OK, so there’s not really an awful lot to actually spoil, but as I’m going to be jabbering on about the entire series there might be something in here you wanted to see for yourself first (assuming you haven’t already) so consider this fair warning!
SeHa Girls (available to watch on Crunchyroll US) is *deep breath* the story of anthropomorphic representations of old Sega hardware as they go to a “school” that they must graduate from by entering the world of various Sega games, ranging from the retro-tastic Virtua Fighter (yep, the first one) through to a nigh-infomercial episode on popular free-to-play title Chain Chronicle. There’s only thirteen episodes in total, and they all last less than ten minutes if you skip the (catchy) intro and ending tunes.
That could easily have been it – a quick cash-in show of nothing in particular designed to pull at the heartstrings of Sega fans – and it is true that the show does ultimately exist to push the surprisingly extensive range of merchandise and tie-ins consisting of anything from figures to CDs to blu-rays to Phantasy Star Online 2 outfits, but, and I do feel a little weird saying this, the show comes across as having a genuine, honest, affection of all things Sega – and not just the sort of “love” that’d come from a quick Google of the most superficial parts of the company’s back catalogue either. Even the character designs (by the chap responsible for turning voice synthesiser software into hyper-popular cute girls) have neat little references to their console namesakes, such as the almost-VMU on Dreamcast’s belt or Mega Drive’s controller button hair slide. However deep your love for Sega goes, from the most casual of acquaintances to a white-hot passion that can only be sated by Segata Sanshiro himself, SeHa Girls has a joke, cameo, or I-sure-hope-you’re-screencapping-this reference to suit.
As for the anime itself? Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I honestly don’t watch much TV at all so I’m in no position to compare it to any other shows – anime or otherwise – that have come before or after it. But I can tell you that SeHa Girls is formulaic and straightforward, and the main trio settle comfortably into typical shy/cool/cute roles within about a second of meeting each other and remain this way in 99.9% of situations for the rest of the series. But even so the show does still come across as sweet, earnest, and ultimately likeable – and with the episodes being so short it never has the chance to overstay its welcome or dwell on a weak storyline (I’d say the Border Break/Sonic two-parter was the worst of the bunch).
Then last episode throws a real curveball in there, as it turns out that for all the fun the girls have been having they’re actually the living embodiment of the ideas behind the consoles they represent, and now have to cross over into the real world to bring gaming joy to everyone as the hardware we all grew up with. I found my (gaming) life flashing before my eyes in chronological order, starting with the Mega Drive I was given for my birthday as a child through to the Dreamcast I preordered import games for with the wages from my first job. Suddenly this silly little show was not only making me say goodbye to these chipper characters but also stirring up fond memories of my own at the same time.
“Can I be good hardware?” Dreamcast wonders before she steps into the light. I found myself thinking of the times I spent playing Soul Calibur with my brother or negotiating phone line use with my mum to have an evening on Phantasy Star Online. “Of course you
are were are!” I internally shout, glancing over to my own Dreamcast as if it was actually waiting for a reply.
But the show wasn’t finished with me yet.
You see, there’s a short RPG-like conversation at the end of the final episode, with a dad introducing his young son to the Dreamcast for the first time… and while it’ll no doubt get me some ribbing on Twitter, I have to admit I started to cry. Tears started rolling down my face, puzzling my six year old son no end. The six year old son I sit and play Dreamcast games with. That dad, a fictional man from the other side of the world sharing his gaming treasures with his equally fictional son, was me*.
SeHa Girls is a silly piece of “fluff” TV, designed to trade on gamer nostalgia to shift an ever-increasing range of goods on fans and generate profits for Sega. But the show also really, really, loves its source material – and it knows you do too.
*For the record – I’m not male. Or Japanese.