「意志を継ぐもの」 (Ishi o Tsugu Mono)
“Who Carries On His Will”

Oh boy, did I ever call it. Unfortunately.

Silence, Staring, Fading To Gray

The first half of the episode is an excellent example of how not to do human drama. As it turns out, messy things like talking and emotion, while they do get in the way of the meaningful, overlong stare, are what make human drama work. All the way up until we learn that Haku isn’t actually dead, and that he’s posing as Oshutoru, didn’t connect because it was so divorced from how people actually act in favor of what seems dramatic. Bah! Plus it was long and boring, and it’s not like any of us believed that the main character would die off-screen anyway.

Also, what was with how the screen kept fading to gray, only for it to snap back as soon as the view cut away to something new? If the intent was to show Kuon’s world falling apart now that Haku has died, then it didn’t friggin’ work. If they had built to that moment and slowly showed the world graying out, and then staying there, maybe. As it is, Kuon crying in her uncle’s arms had far more impact than whatever nonsense tricks they were trying early on.

Oshutoru Is Dead, Long Live Oshutoru

So it turns out I was right: Oshutoru is dead. The transformation when he was weak was enough to kill him. And for all the first parts of the episode sucked, Oshutoru’s actual death scene wasn’t bad (though neither way it great), mostly because of Nekone. Once again, human moments—even if everything else is overwrought, Nekone’s very real pain ties us into the scene. You can’t help but feel for her.

As for Haku taking up Oshutoru’s mask, mantle, and name, there’s a good idea in here. The problem, which I’ll discuss in length in the final impressions below, is that it’s coming too late. For now, I’ll mention a series name: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. If the intent was to take TTGL’s most famous twist and repurpose it, Itsuwari no Kamen should have taken a hint from its forbearer and done it eight episode in, not twenty-five.

Kuon’s Return Home

Kuon’s return home to Tusukuru, along with the shots of what everyone is doing now—including revealing that Munechika is alive, and Yakutowaruto too, though no one seems to care about him, poor guy—underscores that Itsuwari no Kamen is a middle book, and its main purpose is to set up the third game. Which is a massive case of squandered potential. Instead of spending twenty-five episodes building up, they could have just done it all now. But ah well. I guess Tusukuru will have an actual point in the story next time. That will be fun.

Final Impressions below.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Oshutoru is dead, long live Oshutoru. A whole lot of buildup for not a lot of resolution #utaware s2e25 END

Random thoughts:

  • Not the time for silly harem antics, guys.
  • I disagree, Oshutoru. This is exactly the time for Nekone to cry. No better time. If you didn’t want your little sister to cry, I suggest not dying next time.
  • This episode reminds me a little of the last episode of the first cour of Rinne no Lagrange, where they temporally inverted the narrative and robbed themselves of any chance at tension. Granted, that was Lagrange’s only sin in that episode, whereas Itsuwari no Kamen has several.
  • Fun fact: When this series started I suspected that Oshutoru and Haku were one and the same (the same character), rather than Ukon and Oshutoru being the same. Turns out I was right, in a way I didn’t suspect. How very droll.
  • At least Haku doubted his stupid decision to not tell Kuon the truth. Not telling anyone does make it easier to keep up the lie, but it’s not worth it. If you can’t trust your friends, what’s the damn point? You’re already screwed. But at least he doubted, so Haku isn’t totally lost as a character.

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: Inside Out: What Emotion Drives You?, Superhot: Storytelling through gameplay, Deadpool: Tonal Balance Through Non-Linear Storytelling, and Through their own flaws.



Final Impressions

Itsuwari no Kamen is the straw that finally got me to watch the original Utawarerumono, and for that, I’m grateful. Alas, that’s about the only good thing I can say about the series, in large part because it so clearly failed to live up to its predecessor, and to be a strong story on its own merits.

