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
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:38 AM)
    Now without further adieu I present a glorious collaboration between Blockhead, a very good electronic artist, and one of my most favorite modern animators Anthony Francisco Schepperd:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEYRBTZWu8U
  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:35 AM)
    @Emma I’d suggest not marathoning the Twilight Zone. It’s best viewed 1-4 episodes per day.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:25 AM)
    *remove 2bd respect lol
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:25 AM)
    I respect her more respect than I enjoy her music. She has some dope songs and videos tho, and she paved a path for that style of euro/electro to make it to the international scene.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:22 AM)
    @Emma: mostly my fault for assuming since a lot pf people I showed that video to thought that it’s Bjork.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:22 AM)
    Can’t believe I of all people haven’t watched the twilight zone or much of black mirror.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:19 AM)
    @Bam: Oh lol I know that. Sorry for weird phrasing, I just wanted to bring up Bjork.
  • Vincent
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:18 AM)
    @K-Off I remember being scared of that show as a child though. Creepy, is what I’d call it now.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:15 AM)
    @Emma: That girl in What Else Is There is not Bjork but another Swedish singer named Karin Dreijer Andersson. Unless you’re talking about an actual Bjork video, in which case nevermind lol
  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 08:14 AM)
    @Vincent Yeah, TZ always made you pity the main character. Whether or not you wanted to, heh.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Clipboard03

Mushishi – 07

Now this was such a beautiful episode. We often see Mushi portrayed as parasites. In fact, they are pretty much based on the insects and viruses of their world. There probably are enough real viruses and insects living in the Mushishi world, but they just aren’t the focus of the series. Anyway, what they did […]

Clipboard04

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders – 06 & 07

This is where this arc gets weird. We’re still in adventure modus, however in these two episodes Jotaro not only meets some of the most bizarre Stand users, it’s also done in the most camp way possible. You can see a clear difference with the first two seasons of Jojo: there it was all about […]

Clipboard01

Ping Pong – 05 & 06

Episodes 05 and 06 are dedicated to character-development. It’s here where Ping Pong shows that it also knows its stuff in terms of storytelling; the develoment doesn’t start too early or too late, and these two episodes really added depth to all of the different characters, despite that there were no big matches. I’m currently […]

Clipboard01

Mushishi – 03 – 06

I have not forgotten about this show. Not at all. I just finished marathoning these four episodes, and holy cheeseballs on a stick! this is the best anime in years! This was everything I could have hoped for and blows just about everything else out of the water. Talk about raw, powerful storytelling. I now […]

Clipboard03

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – 03 – 05

Jojo really is not kind to its females. Every time a hint is even dropped to a girl kicking ass here, it comes with this weird plot-twist that undermines any fighting potential of them. In this arc, it’s the rule that says that your stand will kill you if youaren’t strong enough. And so, Joseph’s […]

Clipboard01

Ping Pong – 03 & 04

The opening of Ping Pong wasn’t done in time, so the first two episodes showed a sortof montage as a placeholder. Now we know why, with episode 03 and 04. The creators actually got the single best animator currently in the business to oversee it: Shinya Ohira. This guy understands animation like no other. The […]

Clipboard07

Ping Pong – 02

Yes, I know that more people here were involved in making this series beyond Masaaki Yuasa. It’s written by the creator of Tekkon Kinkreet, Taiyo Mashimoto. That guy is awesome. And the combination between those two makes this series even better. Because here’s the thing: anime is significantly different from manga or light novels. Beyond […]

Clipboard02

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders – 02

We can never quite get rid of magic fights at a school, now can we, Jojo. Ah well, I forgive it this time, just due to how hilarious it looks seeing these ridiculously bulky men walk around pretending to be high school students. It’s just so over the top, and yet Jojo sets itself apart […]

Clipboard01

Mushishi Season 2 – 02

Oh yes. This is it. This is what storytelling should be about: telling real stories about real people, all with their own problems that need to be overcome. And this show does that time and time again in just one episode. I still can’t believe how authentic this series is. The thing is, when I […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]