The Wandering Witch Lives Vicariously!

Posted on Mar 22 2017


Welcome, all, again. Today we will discuss Seiren, a slice-of-life series which follows protagonist Shoichi Kamita and his interactions with three very different girls. Now, the purpose and triumph of slice-of-life as a genre is its insertion of its audience into the very lives of its characters. And while a specific show’s premise and setting might act to inhibit or enhance its believability, those things become less important once the audience is fully engaged. You as a viewer become [minor] participant, not so much inhabiting a character as that character’s story. That’s why you are just as excited as Ren-chon when NeeNee serves curry, and why you get so aggravated with Rei–after all, you want to enjoy a meal with the Kawamoto sisters! When slice-of-life is presented properly, the viewer doesn’t just watch the story, but instead lives it right alongside the characters. So it’s hardly surprising that this genre’s fans develop such strong emotional attachments to their favorite characters and shows. As it happens, we’re in luck, because Seiren is done right!


Shoichi is a second-year in high school, and seems to just be awakening to the importance of university entrance exams and grades in general. Until now, he seems to have been content playing all manner of video games and hanging out with his friends, particularly Ikuo Nanasaki and Tatsuya Araki. While all three enjoy trips to the arcade, Ikuo and Tatsuya are far more advanced in their preparations for their futures than is Shoichi. Ikuo is generally quiet and studious, planning upon university, while Tatsuya plans to join his family’s business after graduation. Shoichi seems comparatively adrift, even admitting to Ikuo that the prospect of leaving high school frightens him. He is a young man without focus or ambition, but with the dawning realization that he’ll need both.


So how to develop them? Well, turns out that he’s going to have help with that–lots of help. To begin with, there’s already help of sorts right under his nose. Because while his older sister Tomoe might act the role of an airhead at school, she is actually quite cognizant of her brother’s predicament; certainly moreso than he. Intimately acquainted with Shoichi’s strengths and deficiencies, Tomoe offers frequent encouragement just chock-full of subtle hints for self-improvement. Sadly, familiarity seems to have bred contempt; Shoichi’s been listening to her for so long that he no longer seems to hear her at all. He wants to do better and she wants to help, but they’re just too close to reach each other. Obviously, Shoichi needs a real kick in the pants to get him moving. Enter contestant #1, classmate Hikari Tsuneki! This girl is, politely put, a real handful. Pretty, popular, and stubborn as any ten mules, she ends up at a summer study camp with Shoichi and Ikuo and decides that Shoichi offers the perfect remedy for her boredom. It’s not that she’s particularly mean-spirited; rather, she’s much more self-centered, sometimes to the point of being oblivious to the fact that others’ emotions are in play. The word crush has several meanings, but they almost all hint at some destructive process.

Next up is Tomoe’s classmate, Toru Miyamae, who initially connects to Shoichi as a fellow gamer. She is slender and tall, but is unfortunately awkward in conversation and most social settings. In many ways strong and assertive, Toru’s past has damaged her confidence and resilience. Shoichi is awed by her cool demeanor and stunned to find it a facade. The vulnerability he finds beneath it amazes them both. But Toru is not the only girl whose transformations involve Shoichi–his childhood friend and junior, first-year Kyoko Tono, has been growing up right in front of him for years. And, of course, watching him grow up as well. She’s now a young woman, with the budding body and emotions to prove it! But how will these changes impact their long relationship?


This show rings true on many levels, not least of which is Shoichi’s confusion and hesitancy. These are, after all, uncharted waters, and the old cartographers were right: Here be monsters. The heart is both fickle and fragile, and can inflict the greatest cruelty where none is intended. Shoichi is about to learn some painful lessons. I remember a couple in my class who had been together since grade school. In our junior year, as other girls bloomed a bit more robustly than she, her boyfriend strayed. And she just faded away in front of us. Every bit as beautiful and smart as she ever had been, but suddenly an empty shell. And what could any of us do? This series captures that level of turmoil, when we in our youth want emotional connection and validation so badly, but are only still learning how to navigate the consequences.

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