“The Town of Jouga”
First off, we have Kuzumi Hiroshi (Kobayashi Yuu), his wheelchair-bound younger sister Mana (Fujita Saki), and father Masaaki (Fujiwara Keiji), moving to the town of Jouga. Upon arriving, a girl named Tsumuhana Isuzu (Katou Emiri) quickly latches onto Hiroshi under the pretense of love at first sight, giving both him and us (as the viewer) a false sense of security. This is compounded by how friendly his classmates are in welcoming him, until one Kushinada Nemuru (Ise Mariya) puts a stop to it and tells Hiroshi what a bother he is. That more or less put a rift into the whole happy atmosphere built up thus far, but only when Isuzu mentions the local hassaku oranges and the town-wide festival for the wolf god involving them, did I really start to get some Higurashi vibes. The cold open showing Hiroshi and Isuzu being chased by occult-like figures in masks already gave me the impression that there’s some creepy ritualistic thing going on in this town. My “messed-up town” sensor only tingled more when Hiroshi and Asagiri Kaname (Fuchigami Mai) expressed interest in the old part of town, and Isuzu simply shrugged it off as a place they shouldn’t go. Apparently the people living there are resentful of outsiders coming in to expand the new part of town, which doesn’t sound too different from outsiders coming in to take over the land and build a dam.
A key difference though is that the deaths are actually depicted, as we got to witness their classmate Ogasawara (Shiraishi Minoru) get hunted down by the occult-like individuals in question, led by a scythe-wielding white-haired girl. Whether or not this is some sacrificial ritual involving possessed townsfolk I don’t know, but it’s disturbing to see how everyone just shrugs off someone’s sudden and unexpected “move out of town” as nothing. Evidently Nemuru knows what’s going on since she reported it to the class, but so does one other individual it seems, who looks like he’s monitoring the activity in the town. Considering the town’s unwritten 8pm curfew and the other obvious cues, I felt this first showing did a good job keeping me intrigued about the darker side of things that are going on. The seemingly superficial treatment Hiroshi got from his classmates irked me a bit (as do the guys’ sailor uniforms for that matter), but it was all put into perspective when Nemuru put a stop to it. I mentioned above how this all gave off a false sense of security, which I find particularly effective for these horror/mystery type of shows.
Production-wise, this is the only series AIC is working on this season, so I had to check it out regardless of what it was about. We don’t have Studio DEEN working on a Ryukishi07 project for a change, which is probably for the better when you consider AIC’s work as of late. Much like last season, they continue to impress me, so I have no worries about Ookami Kakushi looking good until the very end. I’d imagine that most of the story will go according to Ryukishi07’s original concept too, so everything looks good on paper at the very least. The most pleasant production additions however, are FictionJunction performing the opening theme and Nanri Yuuka (of FictionJunction YUUKA) performing the ending. It’s a shame we don’t have Kajiura Yuki composing the music for the series as well, but I’m not complaining when she’s involved in some way (Yuuka as well). I’m indifferent to the series’ actual music so far, which is composed by Ozawa Takumi, but always look forward to Yuki’s music, soundtrack or otherwise.
Anyway, I don’t foresee this being a rehash of Higurashi, nor do I want to make repeated comparisons, but some of them were probably justified here. I definitely plan to continue watching this series, but I’m up in the air about covering it regularly. The fact that this post is out three days later than I would’ve liked should say something about why that is.