Ookamikakushi (TV Series, 2010)
Produced by TBS, flying DOG
What is mystery without intrigue? What is suspense without tension? Ookamikakushi, the 2010 anime series based on Ryukishi07's visual novel of the same title, seems intent on trying to answer these questions. This may be a tad harsh way to introduce the 12 episode series, for a number of staff did a splendid job on putting Ookamikakushi together, but sometimes it only takes a broken part or two to compromise the machine. Before I touch on the real positives and negatives allow me to set the scene a bit.
Hiroshi Kuzumi, 15, is moving from Tokyo to a new neighborhood in the mountainous Jōga city (sound familiar?). An unassuming son and student, Hiroshi is surprised to find himself in the neighborhood and school spotlight the moment he sets foot in Jōga. Smiling faces and physical affection greet him wherever he goes. At a reasonable pace the series divulges the less reasonable attention being given to Hiroshi, which turns out to be only a small part part of Jōga's mysteries.
This is one aspect in which Ookamikakushifalters. A disproportionate amount of time is used in building up unnecessary characters and trying, but failing, to build tension. Later episodes improve in this aspect once all pretense at mystery is dropped in favor of action and drama.
If only Hiroshi himself could have been improved. Here lies Ookamikakushi's aforementioned broken part. Kazumi is a terribly-weak main character—your constantly flinching, wincing, red-faced boy who is more or less dragged through the storyline. Gasping at nearly every word uttered his direction, his frail design couldn't be more appropriate for his vapid personality. And he's not the only character with designs to highlight negatively. The touchy-feely tomboy Izumi Tsumuhana, father Masasaki Kuzumi and every boy in school are clad in bizarre attire. Bashing the wardrobe of characters may be a shallow complaint, but most of these designs go hand-in-hand with poorly-written personalities. None of them offer enough to make them likable or memorable.
Taking a deep breath, it's time to refocus on some of the series' strengths. Art by AIC looks pretty nice. Daytime scenes appear crisp, and the evenings are stylishly-rendered with heavy use of purple, orange and red. Aside from a few distracting 3d animations the visuals earn an easily-passing grade.
My vote for project MVP goes to music composer Takumi Ozawa (Divine Gate, Hidan no Aria). Ozawa's solid soundtrack contains several standout pieces (the intense, guitar and choir-driven “Shirube” and “Oogama” first come to mind). It's a shame that the scenes beneath the music weren't so well composed.
Alas, Ookamikakushi packs sturdy production that can't compensate for its weak character cast. What could have possibly been a fun, more straight-forward thriller plays out as a mundane mystery.
-2 Awful, ruined it
-1 Took away from the experience
0 Okay, didn't leave an impression good/bad
+1 Added to the experience
Personal Bias: 0