「楼閣の主」 (Roukaku no Omo)
“Master of the Inn”

Important life moments over good sake.

Old Characters Reappear. Do They Work If You’re New? (Hint: Yes)

I admit to a certain amount of trepidation going into this episode, after it was mentioned last week (without mentioning any spoilers, thank you Wanderer) that this episode would feature an original Utawarerumono character I hadn’t met yet. Referential characters like this can be difficult to use, because they need to balance the reference (in this case, referring back to the original series, though it can encompass referential humor as well) while still working for those who don’t know the reference. I think it’s safe to say that Karura (Tanaka Atsuko) and Touka (Miyake Kaya … I’m assuming they have the same seiyuu by the way, correct me if I’m wrong) work well for viewers of the original, so the interesting question remains: How do they work (as characters) for people who have not watched the original? Which, for the purposes of this question, still includes me, because Karura’s introduction is in episode ten in the original, and I’ve currently watched through episode nine. D’oh!

On this mark, Itsuwari no Kamen does relatively well. I think a basic knowledge of “There was this other guy like Haku who led the other series” is basic enough that most people can be assumed to have it, so the hints that Karura knew Hakuoro work as-is. But the big thing is that these characters don’t work solely on a referential basis. It’s not like the “My name is Khan” scene in the (shitty) (and lacking in important punctuation) Star Trek Into Darkness, where there’s a good solid five second pause (around 1:10 in this clip) after Khan says his name, as if the movie is screaming, “Eh? Eh? You recognize that name, don’t you? Here’s your break to squee like the fucking fanboys you are, you nerds. GIVE US MORE MONEY.” This, even though the name had no special weight or relevance within the movie alone.

In Itsuwari no Kamen, these characters do have weight on the basis of this story alone—their relationship to Kuon. So even if you don’t have a clue what they’re about (which I functionally don’t), they’re interesting because they’re both Kuon’s mothers. We want to know more about these two because of their relationship to Kuon (who is universally beloved, as she should be *shakes fist threateningly*), and also wonder who the hell Kuon is to have so many mothers raising her. Granted, some things work better if you know more about Hakuoro, like why Touka was having so much trouble saying Haku’s name without honorifics. Also, the name + the fan finally make sense, though that only requires knowing superficial characters about Hakuoro (his name + weapon of choice … it was a metal fan). There’s still more here for fans of the original series, but the characters work for viewers of this one only.

Drinking With Your Parents

I’m reminded of the second episode, of the graveyard scene. This series—and this extends to the original as well—stands out because it’s not the anime standard high school setting. It stars adults (albeit often young adults), or younger characters who are taking part in adult going-ons (see: Nekone). That means it can tackle more adult themes, like saying goodbye with a smile in the graveyard scene in episode two.

This time was one such moment which some of you might not fully appreciate. I don’t say that to condescend. I say it because, until you’re old enough to have had the moment, you won’t understand it with the depth of experience. In the same way that I’ll never understand childbirth, because I’m not a woman and am not equipped, I can only get close, close enough to hopefully empathize—but I will never truly understand. In that same way, it’s hard for me to get across how poignant the scene of Kuon drinking with her mothers is until you’ve experienced that yourself.

I remember the first time I had a few beers with my dad. Not the first time I had a beer around him, but the first time we had a few, where I was old enough to know what I liked, and we sat down to toss a few back, and just talked. Or the first time I was at a wedding with my parents (it was a cousin’s wedding), and I was sharing a drink with them, and I could tell my mom was getting a little tipsy. It’s a unique experience, that, and one that you can’t have until you’ve hit that point in your life, and only if you and your family are of the type to have a drink once in a while. (Sorry teetotalers, you’re missing an essential part of the human existence. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.) It’s a sign that you’ve transitioned from a child to an adult, and while most of the other signs sneak up on you, this is one where you can see the line brightly drawn in the sand. This is the moment you realize that you, the child, have now become an adult. This is when it became clear that we were not interacting as parent(s) and child, but as equals.

This scene was but an echo of that moment, but it’s an echo which reminds me that it happened. It resonated with me, with an essential truth and a common experience. Even if this show has been building too damn slowly, if it can keep touching upon truths such as this, I’ll be happy while I wait for its to build to a crescendo.

