There is this 1999 Sunrise moe anime about 11 girls and a Christmas holiday celebration on an island made of academic studies and science. All it needed was X-men-style superpower heroines and trashy light novel origin in order to become something just a passing curiosity. It probably isn’t one of my all-time favorite anime, but it’s a show that I have a hard time forgetting. I blame it on Mochizuki Tomomi, but I eventually fessed up and decided to just say “I like it.” The show is Seraphim Call, just in case you were wondering.
During the days of the moe and Akiba boom, this was just one of the many projects created to cash in. In some ways it might be just too early for its time; we were not ready. The word moe hasn’t really reached its status at the time. Seraphim Call combined romance and that lonely, chilly, heart-warming (and occasionally heart-rending) package into 1-episode chunks. Mochizuki is a pretty creative cinematographer and he applied these tropes, in good 80s-extravagant-OVA-era ways, to the series. The end result is unconventional but also very memorable for me. I think it’s fair to say that this show was at least a little experimental.
I didn’t like the way the marketing for the show worked; it was pretty extreme, selling DVDs (and LDs!) of each episode individually. There was a CD single for each episode, as each episode focused on one girl and that girl fronted the ED theme for that week. Yuko Sasaki’s moe voice rolled in the OP very nicely and I didn’t think I had a similar reaction until Yakushimaru Etsuko got into anime.
I think the problem with this show was that the franchise has nothing to hook itself on. It was not consistently executed; there needed be something–idols, games, whatever–beyond just the anime and its characters. Kita E was a notably better example, but that also didn’t go very far. It is also a better example because it was dated actually after the year 2000, but hey. To be clear, this has not much to do with the experimental nature of the anime and franchise; I suppose looking back, it was one of those things that taught some people a lesson on what to do and what not to do, when they create projects like this.
One thing that bothered me about Seraphim Call was how it appealed to a set of characteristics that bothered me but yet appealed to me. It’s kind of like the irrational dislike I have for furries, but yet I can engage those tropes on some level in the mind and analyze it. Seraphim Call taps into the “Asian winged sad female[also male variant available] in piles of airborne white particles” set of tropes. It’s like games with the word “Valk-” in it. These things have this…stench. It was massively popular in Asia in the late 90s and early 00s. Thankfully for Seraphim Call, it steered mostly clear of the adhered tropes until the very last episode. I am also not particularly adverse to it, although in general I avoided those kind of things. (Valkyria Chronicles seem to be my only other vice in this category.)