Seto no Hanayome 1-9: The First Third is Free…

This is roughly as suggestive as this show gets. Which, given its genre, is amazing.

…and the rest is to feed the addiction. It’s been a while since I’ve been utterly addicted to a show and watching a rapid number of episodes not on assignment for an article–and putting off my class reading in the process. This show is slapstick enough, likeable enough, and similar-and-yet-original enough to the various harem/romance conventions to be a winning comedy in my book. And with relatively little fanservice too!

Shibazaki-sensei is MALE. You do the math.

My first article, which was based solely on episode 1, suggested that maybe the parents would steal the show away from the kids, especially San’s yakuza gang but also the hilarious slapstick visited upon Nagasumi by his own mom and pop. The former turns out to be more true than the latter, since it’s one of the most original aspects of the show; I’m not sure anyone’s ever thought of merpeople societies being like organized crime, with all the cliches of the yakuza life which I first learned when watching Gokusen. It’s frequently the real source of the show’s humor too, much moreso than the otherwise fairly standard romantic hijinks–stepping into the bathroom accidentally, the childhood friend rival, etc. Though one thing I guess I found somewhat unclear is whether the Setouchi group and all the other merpeople gangs really are wanted by the terrestial police, which was implied by the uneasiness San feels around the policeman’s daughter Mawari. Then again, if they were able to infiltrate Nagasumi’s school to the point where every key staff member was replaced by one of them…their money must talk as well on land as on the sea!

The gang’s all here. Octopus included.

And let’s talk about San’s own ridiculously inflated sense of chivalric honor, which is always accompanied by a traditional song and falling sakura petals. Not only is it really funny, winking at the popular media perception of yakuza being the last bastion of samurai values, but it’s one of the more refreshing aspects of San’s character. She is actually a self-directed girl with a real backbone, and chose all the difficulties that have ensued lately freely and for her own real reasons–no simpering simple harem girl is she. One actually gets the impression at times that she cares more about the family name of Setouchi (or at least her interpretation of it–since it often gets her in serious trouble!) than Nagasumi per se, though…Nagasumi has yet to break out of the blank slate syndrome that afflicts most anime romance leads. His parents are still more colorful than him. Though I find it just a little unsettling that Masa has the same effect on him that he has on his mother…all googly-eyed and submissive.  I suppose giving your first kiss to a desirable Afro’d man does that to you. 🙂 (I nominate Samuel L. Jackson for the dub!)

If this is how a guy reacts to Masa…think of all the ladies he’s bedded!

I love how over-the-top everything got in the whole San vs Runa miniarc, without descending into wink-wink self-referential humor in the manner of more and more shows these days. (Though it could be seen as a parody of at least two different conventions of anime, the shounen quest and the harem convention of having “factions” for different girls–if anything it reminds me of a similar situation in Shuffle!) I’m not as impressed with the constant introduction of new characters in general, though; once the Mikawa boy came along I started to fear a loss of focus, though it’s in less danger of that given that the show just ended (unlike Hayate) and so we know that it can’t continue indefinitely. The wild contrast between cutesy girliness and cynical belligerence in both Maki-chan and Runa is starting to become an overused comedy trope too, not just in this show but Akira in the Lucky Channel segments of Lucky Star. (Which is exactly who Runa reminds me of.) Maybe it’s based on the growing realization of how much the “moe” stereotype is not worth taking seriously anymore.

I’m still kicking myself for neglecting this show all the way back in the spring, when Hayate looked like the original star of the season. The descriptions at the time made it seem like just another generic harem show, and to a certain extent it is, but to a large extent it isn’t–the side characters are much more prominent and the harem girls have much stronger self-will than usual. The families of the two leads play a much more prominent role than is typical in anime, period. The OP and EDs are both genuinely infectious and memorable, not oversynthesized J-pop like most harem shows have–I never skip them, which is a high compliment from me. If anything, this is an example of how to do a formula genre show right: it has just enough energy and sass to make it stand out from the crowd, with plenty of belly laughs to boot.

Don’t be surprised if I’m ready to write a series review already by the end of the week. I can’t stop watching this.

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.

10 thoughts on “Seto no Hanayome 1-9: The First Third is Free…

  1. Heh… a couple of non spoiling points…. episode 20 is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Period. Nothing else comes close….
    This show has probably the best ending in an anime that I can remember!
    Don’t pass this show up and don’t give up on it…you will be rewarded.

  2. good thing to not skip the OP, especially the dancing bit changes frontline dancers occasionally.

  3. if you like this, you may like the original author’s previous work, My Name is Zushio,

    available only in manga format with scanslations

    which has all the no holds barred comedy without the love harem

    which is an alright genre if done right, but I felt a little duped because his

    previous work was stopped short with four volumes, most likely because of lack of

    readership and publishers wanting him to do a love harem : d

  4. @Voodoomage: I’m looking forward to seeing it, then. I’m about halfway to that point! And you make me excited to see the ending.

    @blerg: I didn’t notice it in the OP, though I noticed it in the ED. Nice eyes, there. I’ll look for it next time.

    @smashingtofu: I don’t read enough manga. Maybe I should check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. I am the mysterious traveling manga guru…

    I enjoy enlightening people with manga…!

    um, anyway, no problem

    you’re posts are really cool and I actually don’t watch anime enough

    plus I started watching some of the anime you mention here

    so its really give and take in a way

    btw, hitohira was awesome

    and I THINK you may have mentioned Planetes anime here… have you?

    and this is out of curiousity/off-topic, but have you watched tekkon kinkreet?

  6. smashingtofu, I haven’t mentioned Plantes or watched Tekkonkinkreet, though I have heard a lot of good things about the latter. Some of my friends saw the latter at Anime Expo this year and had good things to say about it. And thank you for the compliments and I hope you enjoy my more recommended anime.

  7. Planetes may be the type of anime or manga you’ll like *I’m a big fan of the manga and it ranks up there in my library of favorites*

    if it helps, Goro Taniguchi directed the Planetes anime in 2005, who also directed the recent Code Geass

    But, Planetes is a realistic science fiction take on space with a little artistic liberty; focusing on the political, societal and philosophical side of things between the characters relationship with space.

    and well, the main characters are space debris collectors, in other words, ‘space trash men’ : d

    …I feel like I’m forcing stuff on you all of now… : d

  8. er, double post…

    yeah, I’ve seen tekkon kinkreet at AX this year too

    the original manga is by an author that has a strong cult following in japan

    and some of other countries because of his surrealistic, unconventional art-style

    on a side note, Ping Pong the live-action movie was also an adaptation of his manga too, so was Aoi Haru

  9. No worries, smashingtofu. Thanks for the suggestion. I actually haven’t seen a really good sci-fi show in a long time, not since Crest of the Stars at least.

  10. No problem, just keep in mind that Planetes is more ‘hard science fiction’

    nothing extraordinary like big mechs, nothing too elaborate like detailing over quantum

    physics, but what it does is focus more on space

    issues and the pathos that results from it

    I felt that I wasn’t clear enough with the last post

    I have to admit though that the anime starts a little on the slow side : /

    I pretty much deified the manga series though, its up on in room on a pedestal like

    some sort of buddhist alter with some ice cream mochi as offerings, yum

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