Looking Ahead – More Introductions, I Guess?

I guess more introductions are going to happen next week. Not going to lie, I’m kind of excited to see the expanded cast start to interact together, in a Little Busters! kind of way. (See here for a convo between Passerby and me referring to Little Busters! in the context of Utawarerumono.) Hopefully it will be more like this episode and less like the one before.

Original Utawarerumono Marathon Update (through episode nine): Show Spoiler ▼

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Old characters reappear, though new viewers needn’t be scared. They all center around Kuon, & a beautiful moment results #utawarerumono s2e6

Random thoughts:

  • A collar with a chain. Angeloid?
  • Haku is so serious about drinking, and was totally down to get rocked at a drinking contest. I feel like he’s my spirit animal. Or my extremely near future. Drink!
  • I think I’m going to like her. Sexy onee-sans who can drink everyone else under the table are my JAM.
  • Reminder: Please mark and tag spoilers for the original. I feel like that’ll be a problem this week, so please be careful. Thank you. Y’all rock.

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Stephen, what is best in life?, It depends, Momentum & mental space, and The best content is in email

Full-length images: 09, 19, 35.




  1. The perfect combo returns. We mortals are not worthy. XD

    Maybe they’ll have some insight into the strangeness that is Yamato’s capital, cause that giant teal structure “made out of holy things” bothers me to no end.

  2. Utawarerumono’s creators say they are currently planning a sequel to the Itsuwari source game, and are working on the story now. They’d like to release Game #3 in 1.5-2 years time.

    Coincidentally, gameplayers who have finished Itsuwari say some of its later plotlines are still left hanging at the end. They think this was purposely done to provide setup for Game #3’s plot.

    Since the current anime follows the game’s plot, just don’t be too shocked if the anime suddenly leaves things unexplained.

    1. Guh.

      I have mixed feelings about leaving plot threads hanging. It’s nice to have some continuity, buuuuut I want the story of a single book (or game, or whatever) to clean up most of the major plot threads from that book (game, etc). Otherwise you didn’t tell the full story. You cheated. Which is annoying.

      1. I think It’s fine as long as there’s a solid promise that there will be a next time that will get to the unresolved stuff, like many trilogies and book series. Also depends on how immediate you feel the stuff left hanging can have an effect, like is it about some larger problem that could take time while other stuff is going on, or are we talking about something that will be there tomorrow to eat your wife?

      2. Truuuuue. It just depends on whether the current conflict is resolved, even if the ultimate conflict is not. I just worry that the current one won’t be resolved from the way people are talking. Dunno. Guess we’ll see.

      3. We also need a current conflict first. That really is my one gripe right now. Slow is good, but if I wasn’t an SoL fan of the original, I’d be tired of waiting for the hook at this point.

  3. Yeah, Karura and Touka back!

    And we can see Show Spoiler ▼

    in the background.

    At this point of time, I’m pretty sure Kuon is Show Spoiler ▼

    They have different tails, though, that’s why I don’t recognize it immediately.

    Unfortunately the previous anime watcher will feel disconnected with the info, since it was only happen in the game. Well, It could happen in the anime as well, but considering it was H-Scene….

    And Stilts, a Suggestion? if you want to shorten the time for the 1st ones, just read Omni’s review.

  4. It is definitely great to see Karura and Touka here. Seeing Kuon talk and spend time with them… this was just wonderful. We got to see sides of Kuon we’ve not been aable to glimpse before now, and it’s all delightful. For a time it seemed like Kuon felt as if she’d again become the child she felt she was when she last saw these two, but I think that heartwarming conversation at the end was something she really needed to hear. Karura and Touka have acknowledged that Kuon is an adult, and has earned the right to make her own choices. More than that, they approve of the adult she has become, and the choices she is making. It’s nearly impossible to overstate the emotional value that approval carries for someone in her position. This is something she needed to hear, and I think it will do her good going forward.

