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Anime Review: Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi September 22, 2010

Posted by navycherub in Anime, Review.
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Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi is about a strange club, the Otogi Bank, made up of high school students who do favors for other students, their “clients,” in return for their help in the future. It’s a simple episodic anime with a decently large cast of likable, if not the most original, characters. Our male protagonist, Ryoushi, actually doesn’t have anything to do with this organization at the beginning of the story. He does, however, have a crush on our female lead Ōkami. While Ryoushi has some extreme troubles with shyness, he manages to protect Ōkami from some attackers, and somehow manages to confess to her within the day. Ōkami refuses his confession, but her best friend Ringo tracks Ryoushi down and convinces him to join them at Otogi Bank.

From here the anime takes no delays in getting right to the first of many one episode stories that the show’s structure is built on. Normally I would consider this kind of storytelling to be boring and unengaging, but Ōkami-san manages to be, at the very least, more entertaining with this layout than I expected. Its most unique factor is the fact that all of the stories are based (very loosely) on one fairy tale or another. Some are more obvious than others, but the first episode makes the intentions of the show very clear with its obvious parody of the well-known Cinderella story. From there on out the plots of each episode are more or less inspired by various familiar fairy tales. This aspect was very hit-and-miss for me; some of the episodes, such as episode three’s The Tortoise and the Hare theme, felt unique and relevant, while others like Snow White often seemed superficial at best. Regardless, an effort was definitely made each time, and I can at least appreciate that.

Aside from the situations, the characters themselves were also a mixed bag of generic, boring, and pleasant surprises. Most of the usual archetypes are there and not too different from what a typical anime viewer is used to by now. Most of the characters do have some sort of interesting backstory or developments that separate them somewhat from the caricatures you are used to, but this itself even has flaws. The histories of the characters who are looked into are typically brought about suddenly and without much fanfare, usually delving deep enough to be engaging but not enough to be meaningful or make me feel anything most of the time. Then there is Ōkami’s backstory which, without spoiling anything, is interesting but is never really explained for what seems to be the sake of keeping the show’s content acceptable for the target audience – a disappointment, to say the least. The gist of it can be gathered, but the clear avoidance of certain topics makes me want more.

On the other hand are the background characters, who receive almost no development whatsoever and stay ambiguously strange and unappealing for the entirety of the series. The poster girl for this flaw is Majo, the crazy scientist. I would say more, but there is quite literally nothing else I can say about her despite Majo appearing in every episode and apparently being an active member of Otogi Bank. Other characters, like the President of the club and his cousin, follow a similar pattern, and it is sad when the one episode side characters have more personality than recurring characters that the viewer is supposed to feel something for.

On a similar note, there is an overarching plot that is slowly expanded upon until the last few episodes, but its ending was significantly anticlimactic, making me wonder how badly J.C. Staff wants a second season after teasing us with an arc like that.

The comedy is nothing to write home about. Near the beginning of the series it is typically almost embarrassing; half the time I wasn’t really able to tell if what was happening was supposed to be funny or not. Somehow this does improve over time and Ōkami-san finds its groove, but that might be a result of the show becoming a tad more serious and the joke scenes becoming clearly different from the more serious ones. Overall, though, comedy is most definitely not one of Ōkami-san‘s draws or strong suits.

I also have a love/hate relationship with the art and the music. The BGM is all well and nice, just about always fitting of the atmosphere and the scenes, but nothing ever stood out to me. The character designs are very familiar to anyone with any recent anime experience, so much so that you might be right to call it plagiarizing if fans weren’t so forgiving. However, I feel as if this is, for the most part, J.C. Staff’s fault; the illustrations related to the original light novels are nicely stylized and appealing, while the adaptation’s versions of these characters aren’t so interesting, so I can’t help but feel disappointed in that regard.

Overall, while Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi was quite a rollercoaster ride of surprises and disappointments, I did at the very least look forward to what it had to offer each week. In the end though, I can’t shake a sweeping feeling of mediocrity.

Rating: 5/10

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