Let me say this out front, Seiren is NOT a good show, it’s a highly uneven one. Throughout its run, I can see some solid moments and fresh ideas that could potentially raise it above the bar, but ultimately, view it as a whole, Seiren is a show that isn’t worth recommending. At first, I’m actually intrigued by the premise of the show: an omnibus format on the romance between our protagonist and each of the girl (3 of them this season). Ya know, a harem without an actual harem. For me personally, I’m dread at the concept of “the one” in romance, that there is one person who specifically for you, your “true love”. I always believe that having a romantic relationship with someone is a matter of meeting them at the right time in the right circumstances, of course with enough chemistry and efforts. So, for a show like this (and Amagami, I’ll get to that later), showing multiple possibilities one could’ve have to be in love with different girls is actually interesting and more realistic concept, at least for me. Moreover, with 4 episodes for each arc, it is a perfect length to flesh out the characters, heighten the chemistry before the romance itself drags out for too long. That was in theory anyways, because what we got instead is a show that bugged down by a very inconsistent plot progression, awkward pacing and weak writing in general.
It’s hard not compare this to Amagami so I will address this issue first. Although Seiren is an original show, it borrows the same concept, the same structure and even the same settings with the latter, so like it or not we have to see if this show is better than its inspiration or unique enough to stand out by its own. For the quality, Amagami is way better and way more focus, they understand the romance is their central point so everything they put is mainly to flesh out the relationship between the main character and any given girl. Each of the route starts and finishes around the same time period, making us feel strong connection between each arc. Moreover, Amagami works because it adapts its Sim-dating format really thoughtfully (okay, enough about Amagami, I won’t address it again. Promise). Seiren, being an original show, doesn’t really need to follow Amagami’s footstep because frankly, why stick to a game format when you have an ability to do something fresher? Seiren achieved it in a way, because after finishing the show I wouldn’t call it a ghost of its predecessor. It is its own thing, but in an inferior way.
The first issue here is the route, because honestly I can’t call it a route. Each arc happens in a different time period, and sometimes without the knowledge of the previous arc, you couldn’t follow the details in later arc (like Tatsuya, Shouichi’s friend, who has a fetish for rabbit). Worst of all, except for featuring the same stock of characters in the same school settings, the three arcs are vastly unrelated to each other, be it in themes, in the romance, even in characters themselves. For that I mean the characters change in personalities during each arc that it’s hard to consider them the same person. Take Shouichi best friend, Ikuo for example. In the first arc, he appears as Shouichi’s close childhood friend but he’s more academic, he’s more serious about his life and spends a lot of time for study. In the second arc however, the show betrays his nerd side by putting him to become a game-buddy with our main leads; and in the last part I wouldn’t consider them close friend at all (how can you call each other best friend when you have no idea the girl that Ikuo crushed for so long) and Ikuo acts like a love-struck Romeo. The only thing that consistent is the show’s weird fetish for deer, in which I find rather fascinating.
Then to the big elephant in a room, the writing and the progress of the plot are all over the place. In Seiren, I have a feeling that there are too many chefs in a kitchen, thus the result is a hot mess tomato syrup. Sometimes it wants to be a game-buddy show with exciting mecha fights (really!), sometimes it focuses on magical girl- passion only for later it drops that storyline to focus instead on the girl baking and enjoying Christmas party, then it remembers that it had to develop a romance so it puts the characters alone together. In addition, normally you know the writing of a show is inadequate when a side character shows up and you had to think for a few seconds to remember who that person is. Well, I have the same problem with this series. Like, who is that girl in swimming club again? From the poster, I supposed she’d be one of the harem but where are the other two girls then? They might be around somewhere but at this point I lose all the interest to find out who they are. And not even characters, but the plots development as well. Let’s see, why Seiren keeps focusing on Hikari’s best friend backstabbing her subplot and then kind of drop it off all together? Why the subplot of the Student Council President (oh, my bad, it’s Public Morals Committee) forced the Home ec Club to build a Christmas tree? There were like dozen subplots in one arc without any proper development that it feels just like having a dream. I bet in few months all we can remember is the main plot points and some fragments here and there but we totally forget everything else.
But the show is not without its charms, mind you. First thing I should mention is the hilarious dialogues that bother self-satire, that actually make the show ridiculous and funny at certain points. Line like “Sorry, do you mind if I feed my deer” in a middle of a café date with deadpan delivery is something to behold. While the main male protagonist is plain, I like the all three girls Hikari (no, not the vampire), Toru and Kyouko (no, not the dullahan. What’s up with this show and Demi-chan?) and they are interesting and diverse enough to carry the show by themselves majority of the time (my favorite girl: Hikari). Lastly, I enjoyed the epilogue parts of each arc because I think it’s one of the rare cases where the randomness in details work in their favors. Watching Shouichi become a chief, a school bus driver (haha) or a magical girl mangaka is both hilarious, but also remind us the endless possibilities of our own future.
The technical aspect of the show is nothing to write home about, although it fulfills its jobs. There are some moments, most notably, during the “kiss in a beach” scene, where the visual and sound really elevate the whole sequence. Other time, the show did a decent job of choreographing an action mecha fight and the character designs, while attractive in general, sometimes I do feel like I was looking at fake wax statues (weird huh?). I think it mostly have to do with the character’s eyes, sometimes they just kind of staring too long without any emotion attached.
It’s note repeating that for my score, I consider 60 as recommendation line; as such Seiren falls short. The inconsistent in plots and sometimes in characters themselves are its most drawbacks. It’s a pity because I can see many of its plots have a potential to become a solid offering, but when they jam up everything they can think of together, the result is a half-baked resolution to most of its plots. If there will ever be a second season (come on, there are 3 more girls), I’m not exactly sure if I still care to watch it. At the end of the day, Seiren is a misfire romance show, it had potential to be a much better show, but all it need is to settle in some major plot points and develop them properly. To put it more precisely, Seiren lacks a sucker punch.