    Of course, there are still a few other family members whose approval she hasn’t overtly gained yet. As the flashbacks show, Kuon wasn’t just raised by Karura and Touka, but in fact she was raised by everyone. Of course I rather doubt any of the others would object. Although I do kind of get the impression from this episode that Kuon may perhaps have left home either without telling anyone, or at least without giving any indication of where she was going or how long she’d be gone. If that’s true, some of them may want to chastise her a bit before accepting that she’s truly grown up.

  5. Kuon (who is universally beloved, as she should be *shakes fist threateningly*)

    Right with you Stlits !(holding nail studded bat)

    What is it about Kuon that just makes me feel wonderful? And now her two mothers er sisters. I have got to watch the original now dammit. Forget Haku, I want a show totally Kuon centric. Kuon is love.

  6. I just hope we get to see some of Touka’s Show Spoiler ▼

    Also Show Spoiler ▼

    Karura’s neck chain and “it’s a new trend”. Definitely nodding back to the original series.

    Anyway, good episode and love the rendition of the old OST. Now that I think about it, so far the episodes reminds me of the original’s OVAs and specials.

    Goodwill Wright
    1. Was Touka already that wacky in later episodes of the first series? I only remember that she was in the OVAs and very serious/ass kicking in early episodes of the TV series.

  7. Oh wow, Best Girl actually made an appearance. Karura was always my favourite in the old series, so it’s good to see her again (as well as Touka and the others). This firmly lodges the placing of this story in the canon as well – it’s probably like 20 years later, considering that Kuon was likely a war orphan that grew up being raised by the old characters after the previous series ended, and has already reached adulthood.

    This episode also pretty much did everything right that the previous episode did wrong. Because while new (old) characters are again being introduced, they don’t feel like they’re just thrown in there to forcibly expand the cast this time. These two expand the story (of both the world and one of the main characters), have meaningful interactions with people they don’t know yet (Haku) and they’re just a fun duo to boot. More of this, please!

    Interesting observations on the ‘drinking with your parents’ scene too, Stilts. It is kind of interesting how it’s both a rite of passage, as well as a way to connect with your parents as people. Certainly have a lot of fond memories of babbling nonsense with my dad into the wee hours of the night while inebriated (though not with my mom, she can’t hold her liquor). Seeing it here with Kuon and her two moms says more about their relationship than a thousand flashbacks, really.

    1. Spoilers on Kuon’s past. Not in the first anime, but in the first game:
      Show Spoiler ▼

      Stilts edit: I may have asked for that spoiler later, and may ask for more info, but tagging just in case.

    2. @Dvalinn

      Glad to hear you’ve had the same experience with your dad. Took me a while to have it with my mom, too—she doesn’t really drink anymore, but a special occasion happens once in a while. ‘Tis a humbling experience in a why, and enlightening, and surreal. It’s nice, though. Definitely nice.

  8. Count me in on the nostalgia bandwagon. Karura <3 was my favorite in the original series and Touka another favorite as well. While I haven't been all that enthusiastic about the last couple of episodes or so, have to say I enjoyed this one. Well played, Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen. Some good attention to detail from Karura’s “It’s a fashion statement. Quite popular now.” throwback to the original when asked about her collar to Kuon’s tail standing straight up in the background when initially talking with her “mothers” as a sign of her anxiety. I thought the character interaction in general was done well – felt pretty natural watching with some funny facial expressions by Kuon thrown in for good measure. On top of some background on Kuon, we also go a hint of plot development in Yamato’s unusual(?) development and how that may affect other countries. Maybe just me (and/or the nostalgia factor working), but this episode felt more substantial than the last couple or so.

    @Stilts: Kudos for addressing the question of “Old Characters Reappear. Do They Work If You’re New?” because that was something I wondered about given how character introductions have been the primary focus of the show thus far. As for original series Ep. 10, get on that. 😀

      1. I can understand the interest in maintaining a “new to the series” perspective. That being said, Karura’s great IMO. If you like her already, I think you’ll really enjoy watching her in the original.

  9. Ah what a great episode. It’s a big nod for all who have watched the previous series to go on a nostalgia trip.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    If you haven’t watched the previous series, if you have the means then go watch it.

