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Snapshots: Wagaya no Oinari-sama.

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Religious mumbo-jumbo and a transsexual fox god – Wagaya no Oinari-sama (我が家のお稲荷さま。) leaves you with 24 episodes to figure out what’s going on, Sundays at 24:00 JST on Chiba TV.

The original light novel series by Shibamura Jin was awarded the 10th Dengeki Novel Prize‘s Gold Prize (2nd), and last year the seven books were joined by a manga adaptation. This will be the third light novel-turned-anime in a short time to feature supernatural canids with human forms, following Spice & Wolf and Kanokon. The director is Iwasaki Yoshiaki, who’s quite the veteran with Love Hina and Zero no Tsukaima (s1) under his belt, while the screenplay is being written by Yoshida Reiko, and this lady has so many shows on her CV that I don’t even know what to pick – there’s ARIA and Kaleido Star and Marimite, but also Canvas2 and Romeo x Juliet.

Two brothers, Takagami Tooru (11) and Takagami Noboru (16), are suddenly called to their late mother Miayko’s family home, after young Tooru has a peculiar dream where a woman asks his name and his great-grandmother (?) reckons he’s in danger. The two boys are informed that their mother belonged to the Mizuchi family, whose priests can control water (one of the five elements), of which Miyako was the last. As youkai feed on this power, the old woman decides to counter their imminent attack by awakening the family’s guardian spirit, a tenko. This turns out to be the powerful fox spirit Kuugen, who doesn’t seem very interested in helping them until it hears they are the children of Miyako. Some old affection stirs within the being, and it is unsealed from its rock prison. When Tooru and Noboru next meet Kuugen, it has taken the shape of a blonde young woman, and at their surprise of its gender, Kuugen explains it has lived so long that it can’t remember if it was born male or female, and can switch if it bothers them. But there’s no time for pleasant chat, as the youkai approaches, and assisted by a water power wielding young miko named Kou employed at the residence, Kuugen battles the intruder.

This anime features yet another incomprehensible HV logo, since it looks about as high definition as my old shoes; maybe it’s this particular broadcast that’s poor. The entire visual style can be described in one word – dull. The character design lacks a unique feel, and the animation by ZEXCS remains simple throughout. The music by Takanashi Yasuharu doesn’t stand out much, but fits the setting. I was hoping for something more out of the voice work when I heard Yukana (CC in Code Geass) was voicing the female version of Kuugen, but the character just isn’t written in a way that grabs me. This season’s popular choice Nakamura Yuuchi (Tomoya in Clannad) is doing the male version, but he won’t show up until next episode. The brothers are played by Mizushima Takahiro (Romeo in Romeo x Juliet) as elder Noboru, and Shimamura Yuu (Luxe in Wings of Rean) as younger Tooru. The most interesting cast member is undoubtedly Hayami Saori (Momoka in Touka Gettan) as the sober Kou, who at a mere 16 years of age is displaying an impressive voice, even singing the ED.

Everyone will indubitably compare Wagaya no Oinari-sama to Spice & Wolf, and I’m no exception. This is where this show instantly stumbles, because Kuugen is nowhere near as charming as Horo was, with the latter’s amazingly written dialogue and delicious accent. Kuugen can’t seem to figure out if it’s a girl or a boy, resulting in something that feels awkward coming out of the relatively cute face of its female appearance. Perhaps it’s unfair to only compare the main characters, but the rest of Wagaya no Oinari-sama holds no appeal at all, excepting the brief comic moment of Kou at the very end of the episode. In addition it’s all wrapped in so much spiritual jargon that it’s impossible to stay fully attentive of what’s being said, and with the likelihood of a monster of the week plot I’m probably skipping the rest. Well, unless it starts showing something of why the books won that award.

April 7, 2008 at 1:29 pm
19 comments »
  • April 7, 2008 at 1:40 pmKovski

    hope it catch on cause somehow cause this fox spirit sure sounds great :3

    great work as always Snapshot Patrik

  • April 7, 2008 at 1:50 pmtokko

    Wohooo another Wulff girls @_@

  • April 7, 2008 at 2:53 pmdivine|s

    I didn’t really know what to expect from this show, but after watching the first episode, I’m interested enough to watch a few more.

  • April 7, 2008 at 4:50 pmSadmask

    Transsexual furry. @_@

  • April 7, 2008 at 4:51 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    OHH CRAP!!!! INUYASHA’s BACK!!!!

