OP2: 「kid, I like quartet」 by UNISON SQUARE GARDEN
「 ロクノイチ 前」 (Roku no Ichi Zen)
“One of Six Beginning”
Well, I guess that finally answers the question I’ve had since the start of this anime season: How was Hana no Uta going to incorporate the Hoshi no Umi OVAs into its narrative? Simply by not bothering itself with all the fuss and opting to jump past the entirety of the story arc. What little bit of acknowledgement cames in the form of a special insert by the OVA’s OP to replace the standard opening, along with a snappy sizzle reel of the 3 episodes special from its start to finish. While I can’t say this was an unexpected outcome, I confess I was personally hoping for something like this to happen as well– much as I enjoyed the OVAs the first time around, there’s a certain dreariness in being forced to re-watch old content when I just want to get to the new stuff. It’s been some two years since the Hoshi no Umi OVA but the minute-and-half long recap was a snappy refresher to bring this old guard back up to speed with the story, as well as great job at reminding me just how awe-inspiring that Zakuro fight was. (For the record, can I just say I would love to see a HD rerelease of the OVAs at some point as well? I swear they are baiting us with that recap.)
But I can understand, this decision is not going to do a lot of favors for the virgin crowd experiencing Yozakura Quartet for the first time in Hana no Uta (Although I have my reasons to suspect that this is probably the minority within Hana no Uta’s viewership). Much like last week’s wrap-up to the Mayor election arc, this first half of the episode serves largely as an mini-epilogue to Hoshi no Umi and prominently features hanyou necromancer Kuromaki Zakuro (Mizuharu Kaoru), the primary antagonist of the Hoshi no Umi storyline and the first of Enjin’s youkai hunters allies to appear. I’m in completely unfamiliar grounds with the series at this point since I never got this far with the manga, so I’ll just say that the complete 180 in character taken by the cleansed Zakuro, with her soft-spoken personality, is one hell of a dramatic shift from the deranged nutcase I remembered from Hoshi no Umi. If you haven’t seen the OVAs yet chance are you won’t be getting as much out of the Zakuro feature as you could, and I can only make guesses about how relevant this story arc will be to the rest of the series. It’s not that the greater picture would be lost on the viewers though; Zakuro paints the perfect picture of a newcomer to Sakura New Town with her awkward reintegration into Rin’s surrogate family and the town community (with yet another head-balancing gag?) while a segment with both Kotoha and Shinnozuka sheds significant light on the context of the Hanyous. Given their origins –humans being struck by daemonic powers, which seems to be a bizarrely frequent occurrence– and the apparent rarity of untuned Hanyous (most can’t be completely cleansed and have to be tuned) there does seem to be some foreshadowing relating these halflings to the melding of dimensions; not the mention with the emphasis unique position within Sakura New Town, and the fact that all the youkai hunters are Hanyous as well, Hana no Uta might just address this point before it wraps up.
Are we really getting only one cour though? It’s truly a shame, because it seemed to me the story has finally hit a good stride after spending most of the season in an extensive prologue. With the melding dimensions finally brought to the narrative forefront, we’re really getting to see the story get a strong push in a multitude of directions. There’s the ongoing issue with Akina’s refusal to use his power for its parallels to the absoluteness of death, resulting in his stalemate with the Elders on this matter. Enjin is finally making significant splashes in the plot and his clashes with the cast are typically the show’s strongest moments thanks in part to his loose-cannon personality, though his actual motives are still far from being made clear– I just can’t buy that he’s doing all he is out of some revenge plot. And here we are stunningly made aware that the Elders aren’t just scheming old has-beens; in an overwhelming display of power, we see old man Iyo (Kiyowaka Mutamu giving an immense amount of presence to the role) effortlessly deflecting all of Enjin’s attack and Shidare quickly subduing him with power of scie-…uh, I mean, omyoudou. If you ever thought the Elders were throwaways in the plot, this stunningly directed sequence –Kudos to Ryochimo for another spectacular display yet again– ought to cement their position as one of the major players. The ending scene with the giant crater seems to suggest that their powers reaches quite extensively, and if it really does end up in Enjin’s hands, the results ought to be game-changing.
And of course, How could I not make a mention of Juri’s Frankensteiner? While I don’t really have much of an opinion on fanservice in general, I really have to give credit to the show for its depiction of fanservice. It really is rare that I see fanservice that never feels distracting or exploitive to me, especially given with the way the show casually throws it out repeatedly.
There is another Yozakura Quartet OVA that’s releasing alongside the TV series as well, Tsuki no Naku, with the first episode out earlier in the month. I’m told this takes place after the Hana no Uta arc though, so I’ll only be checking this out after the TV series wraps up.