Posted by psgels on 24 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



I’m a big fan of folklore, so I was looking forward to checking out Otogizoshi, and I must yet again praise Production IG to come with original and new premises. The thing that makes this series special is that while it starts in Japan’s Heian era, the second half of the series takes place in modern day Tokyo. Even though the story and atmosphere of both are completely different, they mix really well in the end.

The Heian arc is really folklore, as traditional as you can get in anime. It’s a tale of honor, samurai and bandits as we follow the female protagonist as she pretends to be her dead brother in order to save the kingdom. It’s got a very tight atmosphere, almost horror-like, and it’s full of sword-battles and the like as the story that offers a deep look into the practices Onmyou evolves.

The Heian arc however suffers from a stereotypical cast of characters. It just spends too little time into fleshing out the characters, and so they never really grow beyond their arch-types, as likable as they may be: Hikaru is your average protagonist, always trying to do the right thing, even though it’s not in her own best interest, then we have your typical loyal guard, the womanizer who turns out to have a heart of gold and the annoying brat. They definitely have their charms, but they just don’t feel like dynamic characters and the end result becomes a bit cheesy. Especially the villains suffer from this: only the mid-bosses are sufficiently fleshed out. The minor bad guys are just a bunch of screaming paper bags with swords, while the main bad guy is your stereotypical evil overlord who wants to destroy the world because he believes humanity to be rotten. Been there, done that.

Then the Tokyo arc, that takes place 1000 years after the Heian arc. The common opinion of this arc seems to be that it’s rather boring compared to the previous arc, but I disagree: it’s the Tokyo arc that really breathes life into this series. For once, it’s much quieter than the over the top Heian arc, and instead it develops into a modern-day mystery series.

The creators here really take their time to let the mysteries slowly build up, and slowly but surely you’ll get an idea of what’s going on as the links with the Heian arcs are made and developed. But what also made this arc better was the cast: the characters for this arc get plenty of time to get fleshed out, due to the slower pacing, and we really get to know them this time. The Tokyo arc takes a long time to get going, but it’s perfectly paced and knows exactly how to use its time to close off with a great conclusion that doesn’t try to be anything more than it is, unlike with the Heian arc.

The visuals in this series also rock. The character-designs are really well done, especially for the Tokyo arc. they’ve got a really realistic feeling, as opposed to all of the moe and overly cute series you see nowadays. Hikaru isn’t moe in anyway, and yet she looks great, and the same goes for the rest of the cast. They really make for a lot of great art throughout the series, my personal favourites were the flood scene and the earthquake scene. I’m not sure who animated those scenes, but they were full of creative visuals and made a lot of impact.

And yeah, despite the flaws the Heian arc most definitely isn’t bad. It’s a tensely told folklore, and the Tokyo arc that follows it makes it even better when it puts a modern touch to it, if you don’t mind a bit of slice of life here and there, of course.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

3 Responses

  1. Ialda says:

    I had my doubts too about the Tokyo arc, at first, but finally it makes sense : an otogizoushi is a compilation of medieval short stories, and while the Heian arc is a “classic” otogizoushi (whith several references and figures from well-known japanese folk tales), the Tokyo arc can be seen as a new form of “otogizoushi” with rumors and urban legends as a modernized kind of folk tales.

    I really loved the series, minus one minor detail : modern Hikaru seem to me really less interesting, more passive and soft-spoken than her Heian counterpart. On the other hand, seeing all these characters we learned to appreciate in the first arc and left dying back in Heian-kyo “coming back” and living together was kind of heart-warming.

  2. 4155580 says:

    I couldn’t stand this show after falling asleep throughout the Heian arc, pretty much for the weaknesses you listed.

    After your rock-solid recommendation on Fancy Lala tho, I’ll give the second arc a chance. :)

  3. ancalyme says:

    I liked the Heian arc better than the Tokyo one – possibly because I like Mansairaku type villains. The characters didn’t seem to shine as much in Tokyo, either.