  • April 7, 2008 at 5:25 pmfrubam

    Dammit, I thought this was gonna be the next Inukami :(. I’ll still check the show out myself, but I’ll lower my expectations so I won’t be dissappointed

  • April 7, 2008 at 5:51 pmLithium17

    Anyone heard the Jimi Hendrix song, “Foxy Lady”…. Heh!!

  • April 7, 2008 at 9:43 pmTom

    A decent start for an anime, if the show could work out its fantasy setting, this could turn out to be a good series.
    Within the limit of one episode, most of the characters are yet explored, I’d say that this show has a lot more potential than Kanocon in terms of plot quality.
    I can see that a lot of people huddling around this series for furry cuteness have been rather turned down, naturally, it’s a matter of tastes, and this first episode has already made it clear that there won’t be much fan-service.

  • April 7, 2008 at 10:38 pmasdas

    i have mixed impressions from the screen shots

  • April 8, 2008 at 3:31 amtonbo

    hmm, easy on your choice of words … ‘transsexual’(?)… since God is neither man nor woman… i’d suggest letting people judge for themselves whether this show’s worth their while.

  • April 8, 2008 at 6:14 amcalde

    Just watched the 1st ep.
    Yet another good looking light novel based anime, this time with a foxy lady(um, not exactly).
    Although the 1st episode is not looking much of a comedy, but the whole storyline of original novel is definately a comedy or even a slapstick. Also it has traditional Japanese fantasy flavor(in Inuyasya kind of sense), which is favorable to me.
    So folks, just relax and enjoy the ride.

  • April 8, 2008 at 6:32 amleii

    Inuyasha?

  • April 8, 2008 at 7:15 amIpsod

    Kagome!

  • April 9, 2008 at 7:19 amtainted

    I find it unappropriate to compare this to spice and wolf as they are of quite different genres.In fact I find spice and wolf ‘s content and focus very unique.. but thats another story.

    Skimming through the show I am delighted to see the bulk of the content of the introduction of the book mainly unchanged. I do not think this is a slapstick though yea, the novels has quite alot comical moments and dialogues and “thoughts”. For “thoughts”, the anime adaptation cannot bring it to the audience as it does not really take a narrator style with the characters ‘s feelings and thought “voiced” out(eg kuon from haruhi ), the same problem occurs for alot of novels-> anime adaptions.

    And if it follows the novels, this will not be a “monster of the week” anime .

    For people looking for fanservice I suggest you find something else to watch.
    The novels are a very good blend of action,magic,comedy,character development and some emotional parts in the story as well.

    The anime looks promising to me content wise from the 1st episode though I must say I am abit dissapointed by the quality of the animation and the art style, but that maybe due to the lousy raw I watched.

    I suggest people to stick to it for another 3-5 episodes which should finsih volume 1 of the novel if they do not change the pacing

  • April 9, 2008 at 9:57 amMatroid

    I think this one is just a cross between Inuyasha and Renma (and perhaps Mokke). The first episode shows the right “feel” to be a decent shounen anime. I guess the male form of Kuugen will have brotherly adventures (fight and chase?) with the two boys; and the female form will give them big hugs as rewards to their good deeds. The basic theme is probably about the coexistence of humans and monsters.

  • April 11, 2008 at 1:38 pmklinc

    havent seen and its puttin me off~

  • April 12, 2008 at 12:38 amGingitsune

    Although the dual-gender aspect and the ‘furry’ brand of the character may be anathema to some people’s inadequacies, the truth is these elements are accurate to Inari myth:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inari_(god)

    Even though it might not be yours, try to be respectful of other people’s precious time-honored myths. :)

    As far as the anime itself is concerned, I have to agree it’s a wait and see. Points for accuracy to traditional kitsune myth, but it still has yet to really engage my interest beyond that academic point.

  • May 25, 2008 at 11:59 pmOlivia

    I like what I see so far. As for people to compare this to Inuyasha… well even though it has the fox and miko aspects, its not inuyasha. Matter of fact, I don’t see any romance – for the exception on the part of the one-sided girl classmate. Even though it has all the elements of Inuyasha, the storyline won’t follow the Inuyasha exactly.

    So lets see whats going to happen to the two brothers.

  • March 7, 2009 at 8:25 pmGina

    I actually just finished watching it and wish it had been longer. I found it amusing and hated it to end.