There are several critical flaws that contribute to the disappointment of Itsuwari no Kamen, but the two greatest are intertwined. The first is middle book syndrome. This is when the middle book (or movie) of a trilogy faffs about a bunch while it sets things up for the big climactic finish in the third book. Itsuwari no Kamen is a textbook example of middle book syndrome, because much of what happens is faffing about (slice-of-life first cour) or setup (Uzuurussha invasion, Tusukuru invasion). It’s clear now that everything that’s been done has set the stage for a third game/anime that can build off the turmoil in Yamato, tie in Tusukuru, and be bigger, badder, and cooler than ever (hopefully). That doesn’t make Itsuwari no Kamen any better of a ride, though, even if we may end up thinking more fondly of it if the third game/anime is super amazing.

The other critical flaw is that Itsuwari no Kamen tried to do too little. I invoked Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann before, and avert thine eyes if you haven’t seen it, because I’m about to spoil the crap out of it. Skip the next paragraph if that’s you. Have those who need to looked away? Unmarked spoilers ahead. Last chance.

Right. So if Oshutoru is the Kamina to Haku’s Simon, Itsuwari no Kamen should have taken another page from TTGL and killed off Oshutoru eight episodes in, instead of waiting until the end of the series. There’s a good idea in Haku becoming Oshutoru, and the Yamato civil war sure could be fun, but the real story is only just getting started and he season just ended. Once again, TTGL is a good example of how it ought to have been done: instead of stretching the Gunmen arc over two cours, Gainax had the cajones to go fast, kill a major character fast, put a huge timeskip in, and basically take two series worth of content and combine it into one, which resulted in one amazing series instead of two good-to-lackluster ones.

It’s a problem of cowardice, I feel. That’s not often a charge leveled at storytellers, but it fits. The original writers of Itsuwari no Kamen, or perhaps the corporate overlords who were bankrolling them, didn’t have the balls to use all of their good ideas immediately. Instead they held back, saving some of their ideas so they could make the next game/anime even better…and in the process, they made this one shit. That’s not how good storytelling works! You use up all of your best ideas now, because creativity is not a stagnant pond, it’s a flowing river, and you’ll get new ideas, better ideas, if you have the courage to do your absolute best work now and force yourself to rise to the occasion later.

And calm down, people who have played the source—I’m sure the game was better. This anime is plainly rife with adaptation problems. But the fact remains that the plot of Itsuwari no Kamen builds up to a lot and resolves nothing. If we charted it on the three-act structure of Setup, Confrontation, and Resolution, the first twenty episodes are all setup. The Uzuurussha, Tusukuru—these are all setup, and don’t directly relate to the budding Yamato civil war/Oshutoru vs Vurai plot that formed the central conflict of this season. That means they only had five episodes to rush through the confrontation and resolution, which clearly didn’t work out well since nothing has been resolved.

There are other flaws. A big one is that for many episodes, it didn’t feel like an Utawarerumono series. The trademark mix of strategic low-magic medieval warfare coupled with slice-of-life breather episodes and harem overtones is a strong elixir, and even if the formula is altered (the harem overtones aren’t necessary), the first half of the series lacked all the strategy Utawarerumono fans love, while the slice-of-life episodes felt unearned. For those who didn’t watch the original, or who were able to enjoy Itsuwari no Kamen as a slice-of-life comedy, at least the first half was good enough. But it wasn’t an Utawarerumono series.

There’s more, but after writing about this series for twenty plus episodes, my opinions are well documented. Itsuwari no Kamen hasn’t killed the Utawarerumono brand, but it’s done its best to wound it, and the third game/anime is going to be born into a world with much less goodwill than Itsuwari no Kamen started with. I’m truly grateful that it spurred me on to finally watch the original Utawarerumono, which, remember, I only finished two months ago—when I say it’s a better story, there’s no nostalgia factor. But as for the forthcoming third game/anime(?), it will meet me with my foot a-tappin’. “Your older brother wasted a lot of my time,” I’ll say. “This had better be good.”


