This is the Anime Classics edition.
What They Say:
Bust Out Your Super Powers!
Stay abreast of the greatest action-harem anime of all time by getting your hands on Sekirei, the complete series!
Minato had no luck with the ladies until the day Musubi fell into his life and crushed his face with her ginormous cleavage. This well-rounded warrior babe was searching for the right guy to give her a squeeze and unlock the hidden powers lurking beneath her ample assets. Minato fit the bill, and now he’s caught in the middle of a supernatural slugfest where voluptuous vixens literally beat each other’s clothes off! To make matters worse, a clandestine organization known as the MBI has a dastardly plan to force these busty brawlers to engage in a flesh-baring fight to the finish. Can Minato survive the bombastic barrage of breast-jiggling blows coming his way in this mesmerizing cavalcade of cleavage!?
For this viewing, I listened to the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 48KHz variable bitrate (seems to range from 1.8 up to 3.2, but hovers mostly around 2) English track. While it’s not used all the time, the 5.1 mix does get a workout now and then with some of the action scenes. Mostly, though, we have dialogue, so the center speaker gets the most action and the audio is clean and clear without any noticeable dropouts or distortions.
There is some difference between the two seasons contained in this combined release as the show was originally broadcast during the period when there were still some studios transitioning between standard and high definition. Season 1 (from 2008) was originally in standard definition and the video on the bluray discs is listed as “SD Remaster” on the information grid on the back of the slipcover/back cover. That the video is not HD native is apparent right from the start: in Episode 1, look at the background wall of Minato’s room in the apartment where he first lived— it is full of noise and somewhat over-sharpened lines. There are many hallmarks of a not-so-great upscale throughout, though it’s not horrible or going to cause problems for most viewers. But finicky videophiles are likely to be unhappy.
Season 2 (from 2010) is HD native, at least that is what the masters FUNimation received from Japan were and the video does, in general, look much better. Sharpness of detail looks fine and there were no issues during playback that caught my eye.
Packaging, Presentation and Menus: B+
The Anime Classics re-issue contains the original discs from the previous releases in a multi-disc BD case, with eight of the included discs on flipper hinge holders and there remaining ninth disc on the back wall of the case. There is a slipcover (O-ring) that reproduces the artwork and text of the inside coverart insert. The front cover shows six of the Sekirei who appear in the show, all eventually residents of the boarding house where the male protagonist, Minato Sahashi, ends up living. It also features the English show logos for both seasons, Sekirei, and Sekirei: Pure Engagement. The back cover has the logos again, along with pictures of the main six at the top and five screenshots along the right side of the catalog copy. Below all of that is the technical information grid.
The discs for the first season are picture labeled, with a shot of Musubi on the first disc and Tsukiumi on the second. The discs for the second season only have the show’s English logo. This is the same as with the previous releases.
The menus are bare and functional. Along the bottom there is a list of choices; above there is the series title logo with a selection of scenes in faded presentation in the background on a continuous loop with a piece from the soundtrack music. Access times are quick and the menus do what is needed.
Season 1: Disc 1: Nothing. Disc 2: OVA – Kusano’s First Shopping Trip, Textless Opening, Textless Closing, Trailers.
Season 2: Disc 1: Episode 05 Commentary. Disc 2: OVA – Two Gossip Topics, Episode 10 Commentary, Textless Opening, Textless Closings, Trailers.
The first season OVA is quite brief and completely comedy-centered. The second season OVA is actually a prequel that can be watched before the second season episodes proper and even ends with an extended “preview” of the second season that instead turns out to be a group of scenes taken from the first season but given new dialogue where the characters offer their takes on what the second season should be, though done entirely tongue-in-cheek. There are episode commentaries only for season 2, of the sort that you find on FUNimation releases.
If I had to sum up Sekirei quickly for someone who wanted a brief summary of what it is, it is basically a “Best Girl Harem Show with a Lame Action Plot.” While you might take a moment to unpack that string of words, you know what I am talking about, don’t you? It’s that kind of show where the viewer, the target audience mainly being either lonely male nerds or males who like sexy female character designs, is presented with a veritable cornucopia of attractive female character designs which offer a full range of fetishes and “charm points.” Assaulted by this onslaught of girls, your best strategy is to simply pick one and stick with her for the few episodes she will be allowed to shine in, unless your favor happens to fall upon Musubi, the bird-brained busty bubble-head who is given the position of Lead Girl to the harem (and it’s practically an official harem by the end) of our loser male protagonist Minato Sahashi. We can infer he is a loser…wait, we don’t need to infer: the very first scene involving him shows him failing the entrance exams for college for the second time. After this…a girl falls from the sky knocking him down. She’s hot. Two other hot women then show up and attack her.