  10. Great to see Karura & Touka back. Can’t stop laughing at Touka-Okaasamaaa.

    Something bothered me a little, that although a lot of characters were introduced, no one beside Kuon has really made an impact and got closer to me as viewer (maybe Haku and to a lesser extent Ukon) (well, to a certain extent, I can be happy all days as long as there’s Kuon and more Kuon). Given that it is still early in the series, but I’m wondering if things stay this way, the drama and punches later won’t be as effective as if we can be more attached to the characters. Which was what the original series did damn well. Show Spoiler ▼

    If the character introductions could just give us something more. Hoping for some development (doesn’t have to be drama, slice-of-life is fine, but give us something to remember and love) and some punches later on.

    Gameplayers please correct me if I’m wrong (and I would love to be wrong here). How I wish to know jap better to play the game *crying blood*.

  11. Nice to see some old faces again, Touka is still such a ditz outside of battle. I’d be nervous meeting Karura okaa onee-sama as well.

    Clearly she learned a thing or two from one of her mothers.

    Curious why Haku found the sake nostalgic. I’m assuming that it’s the same sake they were drinking at the end, which implies some kind of connection to Eruru?

      1. Show Spoiler ▼

  12. wow i got all nostalgic seeing so many references to the original. it’s a good thing to know that this series is still connected to the original, because there was quite a lot of character there that would feel like a waste if they didn’t make appearance in this new series

  13. “(Sorry teetotalers, you’re missing an essential part of the human existence. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.)”

    Hmm I dunno. The only thing I’ve ever thought of as essential to our species would be one’s own acknowledgment of their agency and putting it to use. (and only because it specifically identifies a trait that separates us from other lifeforms, not because it is actually essential). As for anything else, such as drinking and coming of age and it’s value in life, from my perspective are just relative and dependent on other’s perspective.

    But that’s probably cause I’m a… “teetotalers” due to extreme allergic reactions to alcohol lol. (So is my dad, genetics… gotta love’em 😉

    So, I might just like to believe that my experiences were equally as essential and be saying needless things. While hoping I’m not missing out on a huge part of what it means to be human… o.O

    But what do I know! 🙂

    1. Pfft, yer reading too much into it. I was just tweaking the teetotalers out there (singular = teetotaler), and mostly those who do it out of some misguided sense of self-righteousness (not for understandable medical or awareness-of-ones-own-limits reasons). Being that I love the occasional drink as much as Karura, I couldn’t let that pass 😀

      1. I realized you didn’t mean anything serious by it, but as someone who also cannot drink due to medical reasons (I suffered a severe liver dysfunction when I was younger, and it’s considered very unwise for me to abuse it now), I have to say that I also felt a little irritated by that comment. How much of that irritation is due to feeling like you were dismissing me for something I couldn’t help, and how much is due to having missed out on what you consider a very emotionally-significant life experience again due to something I couldn’t help, I don’t know.

        Like I said, I knew right away that you didn’t mean anything personal by it. This appears to be purely an emotional reaction.

      2. Interesting thoughts. Those who can’t drink don’t get the battle with the people who make drinking a moral issue against those who enjoy drinking. But this moral issue might be creeping into your thoughts.
        I can imagine hearing about how wonderful art is and how it can move you might bug people with vision problems. I can imagine reading about how a piece of music moves people can irritate those with hearing problems.
        Man has been drinking in Europe, Asia and Africa from roughly 7000 BC long enough for alcohol to be adjusted to as part of the diet. And cultural norms from that have been developed some good, some bad.
        But yes you might be missing out on something, people with vision and hearing problems are missing out on things. It is regrettable.
        Me personally am immune to marijuana and thus will never get what people who smoke it talk about. I am in the one half of one percent of people who are not impaired by alcohol. I realized I enjoyed alcohol but I was not feeling the pleasure and pain that those who can actualy get drunk talk about. If anything my memory gets better and my coordination gets better drinking as high scores I’ve made after huge number of drinks I can’t beat sober. Yes unusual but per a article several years ago the world dart championship has never been won by a sober player even though there are good non drinking dart players. So I have not felt the same but have felt that I am missing out on what normal people feel thought.
        But I strongly feel that people should still praise things despite the fact that others can’t enjoy them. I reject the deadness of a world where nothing of value can be discussed be cause it might offend those who can’t participate. And I feel it is fine for those who drink to point out what a they think of as a great right of passage and poke at those non drinkers for moral reasons people that they are missing out. After all the anti drinking people jab at drinkers all the time.

