Seitokai no Ichizon Review

Seitokai no Ichizon is a 12 episode comedy anime that aired in the fall 2009 season. So why am I writing a review of it now, 15 months after it last aired? Well, it’s because I realized I never got around to writing the review, and I was prompted by the recent news that there will be a second season, to which I have this to say:

Tastes like happiness.

Personally, I fully enjoyed every episode of Seitokai no Ichizon, but some people have dismissed the series as a poor excuse of an anime so lets take a look at why they say that first.

Seitokai no Ichizon, put simply, is an anime about the everyday activities of the student council at Hekiyou High School. Four of the members are chosen by popular vote, and as such ended up being the 4 most popular girls in the school (Kurimu, Chizuru, Minatsu, and Mafuyu). Based on school rules, the fifth member of the council is the student with the highest test scores, and that ends up being Ken Sugisaki. That’s basically it for the plot summary, five people in a room talking amongst themselves. That’s also one of the major reasons why Seitokai no Ichizon had the makings of a fail anime: no plot. An anime without a plot is just mindless drizzle with no direction or purpose, something you watch when you have nothing better to do.

Another reason for why Seitokai no Ichizon failed for many people was the blatant appeal to fans of specific character types. Kurimu (which sounds like “cream”) is a super-cute loli character with a love for sweets and a travel bag full of toys. Chizuru is a mature and refined woman with an air of mystery about her (she’s actually a secret agent). Minatsu is an athletic tom-boy with a love of the shounen genre. Mafuyu is Minatsu’s twin sister and an avid game otaku/blogger/yaoi fan. If that isn’t enough for you, there’s the tsundere president of the newspaper club, Lilicia and her adorable yet witty little sister, Elise. There’s also the laid-back Magiru-sensei. With characters like these, it’s hard not to think that Seitokai no Ichizon is simply trying to lure in an audience by creating so many varied girls that most people would find at least one they liked.

With all of these female characters and a single male character, it’s obvious that this is a harem anime. I know people that will avoid harem anime like the plague, and the genre seems to have taken a downward trend since the late 90’s/early 00’s. They’re all pretty much the same, with the exception of maybe Clannad and a few others. The male lead is always a regular guy with no redeeming qualities but the hottest girls in his school all want him for themselves. Ken Sugisaki can be described in the same way, he’s a pervert that plays eroge and get surrounded by a whole bunch of girls, eventually ending with him hooking up with one of them or leaving it open-ended (the two ways how all harem anime end).

So with all the makings of a sub-standard anime, why did I like Seitokai no Ichizon? To understand that, lets take a look at some of the aspects again.

First off, lets address the problem of the anime taking place almost entirely in a single room. Yes, that sounds boring no matter how you slice it, but there is a surprisingly large number of changes in scenery, and no, I’m not talking about facing one wall versus another. Whenever a character talks about his/her fantasies, the setting instantly changes to reflect that. In the blink of an eye we can go from the student council room to an apocalyptic Earth, then to a homosexual couple’s bedroom (who happen to be Ken and his brother, Echo of Death), and onto a torture chamber (don’t ask). Seitokai no Ichizon goes through so many of these fantasy worlds that very little time is actually spent within the student council room.

All of the characters are also highly exaggerated and overly dramatic in a good way. Take Mafuyu for example, she doesn’t just like games and boys love (basically yaoi), they make up all of her waking thoughts. It’s always funny to see her come up with an idea, pull out a game console out of nowhere and make references to a classic game or cheat code. The other characters have similar reactions such as Chizuru with her dominatrix toys, Minatsu with her shounen manga, Kurimu with her loli mode, and Ken with his harem fantasies. While it’s expected what each character’s reaction will be, it’s still refreshing because no two are the same. Every reference to anything comes from a different series, genre, or era.

Speaking of references, that brings me to my next point: the parodies. I’ve read reviews and descriptions that have  explained how Seitokai no Ichizon has parodied anime like Haruhi, K-ON, DBZ, and Death Note, but that doesn’t do it justice. While parodies of more recent anime are the most recognizable, references go all the way back to the 70’s with anime like Ashita no Joe. In addition to anime, there are also plenty of references to magazines, light novels, manga, games, eroge companies, and fanfics. With such a wide and deep array of references to use as jokes, it doesn’t matter if you’re an old or new anime fan or if you enjoy manga or games more, there’s bound to be something to catch your eye.

With all of this focus on humour and comedy, it might seem that Seitokai no Ichizon really has no plot, but if you’ve seen all twelve episodes then you’ll know that there actually is. Admittedly, the one-episode stories involving characters like Minatsu and Chizuru were a bit too short to be great, but they do help to build up to the climax. Throughout the second half of the series, we see numerous glimpses of Ken’s past which are easily ignored because of all the funny scenes afterwards. Those small glimpses serve to paint a picture of a young man who has overcome adversity by putting his heart and soul into achieving his goals (no, not getting a harem).

