The winter 2020 season has come around and with it, plenty of anime, new and old alike. With the continuation of previous anime, the same old isekais, a bit of romance and slice of life, and even a re-release of the first season of Re:Zero, there’s no shortage of things to choose from to kick off 2020. One thing I did notice was that there seemed to be somewhat of a focus on animal-themed anime. From Nekopara’s catgirl-staffed patisserie to Oda Cinnamon Nobunaga’s interesting take on the reincarnation of Sengoku leaders, there seems to be a good deal of it this time around. However, one of them caught my eye. Seton Academy: Join the Pack drew me in with its colorful art style and my infatuation with animal-eared cute things. So after watching the first five episodes, I’ve decided to toss in my two cents on the matter.
So our story follows Jin Mazama, one of only two humans attending Seton Academy: a school full of humanoid animals. Only problem is that he just so happens to hate animals with a passion. Jin then immediately falls head-over-heels for the only other human at the school, Hitomi Hino. In his endeavor to get closer to Hitomi, he helps her start a cooking club, and in doing so, gets more involved with the other animals, whom he would rather not associate with. This primarily includes Ranka Ookami, a tiny wolf girl who wants to build a pack with animals of all species. And so, the cooking club is formed, other animals join, and antics ensue.
The general plot itself is okay, albeit a bit generic. Guy who initially hates animals begins to tolerate and then like them due to circumstantial exposure. Sounds like a damn Disney movie. The execution of it, though, gives it a feeling that I find a bit hard to describe. It toes that line of being an educational kids show and a standard slice-of-life anime. The development of the relationship between the characters is done fairly well, with a gradual, yet underlying acceptance of the animals built within Jin. The main story lies there, with other situational events occurring each episode. All in all, not bad, but not where the main appeal lies.
The characters are an interesting group to be sure. Rather than have them be normal humans with some mildly animalistic personality traits, it takes the opposite approach and builds from the animal to the person. Even more so with the males, who rather than being humans with animal ears, are full-on anthropomorphic animals. The animalistic tendencies give each character something unique about them, making for an easily diverse cast. For example, let’s take a look at a few of them.
Ranka, being a wolf, is quite fixated with canine traits, commonly found in dogs. It gives her a very prideful, territorial, companion-like personality that is a recurring theme in the show, usually for comedic purposes. Other than that, her design is quite a good one. It’s easy to recognize as a wolf and just adorable like a puppy (go figure). You just wanna squeeze and hug her.
Yukari, the koala, kinda lacks on the personality side in favor of physical traits, such as their supposed one-ton grip strength. Design wise, there’s a couple things that could point you to thinking that she’s a koala, such as the hair and nose, but you may not be able to guess it at an initial glance. As far as the design overall, though, I’m personally not a huge fan. It just kinda seems like they tried to go for both and hit neither. But it isn’t terrible.
We also have Miyubi, the sloth. Her personality and physical attributes are what you would think of with a sloth: slow. Movement, speech, reaction, all slow. A running gag in the show is how prone sloths are to dying, much like Kenny from South Park, but less gruesome. Her design has little relation to sloths aside from the moss on her head, but I find it appealing overall. All in all, she reminds me of Pet Girl of Sakurasou’s Mashiro Shiina.
Finally, they incorporate some educational elements into the show. A lot of the show focuses on traits actually based in fact (or urban legend, such as the grip strength of the koala). It adds a neat touch to the anime that many others like it tend to rarely go into.
All in all, Seton Academy: Join the Pack! is a nice slice-of-life anime with an interesting twist. Its dynamic cast brings out the best in its less-than-great plot, providing a good watch all around. And if you’re not incredibly educated on animals, you might learn a thing or two. It even has a neat intro with an animalistic/tribal theme to it. Simply put, I enjoy it and recommend it to anyone who enjoys animal girls and slice-of-life.
Fair warning, though, watch out for the furries.