「おおかみさんと御伽銀行の仲間たち」 (Ookami-san to Otogi Ginkou no Nakama-tachi)
“The Wolf and Her Otogi Bank Companions”
What better way to start the new season than with the show that I was looking forward to the most! I thought the spring season was pretty good, but my blogging sense has been tingling for some new shows to rejuvenate my interest. Meet the members of the Otogi Gakuen Gakusei Sougofujo Kyoukai, a.k.a. “Otogi Academy Mutual Student Aid Association” or simply the “Otogi Bank” because it’s too damn long in either language. As mentioned in the Summer 2010 Preview, the story revolves around Ookami Ryouko (Itou Shizuka), her good friend Akai Ringo (Itou Kanae), and their school club that aids other students with almost any type of request. In return, they take a rain-check on the student repaying the favor later on, hence the whole “mutual aid” bit. However, as our sarcastic and extremely blunt narrator will tell you, it’s more or less like requesting help from the mob/black-market and being indebted to them. “Ookami-san” as she’s nicknamed comes off as gangster-like as they get with her extremely brash attitude and ability to kick people’s ass. The only think that had me thinking otherwise were the “Neko Neko Knuckles” she uses, until I realized they leave a cat face impression on whatever they hit.
For a series opener, they sure gave us a quick taste of exactly what Ryouko’s all about, after which their club’s desire to recruit some more male members led us to the entrance of our male protagonist, Morino Ryoushi (Irino Miyu). As someone who suffers from both anthropophobia and scopophobia, making him extremely shy and unable to bear being stared at, he’s not the most dependable guy Otogi Bank could use to fill their ranks, but his sudden confession to Ryouko after stalking her for a week had Ringo interested enough to invite him to the club anyway. Needless to say, Ryouko wasn’t very fond of the idea of letting someone who claims to love her yet couldn’t be bothered to come out of his stalker corner to help her joining Otogi Bank and being utterly useless. I on the other hand was amused as hell by how Ringo, a.k.a. “Akazukin” (Little Red Riding Hood), was giving a report on Ryoushi being a good candidate for tailing people since he avoids standing out, only to find out that he was sitting right next to her the entire time. Incidentally, club president Kiriki Liszt (Nojima Hirofumi) and his vice-president/cousin Kiriki Alice (Horie Yui) decided to let him try to take on their latest request alone and see if he can change Ryouko’s opinion of him. It was at that point that I learned of Otogi Bank’s “unique” way of going about helping other students.
The original stalker case that Ryouko and Ringo dealt with by threatening the guy with evidence was fine, but I can’t say the same about trying to steal a student’s drop-out request form to prevent him from quitting the tennis club. Haibara Kakari (Hayami Saori) simply asked for help stopping her highly admired senior Ooji Akihiro (Akabane Kenji) from quitting the tennis club following his leg injury, but trying to convince him verbally evidently wasn’t an option. Instead, it was all about sending Ryoushi out to follow him and prevent his form from being signed by the club president, club advisor, and a witness, and eventually submitted at the next athletics club meeting. Common sense? Right out the window! Modeled after the Japanese folktale Tsuru no Ongaeshi (The Crane’s Repayment), Tsurugaya Otsuu (Kawasumi Ayako) was completely enthused about Kakari feeling indebted to Ooji and wanting to help him, but in the end Ryoushi failed to pull through due to his phobias. In fairy-tale-like fashion, this somehow developed into a Cinderella story between Kakari and Akihiro, except it was a matter of putting on the sneaker and kicking him to find out who Cinderella was. Seeing as this is a romantic comedy after all, it was pretty amusing to see Ooji asking girls to kick him one after another to find his true love. As for Ryoushi, he was able to change Ryouko’s opinion of him by acting as her shield, which I believe becomes a recurring theme of sorts later on. As a result, I was surprised to see how the two of them are already on a first name basis after that incident. Pretty amazing progress for one episode.
Overall, nothing was laugh till you cry funny in this series premiere, but it was a lot of fun seeing several things play out like I read about while writing up the season preview. All the characters established their various nuances fairly easily just by showing up, including Urashima Tarou (Asanuma Shintarou) with Ryuuguu Otohime (Toyosaki Aki) clinging onto him, and Majolica Ru Fay (Koyama Kimiko), all of who only had brief appearances. The highlights of this first showing were undoubtedly Ryouko with her tsundere personality and all her fight scenes beautifully animated by J.C. Staff though. For the latter, the opening sequence (included as an ending here) showcases some of the rotating camera action featured in the episode itself. Humor-wise, a lot of the laughs came from Arai Satomi‘s narration/commentary and the characters getting annoyed by some of the stuff she said — such as calling them flat-chested and failing to provide any fan-service — which actually came off a lot like Kuruko from To Aru Kagaku no Railgun at times. If you watched Railgun and were amused by some of Kuroko’s antics like I was, then you should feel right at home with Satomi’s narration here. Anyway, with a unique cast of characters loosely based on various fairy tales, voiced by an all-star cast, and appearing in a really well done J.C. Staff production, what’s there not to like? To top it off, we even have May’n performing the opening theme. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of this one.