      3. “Pfft, yer reading too much into it.”
        yeah… I tend to do that lol. Just stood out to me I guess cuz of my own perspective >_<.

        "Like I said, I knew right away that you didn’t mean anything personal by it. This appears to be purely an emotional reaction."
        Same! I just wanted to mention it I guess o.O (is that vanity? hmm)

        "But I strongly feel that people should still praise things despite the fact that others can’t enjoy them. I reject the deadness of a world where nothing of value can be discussed be cause it might offend those who can’t participate."

        I think I feel the same way (generally), I didn't intend to censor him and would encourage any to tell such heartwarming moments with others when they feel it is right. My intent was to contemplate with others how essential, if at all, it really is that homo sapiens "must" experience the effects of alcohol (or really anything for that matter) since it was stated to be "an essential part of the human existence". But as Stilts mentions I am reading to much into. And while I agree with him that I am, I still find it fascinating to think about. For while I don't think his statement should be taken to really express his actually views on the matter, I do find it interesting how many such personal experiences that people have, such as this, do make individuals feel as such. For instance I do think many would fully believe in that statement on a variety of different subjects such as alcohol. Which I find amusing based on my first comment about about not feeling that there really is such a thing. Just an individuals value on it for themselves. So just general musings that I desired to express with others… fits right under random curiosity I hope lol.

        "poke at those non drinkers for moral reasons people that they are missing out. After all the anti drinking people jab at drinkers all the time."
        I think the goal would usually be for neither to do that but maybe such traits are "an essential part of the human existence" 😉 lol time will tell o.O

  14. What a great episode. My favorite since episode one. Was not expecting Karura and Touka to make an appearance, as I thought this series took place in the distant future? It was a pleasant surprise. Karura is still a babe. And Touka’s always so much fun.

    Loved those brief flashbacks with Kuon as a child, too.

    1. i know hoe you feel. i feel the same about this Nostalgic vibes. But what is about? an remake of the original anime? or telling the original Anime from the perspective from the Female MC? (The Tail garbing was the same, but little different)

      No, this a Story of the “New generation”, we are telling their own story. but involve the Parents with us. Do not falter dear Director and team, continue your path. It is just this Anime needed a bit Flesh, because it was run danger to have to much Water

  15. Touka and Karura are my favor from original anime. I looking forward and hopeful to see them in battle. Between gracefulness of Touka and brutal power that Karura holds. They were fun to watch.

  16. Ah, I get it now. Kuon’s personality has been shaped by all of her mothers. Her natural beauty is from Yuzuha, her personality towards Haku is a combination of Karura and Eruru, her sense of shame and pervertedness is from Touka, her and her stomach is from Aruru.

    No wonder why I love her. She’s like the best things about the previous cast.

    …okay, you may think it is weird that I like Aruru’s stomach, but a woman who can enjoy good food is great in my books. Simply because that means I can enjoy more good food myself. <_< I'm greedy, what can I say?

    Dorian S.
  17. I was kind of sad and scared for what was to come when last week’s episode left me with a “it was okay” feeling but boy did this episode bring me back fast. I don’t think I have a single complaint about it. Special mention to the music, there was a lot of really beautiful song.

  18. I’d gotten used to the idea that this was ~1000 years in the future and we had at most mythological continuity. Now we have flesh-and-blood continuity and the all the baggage that can bring to a franchise reboot. Oh… it’ll all work our somehow!! I like this season too much for it to fall.

    But the director better let the fans in on who Kuon’s biological parents are soon, or it’s all they will be talking about(!)… unless Kuon really doesn’t know??? That could be a strangely interesting solution.

  19. It was great to see Karura again. Was practically fanboying for most of the episode. Nice to see Touka too. At first I thought Koun was actually her daughter, but then Touka showed up and Kuon called her as a mother too. Kuon’s multiple mothers hints a lot on who her real mother is. Though from reading some of the comments here, it’s probably more identifiable to those who have played the game. It was also nice to know that a certain someone in the original series managed to finally become a “mother” too (Game/OVA reference). This background on Kuon was the first indicator that this really is a sequel.

