「タタリ」 (Tatari)

The original Utawarerumono aired back when Omni was still running this site, which in Random Curiosity terms is Mesozoic archaeology (but in reality only about nine years), so modern readers may not necessarily be familiar with this anime or the game it was adapted from. Luckily, that shouldn’t be too big a deterrent for Itsuwari no Kamen, which has a pilot that doesn’t bank heavily on its prequel and takes time to ease the new viewer into its setting. It seems the events of the first series has ascended into legend and Itsuwari no Kamen will spin a brand new tale. So if you think it looks interesting but were wary of jumping into sequels unprepared, don’t stress it overmuch. The background knowledge will help you with acclimation and perhaps allow you a better guess at what’s up with our nominal protagonist, but it’s more likely to be used for bonus points rather than for core enjoyment. Still, it can’t hurt.

In its quest to be newbie friendly, Itsuwari no Kamen has started rather slowly. To put it positively, it is thorough, quite deliberately showing off its environments, it’s people, their culture, their technological level, their dress, their food. It’s handy having an amnesiac in your story, because it gives you a convenient excuse to explain everything at every point. To be fair, it’s evident that someone put a lot of work into Utawarerumono‘s setting, which I mentioned in the preview as being based on Japan’s indigenous Ainu, and there’s perhaps a justified pride in putting it on display. The art is pleasant and suitably detailed when it wants to be (that is, costumes are great, backgrounds are great, monster design could use work). But perhaps there is a bit too much zest in this department, because you might notice that the camera spends a lot of time on establishing shots and panning. Slow, deliberate pans. This is a bit annoying for a blogger taking summary screencaps and perhaps creates the impression that there is a sparseness of animation. That’s sort of true, as Itsuwari no Kamen seems to have a predilection for admiring its own art rather than doing real movement, but when it does happen the animation is crisp and lively enough, with special mention going to a certain hyperactive tail that certainly steals the show in any scene it co-stars in. So while the anime is probably not going to look as good as the smaller-scale game opening, it at least holds its own in this first episode.

While this pilot is slow and mostly exposition, it at least does that job quite well, and we learn a lot in 23 minutes about not just the setting, but also our characters. The conspicuously named Haku (Fujiwara Keiji) is weak, whiny and lazy but clever (hey, gamer self-insert). First-girl-wins Kuon (Taneda Risa) is motherly, has medicinal knowledge, likes her food, but has a mischievous streak (hey, probable waifu material). The tail and fluffy ears are normal, the lack of them is an unspoken curiosity. The important thing we don’t know, though, is the general shape of the narrative; surely, Kuon and Haku aren’t supposed to just be sedate for the rest of the story, but our designated hero does not seem up to the task of doing anything heroic any time soon. I suppose they’re taking their time there as well. Our characters build some chemistry for now, and meanwhile they’ll throw around some proper nouns like the Sung or the Curse. This is where knowledge of the previous series or game might be handy, but I’m sure they’ll explain everything thoroughly when the time comes.

With two cours to work with, it’s probably wise for Itsuwari no Kamen to go at a gentler pace for now, but it does need to reward patience with real returns. If the first Utawarerumono is any indication, the story will start a bit goofy and the drama will ramp up as we go. And there’s even some guy with stylish facial hair showing up at the end to promise some kind of new development, so we shouldn’t worry too much about whether Itsuwari no Kamen will pick up; it most certainly will. For now, it’s laid out a fairly interesting setting, which is an important part of any fantasy, and based on that groundwork it can develop into something quite promising. There are no plans at the moment to cover Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen on Random Curiosity weekly, but you never know. It may well turn out to be the enthralling epic fantasy offering that any season can use, since it has shown a capacity for planned execution, and its second episode should give a clearer idea. At the very least, it’s worth keeping track of for promise alone.

Full-length images: 12, 20.




      1. Lol he was masturbating…. thats why kuon got so embarrassed. Kuon = best girl, got me sold on watching this anime already, almost tempting me to buy the game, but my japanese sucks and importing it is expensive so I guess I will just wait and see how it goes.

      2. That scene ended me quickly. Reverse peeping, “physical” relief innuendos, all combined with some hilarious tail reactions? Why yes I will definitely some more of that 😛

      3. Lol he was masturbating…. thats why kuon got so embarrassed

        For some reason some of Haku’s monologue reminded me of this internet joke lol.
        (Link leads to a slightly NSFW rage comic that’s off topic)

        Since this anime has that kind of humor, is it safe to assume it has eroge origins?

