Seitokai Yakuindomo – Review
December 9, 2011 4 Comments
Seitokai Yakuindomo is a curious and immensely funny series that stated life as a manga in 2007 and was turned into an anime series for the summer season of 2010. The plot is as simple as they get, Takatoshi Tsuda joins Osai Academy, a co-ed high school that until that year had been an all-girls high school simply because it is close to his home and therefore makes commuting easy. On his first day he is shanghaied into joining the student council by the council president Shino Amakusa. His time at school is spent mainly dealing with the weird and whacky personalities of the student council.
The manga is a 4-koma gag manga and the anime series takes a similar format with various sketches all linked together by a slice-of-life story about Tsuda’s and the student council’s life at school. In some ways it reminds me a bit of classic Monty Python flying circus sketches actually. The characters are great, and everyone single person that Tsuda meets is completely off the wall and quite frankly entirely dysfunctional.
The series offers a refreshing take on the self-referencing gag shows along with plenty of in-jokes to do with elements of ‘Otaku’ culture. While there are a number of jokes about ecchi manga, adult videos, eroge, galge and other elements of this Japanese sub-culture, the show doesn’t rely on them to generate the laughs, but merely uses them for comic effect where needed. A significant number of the jokes are simply observational, similar to watching a stand-up comedian. They are about the human body relationships, and of course adolescence and sex. Much of the gags use the tsukkomo/boke routine – essentially one character makes an outrageous statement, which is followed up by the voice of reason adding a quick retort, a frustrated comment or simply lamenting at the stupidity of it all.
Tsuda is very much the voice of reason here (boke), although Suzu does step in occasionally. What is interesting about Tsuda is that he is one of the few characters in the case who does not get overly excited about being a boy in what is a mostly girls school. He simply wants to go about his life in a quiet fashion and basically get on with it, unfortunately the girls constantly tease him, and often make him the butt of their jokes.
Tsuda provides the majority of the comedy for the series, with off-the-cuff remarks and immensely dry sense of humour plays well off the over-the-top and quite frankly ludicrous characters of Shino and Aria. Without his sensible take on life and his ability to take all their perversion in his stride I don’t think this series would be as funny as it is. In all comedy it is always the voice of reason that makes the comedy successful, they are the ones that show us how ludicrous everyone else is. The student council is a circus with Shino and Aria at the centre, they are however immensely clever girls who are good at almost everything that they do, they simply have their mind in the gutter most of the time.
Shino is probably the most engaging character, with the most screen time, apart from Tsuda – who can possibly be seen as the ‘narrator’ in many places, or perhaps the ‘voice of reason’ – being charismatic, likeable and intelligent. She has a large presence within the school, liked by everyone and with so much energy that it probably wares the audience down, and of course Tsuda, for different by obvious reasons. Shino comes across as a bit of a closet geek, having intimate knowledge of galge, eroge and every ‘special location’ within a school where students go to have sex in these games, along with knowledge of how to trigger different flags within these and other dating sims. Either this or she is a massive pervert simply has an interest in such situations and places, I think perhaps the later, but the former could also be true.
Every member of the cast appears to be based off of a archetpye of that character. Of course a spanner is thrown or perhaps smashed into the works when you take such archetypes and then make them the most perverted people on the planet. We have Aria who is the refined, polite rich girl, slightly air-headed, but also intelligent. Suzu is the genius with the body of an elementary school student. And of course Tsuda, the level-headed ‘voice of reason’. The side characters are equally funny, with Hata, the immensely creepy and entirely unscrupulous school newspaper reporter who will do anything to get a story. Mistuba, the judo lover who is probably the only innocently minded character in the entire series. And of course other characters such as the perverted teacher Naruko, Tsuda’s sister Kotomi who is as perverted as Shino and other lesser characters that seem to exist simply for comic effect.
The format of the series as I said resembles a 4-koma gag manga, with the setting usually being the student council room, but there are other scenes or sketches in other parts of the school as well as fields trips and other trips. Essentially it is a show of double-entendres with Shino and Aria spoiling anything that is remotely serious with jokes about masturbation, boys and their balls and anything related to sex. Tsuda has to negotiate this and it is hilarious to se his reactions change from completely shocked to entirely uncaring as he gets used to the pervertedness of the student council and all the weird and whacky people that surround them.
What I love about this show is that although all the gags are to do with sex, there is in fact no fanservice; rather the ‘fanservice’ is having girls talk about sex. I really liked this approach since I feel if fanservice such as cleavage and panty shots would have ruined the humor.
From its content to the other elements such as camera work and animation this show is well made. The camera seems on the move a lot, constantly exploring the school and surrounding area, only stopping when it gets to the student council room, and even then we see some very odd angles when a discussion is taking place. The only real issue I have with the show is that certain scenes and bits of animation of used over and over again as fillers between gags, and certain gags and settings are used several times, almost as if the writers ran out of jokes for the episode.
This show doesn’t have spectacular animation quality that perhaps a bigger budget show may have, there are no big action sequences or anything ‘special’ about it, but my god is it funny. I have found myself laughing at it every time I decide to re-watch the series, which to me shows greater longevity. I don’t fully understand some of the jokes since they are culturally specific and I guess unless I learn more Japanese or live in the country I will not understand them. The show is also relatively slow moving, so if you don’t like slower shows this probably won’t be for you. It is a funny anime, but clearly wont be for everyone and perhaps might be a bit too ‘immature’ for some people along with lacking fanservice. But it is definitely one of my favourite from the last couple of years and I only wish they had mad a second season (OVAs don’t really count). Worth watching and certainly recommended.