The tagline for Sekirei: Complete Series is “boobies for the win.” Yes, when I saw it on the back of this Blu-ray/DVD combo set, I rolled my eyes too. Is this really how low you have to sink to market anime? As only a casual viewer of Sekirei before reviewing the hard copy, I could attest to the generous amount of “boobies.” – is that really what we’re going to call them? Despite its lewd trailer (they use that same phrase) and questionable motives, Sekirei is a middle-of-the-road fantasy adventure. It takes plenty of cues from classics such as Love Hina and won’t be winning any awards for literary prowess any time soon, but it’s still a little more than what its marketing campaign lets on.
There are, of course, gratuitous amounts of fanservice. Lots of it. Panties, breasts, you name it, you’ll see it fly in Sekirei. It follows, after all, the typical anime harem loser — in this case, one Minato Sahashi, a ronin who’s failed his college exam twice. Socially awkward, unemployed, and constantly pushed around by the dominant women in his life. Minato is the perfect recipe catalyst for a delicious harem pie. All he needs is one strange, mystical woman he’s not inept around to kickstart his whole life and kick things into high gear. And that’s who he inadvertently finds in female lead Musubi, a buxom beauty who fell from the sky one day. But her innocent charms couldn’t possibly prepare Minato for the rights and responsibilities attached to be an Ashikabi. And dear Musubi is what she refers to as a Sekirei.
Sekirei are human-like beings destined to serve one specific human, through “mucous contact” – i.e. kissing enables them to use a set of special powers. In a full-out elimination style battle between Musubi and the other Sekirei (a deadly game called “The Sekirei Plan) these powers come in handy for offensive and defensive purposes. And things are complicated even further when additional Sekirei seek out Minato and form kissing contracts with him as well. Minato’s caught in the crossfire between female competition and this strange game.
And of course said competitors are all busty women (and some beautiful men) that comprise the rest of the Sekirei. All the familiar shonen anime components are in place here in each way, including a sampler of female characters that fill all the archetypes you’ve seen time and time again: the short-tempered warrior, the one with an “Onii-chan” fetish, the mysterious, quiet “techie,” and the list goes on.
It all feels very much like a tedious retread of superior series with plenty more answers to the questions it poses, especially when there’s a noticeable lack of fighting going on. Across the season’s twelve episodes, there’s actually very little fighting going on, which is a quite bizarre, seeing as the entire point of the Sekirei game and finding an Ashikabi is to eventually name a victor for the competition. Instead, most air time is filled with fanservice and questionable filler episodes that do little to advance the plot. If they’d just get with the program rather than waiting to fill in the blanks with Sekirei: ~Pure Engagement~, there’d be a lot bigger, more complete package here.
Sekirei on its own merits has some entertaining moments, though. Gorgeous, popping colors and poppy opening and closing songs accompany some particularly jubilant voice acting and silly situations that bring a smile to your face when you’re not facepalming about the ridiculous lack of fighting and rampant, excessive fanservice. And you can certainly tell it’s got a lot of heart. It tries. But trying, unfortunately, is not often all a series needs to be successful. Funimation’s Sekirei: Complete Series (a bit misleading as its really only Season 1), available on Blu-ray/DVD combo, is a tired shonen cocktail that takes cues from the classics, but doesn’t measure up to them completely. Start with something like Love Hina and build up from there.