July 2, 2010

Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi Episode 1

Posted in Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi tagged , , , , at 9:52 pm by meotwister5

Let me get this out of the way:  I was lured on the premise of the main heroine being a mix of Toradora’s Taiga and Spice and Wolf’s Horo.  As someone who loved both series, I cannot call myself a fan if this did not intrigue me even the slightest.  Of course I’m no fool.  I know most of these comparisons tend to be blown WAAAY out of proportion and the fact that the show pretty much on the same cliches and dynamics Shounen shows have been using for years.  Still, Toradora managed to prove that even old cliches can still work, so with that in mind (and with a lack of things to watch this season I went ahead and gave it a try.

The setting is simple.  The lead female and her loli sidekick work for an do-gooder organization doing odd jobs for clients, and in return they get paid by themselves making certain “requests” of their clients.  The male lead has a crush on the female lead, as all Shounen males tend to, and decides to confess to her.  Of course it doesn’t end there as the male lead has more to him than meets the eye, and in the process ends up working for the organization to impress the girl he likes.  Sounds like most of everything you’ve ever watched eh?

The twist?

All this is made on a fairy tale motif.  That is to say, the characters and the events themselves are inspired by famous fairy tales, with each episode presumably drawing influences from a specific fairy tale in question.  A very interesting concept if rather cliche since fairy tale inspirations have been done to death.  For this series, it’ll pretty much depend on the situation.

So for episode 1, we have Cinderella.

Ryoushi the Coward

Seeing this, I feel embarassed being a man.

To begin with, seeing this shot of Ryoushi in what is likely the most pathetic love confession scene I have ever witnessed makes me embarrassed by gender association.  The man-ish flatchested girl is Ookami (Yes, literally “wolf”) and the whimpering mess of a man is Ryoushi.  This is the premise of the show as well as many shows before it: the usual polar opposition of the lead male and the lead female.  In this case Ookami is that masculine girl and Ryoushi is that… very effeminate man.

What’s interesting to note that despite the extremes of Ryoushi’s fear of people to the point of being debilitated, it isn’t was annoying as I expected.  Most spineless wimps for male leads tend to piss me off, even if it’s for comic effect, but in his case he’s actually a very likable character.  He’s earnest, honest and driven, even if his spirit doesn’t match his body.  The most important thing is that he isn’t portrayed as an idiot or completely pathetic.  He doesn’t make himself the stupid punchingbag and he doesn’t make himself the useless buttmonkey.  He actually WANTS to do something rather than being impotent.  He knows about his weakness and tries to work around them.  That’s a lot more than you can say about similar leads in their pilot episodes.

Horo meets Taiga?

There’s of course Ookami, the titular lead and probably the reason people were drawn here.  Coming into episode 1 I can see how the hype was both right and wrong.  Yes she does look a lot like Horo and Taiga put together, but as far as episode 1 goes, the similarities end there.  She much more Taiga than Horo, and Taiga’s character isn’t that unique to begin with.  I can’t say that she’s Tsundere (the term gets overused these days) but she has the qualities of the manly and slightly butch female lead.  She comes across as the typical headstrong and physically-oriented female lead who knows next to nothing about romance.  Not to say that she’s not ladylike, but if she is, it doesn’t show much.  Again these traits are a bit characteristic of the usual Tsundere classification as of late, but it’s really too early to tell.

As a pilot episode it naturally decides to spend some time on setting up the characters and the premise.  As it stands the characters, while likable, are still taken from the usual stock and I’m still expecting them to separate them from the rest of the pack as the series goes.  What is interesting is our first exposure to their fairy tale motif.  As I said, Cinderella.

This makes your old pink bike with a bell look cool.

It’s interesting to note that this isn’t simply a cut and paste of the Cinderella story.  Unlike the original, it’s the princess who needs to help the prince in peril, a classic role reversal.  That is to say, their client is a girl in love with a tennis ace who injured his leg, and now she wants to stop him from leaving the team so he won’t give up on his dream.  This is to be Ryoushi’s application test, and as expected of his debilitating condition, all sorts of comedic and slapstick hijinks occur.  In the end desperate times call for desperate measures in what one could easily call a complete subversion of the “prince meets princess and they all live happily ever after” cliche.

If this is the way women show their love then they can kick my face any day.

Ok so the lead up to that did involve her leaving her shoe, culminating in him asking girls in the school to wear the shoe and if it fits, kick the snot out of him until he finds the girl of his dreams (or what he remembers of the violent ordeal).  Call him a sadomasochist if you will, and call the client a fetishist, but it was still happily ever after in a… unique sort of way.

At the end of the episode it’s almost surprising how much I enjoyed it.  It was cliched at it’s core, the characters have been seen elsewhere and the setting is pretty much classic, but the show manages to get my attention by the execution, much like Toradora! did.  The show actually felt genuinely funny at times, the cast is not over the top and rather likable, and the premise as a few unique twists to it to at least make it stand out from the rest of the crowd.  Of course the show could easily just return to the run-of-the-mill Shounen fare, but this was a pilot episode that at least managed to show that the creators have a few tricks up their sleeves and they’ve learned from previous series in improving execution.

In the end perhaps this isn’t as bare a season as I’ve hoped.  I actually have a lot more hope for this series than when I started, so I guess it’s not a lack of foresight to expect much more from JC Staff than I initially had.

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5 Comments »

  1. Proto said,

    Interesting read, but no mention of the narrator makes me a sad Proto. 😦

  2. Vendredi said,

    I have to agree, the adoption of fairy tale tropes makes this a lot more interesting than I first thought. Akai and Ookami together look a bit like Red Riding Hood and the Wolf together – the ED animation seems to cast them as such, with Ryoushi cast as the hunter (fitting, given his stalking talents). It looks like a fun romp if nothing else.

  3. Michael said,

    Like Taiga, Ookami also doesn’t have breasts.

    I’m not expecting much of this series especially after watching Tatami Galaxy, but I’ll probably write something like ‘why this series isn’t one of the best series of 2010.’

  4. Joojoobees said,

    I really enjoyed this first episode. I thought the show looked good, it even had a surprisingly well animated fight scene (really didn’t see that coming).

  5. Haak said,

    I’m disappointed in your blog, Meotwister. Not once did you mention Ookami’s ridiculous cat gloves.


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