The Curse of the Sequel Strikes Again
First off, Happy New Year fellow anime lovers! This message will be delivered late but shoot I’m writing this on the morning of January 1st. Hope you all managed to go out, party, and have a great time because I’ve been sick with mono all week. Besides really sucking this means that I’ve gotten to dig through a ton of Soul Eater episodes.
But this article isn’t about Soul Eater. It’s about a lesser known anime, Seitokai no Ichizon Lv. 2. I happened to stumble upon the original series, Seitokai no Ichizon, a while back. Keep in mind I’ve only seen 8 episodes of Lv. 2 thus far, but at 10 episodes to conclude the series I think I pretty much know where this is going.
The synopsis I’ve written goes for both shows since they are both pretty much plot-less: Four attractive girls are on the student council. There’s the president, Aka-chan. Despite being one of the older ones and in charge of the student council, she is the most childish: insecure about her extremely small stature and possessing a wild sweet tooth. She also happens to be my favorite ^__^ Then we have Chizuru. She is very womanly, somewhat seductive, and loves to baby Aka-chan, who she finds to be adorable. Minatsu is the bold tomboy with athletic skills. Her little sister, Mafuyu is the adorable one who loves BL and video games and often refers to herself in the first person. She’s also scared of boys.
The fifth spot is open to whichever student gets the highest grades in the class. Ken decides to work as hard as he can to become top student not because he wants a promising future (because really what sixteen year old actually cares about that?) but because he wants to spend his afternoons hanging out with all the girls. Ding! Ding! Ding! You got it. It’s a harem!
I have to talk about the original series first so that I can tell you why I, unfortunately, found its sequel to be a disappointment. Because the show doesn’t have much of a plot (and this is okay if you can pull it off like this anime did) it relied on its comedy and character dynamics to entertain you. And in the case of Seitokai no Ichizon this worked. The jokes were hilarious and all five characters are loveable in their own quirky ways. Also look out for all the parodies in the show. They reference to other anime from Dragon Ball to Death Note.
Each episode begins with the president determined to get something done during that day’s session. Then one person will say something off topic and the next thing you know the entire 23 minutes involves antics, jokes, and the characters coming up with outrageous ideas for something that will never happen. Toward the end we discover (I guess this can be considered a spoiler alert, though like I said the show doesn’t have much of a story anyway)…
that Ken joined the student council not just because he wanted to look at cute girls all day, though make no mistake that is still a reason. But also because each girl was kind to him on an occasion and gave him useful advice that really helped him to better himself. Appreciating each girl’s kindness and wisdom he decided to join because he wanted to protect them and help them in return. It was heart warming to see these characters’ friendships grow and, honestly, it will make you think about how much your friends mean to you. The show focuses on not only the bliss you feel when you’re spending time with your true friends, but also how those moments are precious and how important it is to cherish them. While also being laugh out loud funny, Seitokai no Ichizon is a solid anime.
Now then we can talk about Lv. 2. Which was…not so good. Some people complain about the new voice actresses for Mafuyu and Chizuru, but this is a minor problem. Mafuyu’s voice is so close to her original that most people probably won’t even notice the difference. As for Chizuru, she is noticeably different but the voice actress does a fine job capturing her deep, womanly voice that it’s hardly something to consider a problem.
The big problem here was that the comedy was definitely weak compared to the predecessor. First of all, there are no longer any anime parodies. The show instead overplays the breaking of the fourth wall, where the characters will acknowledge the fact that they are in an anime and talk about what the writers and the audience want. I think that this was done in the first series, but it was an occasional joke as opposed to one that was played out a lot.
The character dynamics were also way off. This is because the back and forth comedic banter is one of the reasons the characters had such great chemistry. The writing this time around was too weak for this to be as charming as it once was. Also those precious moments the characters shared in the first season were not as touching this time. It just kind of felt forced because of everything else that wasn’t clicking.
With the comedy flat, we have a chain reaction. Bad comedy led to bad character dynamics, which led to a plot that felt like the writers were working to make a great story line to overcompensate for all the other problems. There were secondary characters no one really cares about, nor is there much time to develop them in just 10 episodes, and a few too many episodes that took place outside of the student council.
With all the criticisms we come to the question, what is good about this show? Well, it’s not a terribly dreadful show. It’s just a terribly average show. Which is sad, because it came from a very good one. The characters, even without their chemistry, are still loveable. There are still sweet moments, like when Aka-chan and Ken are playing catch in the student council room and she tells him to never leave.
Sometimes sequels are fantastic (Code Geass R2, Shrek 2, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask to name a few). Then there’s the term “milking it”, where it feels like writers are just trying to squeeze out every ounce of cash from the cash cow they created (ahem Fullmetal Alchemist movies) and end up ruining a good thing. I might have enjoyed this more if not for it being completely overshadowed by its prequel. That is, however, the fate a sequel risks suffering from.
Seitokai no Ichizon: 8
I’m always a really generous rater when it comes to comedy, because I find that people who are critical of them are missing the point. And anyway, the original series takes an overdone idea, a harem, and manages to create something really charming and enjoyable.
Seitokai no Ichizon Lv. 2: 6/10
This series follows the same, dried up formula of a harem. Some cute moments but it’s missing the unique factor that the first one had.