O Maidens In Your Savage Season Collection (Cert 18)
2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 303 minutes approx.
Release Date: September 28th
“Girls think about sex too!”
After years of slice-of-life anime series convincing us that all Japanese high school girls are chaste, virtuous and largely asexual, it seems the current trend is dispel this myth and instead portray them as being just a prurient as the boys.
For the members of a high school Literature Club, sex is a contentious subject when they dissect passages of the dirty deed expressed through poetic but obvious prose. Straight-laced club president Rika Sonezaki cannot contain her ire at reading such filth, but as the others’ personal lives start to change, they become intrigued by what they are missing out and feel they should investigate.
Kazusa Onodera has a crush of her neighbour and childhood friend Izumi Norimoto who she never once saw in a sexual light until she catches him in an embarrassing situation which makes her think again. Taciturn Niina Sugawara also develops feelings for Izumi but her idea of sex is distorted by her former acting teacher, who preyed on her when she was younger.
Timorous Momoko Sudo finds herself being chased by the boys at her school but has no interest in them as she likes girls, harbouring a crush on Niina, but also sees no need for sex in her life. Finally, serious Hitoha Hongou is an aspiring writer, currently working on teen erotic fiction but know she needs experience, discovering a friend she was chatting with online was in fact her teacher Yamagishi aka Milo-sensei, and tries to seduce him into bringing her fantasies alive.
O Maidens In Your Savage Season comes from the pen of the prolific Mari Okada, one of the most popular slice-of-life writers also capable at turning her hand to other genres. In this instance, Okada has applied her fraught coming-of-age life experiences as a reclusive teen with social anxiety issue to bring us another relatable drama, this time swapping ethereal fantasies for smuttier ones.
Whilst this series can be likened to Scum’s Wish or Domestic Girlfriend in being open about teenage sex, this is the least explicit in terms of visual representation, with no fan service, nudity, or graphic depictions. The 18 rating is likely due to two reasons: the first is Niina’s storyline, in which theatre director Hisashi Saegusa favours younger girls but never touches them because this would ruin their purity. There is a conclusion that puts Saegusa in his place and whilst comparatively tame visually, is still decidedly creepy.
Unsurprisingly, the other is Hitoha’s pursuit of teacher Milo-sensei, Milo being the name he uses online. At first, it seems like a typical schoolgirl crush, almost comical due to Hitoha’s cartoonish appearance, but even after Milo expressly declares schoolgirls hold no interest for him, Hitoha refuses to believe this and tries everything to win Milo over. It is important to note that Hitoha instigates everything and Milo resists, but that doesn’t stop this from also being unpleasant to watch as her desperation grows.
Eschewing graphic depictions of sex helps the viewer become more involved in what is a character driven story, or rather a five mini stories, about the discovery of sex and the changes it brings about in adolescent kids. Rika’s strict upbringing has make her prudish about the subject, alienating herself in condemning her promiscuous classmates and associating even the slightest gesture of romance as a gateway to carnal deviation.
It is only when a boy, Shun Amagiri, publicly admits he finds Rika cute that her defences exponentially come down, from a change in her appearance to accepting his feelings for her and her own growing reciprocation. It is quite a humorous journey given Rika’s uptight mien and dogmatic resolution for remaining chaste, but also warming to see her realise not everything is so overdramatic after all.
Meanwhile, the saga of Kazusa and Izumi is afforded the most prominence in covering two interesting aspects of teenage introduction to sex. The dynamic of childhood friends is tested as it often is when romantic feelings threaten to derail the relationship, but the twist is how Izumi admits he doesn’t see Kazusa in a sexual light. Enter Niina, who does excite Izumi but he doesn’t hold any romantic feelings for her like he does Kazusa.
Quite a lot is packed into these twelve episodes, based on Okada’s own manga; whilst the phrase “emotional rollercoaster” is an overused cliché it is applicable to this story. Okada has managed to craft something grounded in reality, good and bad, with a level of probability quite high in many schools, or any walk of life, that is only undermined by the fact it happens all at once to the same group of people.
It is crucial to its effectiveness how Okada refrains from didacticism in relaying these scenarios, reflecting how people respond in different ways to them, leaving it up to the audience to cast judgement if they see fit, maybe sympathise with a particular character or learn from their mistakes. The peaks and troughs are all covered though not everyone is guaranteed a happy ending, but the experiences are proven worthwhile, as they should be in life.
Production is handled by Lay-duce, presenting everything in a soft veneer and pastel like palette, though don’t be misled by this – when it has to go wild for the comedic moments it does so with gusto. These tonal shifts are always in within context so they don’t jar when they occur, but this does reveal a tiny drop in quality of the character aesthetic around episode five. The Japanese voice performers are strong especially Rika’s when she is in full rant mode.
O Maidens In Your Savage Season manages to pull off the tricky task of being sensitively provocative about teenage sex without demonising or glorifying it, or needing to be lurid in its content. It gets close to be uncomfortable on occasion but its frankness and intelligence suffices in levelling this out, making for a deceptively smart and enjoyable series.
English Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 2 Only:
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ****
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