  1. All good things come to an end… Its too bad that they never really showed what Eruruu looks like other then a brief shadowed glimpse of her.

    Hopefully the final game in the utawarerumono series will get an anime so we can finally see the whole cast again.

  2. Yeah, Itsuwari no Kamen was a disappointment. Only good episodes were probably the first few. Although one plus I have to give it above the original was the advent of the giant Akuruka beasts. They were animated nicely and were captured the scale of them quite nicely. The original had an awesome final battle (although anime original) but the first time you see it in all it’s glory was… surprisingly underwhelming.

    I feel guilty because I think I pestered Stilts about this anime a good month or so before airing… Yeah… well at least you enjoyed the original.

    Regardless, I hope for a third season and hope they have their script and boards sorted out. Because it really seems like it would be interesting to see how this, “rebel” faction will go up against Yamato. Sounds like a setup that would do the original charm of the series justice.

    Goodwill Wright
  3. Review from episode 4 : “I’m starting to wonder if Haku will become the new Oshutoru in Ukon’s stead.” Totally called it.

    But still, OSHUTORU YOU ASSHOLE! Oh yeah, die more concerned about the empire than your own little sister currently crying her eyes out, and dump all the shit in your friend’s lap, forcing him to forsake his own existence and friends for an empire he is (to your knowledge) not involved in.

    That said, I personally think the episode wasn’t that bad (though I’m a crappy critic). The slow pace went well with the shock of Haku’s reported death and the impact on his friends (Oshutoru you asshole). It was also a nice touch to see Haku pour sake on his friend’s grave as a callback, and the hint he hasn’t quite abandoned his identity by keeping his battle fan.

    Honestly, Itsuwari no Kamen felt more like a transition, like this final episode was the entire point of the series, and setting up the next one, meaning it cannot stand on its own unlike the original Utawarerumono.

    Weird D
    1. It cannot stand on its own, aye, but it can be judged for not being able to do that. A complete story need not be a complete stand-alone, it can be tied to other stories, but it should be a complete story. Which Itsuwari no Kamen is not.

      So I agree with you, but don’t let that stop you from judging. Calling a storyteller out on their bullshit is the kindest thing you can do. Provided it’s done politely, of course.

  4. Definitely a disappointment. The first couple of episodes started out strong and actually seemed really promising, but then the show got bogged down by slice of life nonsense that didn’t contribute to the growth or development of the characters. From the start a lot of the supporting characters had a weak presence with an even weaker personalities. It I couldn’t even been bothered to remember their names since they are totally forgettable. Instead I just remember them by their shallow character traits, I.E, the fujoshi girl for example.

    Haku character is the largest wasted potential in the series since he was the MC of the show. Over 25 episodes and we barely see him do anything. They never really expand on his character than he is lazy, smart enough to fix machinery (which is never relevant again in the entire show), and be the moral support for his harem.

  5. Aaaaaand… we’re done. 25 episodes for what’s probably 15 episodes worth of set up, ending in true Utawarerumono – Istsuwari no Kamen fashion. It… was not a strong ending.

    First, as promised in my last episode’s comment, WTF!?!? Vurai is still alive after getting stabbed all the way through (and what looks to be through his heart) by a large sword. Someone please call Shirou from Fate Stay Night and tell him that, no, apparently people do NOT die when they are killed. How the f**K does Vurai live when Oshu dies is beyond me or any logical sense. What happened to “that’s the price/fate/whatever for mask users”? Absolutely terrible IMO that Vurai survived. Oh, but Yakutowaruto (thanks for his name Stilts) and Munechika are alive and well because… why not? Don’t want to get too “grim-dark” or perhaps take away from Ohsu v1’s sacrifice. Whatever.

