Happy belated Valentine’s Day, everyone!
Now don’t get me wrong. I love romance anime. In fact, it’s probably the most covered genre I have done on this blog! So whenever an entire holiday that’s pretty much about sweet erotic love comes around, I always have this urge to tear it all down to show just how silly it is. Now I would call this one of my traditions around February 14, but… I missed my opportunity to make fun of it last year. (Then again, I have also tackled romance around White Day.)
Anyway, that’s enough excuses. If I’m going to break down a romance anime, I’m going to do this right. I need a good series. A popular series. One that exploits the harem genre to its fullest, and oddly enough one of the better series I’ve seen recently in the sub-genre (you heard me), because if you’re going to make a harem series, at least make sure the guy will passionately kiss anyone!
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (Yamada-kun to Nananin no Majo) is centered around your high school delinquent badass, Ryū Yamada. Normally, he would have spent the rest of his high school life in detention or staring off into his imagination in the back-corner desk. But one day, he accidentally kissed the beautiful study bug, Urara Shiraishi, and fell unconscious. When he awoke, he was surprised to find that he had in fact become her!
Blah blah blah, body swapping, gender roles in question, guy and girl learns their lesson about what it means to be someone else, yeah, I’m sure we’ve heard that song and dance before. So let’s just get all the obligatory shenanigans out of the way so I can get through the rest of my thoughts on this series.
Is that a typo?
Well that caters to one very specific fetish. Somehow I blame Yamada for this.
But Yamada and Shiraishi aren’t the only ones involved in this supernatural romp. Shiraishi is one of seven witches at their high school who possess supernatural abilities, and Yamada isn’t the only guy who can exploit them either! Shiraishi may possess the power of swapping bodies, but the other witches possess different abilities, such as charm, foresight, or telepathy. (I feel like I missed my opportunity for a Pokemon joke.)
And in order to use these supernatural powers, the seven witches have to –you guessed it– kiss their target on the lips.
It is up to Yamada and Shiraishi to find these seven witches and discover their secret, since they are part of the Supernatural Studies Club. Together with their other members Toranosuke Miyamura, Miyabi Itō, and Kentarō Tsubaki, Yamada and Shiraishi soon discover who the other witches are, and the secret behind why this supernatural occurrence happens at their school in the first place!
All while trying to settle who’s going to be the next student council president. Because you know, this whole legend of a magic ritual isn’t complete without them getting involved.
Honestly, I did find Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches very entertaining, albeit kind of cheesy. For the rest of the review, I will be covering my interpretation of what I felt was most valuable to take away from the series, and since this was supposed to be a Valentine’s review, I will be focusing on that kinky heartthrob himself, Ryū Yamada!
Because as silly as this series can get, Yamada turns out to be a pretty cool guy.
Now Yamada isn’t exactly kissing people out of love or affection for them. By nature of his own ability, he can copy any of the seven witch’s abilities depending on whom he kissed last. Having such knowledge would seem like an advantage, except that he is very reluctant to have such a gift.
But from there, I need to bring us back to the theme that body swapping often brings us: how much he learns about other people. Yamada may be a delinquent, but he’s not stupid. In fact, most of the tricks he does for fun are brought upon by his club mates, and yet he still gets in the most trouble on their behalf. In order to solve the mystery of the school’s biggest secret, he willingly takes responsibility to kiss anyone to figure it out. In other words, Yamada takes his ability as a burden rather than an excuse to get closer to girls or boys, for that matter.
Yamada and the gang discover that the seven witches of their high school has been a long-held tradition for decades, and each ability possesses one of seven girls who become the witches, until they graduate. On the flip side, the school’s best kept secret also involves several witch hunters like Yamada, just to mix things up for them. So what brings the witches and witch hunters these supernatural abilities? The answer is pretty simple: their suffering.
Each witch experienced some past trauma or feeling, that upon entrance into high school, they had a strong desire to end their suffering. This feeling had been passed on from one graduating student to a first-year, depending on what their deepest suffering had been.
