Friday, 8 January 2010

Ookami Kakushi - Episode 1

Considering that this new season anime is based upon a PSP game penned by Ryukishi07 (of Higurashi and Umineko fame), it probably isn't too much of a secret what to expect of Ookami Kakushi, and the opening episode of the series certainly isn't afraid to lay its cards on the table from the outset, kicking off with a young couple and an odd blend of declarations of love and something rather more sinister. Oh, and someone wielding a massive scythe.

However, for now it appears that such horrors are merely a flash forward, as we soon return to what appears to be normality. It's here that we're probably introduced to the show's protagonist, Hiroshi Kuzumi, who is moving to a new town along with his father and his wheelchair-bound sister Mana. No sooner has he arrived at the new family apartment does Hiro find himself leapt upon (quite literally) by Isuzu Tsumuhana, a girl who seems to take an instant liking to him, and much of this episode seems to be spent with Isuzu clinging to Hiroshi be it at school or on the way to and from it.

In fact, it isn't just Isuzu who has taken a shine to Hiro, as the entire class at his new school seem almost addicted to him despite his decidedly average looks and personality - Everyone that is except Nemuru Kushinada, a quiet girl who everybody seems to be avoiding, and who has no problem in telling Hiro that he annoys her. While all of this seems straightforward enough, there's plenty of foreboding built up throughout the episode even if you ignore that opening scene to the series, from the crackling car stereo through to Nemuru's effect on her fellow pupils and the story of how the new and old town where Hiro now lives are deeply divided. Oh, and there's that girl with the scythe again, which I suppose goes a little beyond foreboding and into the realms of "err, Dad, can we move again please?".

If there's one thing that has to be said about Ookami Kakushi from its opening episoide, it's that its visual novel roots show through very strongly throughout - The characters, the plot development and even the music all scream "visual novel" with every ounce of their being. Of course, this in itself is no bad thing necessarily, and I'm still suitably intrigued by whatever is going on within the show's machinations, but it could make for turning Ookami Kakushi into a bit of a Marmite show that you'll either love or hate as time goes on. At the moment I'm on the fence until I get a few more episodes under my belt, but the potential is certainly there for something that can at least be entertaining provided it doesn't forget itself and manages to focus on its key story without being distracted by fripperies.

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