    As for Haku, AKA “Ohsu v2”, assuming Oshu’s identity does have some merit, but I question the long term implications, or is Haku’s going to put up this charade for the rest of his existence? There’s going to be some fall out IMO, with Kuon being one for sure. WHY can’t he tell at least Kuon? Oh, the “secret” might get out? Please, Kuon is one of THE most competent and trustworthy people in this show. I’d feel as safe if not safer with her carrying a secret than anyone else in the group. But then we couldn’t have our manufactured “feels” moments. Sorry, that’s how it strikes me. Melodrama for the sake of that. The show paid minimal effort to “Haku x Kuon” as it was. Nekone’s sorrow when her brother died was much more organic, better and heartfelt. Again, I can see the merits of the deception, but frankly, I still question the absolute necessity of it even short term. Just not a fan of that plot line in this situation, or at the least, the way it played out.

    One final point. WTF is the deal with the masks? Oshu gives his to Deko-something who then can’t even get it to stay on, but it works just fine for Haku? Power of Protagonist or the “chains” doing (they can kind of sort of but not really “power off” the masks)? This may seem like a somewhat minor detail all things considered, but it’s still just yet another unexplained (arguably WTF) situation which has plagued the show far too often.

    Leaving overall impressions for a separate post.

    1. Why do you say Vurai is alive? They mentioned the remaining Eight Pillar Generals, and he’s not at the table. Did I miss a cut with him in it?

      And yeah, I question the reason for the Oshu masquerade. It has some limited early usefulness (mobilizing the people immediately), but they have all of Oshu’s friends, his chosen successor (Haku), and the friggin’ princess. I think they could have gotten the people of Ennakamui to come along. But hey, maybe not.

      1. @Stilts: Agree. It’s one thing to promise to fulfill Oshu’s duties/dream/whatnot, but entirely another to become Oshu. Think about Nekone. That’s GOT to be hard on her. It’s just bad for Haku’s group, more so the longer it plays out. “You don’t trust me!!!!” in spades, especially Kuon. All that heartbreak for nothing. That’s not good for any future relationship between the two. Also, remember how Anju had a thing for Oshu? How’s she going to feel about Haku pretending to be Oshu? Again, is he going to do this for the rest of his life?

        So yeah, there’s some benefit in that Oshu is well known publicly, has a good rep, etc, but as you say, there are other ways they can rally the troops to their cause. They have two other princesses, but the trump card as you say is the PUBLICLY DECLARED heir to the throne – Anju. If you’re going to put Anju on the throne, then it’s a good idea IMO to start setting her up as a leader/ruler now. Also downplays any doubt about her being used. Make a public announcement, and wow could they milk that to rally the troops.

        Give a tearful speech: “My father told this nation that I was to be the next ruler, but after he died (perhaps insinuate he was assassinated because he might have been), those he trusted tried to kill me! If not for these brave, loyal souls, I would have died, and your emperor’s dreams along with it. Oshu, the one remaining true “pillar” gave his very life so that I may live (cue water works from Nekone)…” Now introduce Haku as Oshu designated “heir”. It’s a compelling “story” (if you will), complete with two kawaii little girls grieving over their lost father & brother respectively.

        As for Vurai, yeah, looks like I screwed up on that. Thought someone else was him so… oops, my bad. Appreciate the correction. Feel free to delete my paragraph above on that. 😉

      2. Yeah, that’s Mikazuchi (General of the Left) in the half mask. I had it wrong too. I had so little respect for the writer’s not having done an ass pull like Vurai surviving that I jumped to the conclusion.

        One might have thought that Oshutaru would have had the half mask being the General of the Right instead of Vurai having it. Oops, now I’m expecting too much from the animators.

    2. Correction to my above comment. After checking again, looks like I mistook another character for Vurai. My mistake on him surviving. So please ignore the first paragraph/rant, and props to the show for getting that part right. Also, edit function when?

  6. Scriptwriters of anime (and second game but to less extent) chose the wrong focus. But if we”ll get S3 in Fall or next year, I can forgive them. Cause all the second game/anime was more like a setup for the fird.