The young man is of course, Ken, the so-called pervert who claims he wants to make the student council members of his harem. His true purpose for getting into the student council is much more noble and completely changed my view of him by the end of the series. Some of you may have met people like Ken before, someone who at first seems like a class clown, but in reality is someone who you can place your trust in and rely on in times of need and always lightens the mood. It’s no wonder that he ranked 13th in Newtype Magazine’s top 30 male characters of the decade (2000-2009). His time in the light comes in the climax during the last episode when everything comes full-circle and we finally see the complete picture of how and why Ken has given so much. I thought it was very heartwarming and the perfect way to end a series like Seitokai no Ichizon.

By now I hope to have convinced some of you to watch or rewatch Seitokai no Ichizon. Not only is it funny as hell, there are some very touching moments and lots of lead-up to a fantastic ending. The second season has a lot to live up to, but if it’s anything like the first, then I’m sure it’ll turn out well.

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Side Note: For anyone wondering, my favourite scenes (besides the ending) were the end of the Tokyo trip, aruminiumu, and mokyu.

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  1. As much as there was no plot, isn’t that standard of most comedy and slice-of-life shows out there? Plot kills these shows. These shows are fine with episodic plot.

    Also, I keep getting asked why I dislike the show. It’s not that I dislike it per se, it’s just that it seems pretty regular to me. My friends have been telling me it’s better than LS and AD, but I don’t really agree. All just a matter of opinion.
    Valence recently posted..100000 hit combo

  2. I watched this show early in 2010, The first 6 eps were a bit boring, its a shame they stayed only in this room for so long and the comedy was more like hit and miss for me. After the first half I liked this show a lot more, I loved the Tokyo Trip episode were they finally went outside of the room.
    The best episodes for me were 10,11 and 12.
    I also liked the characters, in my opinion the girls were too mean to Ken at the beginning, but my fav characters were Mafuyu, Ken and the small Kurimu
    A second season is very welcome :D

    when watching Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? I often feel some similarities with Seitokai no Ichizon
    Fabienne recently posted..Buddy by ALTER

  3. Woot, first time here!

    Good review. You captured all the essentials of the show. The main reason SnI falls short for many is because of its claustrophobic atmosphere, which feels like the viewer has been sitting down for more than 30min per episode. THere feels like there is just too much, yet so little. And this leads to a sort of confused reaction to the viewer (and reader of this comment).

    Another downer is that the references are far too many and far too diverse. You have references ranging from Death Note to Haruhi to shoujo to Requiem for a Phantom. Not all audiences are familiar with all these genres and thus feel themselves lost with most jokes. Eventually, even the shows they like to see parodied cease to be funny.

    I’m sticking with a solid 7/10.
    TRazor recently posted..Anime Review- FLCL

  4. My second-favorite comedy anime of all time, after Ichigo Mashimaro. This kind of absurd humor is exactly what I like. And this show had serious emotional undertones that made the humor even deeper.

    The show’s director, Satou Takuya, did Ichigo Mashimaro and will be doing the new spring anime Steins;Gate (a science fiction adventure). The writer who adapted the manga so brilliantly, Hanada Jukki, did Rozen Maiden and will also do Steins;Gate. I think that they gave us a level of subtlety and sophistication that set SeiZon above most other anime. So I have high hopes for Steins;Gate, too.
    hashi recently posted..Full Previews of 47 Spring Shows- Staff- Cast- Genre- Story- Trailer- Pic- Manga Scanlations- etc

  5. Many people said this anime was better than Lucky Star (which I believed they tried to follow), but I have to disagree. I liked the class prez and Chizuru, but the male lead was annoying, to say the least. I also wish they would’ve stepped out of the room more — it would’ve made the series much more interesting, imo.

    P.S. The Strike Witches parody was my favorite part. =D
    MkMiku recently posted..Top Strike Witches Girls Season 1 11 – 6

  6. @Valence:
    I think a bit of plot adds some life to these types of shows, otherwise it’s no different from stand-up comedy. It really is a matter of opinion, I don’t think I would be able to decide between Seitokai no Ichizon, Lucky Star, or Azumanga Daioh, I liked all three.

    @Fabienne:
    The lead up to the ending was really well done, it’s a shame that they didn’t have that kind of setting for the first half, but I think it was to ease viewers in.

    @TRazor:
    You have a point about there being too many references. Even someone I wasn’t able to catch all of them, so a viewer new to anime probably wouldn’t enjoy the series.

    @hashi:
    I didn’t know that the same people that worked on Seitokai no Ichizon are also working on Steins Gate, now I’m going to be expecting a lot more from that series :)

    @MkMiku:
    I can’t say either of the two are better than the other, it really depends on personal tastes. I guess Ken did come off as a bit annoying sometimes, but he really helped keep the series going in my opinion.

