ANIME REVIEW | Dirty Humor Galore In Clever "Seitokai Yakuindomo"
Sex humor is normally some of the easiest comedy to do. But to be considered the best, one must be smart with it. Big Mouth is a fine example of this, as it tackles the things that sex education is afraid to while being super raunchy. O Maidens in Your Savage Season is another terrific one, balancing jokes about puberty with loads of relatability. However, if you are aiming to go the route of shooting out a load of sex gags in the quickest amount of time imaginable, then it’d be best to take an example from Seitokai Yakuindomo.
Translated as “Student Council Staff Members” (pun very much well-intended), the series based off of Tozen Ujiie’s original manga is a coming-of-age tale taking place at Ōsai Academy. Originally an all-girls school, the academy switches to a co-ed affair, with Takatoshi Tsuda (Shintarō Asanuma) being one of the first male students. Just as he enters, he comes across Student Council President Shino Amakusa (Yoko Hikasa), who somehow drags Tsuda into being her VP. Rounding up the student council are secretary Aria (Satomi Sato) and the height-challenged treasurer Suzu (Sayuri Yahagi).
Seitokai Yakuindomo takes a more slice-of-life approach with its storytelling, as it tackles daily school life on and off-campus. There are budget meetings, annual events, school trips, and study buddy sessions. The difference between other slice-of-life and what this series has to offer is the kind of humor it delivers: the most rapid fire naughty humor imaginable, the kind that would make even comedian Jimmy Carr blush with embarrassment. And wow, does this anime know how to push the envelope.
Basically, the setup is having Tsuda and/or Suzu being the straight-men to Shino and/or Aria punchlines. Someone says a normal thing, one of them sprinkles in an anatomy or moist-y joke, and either Tsuda or Suzu make a jab at the perv in the group. On paper, it sounds like it would get old fast. Fortunately, Seitokai Yakuindomo is the Olympics of sex humor, with every joke and gag tossed about like a gold medal-winning acrobatic. And roughly 95% of the time, it knows how to make a perfect landing.
Feeding into the naughtiness is newspaper club head Ranko (Satomi Arai), who’d rather find her classmates and teachers in promiscuous situations than tell legit school news. It also doesn’t help that the Student Council advisor Naruko (Yū Kobayashi) also have a rather filthy mind of her own, as she grows excited about the male population now entering the school halls. Aria’s maid Sayaka (Mutsumi Tamara) has some kinks of her own, all involving acting lewd with some of the secretary’s many items and clothing. Hell, even Tsuda’s younger sister Kotomi (Asami Shimoda) has a knowledge of sex that would make Dr. Ruth’s head spin!
There are also a plethora of running gags throughout Seitokai Yakuindomo as well, with the best involving poor Suzu. Due to her height, she appears to be an elementary school student. This results in a huge amount of misunderstandings that end with Suzu becoming more self-conscious and frustrated with her disadvantage. Judo club member Mutsumi (Chiaki Omigawa) is the definition of pure, with the sex jokes going over her head and resulting in her responding in various innocent manners. Rounding off the crew is the disciplinary crew member Kaeda (Emiri Katō), whose fear of men makes it a little bit harder to do her job now that the school is co-ed.
Humor-wise, the anime is very funny. With that being said, there are some jokes and gags that don’t work unless you’re familiar with Japanese puns. Fortunately, Sentai Filmworks went out of their way to explain the gags that would go over an English speaker’s head. Yes, sometimes explaining a joke ruins it, but in this case, it actually helps make what flies out of Shino and Aria’s mouths funny for people in the Western World.
What’s rather interesting is the difference in what Seitokai Yakuindomo got away with between Seasons 1 & 2. The wordplay and vulgarity reach new heights in Season 2 compared to the first, with the comedy being piled up like the most competitive game of Jenga imaginable. However, what baffles me is how visual gags involving lewd hand gestures and sex toys went uncensored in the first season, but gets pixelated out in the second one. (Even more confusing are how these edits are still censored on the Blu-Ray! I mean, don’t Japanese people buy anime Blu-Rays just to see the naughty bits not blurred out? Did this anime miss that memo?)
But not everything works humor-wise. There are some suggestive jokes from the advisor that may push the wrong buttons for certain people, although it never reaches uncomfortable levels of cringe. No, that cringe is deserved for the opening jokes in Season 2‘s first episode, with some of the most painfully unfunny English sex jabs & quips ever uttered. Dare I say, I felt kind of gross hearing these poor attempts at American sex jokes.
For its big-screen adaptation, it’s somewhat surprising to see Seitokai Yakuindomo not taking advantage of its situation. While it stays true to its TV roots, it doesn’t quite push the envelope and give reason to why it was made into a movie in the first place. It’s also mind-boggling that even on the big screen, words and objects are censored, despite them having zero reason for these sorts of edits. Instead of making such censorship feel funny, it comes off kind of groan-inducing.
It’s honestly hard to pick an outstanding cast member in the whole series, so let’s make it very easy on you: everyone in this show delivers one memorable load after another. From Asanuma’s quick quips as Tsuda and the amount of brilliant vulgarity that flows out of Hikasa and Sato’s mouths as Shino and Aria, the voice actors & actresses bring forth the highest level of sex comedy a non-18+ anime could get away with. Composer Yuya Mori goes the extra mile for the soundtrack, delivering melodies that sound like a big Broadway number is about to be performed.
As for its animation, GoHands does a good job with the more jokey visuals and silly antics. The characters look cute, and the backgrounds are especially well-detailed. However, during the second season, the studio decided to try to test the 3D animation waters with some of its backgrounds and character movements. What it resulted in is a precursor to the nightmares they’d craft with both Hand Shakers and its sequel W’z, and should’ve served as a warning that they should have never gone near computer animation whatsoever!
Despite it being labeled as a Complete Collection, there are still some episodes missing from this set. Nowhere to be found are the 17 OVA and OAD episodes, with the first eight actually bridging a bit of what happens in-between Seasons 1 & 2. Though nothing goes completely over anyone’s head, the fact that they’re not included results in Western viewers missing out on a good chunk of the show’s material. However, both the anime and film make references to these other episodes, even urging viewers to watch them, thereby being something of a slap in the face to viewers on this side of the Pacific.
While there are some bumps here and there in its presentation, as well as some holes still needing to be filled to actually be dubbed a “Complete Collection”, Seitokai Yakuindomo is hugely entertaining. It’s not a comedy for everyone, especially those who may squirm in their seats over naughty humor. Those who are looking to get their funny bone(r)s teased and tickled are very much welcome to pull up a chair and sit with the dirtiest student council crew anime has ever had the pleasure of giving us.
Final Grade (not an average):
Promotional consideration provided by Mike Bailiff of Section23 Films