    1. Itsuwari IS setup for Game 3 – a lot of gameplayers were pissed that the plot was merely a buildup for the grand finale of the Utawarerumono trilogy. The writers have hinted Game 3 will have even more content to cover than Itsuwari.

  7. My View of this last Episode:

    This Episode feel out of Character. Why? I show you some Pictures
    These Light Bugs are already coming out of his Body. Thats why Nekone began to cry, she know that he is about to dissolve (like Vurai did. We just saw the last Bug fly away of his mask)

    okay, look at their surroundings
    and new

    You see it? They added the Flowers for what? As if this Scene are complete different from Episode 24. Do these 2 teams do not talk to each other?
    Also they took over 10 minutes to come to this important point. I do not love this. It had be best if they show it right from the start. We already knew Oshutaru is about to vanish from this World. So there was no surprise, just boredom (“are we there yet?”). So right from the start i know that we have here Haku at the Gate, it is just his appearance and voice got affected. in first i was though this is the Illusion Power of the Mask, but in the end its magic from the Chain Sisters. But have this Illusion an weak point? Perhaps “Haku’s” smell for Kuon (perhaps that will be a key scene when both meet each other again)

    Also the illusion maybe perfect, but there are memories made between the general of the right and Left. So i can see it in Season 3, Haku will not fool the General of the Left, perhaps he play along and reveal this secret in private, and greets him as “Haku” but still in public as “oshutaru”. Also i do not believe Haku has the masks powers. You saw how the Fire of Vurai did not harm him in any way. So i still wondering that the mask fit, without falling of. Perhaps they put superglue into it 🙂

    and our “peacekeeper” Haku,now want to go into Civil War to retake the Capitol Yamato? What will he do, if he clash with the only remained Mask User the general of the left? The General can not back down, because the other Generals will watching (Like they done in Ep 24). So, Haku has to defeat him or kill him?

    Also my idea, Why he did lie to Kuon, he want her not in danger of get killed in the War.. But the Fortress raid some Episodes away has nothing with his thought in keep her save. So why now he cares all of a sudden for her? He could not know the “outburst of power” from her, they did not meet each other until the Gate, and there there where just Music… So i can not connect my string with his decision only the Director has the Key. or the Duty for his “Homeland” to protect the Princess, include to lie to Kuon. So his priority is now Save Yamato, not Kuon anymore? as i said not any Strings connection

    Well, i want to come to an end. the last Episode here was executed poorly. Sure you want to impact us with the sad feelings, but you used an to strong Wood hammer here, and just created pain

    the connection from the end of episode 24 and this episode 25 (end) are really far off, that it irritated me more then enjoy this

    But anyway, it was a nice ride for me, just this final slip gave me headache

    i am not posting this for make any harm, i just do not hide my truth feelings behind flowers. i still respect the director and all of the team. but let me allowed to tell how i feel about this

    1. also an indicator for me, that they rushed this final are this much music, where mouths are moved but nothing came out. As if they rebuild this episode at the very last minute where there was no more time for the Seiyuus audio recording

      they sacrifice this ending for what? to have an cliff hanger? no i just feel pain and emptiness

  8. Overall thoughts on the series

    The biggest thing IMO is two sides of the same coin – FAR too long for what actually happened, and it wasted so much of the time it had. IMO, this should have been a 13 episode, one cour run with maybe a double length first and/or last episode = up to 15 episodes worth of time. I think that would be plenty to move the story along without being overly rushed. Even then, it still needs to be efficient rather than default to egregious amounts of repetitive, very “YMMV” and sometimes ill-fitting “comedy” hijinks. Agree 100% with Stilts in that the show tried to do too little. Bad enough for a one cour show, but death for two-cour, 25 episode run.

