Yozakura Quartet – 01
Yeah, this isn’t one of them. In fact, this is a clear-cut case of actually not awesome.
The series opens up with a general backstory blurb on how the world and it’s particulars (in this case, the existence of Youkai) have come to pass. Ancient trees, known as Nanagou, acted as the sole conduit between the human and Youkai worlds. Since humans resented the presence of Youkai, apparently a spat erupted between the two that resulted in the latter founding their own safe haven in the human world. This town, Sakurashin, is a new kind of settlement in which both kinds of beings can live together.
Now this is all cool beans until the inevitable troublemakers show up and decide to muck everything up. Wayward Youkai who’ve decided to lash out at the humans are subjected to “Tuning,” an ability that puts them in their place which can only be used by the successor of the human Hiizumi clan.
And with that, we’re introduced to the eponymous quartet, who all work for the town’s amazingly small Youkai affairs office:
Hime – Typical stuffy rich girl with a ninja/vigilante complex. Given her superhuman reflexes (lol dragon blood), she most definitely aced physical education at her school.
Ao – Loli-shota (eventually confirmed to be female) with cat ears hidden under a skullcap. One of those characters that looks young, but acts more mature than others. Described as a kind of mind reader.
Kotoha – Office secretary type whose glasses and fascination with gunpla evokes a fujoshi sensibility of sorts. Also her voice is annoyingly lackadaisical (the seiyuu’s responsible for Di Gi Charat‘s Puchiko), but her chara design is relevant to my interests (long skirt + boots + twin ponytail = moar). Also, a mage of some kind.
Akina – The everyman Hiizumi successor. Seems to have a problem with bed hair and flat affect; the latter of which could be a result of penis envy toward the others given how they have practically useful superpowers. Apparently when he uses the “Tuning,” his hair grows out.
Anyway, as for the actual episode itself… the team’s been sent out onto the trail of a Youkai that’s been going around mugging the hell out humans all around Sakurashin (it’s not like baddies can do much of else anyway). When they eventually do find and confront him (and his horribly unstealthy attire; protip = if you sneak around at night, you shouldn’t wear a HUGE WHITE COAT), they’re treated to a surprise as the town’s newest loli-Youkai rushes to his aid.
We’re treated to a short sob story about how humans can be the villains sometimes before Akina finally bizzaps our friendly neighborhood mugger with a dose of the “Tuning.”
Oh, and before the staff roll shows up an ominous pipe organ fires up with a ridiculous villain (same Youkai type as Ao?) mumbling generic “these weaklings are interesting” statements amidst the backdrop of a hugeass full moon. Obviously he’s some kind of endboss-type, so I have no doubt we’ll be seeing him again soon. By then, I can only hope he loses the ridiculous fur coat; it doesn’t make him fabulous so much as ridiculous.
The bottom line for the first episode of Yozakura Quartet? Yeck. I’m pretty jaded on the superpower team-up shows that offer nothing special or novel to the table. To me, the genre reached an apex with R.O.D the TV back in 2003 and has yet to return to those lofty heights (most probably because shows like this NEED great music to elevate them to greatness, and so far Akio Dobashi is nowhere near Taku Iwasaki). However, I do have have to concede that even though the villains could be brought in on crimes to fashion, the clean and plain aesthetic that the heroes show up in is refreshing… for this first episode anyway. Given that animation studios like to give characters one set costume design (for ease of drawing), I’m kinda bummed that it’s very likely we won’t be seeing the good guys in new threads.
Toss on another merit point on the rating scale for the OP and ED, probably my favorites so far this season. And… toss on another for the fact that studio Nomad is only making this insofar generic muck only 12 episodes. I’ll get around to watching the second episode eventually to see if this is worth continuing, but so far it’s got a yellow light.