Image source: セイレン on Twitter
Seiren may be following several recognizable tropes of romance anime, but I can still relate to it on many more levels than other series that revolve around relationships.
The show’s first “route” involves high school student Shoichi Kamita and Hikari Tsuneki. Shoichi’s a big gamer, but also a bit of a pervert and a solitary figure who has a problem with fantasizing about the naughtier side of life a little too often.
Shoichi goes to school with a female student named Hikari Tsuneki, the “class idol” of sorts who everyone falls in love with. It’s clear she has a thing for Shoichi from the brazen and decidedly abrasive way she treats him. Hikari has a bit of a “princess” complex, and she loves to tease Shoichi rather than get to know him outright. And while this might seem annoying to some, that’s exactly how life and relationships were for me in high school as well.
See, when I was in high school (has it really been ten years ago now?), it wasn’t uncommon to be jeered at if you watched a certain kind of TV show, wore Walmart-branded sneakers, or if you wore your hair a certain way. It’s brutal, and totally unlike how entertainment portrays it in most situations–at least it was in my neck of the woods. Flirting and relationships were no different. It was more frustrating, adult, and bizarre than nearly anything else of my adolescence, and treating the guy you were interested in like a dog was en vogue. The treatment was the same from the guys, too, at least in my experience.
I myself would do the things Hikari does in Seiren, though I was by no means the class idol. I didn’t have the looks to back it up, but I’d zero in on the guy I liked, berate him constantly, ask him invasive personal questions to find reasons to get him to open up to me, and make fun of him relentlessly–all the while teasing him because I found him attractive or wanted him to like me. It was a weird, confusing time, and that’s probably why I was able to get so much out of this series so far.
Image source: セイレン on Twitter
There are several times within Hikari’s story where she just straight up inquires if Shoichi is gay, or emasculates him in front of her friends. In turn, Shoichi is ridiculously critical of Hikari’s choices and her lifestyle. The two are at odds with each other and have difficulty reaching the conclusion that they’re interested in each other. While it may seem frivolous and silly to some viewers, it makes a lot of sense to me because this is what I know from growing up, dysfunctional as it may seem.
When Shoichi is frustrated that he sees Hikari flirting with upperclassmen and doing things he doesn’t approve of, he doesn’t just come right out and say it, either. He mumbles about it in the most passive way possible, though he’s clearly upset. I saw this in the same people I flirted with and had these weird interactions with growing up, too. It felt off then, too, but it also felt like a part of getting older.
Now that I’ve aged, though, I still see this with teenagers, both real and fictional. Seeing it reflected in Seiren makes me feel less like I was going through something strange, and I’m glad to see realistic portrayals of the weird ways adolescent humans can interact with each other, especially when it involves idyllic women and everyman protagonists. At least some part of it is totally, absolutely real.
Seiren can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.