Welcome, one and all, to my continued anime episode review series for Murenase! Seton Gakuen aka Seton Academy: Join The Pack. Episode 8 was, in my opinion, excellent. Let’s talk about why.
Condensed And Projected
In a way, this whole episode was simply a condensed version of the message the series has been promoting all along: we’re all different, but we can all get along if we want to. Where it differed, was that it gave a clear indicator that the message is supposed to be shared outside the bubble of the Cooking Club and Seton Academy.
You see, the general tale here was that Kana, a beluga whale, wanted to join the Synchronized Swimming Club at her school. Ruka, the club captain, says she can’t. Aside from not being as good a swimmer, all of the club members are bottlenosed dolphins, and animals of different species can’t actually sync up.
Jin suggests that Kana sing, as beluga whales are known as the canaries of the sea, and the Cooking Club decides to put on a show with her. Long story short, though the Cooking Club’s routine si simple, Kana’s voice touches the Synchronized Swimming Club, and they are able to sync up just fine, even improving their performance.
So, how does this fit with what I’m saying? Well, there are two points to address. Previously, the message of unity has been confined primarily to the Cooking Club. They’re actually now kinda an anime equivalent to Disney’s Recess kids, or the Mane Six in MLP:FiM. With the general population still shown as segregated though, the only time we’ve seen it extended is to the side-romance between King Shishino and Shiho. Even then though, it’s still within the boundaries of the primary setting, Seton Academy.
Here, we see the same thinking applied to a completely different school. It felt to me like this was supposed to be a way to project the message outside the general bounds of the series and maybe promote the idea that it can be embraced outside anime. This was aided by the second point. The narrator pointed out that there aren’t huge differences between dolphins and whales. Yet, the dolphins still viewed Kana as an entirely different species. Here, it was subtly shown that, if applied outside the series. we’re all human and shouldn’t let differences divide us.
Swimsuit-y Without The Booty
The biggest surprise of the episode for me was that this in many ways the commonly spotted swimsuit episode, yet the fan service was toned way down. This sort of setting usually gives way to a ton of butt and cleavage shots, yet here, things were actually a lot more reasonable. The swimsuits provided a fair bit of coverage for one, and the shots we did get were short-lived and few and far between. I’d also say that I loved the design of the uniform swimsuits; they combined swimwear and the traditional sailor suit style in a way that looked natural. That was really well done.
Giraffes Prove It’s Natural
One argument that I often hear against people such as myself is that same-gender loving isn’t natural, and no other animals do it. As the episode pointed out though, male giraffes are actually quite amorous with each other (There are other animals that act the same too, of course). The important thing here though was that Neku actually did something interesting in the mini-arc with Jin.
You see, Neku has left his male lover because he has fallen for Jin. So serious is he that his sister Kiri points out that Neku is normally a top, but for Jin he’s the sort of bottom that would do anything. Sure, that was a little forward. And having your sister tell the object of your affections that is a little weird. But. Neku wasn’t actually too aggressive.
One thing I’ve always hated in anime is the ‘aggressive lesbian’ stereotype. You know the one; the girl that grabs, gropes and jumps other girls, no matter how many times they say no. You see it a lot in anime. Gay males don’t usually get the same treatment in mainstream shows, but hardcore yaoi does often feature the ‘I raped you now you love me’ arc, which is also appalling. So, I was a little worried that Neku would take on one of those two traits here.
But he didn’t. Instead, he may have been forward, but all he really did was make his feelings clear to Jin. Even the end of the episode where he gave chase was born from a misunderstanding with Jin confessing his feelings to the wrong person. That was actually not a bad piece of rep overall. A little over the top maybe, but that fits with the setting.
I also got the impression that Jin wasn’t against MM pairings per se, he simply isn’t attracted to men himself. That’s good. He’s far from my favourite character, so not having a new reason to dislike him is a bonus.
If I Fits, I Sits
It’s a short moment, but right at the beginning, did you notice that Kurumi was laying I the baggage rack I the bus? Gotta love cat. If I Fits, I Sits!
I will admit that I may be overthinking the core message in this one. Maybe this isn’t all meant to be a mad, harem comedy with a deeper message, but is supposed to just be silly fun. I just couldn’t help but get that vibe from it this week. The episode went by quickly, and while not as laugh out loud funny as some have been, it was still very entertaining.
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.
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