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3.0 out of 5 stars A beloved show turns into a cliché, or a parody of itself..., 19 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Sekirei Pure Engagement (Season 2) [DVD] (DVD)
<very general spoilers, some for season 1>

I loved the 1st season of Sekirei, in spite of the gratuitous nudity ('fan service') that it included. The characters felt warm and real, whereas their predicament seemed intriguing. The Sekirei had to find their Ashikabi and fight for him/her in order to win the right to live happily ever after, even if this meant that only one couple could win and all the others would see their hopes of happiness shattered. And then there was protagonist Minato, an endearing young man with trouble finding his way in the world, who found himself with 4 female Sekirei who all wanted to fight to the end so they could be with him. Antagonist Minaka, who had devised the evil plan, was he simply insane or was there method to his madness? The addition of the harem-element, which has Minato trying to control his desire among so many attractive women was harmless good fun. And Season 1 even had an impressive finale with some shocking developments.

And then Season 2 (or Series 2 for all you Britons) starts and for some reason the main storyline doesn't seem to want to progress. Yes, there are some more harem antics in Maison Izumo and all of the familiar villains from season 1 make an appearance, but very little seems to change. Yes, Minato acquires some more Sekirei in his supremely magnanimous way. And there are some more fights, but the important ones between Minato's Sekirei and their adversaries in the Discipline Squad all end in the latter running away at some point, vowing to return at some point to continue the fight (and then run away again, no doubt...). Around the middle of the season/series, there is a Dramatic Development that shall remain unspoiled here. But this only seems a cover-up for the continued lack of progress and sends Minato and his team on a big mission that is basically just a re-tread of the one they already did toward the end of season/series 1.

To make matters worse, the series pokes fun at itself a little too often for comfort. I mean, for a villain to mess up in a fight because she had forgotten to record her favourite TV-show in HD-format seems over the top. It's one thing that the regularly recurring nudity is made fun of, but at some point even the voice actors seem to be fed up. A good example is Colleen Clinkenbeard (the English voice of Matsu) summing up the next episode by saying: "Next time: Matsu talks a lot!"

This contrasts rather sharply with some of the deeply tragic occurrences in this season, such as a nameless Ashikabi crying forlornly over the still body of his defeated and beloved Sekirei. With the Ashikabi of the victorious Sekirei clumsily trying to apologize...

So I'm not really sure what this series is about anymore. Is there still a powerful and moving story of self-sacrifice and love conquering all here? Or has it become a bored parody of what it was during season 1?
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