“The Unknown Sempai | Sempai in a Box | Sempai Calls | Sempai and the Pigeon”
What They Say:
“I met her… a sempai who’s cute, but strange!” She loves magic tricks, but she fails every time due to stage fright?! She drags me into the Magic Club and makes me her assistant… and siblings Saki-chan and Ma-kun of the street performers club, and Madara-san of the chemistry club get dragged into it, too. Every day, Sempai fails in energetic yet slightly erotic ways! It’s a gag anime about crummy magic tricks that are painful to watch… but you can’t stop watching!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While I’m not looking to grab a lot of half-length shows this season as I do prefer shorts, they are easier to check out the first episodes of. Based on the manga by AZU, it kicked off in 2016 and has five volumes out with Kodansha Comics having picked it up digitally, so it’s available in some form. The anime itself comes from LIDEN FILMS which had me curious to see how they’d handle it and it definitely has a good look to it, especially with Eriko Ito as the character designer and chief animation director. Mostly, I went into this show hoping for some good short-form silliness overall since each episode is broken up into smaller stories – though that just makes me wish they were “real” shorts and we had a year of the show instead.
Taking place in high school, we get the usual mandatory club bit where the lead, known only as Assistant eventually, finds himself joining the magic club just to find something that he can get involved in since he has little interest otherwise. The club, cutely enough, has as its lead Sempai who definitely has fun in doing magic performances but has a huge amount of stage fright to the point where she throws up in front of Assistant a lot during their first meeting. The naming conventions are awkward for this series but Sempai is charming as heck during her first appearances but the show also plays up the lewd side a fair bit with both design and how the scenes unfold, so that’s either going to delight some or keep others from watching it (alone or with others). For me, it’s well-animated with a good smoothness to the bounce and that makes it appealing.
The show works through Sempai pulling off a few tricks, or trying to, while doing her best to keep Assistant interested and potentially as a member of the club. She has some fun doing up some “bondage” stuff that definitely keeps him there and she also tries to get him to work as an assistant in public quickly, but she continues to have performance problems that stop her from going all the way. The more the show goes on, and especially in the third story, the pervier things get at times and it reinforces that it’s a make or break kind of aspect for a number of viewers. But when Sempai begins to work on a trick with a pigeon, you do wonder just how badly it could actually go. The combination of her stage fright and being poor at certain tricks definitely makes for some good/bad comedy in the right ways.
With this episode clocking in at just over twelve minutes and sticking to just Sempai and Assistant, it avoids throwing the whole cast at us at first and that’s welcome. Both of them definitely need time together so that we have a good foundation to work with. The show does make it clear, especially in the ending sequence, that it will run with the fanservice in some big ways at times based on the costumes that will be worn and that has me… excited. I like a good fanservice show and this one looks to tick most of the right boxes without being offensive.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll