3 Episode Taste Test: Seitokai Yakuindomo

If ever there was a need to reiterate it: successful comedy hinges on the delivery. Seitokai Yakuindomo somehow doesn't understand this and after cramming joke after staid joke into an episode, it still comes across as bland and uninspired. All the constituent parts are there: the all-girls school recently turned co-ed, the straight-man protagonist, the overcompensating short girl; but none of them gel together. The first three episodes never break that threshold that turns a smirk into a laugh into a guffaw. Instead, predictability and tedium set in and what could have been a sterling comedy, pregnant with possibilities, falls flat and doesn't find the spark to differentiate it.

pixelated shots of sex toys and genitalia during the opening demonstrate the tawdriness the jokes aim for

Takatoshi joined Ousai Academy because it was close to his house. It is no ordinary school however, up until recently it was an all-girls school meaning the ratio of females to males is high and though Takatoshi didn't join to build a harem, other male students certainly have. On his first day he is accosted by the student council president, Shino, and forced to join the council as vice president and representative for the male student body. As well as the filthy mind of the president, he is joined by the ultra-rich Aria and the genius trapped in a child's body, Suzu in his daily duties involving an inordinate amount of paperwork as well as loafing around the council room during breaks.

No surprises that the source material is a four-panel comic aimed at teenage boys: the jokes are crude and come thick and fast and, thanks to some off-the-wall scenarios, it feels like a smuttier and charmless version of Azumanga Daioh. The fundamental problem is that all of the characters introduced so far are as tenuous as the humour and only the diminutive return student Suzu elicits any kind of connection; primarily as she is the only one displaying more than aloof indifference to ongoing events.

Certainly jokes about feminine hygiene items underscore the kind of idealised environment Takatoshi is supposedly in, but pixelated shots of sex toys and genitalia during the opening demonstrate the tawdriness the jokes aim for but miss by leagues. Most of the character archetypes have been done before to varying degrees - the naive and nouveau rich girl a particularly tired example - but none of them are truly capitalised upon with many of the jokes involving them abandoned before their time. It's telling that while most comedies roll out their best material in the first episode, here there is only a budget burning animated fly-through of the school and oversaturated cherry blossom trees.

Perhaps Seitokai Yakuindomo's problems lie in a cultural rift, mention of heterosexuality being "normal" indicates its voice is for a disposition and age range that is difficult to be noticed in. Or perhaps it is blitzing through its source material at a rate which the producers consider sustainable, but when a slower and more measured pace, letting the characters and running gags take root, would be more advantageous. Or maybe it's exactly what is to be expected from a lacklustre source, and a studio and director whose only notable previous work was Princess Lover.

It's difficult to believe that the series is so humourless with a premise that seemed impossible to foul up. It isn't through concerted effort that the opening episodes fail to tickle but more through mismanagement of resources; with any luck future episodes will be less frantic, more measured and enjoy a better calibre of comedy. The pedigree of the production staff and the first three episodes themselves don't give this a high probability though and even with an injection of more interesting characters, redemption for such a mediocre and uninspiring start will be monumentally difficult.

Responses to “3 Episode Taste Test: Seitokai Yakuindomo”

I thought that the rapid, almost ADD-like pace of the comedy was a strength of this show, actually. Combined with the over the top raunchiness, the show keeps moving on to the next joke before you have a chance to think, "Did I really see/hear that?" It's so dry and quick that it reminds me of British comedies or shows in the same vein such as Arrested Development.