    @Stilts: Great to know how it works for someone who is relatively new to the series. Like one of the the posters above, that is something I was wondering about too. But that ceremony involving Kuon and her mothers, I think most people can appreciate it. Some in an aspiring way, while some in a having experienced way. We probably won’t connect to it 100% the same way as that depends on individual and culture, but a coming of age ceremony is actually quite common in this world. They range from simple gestures to near impossible feats, but it’s there. That ceremony was for me the best part of the episode.

    1. People can absolutely appreciate the moment regardless of having experienced it. I said is much in my post (that comparison to childbirth and whereabouts). My point was that, if you haven’t been there, you can’t understand it as much as those who have—which is true of all things. This just happens to be one time where I’ve been there, so the point occurred to me. The moment rang all the clearer since it echoed an experience of my own.

  20. So, an entire episode wasted drinking at the onsen. Back then in the first serie by the sixth episode, Hakuoro was about a step away from conquering a country, just saying. What was this series about I wonder? I so miss Eruru, Aruru and the old gang.

  21. I know they said that you could get into this series without watching the first season or playing the first game, but that’s hogwash.

    This episode is SO much better when you’ve seen the first series and know all the details about who everyone is. It has a hell of a lot more impact on me as a viewer. (Try it. Go marathon the first series, then come back and tell me you don’t see a difference. I dare you!)

    TBH, I had stopped watching the original series about 3-4 times at around episode 12 for various reasons over the years. (Life and stuff, you know how it is.)

    Only just recently did I finally finish it. (Only took 9 years.) But wow. What a difference in how the new series is in comparison from before finishing and after. Now I just need to find that game… >_>a

    1. Not at all. You’re asking (and answering) an entirely different question.

      Was this episode better if you had seen the original? Almost certainly. But that wasn’t the question I was asking. I was asking whether, for new viewer, it works at all.

      Many sequels are so married to their previous iterations as to be impenetrable to new viewers. Or players—Metal Gear Solid is famous for being like this. I was asking (and answering) whether this episode of Itsuwari no Kamen functions without knowledge of the previous series. And it does! It’s still a good episode on its own right, mainly through links to the character Kuon. It’s almost certainly better with further knowledge, but that wasn’t the point I was making. That’s fairly obvious, so it’s not worth much exploration.

      1. Well, wait a second. I must disagree with this line of discussion.

        “It’s entertaining if you don’t have knowledge.”

        But “It’s so much better if you do.”

        Well, which is the smarter course to take then?

        Sure, on its own it has merits, but it’s weaker on its own. Sure, it’s warm and fuzzy and very SoL, and that’s not terrible, but would you tell people “Sure, go watch Empire without seeing Star Wars, it stands perfectly fine on its own?”

        Of course not.

        If you don’t put the good sauce on the food, the food won’t taste like the chef intended. So please put the good sauce on the food BEFORE you eat it.

        Don’t make the chef and the kitchen staff cry!

        In this case, the food won’t even get cold if you go and get the good sauce!


      2. Watching Empire without having seen A New Hope isn’t a comparable analogy. A comparable analogy would be watching the upcoming Episode VII without having watched Episodes IV-VI. (We’re ignoring the prequels for the moment, because everybody should ignore the prequels.) Which I’m sure some people will do! And I’m sure—if Episode VII is any good—it will be better if you’ve seen the original series.

        But it’s not required. It works on its own. That’s my point. When stories take this kind of leap, their authors specifically design them to be inflection points where new viewers (or readers, or players) can step into the narrative without going back to catch everything before it. That’s what separates a sequel like Itsuwari no Kamen, which is a true different-main-character sequel, with “sequels” like Noragami Aragoto (and every other S2 happening this cour), where it’s really just a continuation of an existing story that wasn’t finished.

        From the sounds of it, if there’s a second Itsuwari no Kamen anime (based on the upcoming direct sequel to the Itsuwari no Kamen game), then THAT will be an A New Hope/Empire Strikes Back situation. But this is not that.

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