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Watch & Learn: OKAMISAN #1

There's fractured fairy tales, and there's flattened fairy tales?

These knuckledusters must feel like getting clubbed by Hello Kitty.
These knuckledusters must feel like getting clubbed by Hello Kitty.

Here’s another discussion point for that whole “idea vs. execution” argument. Modern day riffs on, and subversions of, European fairy tales are starting to creep up onto the dog-eared list of concepts that’re almost automatically old hat to me. Said list includes vampires, werewolves, zombies and dark Oz. I see this and it immediately makes me think of FABLES, SHREK, ENCHANTED, that NBC 10th KINGDOM thing and any number of stories that have the conceit of presenting bedtimes stories in ways that are either more serious or more facetious than usual. Perhaps that’s an unfairly broad umbrella to scoot so many possible stories under, but… but… but that’s how I feel!

Anyway, as I mentioned, OKAMISAN is all about execution. While ASTAROTTE’S TOY was the first show to really make me take notice of its sense of timing, this is likewise the first anime where I’ve had a better appreciation of the characters’ body language. You don’t really even need to read Ryoko, Ringo and Ryoshi’s subtitles to get the gist of what they’re saying and what their deals are - - the voicework and animation is actually that expressive.

To the ladies of Anime Vice? Does desperation ever seem cute?
To the ladies of Anime Vice? Does desperation ever seem cute?

This feels like the fifth or sixth pilot I’ve watched where the cliffhanger revolves around somebody playing a hard-nose matchmaker for the main characters because their own peccadillos are, of course, getting in the way of the obvious. While the fact that Ryoshi might actually be the first shy guy who’s effectively weaponized his own meekness, I’ll agree with Ryoko’s assessment that a guy who’s going to stalk his crush and then do nothing when she’s in danger probably isn’t going to be that reliable when the heat’s on. Of course, that unreliability is what makes it all interesting to watch, isn’t it?

I’ll put this somewhere in the middle of the interest scale. I’m not eager to see more cute allussions to pumpkin carriages and lost slippers, but I’m digging the way this handles romance in militarized folklore more than that show with the demon girls and the officers.

Watch this episode "Okami-san and Her Otogi Bank Companions" here and decide for yourself.

Read my thoughts on the previous series I've watched for this extended sampling...

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

FoxxFireArt moderator on May 22, 2011 at 3:33 a.m.
Glad to see you covered this show. I tried this out last year and fell in love with it quickly. I wrote reviews for each episode. It's a great romantic comedy series. A nice break from shonen action.  It doesn't bother me at all that some of the themes are based on fairy tales. I love classic literature. I really enjoy seeing new themes being used on classic characters. It also covers Japanese folklore. Check out the Okamisan overview page. I list all the different stories this series takes inspiration from.

 Ryoshi&squot;s aunt is based off the story of "Yuki Onna".
 Ryoshi's aunt is based off the story of "Yuki Onna".
Even the name "Otogibana City" is a play on words. The name comes from the Japanese word for fairy-tale that is 御伽噺 (otogibanashi). The character for 市(shi) is a suffix added to names in Japan that means "city". Essentially, the Okamisan anime takes place in a "fairy-tale world". Pretty much all the cast have meaning behind their names. Ryoko Okami. "Okami" is Japanese for wolf. Ryoshi Morino. "Ryoshi" mean hunter, and "mori" means forest. "mori no ryoshi" would translate to "hunter of the forest", such as in the story of Red Riding Hood.

This was my favorite new anime of last year. Also, at 12 episodes it's a nice short commitment. You can't judge a series by the first episode. Death Note being a prime example. It wasn't until L came in that I really cared about that series. It also doesn't hurt that Ryoshi's aunt I would count among my anime crushes.

Ryoko is the classic "tsundere" archetype, very popular in Japan. Western audiences more often sees this in the shy tomboy.
Kyreoon May 22, 2011 at 6:26 a.m.
@FoxxFireArt: I judged it by the first episode and I thought it was great.  The self awareness was very charming and the kitten boxing gloves thing was fun.
InfiniteGeasson May 22, 2011 at 8:15 a.m.
Funny you should mention pumpkin carriages and lost slippers, since there is totally an episode based around that. They of course put their on twist on it though.

I've watched the entire show last year and really enjoyed it. I wish it would get another season, but I don't see that happening unfortunately.
zaldaron May 22, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.
interesting may have to check this out as I like fractured fairy tales.  Another one of these you may want to check out is the fairy musketeers that I recommend on your thread before.  It also deals with VERY fractured fairy tales.  You may like it also Foxx, though it is much more kiddy in execution.
sotyfan16on May 22, 2011 at 10:27 a.m.
I still need to go back and finish this series but I really liked it. I'm not educated in much lore so reading FooxFireArt's reviews helped each episode make sense in a way beyond the occurring story. FUNimation picked this title up very quickly so I also await the dub work.

Dig Deeper into Okamisan

Okami-san and her Seven Companions is based upon a series of light-novels, Ryoko Okami and her roommate Ringo Akai are part of the school club called the Otogi Bank. The club helps students out with problems in return for a favor at a later date.

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