For Shiraishi, this feeling was loneliness. Having been a study bug all her life, she never got the chance to understand other people, and feared what other people might think of her. Because of this feeling, she was granted the power of switching places with others: to live their lives, and for the host to live in hers. Perhaps this mechanism was her gift to understand them, even though she never liked interacting with anyone before she met Yamada.
Similarly, Yamada had also experienced a form of suffering: being branded as a bad kid. This may not be obvious to some, but there are reasons he acts out of defiance. Yamada has gotten punished just for getting into fights and fitting in with some really tough people. Although we never see any part of his life before his second year of high school, my guess is that he got into trouble because he had been bullied himself when he was younger, or he felt powerless when one of his friends got bullied. Perhaps he possessed the power to copy others’ abilities with a desire of his own: to protect those who can’t fight for themselves.
Each witch and witch hunter in this anime have abilities that correspond with a desire to do something that would ultimately better themselves. However, the method by which these abilities are realized (i.e. kissing) have one side effect that often gets overlooked: getting involved with people other than themselves. These temporary supernatural abilities may have a minor fix to their deepest desires, but the girls’ suffering remained, and ultimately brought on other problems for them along the way.
To make matters worse, the witches and their supernatural abilities are all carefully monitored by the Student Council, and thus controlled by them.
Now to be fair, this could be met with “good intentions.” The school wouldn’t want anything terrible to happen to the students, especially the witches, had word gotten out that these supernatural abilities existed. These abilities would cause even more problems, had they been abused. But the problem that arises from this way of thinking is that the witches had never asked to get these powers in the first place, and neither did the witch hunters. In fact, with their desires for the abilities, the witches also feel a burden or resentment for their abilities, much like Yamada did.
Of course Yamada presents a challenge for the Student Council, because while President Yamazaki is trying to figure everything out strictly by observation and pulling strings, Yamada remains stubborn and unpredictable. So how does Yamada solve the mystery of the school’s best kept secret?
By making one final wish.
Okay, so this is also another cliché in anime that involves magic to some degree, but the lesson here still remains: sometimes the best way to deal with uncanny supernatural abilities is to neutralize them altogether. I suppose this would be the whole “welcome back to reality” part of the series, knowing that magic doesn’t actually exist, or that you could simply end suffering by not having that experience in the first place or whatever. But oddly enough, I think there is something else that’s going on in terms of why someone like Yamada could have chosen that path.
Yamada could easily have wished for anything that he could have wanted, but he felt that there was something more important at stake here. Having learned about the seven witches and their troubles, he couldn’t forget all the effort he had put in to save them, not to mention forget how they had changed him in return. The keystone to this curse lied in Rika Saionji’s ability of forgetfulness, because all of those memories that he had shared with them could just as easily be erased, and that’s something that Yamada wouldn’t want forced upon anyone. Besides, even with these powers, the witches’ suffering remained under scrutiny and ridicule.
And as for the romance of this series, Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is not committed to this idea that physical contact (again, like kissing) is sufficient for expressing one’s love, nor is it something that should be forced. And besides, maybe the supernatural abilities did save them some troubles from their suffering. But with their experience now, they did not feel that they needed them anymore. They all could fulfill their desires by working together.
But hey, this is still a comedy series, emphasis on COMEDY! So naturally none of this would make any sense unless you can end the series feeling good, right?
So to end this review, I guess I have to talk about my favorite girl. Again. Because shows with a bunch of girls dictates that I should.
Okay, maybe it doesn’t. But I’m going to do it anyway!
Well, I’ve left at least one girl out of my screen captures so far, so the choice is pretty obvious, Meiko Otsuka. And to be honest, I really like her because she’s a nerd like me. She wants to help her friends study, she’s quirky funny, and come on. How can I say no to her
What? Did I get you too excited?
So if you would like to see a supernatural romantic comedy that puts a comedic spin on the power of kissing girls and boys, watch Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches.
And if you’re not satisfied with the fact that I’ve been talking about girls a lot lately, no worries. I’ve got plans to review some recent stuff that features a lot of guys on the way!