Murenase! Seton Gakuen Episode 4 [Anime Review]

Episode four of Murenase! Seton Gakuen, aka Seton Academy: Join The Pack is here! Was it any good? Well, there was good and bad. Let’s discuss.

Ferrill Wolves

This week, we were introduced to Ranka’s big sister Ferrill. And by big, I don’t just mean older. You see, Ferrill is massive. Like, super tall. This is put down to Bergmann’s rule that animals in colder environments tend to grow larger. Because Ranka and her family came from up North – where it is twenty below zero – it makes sense. Even more so because she apparently kept lending Ranka her coat on cold days, meaning she felt the cold more.

This arc was actually really sweet. It was nice seeing Ranka talk about her family. Equally so, it was nice to see that Ferrill really does care about her little sister and that their arguments over Ranka befriending other animals hurt her. Her ridiculous level of toughness was also a lot of fun, with her regularly burying students headfirst in walls.

I’m happy that she seems to be sticking around to keep an eye on Ranka.

Continuing Side Quest + Broken Rules

The saga of King Shishino and Shiho continued too! I honestly expected it fall to the wayside and never be brought up again. Instead, we learn that Shishino’s stepping down as King has resulted in a turf war for the top spot, complete with rumours about big prizes and an invading force from another school (which turned out to be Ferrill, who wasn’t invading at all). Despite the escalating violence, the teachers aren’t stepping in either, meaning it’s pretty much par for the course there. The love story also took a sad turn as Shiho told him that she won’t be able to see him for a while as she must concentrate on her long jump club so that she is not beaten by the new club member. Her running off causes him to lose the rest of his mane in sorrow.

Meanwhile, the fan service this week was…toned down. The scene with Jin walking Ranka on a leash was fun. We got some brief shots of Miki in her usual state of undress, but these were few in number. Ferrill tried to ‘make a man’ of Jin via a seductive lick but stopped short of doing so. Yena’s de-pantsing also didn’t happen. The focus was more on the characters than the boobs this week. This was good. Until it wasn’t.

The Problem With Yena

So, Yena (a spotted hyena) turns up part way through the episode and tries to challenge Ferrill. Interestingly, Yena dresses like a male and is identified as such by the male wolves. But, Yena has human features, marking them as biologically female. This is where things got a little tricky.

Yena identifies as male. The others around him both see him as and treat him as, male. Jin immediately says he’s female based on facial appearance. When Yena tries to confront him about this during a cooking club session, Jin refuses to believe it. So, Yena tries to take his pants off to prove his point, only for Jin to point out that female spotted hyenas have genitalia that grows to the point of looking male, so it wouldn’t actually prove anything.

While Jin’s pointing out that Yena’s views on what being a male is all about were a little antiquated, the problem comes in the resolution on his end. You see, Yenas has lived in hand me down clothes from his big brother and has been convinced that he’s male from a young age. Jin puts this down to being a mistake on Yena’s part and applauds Yena for figuring it out, causing him to flee the room. Jin says he’ll work it out as he’s tough, and Ranka says he’s kind. What basically happened here is that the heroes completely vetoed Yena’s gender identity based on physical traits, applauded the concept of Yena just being silly and realizing he made a mistake, and then claimed it was kind.

But it clearly didn’t resolve anything for Yena. At home, his Dad has already gotten him a female uniform and his brother – who is now a hairdresser – gives her a more feminine haircut. At which point he runs off crying that he is a male.

What concerns me is that this essentially looks like we’re going to see Yena’s identity used as comic relief. I hope there’s more to it as the story goes on, and that it leads to development for everyone. I’m worried though. This series has an interesting set up and some genuinely funny moments, and I really don’t want to see it fall into being outright problematic.

 

Overall

When the episode got it right, it got it really right. The Ranka/Ferrill arc was great fun. The Yena arc was poorly dealt with though, mixing some good moments with a wave of transphobic undertones. Fingers crossed it gets back on track.

So, those were my thoughts. But what about yourselves? Did you enjoy this episode? Do you agree or disagree with any of my observations? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Previous Episode Reviews

 

4 thoughts on “Murenase! Seton Gakuen Episode 4 [Anime Review]

    1. Yena is born female but identifies as male. That places him under the trans umbrella. The lead protagonist denies his identity and is the concept that Yena was just silly and made a mistake about their identity is applauded.

      I don’t see how that can be interpreted any way other than having having transphobc undertones.

      By all means, if I’m missing something, feel free to explain it. As it is though, I simply don’t see how else to view it.

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      1. You’re jumping to conclusions a little bit here. Yena in this episode wasn’t presented as someone with some kind of genre disphoria, the joke was that she was dumb to the point that she didn’t even know the anatomy of her own species and assumed she was male. It wasn’t intended to be transphobic or anything, they thought they were helping her because she seemed genuinely confused by this.

        Even then, this is still addressed later in the manga, if you don’t mind spoilers. Yena tries to fit in with the other girls and act more feminine, but she ends up not feeling comfortable with this and ends up being encouraged by Hitomi to just be whatever she wants. From that point onward Yena decides to remain male for sure and the others are very accepting of his decision, which is the complete opposite of transphobia.

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      2. With regards to the first point, that’s a similar experience to that which a few people I used to work with had. They are trans and were told they where being dumb and clearly don’t understand anatomy as they didn’t have lower surgery. I’ve had similar thrown at me too on days I’ve presented as other than my birth gender.

        The result of that is that seeing a character shown on this way feels very wrong to me. I would imagine to others too.

        With regards to this episode, even before the genitalia scene, both Ranka and Jin had made up their mind that Yena is female, regardless of them saying that were male. That’s problematic. At the end, Yena running off crying that they’re male also indicates this was more than just being dumb.

        To the second point, I read that while I was writing up episode 5. I was worried about where this could go, and wanted to check. That made me more forgiving of the brief Yena scene in that episode.

        I agree, Yena eventually reverting to male and others accepting him as such is the opposite of transphobic. I’m happy with that as an ending to the arc.

        Before knowing that though, having no access to the source material, I could only judge what was in front of me. Jokes around gender identity are always going to leave me, and many others, raw. They always carry at least a minor sense of transphobia with them, IMO.

        For me, the club’s reaction to Yena in this episode fits that. It’s too close to experiences I’ve had and seen to feel any other way. I will accept however that the way the arc is supposed to end means this wasn’t intended to be transphobic, even if the character’s actions still seem that way to me.

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