Seed week continues with two comedies set in very different kinds of hell, a slice of life series about a fox spirit that doesn’t destroy the Leaf Village, and a supernatural action show from the studio that brought you Fullmetal Alchemist. Let’s get to it.
Hozuki no Reitetsu
On paper, this workplace comedy about a bureaucrat in hell looks like the perfect marriage of satire and absurdity, and perhaps if you’re fluent in Japanese it is – after all, this series sold like gangbusters across the Pacific. Unfortunately, I only cracked a smile once during this episode, when our horned hero Hozuki referred to a koala as “so huggable.” The first half provided a fine introduction to his stony character and his job as a highly sought-after government worker, but it completely missed my funny bone. The second half, an extended lunch break conversation about vacationing in Australia, was only a slight improvement, perhaps due to the presence of Hozuki’s comically large and light-hearted boss, Lord Enma. While I do admire the imagination that went into this show, I’m not particularly jazzed to watch another episode.
Seeding estimate: Bottom 25%
There weren’t a lot of laughs to be found in Watamote, either, but that was to be expected. This is a show that traffics in such topics as delusion, social anxiety and self-loathing. Its humor is darker, and it comes at the expense of its female lead, Tomoko, for whom my heart broke several times during this episode. Her brother’s failure to defend her after the “ugly chick” insult was particularly affecting. Beyond its uncommon themes and its ability to evoke sympathy for its main character, though, this premiere ticked a lot of boxes for me. The theme song’s screamed lyrics and use of chains as a symbol of Tomoko’s slavery to her disorder put it up there with Gatchaman Crowds’ OP for my favorite of the tournament so far. I loved the homage to Death Note during the scene where Tomoko Googles methods of increasing her feminine appeal. The video game-inspired soundtrack paired perfectly with Tomoko’s 8-bit view of the world, and the marker art style used in the ending tag was a charming bit of comic relief. All in all, this show has emerged as the tournament’s first clear front-runner, but there are plenty more great series coming down the pipe, as well.
Seeding estimate: Top 5
I don’t have a lot to say about Gingitsune, to be honest. Aside from some lovely scenery, nothing about this episode stood out to me. The conflict between shrine maiden Makoto and fox spirit Gintaro could have been ripped from a Storytelling 101 textbook, and the resolution was equally by-the-numbers. Twice we’re informed that messengers like Gintaro usually work in pairs, but his partner has been M.I.A. for a century, so there is a hook there for anyone whose interest the show managed to capture. Sadly, I can’t claim to be a part of that group. Hopefully the two new characters promised by the OP will spice things up next week.
Seeding estimate: Bottom 25%
This show feels a little like what would have happened if Bleach had been produced by BONES rather than Studio Pierrot. People’s souls leaving their bodies so they can fight evil spirits? Close relationships between weapons and their wielders? Even the OPs share quite a few similarities, although Bleach’s is about 10 times cooler. A lackluster opening is Noragami’s only stumbling block, though, as BONES’ pretty animation and knack for authentic character interaction made this a solid first episode. Yato’s dream of becoming a major deity and Hiyori’s lack of combat experience give some indication of where this series is headed, but with a supernatural action show like this one, there’s a lot of potential for creative storytelling.
Seeding estimate: Between 12 and 16
At four episodes per day, I’ve realized that I’ll finish the first 28 premieres long before the Fall 2014 shows I’m watching are released, so starting tomorrow I’ll move to just three episodes per day, with no posts October 3-5 as I’ll be out of town that weekend. This will put me on track to finish up with Parasyte, Psycho-Pass 2, and Shigatsu right when they air on the 9th and 10th.
NEXT UP: Non Non Biyori, Tokyo ESP, The Eccentric Family