Student’s Council Discretion, also known as Seitokai no Ichizon, is a harem anime that’s too busy trying to be clever than delivering what it can. It shows us at parts what it can do, but it just feels that between trying too hard and not understanding their strengths, the show is a missed opportunity, and in the end just a mediocre viewing. But there are glimpses of better stuff, which makes it sad.
The premise of the anime is that a high school’s student council is selected by popularity vote for 4 of the members, and the 5th member is the student with the highest grades. The 4 students picked by the popularity vote are 4 females, and the 5th member is Sugisaki Ken, a male student. What follows is unsurprisingly, a harem anime.
(This is a “Things I Like” post, and as such covers more my thoughts, and is less focused as an actual bona fide review. There will be a large amount of spoilers in this post, but I don’t think it’s going to ruin anything, personally.)
As I was watching the two seasons of the anime, I was struck by how badly fleshed out the characters were, the other title I considered for this post was “Characterization doesn’t mean you have a character.” The characters are for the most part 1-dimensional archetypes, common in anime/manga, and the way they give them “depth” is by revealing to us their kind sides. Now, sadly, that is just some more trope characterization – we have the tomboy who punches the boy she likes, but then sometimes has a kind side; the scary upperclassman who scares everyone to do her bidding, but secretly is a nice person; the girl who only plays video games, but secretly cares about others; the childish and attention-demanding loli-character who secretly does care and listen to others and can be mature… secretly mostly means “At times, and when we want to make you care for them.”
Also, this is another thing, character growth means the characters change. If all that happens is that we learn more of the way the characters always are, or of their past trials and hardships, they’re not changing, it’s just that our opinion of them does because we learn how they got to where they are now. This is not character growth, and character growth in this series is seriously lacking.
Another thing that is lacking in this show is that instead of true comedy or being genuinely funny, they rely on inner jokes, just like all comedies, but they just fall flat here, they call upon the conventions, but there’s nothing else to back them up. The 2nd season has a lot of 4th wall breaking, with them talking about getting a 2nd season and all, but it isn’t cute, it just gets in the way of the actual show.
What is nice/weird when it comes to the comedy part is, Ken, the male student, wants to get everyone in his harem, so he is often abused, locked up, and other gag-jokes, but that’s not what I find interesting – being this sort of character, the others often put him in his place – he’s a gag character, but most of the time he’s the “Straight Man”, he’s the one the others’ jokes play off of, and the one who tells them things can’t go the way they want. This does make sense if you see what his personality really is like, and why he wants the harem – which you do as the show goes on.
For the most part, the two episodes that tell the series’ story – that Sugisaki Ken, the male student, double-dated in junior high (his childhood friend and his step-sister), then got ostracized, at High School he was depressed until he met the four girls he is now in the student council with, and as such dedicates himself to making them all happy – thus his desire for a harem, is covered in the last episode of the first season and the first episode of the 2nd. This is the best part of the story, and this is basically all there is to it. It just comes a bit too late, if you ask me.
The best part of the series, aside from those two episodes, is the latter half of the 2nd season, there are numerous parts where I laughed, and kept on laughing. The best characters in the show are the secondary characters you meet, especially Ken’s younger step-sister. But for most people, it’s probably too late, far too late.
You see, the real thing that is stopping the show from going places is that it’s like an aborted Visual Novel. You have an episode for each girl. Sugisaki Ken gets close to them, we see their relationship, they are warm to him – then the next episode it’s all more or less irrelevant and we have the same going on with the next girl. It’s like someone is playing a visual novel, tags a few “flags” for a heroine, saves, then moves to another heroine’s “route”. Without ever going all the way along any girl’s route, there is just no continuance, and we keep treading the same ground for some cheap emotions and characterization, rather than let the relationship and the social situation amongst all five characters develop.
Score: The show gets 5.8 laughs out of 10. The show is just too afraid to go places, takes too long and too rare to show us its heart and humor, and in the end squanders the time you give it. It’s not a waste of time, it can be fun, but you have an endless array of better shows to watch.