For the Autumn 2010 Kaleidoscope I’ve been talking about different series each week. Otome Youkai Zakuro’s ninth episode makes for the last series I want to say something about. For December, I’m going to fill this category with posts about the series that I think will have the most interesting finales, which probably will be posts focusing on Panty and Stocking and Otome Youkai Zakuro.
Oh and on a side-note: I’m probably not going to go a kaleidoscope for the upcoming winter season, because of the simple reason that TOO MANY SHOWS ARE ENDING at the end of December. With that as a result, I’ve got room for eight new series; nine when Heartcatch Precure ends. That’ll be plenty of room to blog all of the good shows, plus also a bunch of premises that I normally wouldn’t even consider.
In any case, this episode is a good point to talk about this series, because a) we’ve gotten some significant build-up at this point and know where this show is heading to, b) I can praise a lot about it and c) I can also criticize a bit about it.
Starting with a), Otome Youkai Zakuro definitely has built up the best cast out of all the shows I’m not blogging this season. It’s got three couples who play off each other really well, and the past episodes have developed some really genuine relationships between all of them. the most intriguing being Zakuro and the mystery behind her: she’s a really tragic character who was really well explored in the past eight episodes.
Now, this episode was meant as a bit of an intermezzo between the heavy arcs, mostly focusing on fleshing out the romances a bit. It was enjoyable because we’ve seen relatively little of the cast in light-hearted situations due to the short length of this series. This episode was enjoyable, simply because the characters have been very well developed at this point, and because of that they were fun to watch.
And yet, this episode also enlarged some of the major flaws of this series. For that I need to go back to the source material, or its original author Lily Hoshino. When you look at the different covers of some of the other manga she has written, there’s one thing that immediately caught my attention: they all look the bloody same! Nearly all of them feature two people looking mellow and hugging each other. I couldn’t find a premise for most of them on ANN, but the premises I did find were just completely stupid and cliched, most notably that one about a family which forces all of its children to marry guys.
The creators here really gave a wonderful adaptation of the Otome Youkai Zakuro, but at the same time you can see that the romance is bound by these stupid cliches. The romance is mostly mature, and yet because of that premise the characters never really become couples, even though how obvious it is that Susukihotaru and Yoshinokazura are into each other, with the same going on for Bonbori and Hoozuki and Hanakiri.
Zakuro also suffers from these romantic cliches, though slightly different. In her case it’s indeed more logical to become good friends with Agemaki due to the large tension between them, and I actually really liked the point at which her crush on Hanadate was revealed. But yeah: he’s a bad guy, making what could have been a mature love triangle into a cheesy shoujo affair and Zakuro closer and closer to a standard tsundere. It’s pointless twists like these that are really holding back the otherwise truly excellent execution of this series.
Again though, I really like this series despite these criticisms. What’s even more impressive here is that JC Staff is really busy this season: they’re working on four different series at once, and yet all four of them are actually pretty good. Obviously some are better than others, but compare that to AIC which was in the same position during the previous Summer Season, working on four moe shows at the same time, where in the end every single one of them turned out to be dull and boring.
Rating: * (Good)