      4. Yeah, I didn’t take that as masturbating. And I don’t think it was. For one, he explicitly didn’t take the towel off before starting, it fell off from his movements and he just didn’t care.

        Also, doing calisthenics in weird locations is a fairly common joke/actual thing in Japan, so I’d say that’s what he was doing. I once watched a taxi driver do a whole stretch routine next to his car in a supermarket taxi pickup spot. It was surreal.

      1. sequel? Tail grabbing scene is an inside Joke? and more.. but to write them down would spoil the New fresh Fans.

        I dunno, but perhaps the future episode will show me, in what direction it goes.. true to its old roots or totally new story.

  1. I don`t much of the original (I watched it back in 2006 LOL), but this new series is years and years after the original and none of the characters from the original are on this?

    1. i saw one of the original cast(the big warrior dude. i forgot his name) on the trailer of the game. and he’s not any older than him in the original game/anime. so yeah, there’s hope for some more recurring characters.

  2. i have a question. does it work if i watch it without watching the original ? because there’s 2 cour of the original, it’s gonna take some time if i were to watch it

    1. This is why we do these intro posts! You should give them a read, I hear that they’re really informative (and that the writer is super handsome).

      To answer your question, based on this first episode watching the first series seems like it’d be a bonus, but not required.

    2. It’s not a requirement, but if you plan on watching or playing the first Utawarerumono at all, you should still do it before watching this new season.

      This new season will contain massive spoilers to the original story. Even the first episode already spoiled one of the major plot points of Utawarerumono when Kuon mentioned the identity of The Sung, something which isn’t revealed until the last quarter of the game.

      Also, the majority of the main characters from the original are confirmed to reappear and will probably mention other plot points of the original.

  3. Itsuwari’s source game sold quite well in Japan, about 100k in 5 days of release. Local gamers say gameplay is likely to be 50+ hours, more than the 25 episodes of the anime.

    1. Lol, I bought the game from the Japanese PSN just to support the game. Probably will never play it though unless I learn Japanese…

      Also bought it for the awesome opening.

      Goodwill Wright
  4. So this is some alternate retelling or reboot? Not like I even remember much of the original one. Probably not my thing anymore. That sashimi platter pic does make me hungry though.

  5. Considering how the original ended, I’m sure you don’t need to see it to be able to enjoy this. Those that have seen it probably knows how far into the future this is and cameos would most likely be more enjoyable.

    This is from the same company that made White Album, I managed to enjoy White Album 2 without knowing anything about the original. So, they do know how to make sequels enjoyable to new viewers.

  6. I have not had time yet to get around to watching the first Utawarerumono (some fan frustration with the ending has something to do with it too), but the pilot is enough to move that show up my backlog.

    This right here is how you handle exposition, you show, not tell. Almost all the major bits many other shows use verbose narration to answer is done so in U:InK with action. From the cat ears/tails to basic lore/history and general character traits, most were given simply through art, movement, and basic intuition. Might just be my liking for these types of shows and fantasy in general, but the only thing I could think of while watching this is wanting episode 2 to release faster.

    U:InK had my curiosity going in, but now it has stolen my attention. Without a doubt I’m sticking with this one for the duration, there can never be enough well-executed fantasy in one’s life.

    1. The most important element is that the episode doesn’t give you definitive “exposition” at all. Most of the background and identity of the characters is unknown. So the first episode is entirely character-driven, which is a good sign.

      The moment this becomes a lecture ala “Heavy Object” where the inanimate objects, the “narrative”, and the “moral” becomes the focus, I’ll lose interest. Better for the story to unfold organically around the characters than for the characters to be lassoed into some contrived, over-arching “narrative”.

      That was part of the original Utawaremono’s faults. The characters gradually became props to a grand narrative, and the story lost its charm. I had more fun watching Hakuoro buy pets for his retainers than watching him save the country of some country which happened to be ruled by a relation.

  7. It keeps the feeling of the original, the characters are fun and it takes it’s time to explain things, something that several series just dismiss. It would be a shame to not follow this one.

  8. utawarerumon’s truimphant return has begun!

    Ive played the first game years ago and i must say, the nostralgia is strangling me like a hyperactive cat tail.

    Here’s to the hope that we get to see the old cast once again

    1. Yeap, i wonder what happen with this Girl in the “Wheelchair”? (my memory is fogy), that never opened her Eyes except only in the OP, at that Time..

