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