    It was a neat anime, tho’.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:34 PM)
    @Bam: They’d never allow bringing in toys/games/comics back when I was in school, they thought bringing in such things would make the kids of lower income families feel bad for not being able to afford things.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:31 PM)
    @Mario: He’s actually not a big fan of Iranian cinema, he told me before that he found most of it overly depressing.
    Now what you’re talking about there sounds like my kind of film.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:30 PM)
    @Bam: I’ll get back into the mainstream blockbusters thing as much as I used to be someday. someday….
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:28 PM)
    @Bam: Well, I guess I more brought up the being accused of hipsterism and contrarianism referring to the type of hypothetical person who would never be satisfied with how well you’d defend your opinion.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:25 PM)
    Thats the awkward thing though, when casting a superhero role, its difficult to find someone who can get both identities correct.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:23 PM)
    Bah implying toxic avenger and Italian spiderman aren’t the best superhero films OmO hahaha!
  • SuperMario
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 08:50 AM)
    Hey Bam, I remember attended a preview on one of an upcoming Iranian animated feature called The Last Fiction. it was inspired by the poem “Shahnameh” and from what I had seen so far, a very stylish, confident and “bloody” work. Expected to be complete in the end of 2017 thou.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 06:37 AM)
    Comic books were super rare and expensive in Iran, being banned and all. Rich kids in elementary would bring them to school to show them off, along with their Ninja Turtles action figures; they looked so cool and I was hella jealous. Me and my brother only had the bootleg Toxic Crusader figures lol
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 06:34 AM)
    @K-off: I didn’t read the comics either. I watched that weird 60s show, and Spiderman and the Amazing Friends, which had Firestar and the ice guy. I know his personality was quippy and kind of a wise-ass, and McGuire looks kinda like a rape victim of sorts. It was a lot better in costume, I admit.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 06:29 AM)
    I mean if we use the term fanboy for whenever someone feels strongly about something, then what’ll we have left for people who LARP and insist to be called by their WoW character names and dress up in gear and persistently speak in fake ‘Ol English?

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 13 1

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 13

When I heard about this arc being hard to watch I readied myself for a number of things. I was prepared to see Subaru die gruesomely, to see him tortured and broken. However while I was ready to see him get destroyed by others; I didn’t expect him to be the architect of his own […]

Kiznaiver - 12 1

Kiznaiver Review – 60/100

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort […]

Kiznaiver - 12 2

Kiznaiver -12

This was certainly pure narrative confusion at it’s zenith and in that regard I don’t mean that the events depicted were hard to understand but rather a general confusion on what mood it wants to go out on. In this episode we had comedic, drama and climatic showdown all hastily weaved together to try and […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 12c

Bungou Stray Dogs – 12 (end)

And we get to the end of Bungou Stray Dogs, but this last episode doesn’t offer any conclusive ending, instead feel more like a set up episode for the next season. This last episode functions like a typically Bungou Stray Dogs’ episode; there are many good things to say about it, mainly the technical triumphs […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

3

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – 10

After the Horobi’s laser light show and having Biba-sama completely dominate the narrative with his super cool looking henchmen, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is back on track although it’s on different rails for here on out. Imprisoned by the Hunters and being caught in the middle of the impending final conflict between the Shogun and Biba, […]

mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game – 12

Upon finishing yet another rather uneventful episode of Joker Game, I began to wonder just what this series had planned for its finale. “How best to top off a rather mediocre series such as this?” I thought to myself. However when looking over general consensus over the episode I found out that I seen the […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 12 4

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 12

This looks to be the weakest episode of Re:Zero to date which does seem to be a trend when it comes to the arcs of the series. When looking over these twelve episodes I have come to find that the weakest episodes of the series are the first episode of an arc which does make […]

Latest Reviews

Kiznaiver - 12 1

Kiznaiver Review – 60/100

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]

akTwkhF

Stella Glow Game Review-60/100

I really should be getting Grand Kingdom or waiting for Mirage Sessions. My review of Stella Glow is way past relevancy being nearly 8 months late, but I finally completed this and it wouldn’t hurt to briefly wrap up my thoughts about the game created by the now-defunct Imageepoch. I somehow managed to get through Lord of […]

rs33

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir Game Review – 87/100

Oh my. This game was just utterly, utterly incredible when it came out, so despite disliking the usual remasters (ahem, Valkyria Chronicles), I was pretty stoked when I learned I’d be able to play this again on better hardware. It came out really late into the PS2’s lifetime in 2007, so at the time, I […]

romance of 3 kingdoms

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 4: Chinese Traditional Animated shows

Welcome to the last part of our Chinese animated guide. This part will cover Chinese traditional art style, for me personally this is the most enjoyable group. The first thing you might notice in these shows are they were in different format ratio, lean more towards the Academy ratio format. I always find their traditional art […]

20160513001913_1

Lucid9: Inciting Incident Video Game Review – 85/100

It’s not often I pick a game up without prior knowledge. I abhor the act of pre-ordering and at least do a google search on the title to get a general idea of it’s overall quality. Gone are the day you walk into a game store and buy something purely on a whim or the […]

The Totem Warrior

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 3: Haoliners inputs

This part we explore one Chinese animation studio’s works. I choose Haoliners partly because they are independent studio, and their works are not hard to find. Just established in 2013, Haoliners is an indie studio but gathered more reputation in the last few years in their homeland. My experience with them through those titles below […]

Cover

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress OST Review

This will be the first time in my anime blogging career that I have ever done one of these anime OST review. It should be known that I have a complete bias for Hiroyuki Sawano as he has become one of the biggest composer for anime in recent years in some of my favorite anime […]