First Impressions: Otome Yokai Zakuro

win2010-otome-youkai-zakuro

Based on two episodes

Summary: Alternate history tale of Army officers having to join forces with half-spirit girls in order to keep renegade spirits under control in the changing world of Meji Japan. Zakuro, a half-human half-fox spirit, is paired up with Kei Agemaki a man who is terrified of all spirits.

3 Review: I’m having a hard time reviewing the show based on the first two episodes. I just don’t have much to say about it. The only problem I had with the first episode was the one character who had the energy and humor of Italy from Hatalia but that disappeared in the second episode. The most compelling part of the show is how the characters are treated. Zakuro’s reaction to Kei felt natural. She seems like a traditional Tsundere at first but quickly developed feelings for Kei, feelings that were dashed away when she learned about his irrational fear of her people. Zakuro is characterized as any young girl who meets a dashing soldier, she develops a crush and upon seeing a gaping flaw was insulted by it. It was so honest that it was also striking, especially because she isn’t completely human. But being trapped in the monastery surrounded by girls her whole life of course she is going to be taken aback by the first young man she interacted with for a long period of time, and not being around humans much she is of course offended by his fear. 1

It contains a mess of genres including Romance, supernatural, historical fiction, and action. Making it a strange creation but it balances all of them so well. The action is a little lacking and the fights so far have been solved  with a cool chant and a single stab with a knife. But the art is beautiful and the mystical chants during the “transformation” scenes are soothing and add to the tone of the show, making it feel more traditionally Japanese. .which was probably not the goal I’m guessing that those chants probably have nothing to do with Japanese history or spiritualism but that is what I got from them.

The theme of the show is that these Spirits are upset and causing damage due to Westernization during the Meji period in Japan. The spirits represent the old world and they are putting up a resistance to the new world. Zakuro is also terrified of Westernization, again mostly because she has spent most of her life in a traditional Japanese monastery. The half-spirits are offended that the soldiers drink cow’s milk, which is an example of the level of fear of foreign ideas that they have. Having them mix with the modernized Japanese soldier is a way to physically show the old world and the new world colliding. One of the two is going to lose this battle, and from the start the spirits are at a disadvantage.

4 The strange addition to the show was that each half-spirit has a familiar spirit. I just find them annoying and they don’t add anything to the show. Zakuro’s is an ugly rabbit that speaks crudely in a deep voice. The twin characters have childlike spirits with ugly pumpkins for heads. Their only function is to bring each half-spirit their weapon during combat. I don’t know why they are in the show, I suppose Lily Hoshino didn’t want to create the normal cute animal familiar but I would have preferred them to what she gave us.

Verdict: Otome Yokai Zakuro, from the first two episodes, is an above average supernatural romance with exceptional characters. But there are themes and elements under the surface which can be used to create an exceptional show. Hopefully they treat the themes correctly and don’t allow them to be swallowed by the humor or romantic aspect of the show.

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