The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: Ookamikakushi aka Spirited Away by the Wolf
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: AIC
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 8 Jan 2010 – 26 Mar 2010

Synopsis: Kuzumi Hiroshi is moving with his mystery writer father and wheel-chair bound sister to a quaint country town named Jyougamachi.  As a new student, he’s incredibly popular but doesn’t really understand why since he never received much attention at his old school.  He’s fawned over by his classmate and neighbour, Tsumuhana Isuzu, in particular but is treated as a bother by Kushinada Nemeru, who is respected and, strangely, feared by the other students.  On Hiroshi’s second day, one classmate mysteriously disappears.  Does this have anything to do with divide between “New Town”, consisting of the new developments for people who have recently moved into Jyougamachi and “Old Town”, the strangely reclusive population who have lived there for generations?

The Highlights

Atmosphere: Poorly executed; the attempts to scare became more and more laughable.
Plot: The plot twists are unrewarding, and occasionally don’t even make sense.
Characters: Uninteresting personalities; Hiroshi is a git.
Ending: Anticlimactic; goes on and on and on.
Theme songs: Not superb, but “-Tsukishirube-” by Nanri Yuuka is catchy.
Final episode: The closest thing in this series to “entertainment”.

The mystery genre is one of my favourite in anime because so often mystery anime are atmospheric, engaging and filled with suspense and drama.  Only occasionally does it produce genuinely bad anime, and sadly, I struggle to think of any that I’ve seen that are as awful as Ookami Kakushi.  This series is an utter clanger, so it’s hard to believe that the source was penned by the same author as the much-loved Higurashi, Ryukishi07.  You know something’s wrong with a show when each successive episode forces you to continuously lower your expectations.

What’s on the checklist for good mystery anime?  Atmosphere?  Interesting characters?  A well written plot?  Ookami Kakushi has none of these things.  The execution pretty much slays the atmosphere.  Most of the attempted scares, particularly through the middle of the series, had me trying to suppress laughter.  I couldn’t laugh as much towards the beginning of the series, because I was trying my best to take it seriously, and I couldn’t laugh as much at the end of the series, because I was too busy face-palming.

The show injects Japanese mythology into something that resembles a part-werewolf, part-vampire story complete with a seductive undercurrent. Generally, in both kinds of stories, there’s this dark romanticism and an ambiguity between genuine romantic love and animalistic sexual attraction… Vampire Knight is a pretty good example of this in anime.  Ookami Kakushi goes for something similar, but completely falls on its face because none of the attractions feel like they have anything to do with romantic love.  The male lead desperately fends off all these advances while trying to figure out what the hell is going on (although he conveniently has his father and classmate do all the legwork for him), and there’s an “anything goes” element to who’s trying to bed him: the cute girl next door, her metrosexual brother, a male classmate, the local hoodlum, etc.  I mean, it’s apparently supposed to be scary that Hiroshi’s sexuality is being threatened by his fabulous college-aged neighbour.  (Is this speaking to some sort of latent fear of homosexuals or am I reading too much into it?)  Nonetheless, it’s a bit like asking us to be terrified of Suzumiya Haruhi’s(1,2) Koizumi Itsuki.

If you’ve seen or read Higurashi and Umineko, you know that Ryukishi07 leads generally have a good mix of brains and balls.  Hiroshi has neither.  He has this incredible knack of making bad situations worse through terrible decision-making.  This has two effects: it makes an already mediocre plot with questionable execution seem more contrived, and it makes the character almost impossible to sympathize with.  The characters all-round are uninspiring… Sakaki, an important antagonist, acts in a way that’s inconsistent with his motivations, while many of the kamibito either have an annoying personality (Isuzu) or have no personality (Nemuru).

The big reveals are generally the pay-off in a mystery anime, so it’s ironic that Ookami Kakushi’s plot twists were so run-of-the-mill and unsurprising that it… surprised me.  They’re the sort of twists that most mystery writers would contemplate and decide “no, we can’t go with that… it’s just way too obvious”.  There are a few positives, mostly to do with aesthetics.  The character art and animation, while occasionally inconsistent, is quite good, while the music is acceptable and the OP and ED songs are catchy and memorable.  The most entertaining episode is the frivolous filler that comes after the anticlimactic ending… it’s not great, but in comparison with what the rest of the show served up, it’s refreshing to see an episode where the characters actually show some personality.  Otherwise, this is one of the worst mystery anime you’ll ever encounter.  Did Ryukishi07 phone it in when he wrote this, or was this just a really misdirected adaptation?

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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