Yuri Anime: Seraphim Call, Part 2 (English)

February 11th, 2005

Disc 2 of Seraphim Call is better than the first. Much better. Why is that? The stories are paced a *bit* quicker, and even the art is tighter. It almost feels as if the animators were just getting the hang of it, and then it ends.

Or, maybe, I just like the vignettes better on this disc.

To start off, in Episode seven we meet Saeno, one of two adults in the story. Saeno is a mathematics genius who has become an English teacher. Her story revolves around a particular math problem – that of “squaring the circle.” Her story also has a little light time travel, just for flavor.

Episode eight is meant to be a parody on super mecha rescue forces, lead by rich girl Ayaka…but fails to be funny, which is kind of deathly for a parody.

Then comes episode nine. This epsiode is really the best one. The fact that it’s Yuri-flavored helps, but even if it were utterly straight, it would still be the best of the bunch. Again, the narrative is partially non-linear, and the “twist” is really obvious, nonetheless it’s still a really decent piece of writing. In this episode, we are introduced to a “legend” of Kurenai Kasumi, through the eyes of a schoolgirl/documentary host. While tracing the legend of Kasumi, we meet Yakko, a cynical camerawoman who dismisses the legend as bunk, constantly challenging the girl’s unquestioning belief in the legend. I won’t give away the surprise ending, but let me say that its definitely got a Yuri edge to it. To add to the fun, Kasumi’s voice is done by Asakawa Yuu, who has done other notable lesbian characters as Sakaki-san from Azumanga Daioh, Jura from Vandread and even another red-haired motorcycle-riding uber-cool babe (and Yuri fan favorite) Priss, from Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040.

This one episode really notches up the Yuri for the major heavy-duty akogare and again for Kasumi’s backstory. And because she rides a motorcycle. ;-)

Episode ten is an interesting multi-layer story of Kurumi, a high school student who is also a popular manga artist. When her life and her story become foils for each other, it adds a layer of complexity to both her writing and her own existence. The manga itself has a part to play in the narrative and we see how Kurumi’s experience affects her story directly. The only complaint I had for this episode is that Media Blasters translated the spoken words of the characters of the manga, but not the words written in the manga, which were not always the same as what was being said. Good thing I can read a little Japanese…

The last of the introductory episodes I can only describe as a surrealist introspective monologue by Urara, a girl whose best friend appears to be…a door. The entire episode is laid out as a kind of one-person play, with Urara the only actor. All other people in her life are invisible to us – although we can see that they do exist, we never see them directly. It’s a bit heavy on the door/adulthood imagery, but kind of interesting for all that.

Which brings us to the final episode, in which all the characters are linked. In the preceding episodes, we are never given any idea that any of these characters know each other, but in the final episode, a chain of circumstantial acquaintance or friendship bring them together for “the screening.”

Urara from the last episode goes to the same school as Yukina, the genius from the first episode, who tells her about the plan to project faces on a big screen in space that night. Yukina, in turn, knows Tanpopo from episode two, who contacts Kurumi from episode ten (which includes an amusing mistake as Tanpopo assumes that Kurumi is a guy and is shocked when Kurumi wonders why Tanpopo would think that her lover is a woman…which launches Tanopopo on a silly monologue about romantic boys’ love) Kurumi then follows Chinami from episode three and, completely inexplicably, confesses that she loves her. It’s particularly random given Kurumi’s apparent interest in the guy who moves in with her family in her own episode…but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? Chinami’s reaction, btw, is brilliant – she says that she’s pretty picky about looks and asks Kurumi to remove her glasses to see if she’s worth considering. I really think that Chinami wins here. ^_^

Chinami meets Hatsumi for some cake, admits that she was propositioned by a girl, and Hatsumi mentions how she met Kurenai Kasmumi and asks her for advice on being her own self. (I’d like to point out that Hatsumi was still wearing pants and a tie and looked really good. ^_^) The scene with Hatsumi in tie and Kasumi in leather is, visually speaking, one of my personal favorites. ^_^

Kasumi then calls her former teacher Saeno to thank her for a math problem she had posed in school the year before, and to offer the solution. Saeno turns around and speaks to Ayaka, who strafes Shion and Sakura’s compound in her plane. The best part of this penultimate scene was seeing that Sakura had a personality after all – she’s quite nasty to Ayaka. Good.

So, the climax comes and all the girls are together and…the anime ends.

It makes sense, I guess, but I kept wondering, well…so what? What now? It seems as if we’re poised for something that just isn’t there.

Again – not quality. But, interesting, with exceptional writing in a few places and not so much in others. As an exercise in “voice” it’s quite good – every episode had a completely different sound and feel from every other (excepting of course, the twins’.)

For Yuri fans – well, given that Shion and Sakura are an item, that Kasumi’s backstory is Yuri, that Kurumi confesses to Chinami and that Hatsumi gives off that cross-dress-y babydyke vibe…it’s a win.

Ratings:

Art – 5
Story – Variable, from 2-8
Characters – 7, something for everyone
Music – Variable, but averaging at about a 7 (the end themes are all sung by the voice actresses for that episode’s main character)
Yuri – 8

Overall – 7, but definitely worth Yuri fans’ attention.

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