I've always been a fan of harem anime. Maybe it's because the situation, where one loser guy finds himself surrounded by women who are fighting over him(and hates it), is so absurd that it's inherently funny, or maybe it's because I secretly realize that living with that many women would be difficult and sympathize with the guy. In any case, more chances than not, I enjoy them. One of Funimation's latest releases is Sekirei: The Complete Series on Blu-ray. The title is a bit of a misnomer, this is only the first season but the second one went by the name Sekirei 2: Pure Engagement, so technically it's correct. Previously released on DVD, this combination battle/harem show is filled with a lot of fan service and a nice helping of humor. While the show doesn't break any new ground it's a nice, short series worth watching.
Minato is a guy who doesn't have much going for him. He's just failed his college entrance exams for the second time in a row, doesn't have a girl friend, and he doesn't have a job. On top of that his mother cuts his allowance. He's wandering around town, feeling sorry for himself, when out of nowhere a very buxom young lady falls out of the sky right on top of him. She's being chased by two other women, but she grabs his hand before she runs off.
They soon escape and she introduces herself as Musubi and explains that she's a "Sekirei," a woman with special abilities and powers. Musubi is a 'fist type' and she's strong and good at hand-to-hand combat. She goes on to tell the bewildered young man that every Sekirei needs a "Ashikabi," a male human that a Sekirei bonds with by taking some of his genetic material. Once that happens the Sekirei's becomes marked with a bird-like image on their bodies and their full power is unleashed. Musubi is so enamored with Minato that she decides she wants him to be her Ashikabi and seals the deal by kissing him.
That's all fine and well, but Musubi moves in with Minato and that causes him to loose his apartment. On top of that Musubi informs him that the 108 Sekirei are in a competition: they have to fight each other. Whenever one looses she's removed from her Ashikabi, and only the last one standing can live with their partner forever. The competition will begin soon, and Musubi says that she has no intention of loosing.
With no job, no education, no money, and no prospects, finding a new apartment is impossible. After being turned down by every agency in the city, Minato and Musubi stumble upon the Izumo Inn run by a lady named Miya Asami. She has a 'no one is turned away' philosophy, so after hearing their story the pair have a place to live filled, filled with unusual and colorful characters.
Being an Ashikabi isn't all fun and games. Minato starts to have dreams about a girl stuck in a tree, and soon reality and the dream world intersect when he rescues a very young Sekirei who can control plants named Kusano. After saving her, she kisses him and he's her Ashikabi too.
Minto then meets
But the competition is are about to begin, and when the city gets sealed off and martial law is announced, Minto realizes that the games are very real.
This was a nice mixture of comedy and action, with neither aspect being outstanding but both done well. The jokes are funny, but there's nothing that's outrageously hilarious in the show, and the battles are solid, but not overly exciting. It's a case of competent work on a good show, but not more than that. Of course there's nothing wrong with just being a 'good' show. There are a lot of anime series that don't hit that mark.
There's also a good amount of fan service thrown in. I usually hate fan service, and the unnaturally large breasts in this (and many other) anime series looked strange rather than sexy, but it wasn't a bad as it could be. They do farther than a lot of mainstream shows and have a lot of topless nudity, but the panty shots and the jiggling breast shots are generally pretty short.
There are a fairly large number of characters introduced in this 12-episode series and while the story doesn't end in a cliffhanger, the battles haven't really gotten underway when the short season is over. The end did feel a little rushed, and there was some deus ex machina moments in the last episode that were a bit of a disappointment, but even with those it was an enjoyable series that was fun to watch.
The Blu-ray/DVD set:
This series comes in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack on two DVDs and two Blu-ray discs housed in a single Blu-ray case. The first wave comes with a slipcover too.
Viewers have a choice between the original Japanese stereo audio track and an English dub in DD5.1. I watched episodes in both languages but viewed the bulk of the series in its original language. The dub was very well done with talented actors who did a great job of not only matching their speech to the animated lip movements but also brought the characters to life, and the extra channels made the show more enveloping, especially during the battle scenes at the end, but I thought the Japanese track just 'fit' the characters a little better. Neither track had any dropouts, background noise, or other defects.
This is a nice looking show. The anamorphic 1.78:1 image is crisp and clear with tight lines and a great amount of detail. The colors are vivid and strong and really make this transfer shine. There aren't any digital defects, with even aliasing and blocking, the two most prevalent animation flaws being totally absent. Fans will be very happy with the way this disc looks.
There's a fun OVA included with the set, Kusano's First Shopping Trip. This 10-minute short details what happens when young Kuu tries to compete with Musubi and Tsukiumi in their daily shopping race to see who gets to sit next to Minato during supper. It's amusing and well worth watching. There are clean opening and closing animations and some trailers.
While Sekirei doesn't break any new ground in terms of action or harem shows, it is a fun, short 12-eisode anime that fun to watch. There are some good battles and some funny bits and it doesn't overstay its welcome. This show gets a solid recommended rating.