      And yeah, some backbones of the Story is still inside me… But i must admit, here this Episode the Girl is more “strict” with him.. and of course the Tail grabbing scene..

      oh, and in the past he wear an Mask.. here is nothing alike

    1. No, no one is Hakuoro. They just LOOK like him (probably on purpose) And I think the name Haku IS based on Hakuoro origin too. I didnt play the game though so I could be wrong later on in the story.

  9. I remember watching the original many years ago and I did like it, but honestly I dont remember much of the story. I was not sure if I was gonna watch it but I decided to give it a shot and I have to say, I am fairly impressed, the characters are lovable and fun, we dont have much of story right now but I am looking foward to it.

  10. You have some link issues. “Conspicuously named” is broken, and “likes her food” is (hopefully) pointing to the wrong image.

    I admit I’ve always been curious about the original Utawhateverthehellthenameis, but I wasn’t quite sure if it was for me. It seemed like it at least had the potential for Bad Things™ to happen to some of the characters, and I generally avoid shows that do that. And it was big enough that I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the time to investigate it more completely, so I never did.

    Still, a kemonomimi society and a lead girl with an expressive tail sounds appealing to me in the small-scale. It’s easier for me to find characters I like and stick with them than to focus on the overall narrative, at least in the beginning. I just have to hope that nothing happens to my beloved characters, or I start threatening to fly to Japan and break some kneecaps.

    …So… putting all that aside, I might try this.

  11. The previous Utawarerumono had a self-contained plot, so I don’t think you need to have watched it to enjoy this one. There are a couple questions that you could answer immediately if you did (like why a dude waking up from a coma happens to lack the tail/ears, or what the red jelly is), but it doesn’t seem like required knowledge.

    This is definitely among my most anticipated shows, and it’s off to a good start.

    1. an Cameo for the old Original Scene.. If you looking for this, its from 2006 and hidden in the Pull down Menue at the right…But beware, it can spoil you. I dunno in how this Anime here, will follow the old Plot.. So look for your own Risk, it can spoil you

  12. This first episode was as good as I had hoped. Bring back Omni to blog it. 😉

    MC’s voice sounds too old, but who knows, maybe there’s a good reason for that? (Probably not lol). Wonder whether we’ll see some monster transforming later on.

  13. I usually watch episodes as soon as they’ve aired but with Utawarerumono I must wait for the series to end… otherwise it’ll be torture to wait for a new episode each week !

    Also… yeah, bring back Omni !

  14. This looks pretty interesting to me. Largely because I have never heard of it and I am not sure what anime troupes it will follow if any. I do not know if this will be some sort of fantasy anime or one of the odd ones that focuses on economics. Probably the former but I still want to enjoy the ride.

  15. I haven’t played the game or seen anything before so I don’t know, maybe Haku is a gamer, but I took it less as ‘he’s a gamer’ and more as ‘he’s a modern human.’

    I have no clue, but given that he’s human while they’re all seemingly beastmen, and the fact that if we got thrown back in time most of us would be somewhat crappy at physical labor but more clever at machines and things. That was just my take based on no other information.

      1. Pretty sure that was just the final step after fixing whatever was actually broken. Kinda dangerous to let water move the wheel if something else is broken, that board was kinda like turning off/unplugging a broken electronic device before trying to fix it.

      2. That would be my guess. I highly doubt the whole village of seemingly normal intelligence-level people just failed to notice there was a freaking board stuck in the wheel and gave up completely.

  16. As I mentioned in my season preview comment, I totally forgot about the first season, and what I do remember is little more than a generally favorable impression = I’m going into this pretty much as a “new viewer”. Still, I was able to follow along just fine as it was – not like there was anything all that complex so far (the “curse” was kind of odd though – from comments I guess I forgot about that).

    So essentially as a “new to the series” viewer, I was pretty happy with this episode. The pacing was on the slow side, but with a two cour run that’s fine. Rather have a bit of a slow start than hyper fast pacing. WOW did Kuon steal the show IMO. Really liked her. Also, that’s one fine tail. 😛

    Still, I do kind of wonder whether I should try to bing watch the original or not. Right now I’m tempted not to do so. Time required is one thing, but also while no question it would help, I’m not sure if it’s actually required. It shouldn’t be if the show does a proper job. Plus, might be fun to come into this with a blank slate so to speak.

    Overall, I thought Ep 01 was solid. Good all-around presentation, some funny moments, and IMO a nice job of establishing a bit of chemistry between the two leads already. No major complaints, and I’d be surprised if I didn’t stick with this the entire run.


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