seiren4

In dating simulation games, there is usually no right choice for the girl (or guy) you should choose–it’s all up to taste. But anime is usually forced to make a story with only one of those love interests as the object of the protagonist’s affection. Anime that feature the protagonist chasing after a different heroine every few episodes–called “omnibus” anime–give fans of each heroine (or hero) their share of the love.

One of the pioneers of this genre is Amagami SS, an anime adaptation of the visual novel Amagami that aired in 2010. The story follows Junichi, a fairly normal guy who attends school with a variety of beautiful girls. His schoolmates include Haruka, the playful upperclassman, Kaoru, the tomboyish classmate, Sae, the shy underclassman, Ai, the quiet swimmer, Rihoko, the “normal” childhood friend, and Tsukasa, the student council president who’s not as innocent as she seems.

The first four episodes of the anime focus on protagonist Junichi and his romantic exploits with Haruka. By the end of episode four, he and Haruka have a pretty happy and satisfying ending; come episode 5, however, and Junichi has no idea who Haruka even is. Their relationship never even existed–instead, he is pursued by his classmate Kaoru.

As an omnibus, Amagami SS is a collection of stories, with each story focusing on a different girl. However, these stories do not exist on the same timeline. With Junichi, a protagonist who is written to be the average Joe so the viewer can put themselves in his shoes, the person watching the anime can have the experience of romancing not just one, but a multitude of perfect girls.

This does create a dilemma, however: what are the people who only like one heroine supposed to do when the anime isn’t broadcasting their arc? The producers of Amagami SS seem to cater to these viewers as well, releasing separate Blu-ray collections of episodes only containing the story of one heroine–episodes from the first and second season of the anime included.

Just as a dating simulation game allows the user to choose their favorite girl and see only their story, the anime allows the viewer to pick and choose. While most anime based on dating games–for example, Clannad–tend to focus on the main heroine, while peppering in moments of the other heroines around her, as an omnibus anime, Amagami SS splits up its time to put only one of those heroines in the spotlight.

While it’s been a while since we got a romantic omnibus anime, this season’s anime SEIREN is a successor to Amagami SS. The anime is set a few years after the events of the latter–heck, the little brother of swimming club member Ai is in this show as the best friend of the new protagonist, Shouichi. And, like Amagami SS, the protagonist has his choice of gorgeous heroines to romance. No doubt will he reload his dating game every few episodes so he can go down each girl’s route separately.

Anime Basics: SEIREN

SEIREN premiered in Japan on January 5, and is streaming with English subtitles on Crunchyroll. Amagami SS and its sequel anime Amagami SS Plus are available on Blu-ray in North America from publisher Sentai Filmworks. You can learn more about SEIREN and its many heroines on our Anime Basics page.

Comments (6)
  1. I don’t know if “Clannad” is a great example of the non-omnibus anime, as it spends lengthy arcs with each of the heroines and her problems (Kotori’s isolated existence, Tomoyo’s run for student body president, etc.) before finally coming back to true ending girl Nagisa. In fact, there are OAV episodes that exist in their own continuity to provide a romantic version of the Kyou Arc or Tomoyo Arc, more or less like Amagami.

    I think a stronger example of this non-omnibus kind of VN adaptation would be “Rumbling Hearts”, which commits so completely to its narrative through-line that a casual viewer might never imagine that the nurses at the hospital or the waitresses in the restaurant are dateable in the original game. Honestly, that’s my favorite example of the genre, as it makes sweeping changes from the game to work better as an anime — up until the final episode, you’d be hard-pressed to say whether you’re watching the Haruka or Mistuki arc.

    • Anime like Clannad, Kanon 2006, and ToHeart 2 are not omnibus anime because they don’t reset the timeline every single time the protagonist (in the case of Clannad, Tomoya) goes through their story arc. He will only be with one girl (except for in the OVA where he gets together with Ryo) in the end, with the others as just friends on the sidelines. An omnibus anime basically says “Hey, remember that emotional development you spent four episodes on with the love of your life? Of course you don’t! Because the timeline has been reset. Now go get that swimming club girl!”

  2. It sounds like we’re saying there are three kinds:
    1. Omnibus shows, where each girl gets an arc and we do a complete reset for each one.
    2. Non-omnibus shows, where each girl gets an arc, but they play out sequentially in one timeline. (Pretty much all the Key shows work like this… Clannad as a possible exception b/c of the Tomoyo and Kyo/Ryo OVAs).
    3. Non-omnibus shows, without the “every girl gets an arc” concept at all.

    …So, where do we put Steins;Gate? 🙂 It’s got an awfully funny way of doing its reset.

    • I actually thought about Steins;Gate as well, but couldn’t justify it as an omnibus anime. I consider it similar to Clannad because while Okabe has friendly relationships and emotional arcs with the other characters, he is only dedicated to Kurisu (and remembers what happens in all his time leaps, unlike Amagami SS’s protagonist!)

  3. Hey no disrespect or anything as I am a fan of amagami ss, but I’m pretty sure Photokano also fit into the omnibus area as well. I also thought they said that photokano was the successor, I may be wrong but I am curious about Seirin and want to see how it fairs

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