Conception – Episode 1

By: Caitlin Moore October 11, 20180 Comments
A teen girl and boy sit on a bed in their underwear. The boy is wearing handcuffs and holding a tanuki.

What’s it about? Itsuki’s life is about to change when his cousin Mahiru calls him to the roof of their school to tell him she’s pregnant. Not because he’s about to be a dad, but because the two of them are almost immediately pulled into the parallel world of Granvania. There, Itsuki is told that he must have sex with twelve Star Maidens to conceive Star Children to rid the world of impurities.

Conception has a scene where a character, at the end of a hefty exposition dump, tells Itsuki to read a sign if he needs more information about his situation. He looks over to see Mana, the world’s worst tanuki mascot, holding up a wooden sign referring viewers to the website.

That kind of sums up the first episode of Conception for me. It’s a bit like bad sex: a whole lot of build-up you don’t really enjoy that doesn’t even pay off with a decent climax.

A tanuki grins evilly. Subtitles read "Coitus, copulation, relations, a nighttime rendezvous"

Oh sure, it does get straight to the point at the start. After some shadowy Escher girls over soft instrumental music, Itsuki and Mahiru get sucked up into Granvania with very little time wasted on showing their lives pre-deus ex machina. Then, almost immediately after that, Mahiru just kinda… pukes up a demon. Like, she opens her mouth and then—bleh—a poorly-animated demon floats out.

But no more pregnant pauses—let’s talk about Conception, and all the ways it sucks.

When the Star Maidens flash across the screen, about a third of them look like little girls. A couple of them actually have pretty good designs, but the fact that the designers took the idea that these girls will have sex and get pergnant and thought, “Hmm yes, I will make not just one but multiple of these look like ten-year-olds” makes things irredeemable from the moment they were borne unto this world.

A split-screen. To the left, a blonde girl in a frilly blue dress and apron holds a basket of bread. To the right is a close-up of the same girl's blank face.

And apparently, in-universe, these characters have been raised since they were born to do this. You know, a whole eight years for some of them. They grew up with the idea that once this man from another world comes along, they’ll have no choice but to have sex with him and become praganant with a Star Child.

But giving birth won’t be painful or anything.

You know, for the good of the country. To get rid of impurities.

Ima keep it real with you, 57th Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe: This will not improve Japan’s declining birth rate.

A teen girl and boy sit on a bed in their underwear. The boy is wearing handcuffs and holding a tanuki.

The fact is, neither Itsuki nor Mahiru chose to be there, to have sex with each other, or to produce these Star Children, but they have to if they ever want to go home. That’s coercion right there, both sexual and reproductive. And it’s uncomfortable and awkward because Mahiru makes it quite clear that, while losing her virginity to Itsuki isn’t the worst thing, she had built the event up in her head as something she wanted to be special.

But instead she has to fuck her cousin after getting groped by a single-entendre-dropping tanuki while others watch. I hope she’s into bondage, because he was also shackled to a table right before the act.

A teen boy wearing underwear is chained to a bed, arms spread. Subtitles rad "What is this?!"

Oh right, I probably should talk about the tanuki groping. Because that’s a thing. Mana is the requisite cute, marketable mascot, except that she’s totally odious. She mostly screams a bunch of synonyms for sex without even bothering to be clever or witty and, when Itsuki and Mahiru aren’t moving fast enough for her liking, she just up and molests Mahiru.

In the show’s sweetest moment, Itsuki grabs Mana and throws her aside before… awkwardly fumbling with Mahiru’s tank top strap? For like thirty seconds? It’s not even a bra clasp, which at least would be hilariously accurate. Itsuki may smirk and claim to like sex, but I seriously doubt he’s ever had any.

Unfortunately, even if the concept were fecund enough to be a draw, the execution leaves things barren. Itsuki and Mahiru are boring and inexpressive to the point that they’re creepily doll-like.

And after all that… after all that

Their boning gets obscured by a wave of tanukis shrouding the screen. I literally threw my bottlecap at the TV.

A group of tanuki wearing handcuffs fly across a soft-pink background. Just behind the pink color, we can vaguely make out the silhouettes of two people apparently about to have sex.

The misbegotten Conception just never had a chance. With a creepy premise, even creepier character designs, a poor script, and bad animation, everything still feels weirdly sterile.

Besides, if I really wanted something about Zodiac-themed teens boning, I’d read a Homestuck fanfic.

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