48khz 224kbps Japanese audio track. This show is entirely talking, talking, and more talking, so the center speaker gets a good workout, but there is little for the others to do. The sound is clear and clean with no dropouts or distortions.
Originally released in 2009, the show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and enhanced for anamorphic playback. As is common with upscaled standard 480i MPEG-2 video, there are quite a few video compression artifacts visible. For example, in the second episode there is a series of slow horizontal pans during a conversation and one can see the mosquito noise buzzing around the characters’ hair outlines, especially Mafuyu’s. In general, the video is best when movement is fairly limited and the scene is largely static and worst when there is significant camera movement. The show is split 6/6 on the two discs, so it’s not really a space issue (as there is only one audio track) but likely reflects the limitations standard definition video displayed on a high definition screen.
A simple two-disc DVD keepcase. The front cover shows Kurimu Sakurano with the title below her and the other three female members of the Hekiyou Academy Student Council behind her in the student council room. The back cover has a large picture of Chizuru on the right, with screenshots along the top above the catalog copy, with a few more shots below the descriptive text, above the production credits and technical grid. The discs feature the four female leads as well, with Kurimu and Chizuru on the first disc and the Shiina sisters on the other.
The menus are static, using standard pieces of promotional artwork of the characters with the opening and ending theme songs looping in the background. The individual episodes are directly accessible from the main menu. Access times are fast and the layout of the submenus is similarly simple with other promotional images and they are straightforward to use.
Very little included. The standard Clean Opening and Clean Closing sequences plus a selection of Sentai trailers are included on the first disc. There are no extras on the second disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Clearly, we’re in the realm of self-aware comedy as the first episode begins with the Hekiyou Academy Student Council holding an emergency meeting to discuss…the creation of an anime based upon their original source light novel series. While council members debate the merits of the plan (one chimes in that a radio drama would be better), all manner of anime franchises get mentioned. As self-aware discussions and deconstructions of the decision making involved in producing any kind of anime go, this one covers the basics fairly well, including one member’s suggestion that they appeal to fujoshi by adding a new male cast member (there is only one boy on the student council) so that the two could then have a romantic relationship. That is just the start of a long sequence of name-dropping and parodying that involves a good number of popular properties.
The alleged story is the everyday antics of the student council where the four elected members (President Kurimu Sakurano, Vice President Minatsu Shiina, Secretary Chizuru Akaba and Treasurer Mafuyu Shiina) are all beautiful girls and are joined by lone male Ken Sugisaki, who is a perverted loser…but also is a member of the student council by virtue of being the top student at Hekiyou Academy. Most of the “action” revolves around the group wasting time in the student council office, largely invoking and playing out a good number of otaku fetishes, with many references to popular anime, manga and game works. So Kurimu is the loli, Chizuru is the “cool beauty” with the most developed body (and a highly developed mean streak), Minatsu is a hot-blooded tsundere while Mafuyu appears to be a little sister healing type, but is actually a gaming nerd and a true fujoshi. Sugisaki is, of course, the lecherous wannabe harem lead—and yet he’s the only one who ends doing any real work for the student council, since the group just goof off all the time while Ken stays late after hours to do all the paperwork.
How much this show will (or will fail to) amuse you depends on how much you are aware of all of the references it makes and how low your bar for entertainment is. It’s not that Student Council’s Discretion is bad, but it’s a one-trick pony of a show. The characters are broad stereotypes who appeal to those who are invested in otaku culture and the material is largely just quick setups for throwaway gags based on that same cultural realm. If you are not familiar with anime, manga, light novels, and dating sims, it would probably be hard to see any of this being all that funny. It’s parody, but it’s a loving parody.
There are highlights and lowlights among the episodes. Oddly, the best slice of life joking comes out of the “guest” appearances of the Toudou sisters, Ririshia, the editor of the school’s newspaper who is resentful that she just missed the vote to get on the student council and her little (elementary school age) sister Erisu, who has had a very cynical upbringing thanks to her muckraking journalist elder sister. The two episodes that include them are among the funniest of the lot. On the less satisfying side is the fact that the main characters get stuck in a rut of just repeating the same repetitive gags episode after episode. Since they are all just rather shallow archetypes from otaku entertainment, it gets tiresome. Further, this is a show that won’t have a very long shelf-life: the references are all very topical for around 2007-2009, but are already starting to show their dated-ness now that over half a decade has passed. In another five years, the newest wave of fans will likely miss 90% of the parodies and allusions. Even the wonderful, almost pitch-perfect Key/Visual Art’s parody (though it’s a “sad boy in snow” scene) will probably go whizzing past many viewers by then. On the mileage variance front will be viewers’ reactions to the attempts to aim for genuine sentiment. It might come off as sweet or it may just seem to fall a bit flat with all of the jokes and gags running about. This is probably mood dependent more than anything else.
Student Council’s Discretion is basically one gigantic sequence of otaku culture in-jokes featuring a fairly cliched group of standard character types. It’s fluff with some attempts at playing the heartstrings as many comedies try to do. It’s probably at its best when engaged in quickly setup gags and short parodies of recognizable franchises. The weakest part is the repetitive wrapper required to frame all of those jokes. In addition, the references are not getting any younger and with each passing year will become more and more stale. This might be better for renting or streaming rather than purchasing unless you really love the characters and gags.
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, English Subtitles.
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 24th, 2015
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL-32S5100 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Sony Bravia DAV-HDX589W 5.1-Channel Theater System connected via digital optical cable.