I’ll just move forward because the Lame Action Plot is really just that…lame. (All blame for that lies with the original manga and its author, of course, not the anime staff who are just working with what they have). The girl who fell from the sky is a “Sekirei,” a group of not-quite-human beings (there is an alien spaceship and alien DNA involved; the word itself just means a “wagtail,” a kind of small bird), who have supernatural powers and abilities of some sort. Apparently, in order to “emerge” (gain their full powers) they need to find a human partner called an “Ashikabi” who releases the powers of the Sekirei. All of them are then destined to fight in a giant secret war overseen by an incredibly annoying nutcase in a cape who owns the largest corporation in town and serves as our chief of lame exposition. From him, we learn there are 108 Sekirei who will battle for…eh, whatever. Something. The last one standing gets some kind of prize. If you really like this kind of pathetically boring “fight to the death for a prize” plot, go watch Highlander instead.
So, what is the appeal of a show like Sekirei? It’s basically the eye candy and nothing more (if you are attracted by the plot, you can stop reading here as I’m not going to say another word about it. No, there are no quotation marks around the word plot, that joke has probably run its course by now). If you are turned off by fanservice and occasional (and sometimes copious) nudity (all breasts, as otherwise we have Barbie Doll Anatomy as usual—this is late night anime, not erotic anime), your best bet is to stop reading here, your curiosity satisfied that this show is definitely not for you. If you do like a lot of silly fanservice hijinks that unfortunately get interrupted now and then by lame action arcs tied to the lame plot, then there may well be things you will like about this show. It’s largely inoffensive for the most part, becoming annoying only when the “serious” elements are given center stage.
Like many “harem” shows, you, the viewer, are presented with a menu of choices to pick from: an air-headed girl; a loli imouto; a tsundere; and a shut-in. There isn’t really much variation in terms of designs for the first season’s main four girls as three of them are porn starlets who have the best assets plastic surgery can create while the fourth is about a four-to-six year-old girl in appearance (and thankfully is treated as such by Minato). These four are featured in the first season’s opening and ending animations and that ED especially plays up the focus on fanservice with its animation and framing. A full range of other fetishes are covered by the many, many other female characters who show up. As time goes on even more show up. In the second season (spoiler, sorry), two more lead girls join the harem, both of whom are a touch different in some ways as one is much more mature and the other is…unique.
The problem with shows like these is that they cannot just simply wallow in their visual pleasures accompanied by bland and inoffensive humor. These types of shows seem to have some desperate desire to create meaning along with breasts when all that’s really needed is the latter. In fact, the second season, Pure Engagement, doubles down on the lame plot and it might be that it’s for the best that there are only two anime seasons (the manga continued onwards until 2015 when the 18th and final volume was released; Yen Press is releasing the manga here digital-only) as from what I have read about it, any anime continuation would only have gotten more annoying over time as it would involve killing characters viewers might have come to like quite a bit. Just for the annoying nutcase to get his jollies. No thank you.
So, the series is to some extent unsatisfying in that it ends on a cliffhanger, but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing if all you want is to see the girls on the cover art naked.
The animation by Seven Arcs is not all that impressive. While the female character designs are fairly pleasing (especially if you like your women on the buxom side; a various range of designs, including bishounen male Sekirei do show up at times), the action scenes are, frankly, not particularly notable for either movement or fluidity. They’re not terrible though.
There are some hidden pleasures in the English dub as I listened to it, including an early scene where I could swear Musubi was humming the theme song to Freakazoid! in the shower. Some of the lines in the Season 2 OVA preview section for Season 2 sound ad-libbed and bring a chuckle or two. It’s appropriate for the material overall.
Long story short, you watch this kind of show for the girls. If the types of girls presented don’t do anything for you, then this will largely be a waste of your time (and if you bought this, some of your money). The plot is forgettable. Much of what happens in forgettable. But a good time can be had if you happen to like one or more of the girls and want to just soak in the visuals.
Minato Sahashi is that standard loser who cannot pass the college entrance exams. Nice guy Minato’s life changes when a buxom beauty falls from the sky onto him, literally, and he becomes enmeshed in a secret war between super-powered beings, called Sekirei. The girl who fell on him, Musubi, becomes his first Sekirei (he soon meets and becomes the “master” of others) and Minato tries his best to live a peaceful, quiet life studying to take the college entrance exams again, but a lame action plot keeps on getting in the way. Fanservice and battle scenes dominate the show, though the former parts are much more appealing.
Eye Candy Grade: A
”Quality” Grade: C-
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: July 5th 2016
Running Time: 625 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Features: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Digital audio, Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD audio, English subtitles.
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.