  7. Seitokai no Ichizon is either a hit or a miss with the audience. Anime of this genre largely rely on humor to capture the heart of audience. So for me, it’s a miss cuz I couldn’t understand the half of their jokes.
    Hoshiko recently posted..Around Kuching Downtown

  8. Well, I only watched one or two episodes of this as I can recall. I was thinking about picking it back up, I guess it can’t hurt to try. I don’t even know why I didn’t finish it at the time, perhaps other series got in the way. I do tend to watch way too many shows at the same time for my own good. Lol at the Strike Witches parody. Now that half the anime currently airing is delayed it might be a good time to finish this up :3

  9. I think this may have been my first time commenting on your blog, but if I haven’t I must have forgotten when I have done so before ^^;

    I remember trying this series out with my ex-coursemate last year when we wanted to have something random to start one weekend when it was still airing. Looking back at the episode sypnosis it appears that we have stopped at around episode 5. It’s due to a few personal reasons rather than the series itself: I have not been big into comedy and parody shows, so I tend to struggle watching them, and on the other hand there may be a lot of parodies that we felt we may not fully understand its origin (my friend especially, since he doesn’t watch as much nowadays but knows their existence via many Internet sources). At the end we felt it didn’t encapsulate us much, so we decided to drop it. But now seeing you writing about it, it intrigues me to see how much one can draw out of an anime series, especially those deliberately to be plotless (but then I have rarely written or read reviews for anime series).

    I’ve also noticed the recent big project that you are doing regarding on the anime history of individual bloggers. I’m tempted to do so, but seeing many bloggers’ big histories sure shied me away. Not sure whether I will do one in the near future, and it won’t be anything as bright or colourful as others, but well… We shall see. From my quick observation between my MAL list to yours it seems that we do have quite different tastes. I guess you may even tell what sort of person I am judging from the series I like the most already ^^;
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  10. @Hoshiko:
    That’s too bad. I thought some of the jokes were brilliant, but I realize most people probably wouldn’t get them.

    @Aya:
    It’s a good thing that it started to pick up mid-way through.

    @Persocom:
    I ended up rewatching a few episodes because of all the cancelled anime recently, it’s still as funny as the first time I watched it.

    @Q:
    I recommend that you do pick it up again, Seitokai no Ichizon is one of my favourite comedies ever. Even if you’re not very experienced with anime, there are still plenty of jokes that you’ll probably get.

    Don’t let others intimidate you, it’s always nice to read about how others got into anime.

    @Arianna Sterling:
    Another series for your 150 anime challenge :)

  11. Seriously, why do people complain about the lack of plot on silly anime like this? Do they miss the point of slice of life?

    Anyways I liked the show, I like when show reference other works such is this one did. I like the hints here and there about Ken’s past and motivations. Much like you the ending is one of my favorite parts, I liked the little speech about how each girl helped him during each season.

  12. @Miette-chan:
    I think the subtleties of the anime may have been glossed over for some people by the downsides that I mentioned.

    The speech at the end was so heartwarming, I watched that scene a dozen times.

  13. Pingback: Suggested Reading March 20-27th « Black and Blue Socks

  14. Really, Seitokai no Ichizon was a case of poorly executed parody. It simply bormbarded the viewer with references only to end with unexplainable drama at the end of each every episode.
    Will recently posted..K-ON! Anime Review

  15. Seitokai no Ichizon was totally not on my radar. I didn’t even knew about this at all. But it seems I might have overlooked a nice decent fun series.

    I’m impressed that they can do so much with such a limited setting and simple premise. And there’s even a nice plot to cut the comedy!

    p.s. Strike Witches. ^ ^
    Yi recently posted..Amakute Hoshikute Torokeru Chuu

  16. I really enjoyed Seitokai no Ichizon when I watched it, so much so I watched it twice :D.

    I liked how it started out with all the various gags, which those alone were enough to keep me entertained. My favourite was Ken getting locked up while the girls went about in their swimsuits.

    But then as things got more serious and a plot of some sort started to appear it started to get a bit more interesting. By the end I was more than satisfied with how it wrapped up. So to that end I’m not looking forward to a second season.

    Ken is probably my favourite male character from any anime series. I liked his harem ending goal and how he would never give up despite the torture he went through. Then finding out he wasn’t really after the harem ending, he just wanted everyone to be happy, that was a nice touch.
    BioToxic recently posted..Ryofu Ren by FREEing- with added D3100-ness

  17. @BioToxic:
    I’ve watched Seitokai no Ichizon a few times myself, it’s just so good. Ken is also my favourite male character, his determination and sacrifice for his goals really impressed me. He’s also pretty funny when he needs to be.