Haruki IshiyaSora TokuiMisaki KunoYume Miyamoto
Seton Academy: Join the Pack!
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2020: S
Also known as: Murenase! Shiiton Gakuen
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2020
Director: Hiroshi Ikehata
Writer: Shigeru Murakoshi
Original creator: Bungo Yamashita
Actor: Ayane Sakura, Haruki Ishiya, Hina Kino, Kenjiro Tsuda, Konomi Kohara, Misaki Kuno, Sora Tokui, Sumire Uesaka, Tessho Genda, Tomokazu Sugita, Yoshino Aoyama, Yume Miyamoto, Yu Serizawa
Keywords: anime, favourite
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes and a six-minute special
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=22904
Website category: Anime 2020
Review date: 18 September 2020
Seton Academy Join the Pack
It's about a school where almost all the students are animals. They walk, talk and wear school uniforms. Female animals will look human-ish, e.g. ears or a tail, while males will be animals on their hind legs. There are only two humans: Jin Mazama and Hitomi Hino. Jin's the protagonist and token male. However he's also a callous, openly abusive racist who hates animals and prepends a swear word to their names when he's talking to them. (He fawns on Hitomi and stands absolutely no chance with her, while one of the best ways of annoying him is to suggest a relationship between him and an animal girl.)
Understandably, he's one of the show's more controversial aspects. Personally, though, I thought he was good, because:
(a) he breaks up genre conventions. Technically, the show conforms to a harem stereotype. (One male protagonist surrounded by hot girls.) In practice, Jin hates everyone and would claw your eyes out for suggesting that he was trying to build an interspecies harem. This is funny.
(b) his personality stops him from being overshadowed. This is a show of scene-stealers. I love pretty much every single character. The show's so full of zoological facts, body language and weird true information that it needs a narrator to keep us up to speed with it and make sure we haven't missed something cool. The cast's awesome. All of them. After watching a few episodes, I had a fascinating conversation with my parents and blew their minds with information none of us had known about sloths and koalas.
Even in that cast though, Jin stands out. His bloody-mindedness makes him a foil for everyone.
(c) he's super-knowledgeable and, deep down, not as nasty as he pretends. He's studied his enemies (i.e. everyone) in exhaustive detail and knows lots of life-saving facts. What's more, he usually ends up helping. Despite all his protests, he keeps attending the Cooking Club and getting his non-friends out of scrapes.
You're not watching this show for Jin, though. I only talked about him because I had to. This show's many, many stars include the following. Naturally, all their character traits are based on in-depth research, much of it mind-exploding.
RANKA (wolf) = tiny, bristling, pink-haired and devoted to Jin. Her loyalty is indistinguishable from stupidity. She's the only character who hasn't realised Jin's an arsehole. However she's also the proud and surprisingly effective leader of her multi-species pack, fearless against enemies and not to be messed with.
MIYUBI (sloth) = oh, wow. Sloths are weird. In particular, they'll die at the drop of a hat. Miyubi does that... repeatedly. It seems that death is a temporary condition in this universe, c.f. the prehistoric teaching staff. The result is a dozy, good-natured fan favourite character who wants to do things that kill her (i.e. anything) and can be told affectionately to have a nice, relaxing death after she's exerted herself to help everyone.
MEI MEI (panda) = could stand comparison with her namesake in Polar Bear Cafe, which is pretty much the highest praise available. They're both lazy and self-obsessed, obviously. Mei Mei doesn't reach the same heights of autistic insensitivity, but she finds her own kind of brattish celebrity comedy.
KURUMI (cat) = the most realistic cat-girl in anime. She's sexy, aloof and capable of semi-hypnosis... but she's also almost useless when there's work to be done, is hard to get along with and mostly just lies around sleeping.
KING (lion) and SHIHO (impala) = a cross-species romance. King's serious about it. (Well, he's serious about everything.) Shiho's reaction to him is understandable.
MIKI (naked mole rat) = guess what her idea of indecency is.
IENA (spotted hyena) = possibly my favourite character. I never knew hyenas were that cool. (Mind you, this is one area where I did know one of the show's facts in advance and you'll notice that no one ever says the word "clitoris".) "Iena-kun, no hitting the customers!" "Sorry! I'll kick them next time!"
...and so many more. The koala! The honey badger! The beluga! I want a second season of this anime. I might even buy the manga.
One thing I appreciate about this show, incidentally, is its take on gender roles and inclusiveness. Obviously, the latter's central. It's the Cooking Club's definition. "Animals of different species can't become friends," is what Jin tells Ranka in ep.1, but the show's mission statement is to prove him wrong.
Gender roles, though, are liable to be mildly distasteful in all kinds of anime. It's a Japanese thing. Being tall, intelligent or brave can sometimes be portrayed as making a woman less attractive. If she's unexpectedly afraid of something, she might get told, "Oh, you have a cute side after all!" Here, though, traditional gender roles get dismissed as "old-fashioned" in ep.4. Then, in ep.7, the feminine training and slightly cringeworthy cliches of ladylike behaviour (amusing though they all are) end up getting nuked with a much more satisfying message of "be yourself".
One could counter-argue with the claim that this is a fanservice harem anime. In practice, though, the "harem" is just a way of annoying Jin, while the fanservice is so tame and inoffensive that it's barely there. Some family-friendly cleavage, really.
In short, it's great. Funny, educational and full of great characters. I'm happy with Jin's presence in the show, although he needs to learn to chill. There's also a unique closing theme song.
"So, um, the human mating season lasts all year, right?" (After watching this show, that line might make you slightly embarrassed.)