You can really see that Yozakura Quartet is based on a manga that is quite old already: when people think of a high spot in the center of Tokyo, the thing that immediately comes to their mind is Tokyo Tower. Not the Tokyo Skytree. This also is a bit of an example of creators adhering a little too much to their source material. What difference would it have made to the story to update to the new highest building in Tokyo? And yet it would have added quite a bit to the immersion as a nice detail.
Also, you don’t need to foreshadow everything. If your character is like “Ha! I took your course of action into account and therefore I took the necessary precautions for it!”, then that’s awesome. When an old couple suddenly reveals that they’ve been holding onto this really incredible power for years that’s given to her just as she’s going to be beaten, then you really have to build that up well. You can’t just show a bunch of shots of that couple here and there. It indeed signifies that they were planning on something, but not that they were going to pull something so convenient for the plot out of their asses.
Now, this is nit-picking, so let me get to the point: I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a series great, and I’m pretty sure that the answer is balance: a harmony between every single part. And that’s not there for this series. On one hand you can see lots of attention spent on the animation, but not a lot on the script. The characters all have tragic backstories, but there’s not much variety in it. Everyone’s sortof vaguely bothered by “being a demon is annoying”, and lots of characters blend together because of weak characterization. The OVA was short, dynamic and to the point and therefore didn’t have that problem.
But I think a better comparison is with the second season of Birdy the Mighty Decode (not the first, because it didn’t have the incredible animation). Both series have a true master behind the action scenes, however Birdy uses this as a means, while Yozakura Quartet makes it an end. With Birdy the Mighty, you can mention a ton of other reasons to make it worth watching: the character-development, the incredibly dark turns, the way it brought its setting alive, the chemistry and much more. Yozakura quartet… eh… I mean the OVA is awesome due to the characters and the chemistry of the characters, but the TV-series doesn’t have that as much.
Sure, stuff happened in these two episodes, but I’m not really impressed to be honest. There was fighting… and more fighting, but I found the context of it to be rather weak. And it’s not like the conflict is too simple: Kill la Kill has that too. The difference, I think is that that series knows what it wants. It’s also deliberately paced, and knows where to add symbolism where it needs to. The episodes flow right and they know when to show action and when to show building up, instead of showing flashbacks right in the middle of a huge fight, or finding some weird excuse to have a pause in the middle of action (gee, it’s a good thing those monsters don’t attack us while we’re talking, being sentimental, and not keeping our eyes on them). I know, a lot of this is nitpicking, and alone these issues wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s the big picture I’m trying to sketch here.
Another interesting comparison with this series would be to White Album 2. Why? Because both series feature a director who previously was one of the best animation directors for TV-series out there. The big difference is that White Album specifically does not focus on its animation, but more on making the different parts work together. I haven’t completely caught up, but it seems to do a better job. Let me put it this way: if I had to pick one element of these two series that stands out the most, then it’s the animation of Yozakura Quartet. However in terms of the big picture, White Album has it beaten at this point.
Rating: 3,5/8 (Enjoyable)