The past few days have been rough. Life has been good, but I watched Otogizoushi. I originally wanted to watch it because I read the synopsis on about it being a period anime set back in the day. Had it actually delivered on that, who knows what would have become of it. Regardless, Otogizoushi was a definite waste of my time. Spoilers: Good art does not make up for bad story.

Otogizoushi is set in Heian Japan, some 1000 years go. The capital has been thrust into turmoil and the emperor sends the famous archer Raikou to go and collect the 3 missing magatama (scared jewels) and return them. Raikou though is struck with a widespread disease and can no longer go, so his sister Hikaru disguises herself as her brother and sets off with the servant Tsuna to take on the quest. They soon discover a plot deeper than they imagined that thrusts them into the position of saving the capital by themselves.

This poster shows over-rated promiseThe art in this show is simply amazing. While there is a bit of weirdness associated with Otogizoushi’s art (such as the characters never blink), the detail and style make up for it. Characters, clothing, and weapons all are vividly detailed and are done in a realistic style. Eyes are normal sized compared to other anime. The backgrounds are great too. Reflecting the period the show is set in, they are done in mostly watercolors or charcoal. The serie’s poster, to the left, is what drew me into the show. Note the actuate period dress and lifelike face in the art. Had everything been this good, the show would have been truely epic.

The period stuff was pretty good too. The historical setting and accuracy, from what I can tell as only having limited knowledge of ancient Japanese history, is pretty spot on, minus the magical stuff. It was refreshing and interesting to see how the ancient Japanese society worked and interacted through the anime medium.

Unfortunately, thats all there is good to say about this show. The characters simply never change. Once you meet the characters and understand their personalities, thats it. There is no real growth or change in them at all. They all felt hollow and empty and at no point did I feel an attachment to them. In the second arc, there was an attempt to add back stories to some of the characters, but these seemed extremely forced and very cheesy.

Which brings me to the main blunder in Otogizoushi. The first arc (1-13) takes place in Heian Japan. Had it stayed there, the who probably would have been a lot better than it was. At the start of the second arc, for no explained reason, the entire cast has been reincarnated in modern day Tokyo and is inexplicably living in the same house with Hikaru as the landlady. From here on out, the show plays more like a bad Scooby Doo rip off as the gang tries to find out why mysterious things keep happening to Hikaru and where her brother went. As the viewer, knowing the events of the first arc, you know pretty much why and how these things are happening and what the final resolution will be by the second episode of the Tokyo chapter, but the show drags on like this for the next 11 episodes. The second chapter completely ruins the show in terms of anything that it gained in the first arc.

The only good episode of the whole show was the very last one. While chronologically it should have been between the arcs (just as episode 25 should have been) you have to see the second arc to understand it. The whole episode is a philosophical look into the main protagonist who turns out to be an immortal. The one show is an introspective look into how he views the world changing around him for the last 1000 years. It was interesting to watch and think about, but it was far too little, far too late.

Overall, Otogizoushi had a lot of promise and a lot of opportunity in its story to make it a great epic. However, due to its bad story, characters, and its tragic decision to make half the show take place in modern day, the show ended up falling flat on its face. Art and style can’t really make up for the mistakes made. Otogizoushi gets a 1.5 out of 5 stars. The second opening will make you cringe, avoid it like the plague.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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