    SO much time was wasted IMO the first cour, and while the 2nd cour was better, that’s very much a relative comparison. Second cour benefits a lot from simply SOMETHING going on, even if what transpired felt half-finished (or just half-assed). Time could have been spent on better character depth/development/background for the cast in general. A ton of that wasn’t done in the original series, but the wow did the characters feel more substantial (not to mention likable other than maybe Oboro) than with this sequel.

    Kuon was really the shining star with this show, but she alone wasn’t enough. Haku’s laid-back approach was kind of refreshing at first, but clashed later as he became The Protagonist who solved everyone’s problems (and kicked some ass) despite 99% of the time being set up as the world’s foremost expert on gutter & sewer cleaning. Show definitely could have set up his character better (something I believe the game does based on comments). I also think some more time (beyond wacky hijinks/oblivious Haku) could have been spent on the two’s relationship.

    Ultimately, I have to go back to this should have been one-cour. That (theoretically) should solve some of the problems, or at least mask its deficiencies better. Even then, there are other problems to address: Better world-building; FAR less WTF/ass-pull moments; characters (see above); and integrating “comedy” with serious moments. Seriously, this adaptation did neither the series in general nor Season 3 (assuming that does get made) any favors. I certainly won’t have the same level of anticipation for Season 3 that I did coming into this show.


    @Stilts: Re. “Middle-Book Syndrome”.

    Technically, I guess this is the “middle book”, but after some thought, not really. IMO, this is about as “middle book” as “The Fellowship of the Ring” (with 1/2 of The Two Towers added) is for LOTR. Think about it. 15-20 years (however old Kuon is) has passed. OK, not the 50 (60?) years from the Hobbit to Fellowship, but still – a GOOD chunk of time with a new primary cast in a new location. It’s in essence a sequel rather than say a true “middle-book” like The Two Towers. Maybe not entirely accurate, but continuing with the LOTR analogy, it feels like after 25 episodes we just got the Fellowship formed. NOT good.

    So I don’t think it’s so much “middle book syndrome”, but rather your second point – far too little attempted to be accomplished. The issue is both story telling and the story told. The Two Towers is a true middle book, but things happen. Characters grow (figuratively and literally in the case of Merry & Pippen), battles are fought and won (Isengard, Helms Deep), lost hope regained – the tide begins to turn. PROGRESS is made as the stakes (and tension) mount. THAT IMO is the problem here. It’s 90% set up (and I might be generous). I’m not downplaying the difficulty with “middle books”, but I’ve read/watched enough stories to know that “middle-books” can be good in their own right. Frankly, “The Empire Strikes Back” is another good example – arguably better than the other two (“A New Hope”, “Return of the Jedi”).

    TL:DR = In this case, I think this isn’t a true “middle-book” (more like 1st half), and even if it was, it was the utter lack of ambition to DO SOMETHING until the very end along with sub-par execution that damned the show.

    1. Very good comparison with Fellowship of the Ring. So maybe we should call it “Fellowship of the ring done bad” syndrome, lol?

      Anyways, I find that the problem isn’t even necessarily that the series tried to accomplish too little, but that it did that with too much time. And poor execution.
      Really, “cast meets -> war -> Emperor assassinated(?) -> civil war -> Haku becomes Oshutoru” isn’t a bad outline for a plot in my opinion. But the series used way too much time on “Cast meets” and way too little on the “war -> Emperor dead -> civil war” part. Last part I found was done well enough, but maybe that’s just me.

      And yes, less episodes definitely would have done the series a favor, though 12 might have been too few (curses on anime industry insisting on following the 4 cours a year style). I suspect about 15 episodes would have been ideal for the story we got.

      1. Well Lord of the Rings is actually not a three book trilogy it was written as and intended to be just one long book. Tolkien submitted it as one book. It was a publishing decision to split it into three peaces. So it suffers less middle book problems because there really is no middle book. Although many hate the long Mordor arc.
        It other actual trilogies that the middle book term apply better to.

      2. @Erimaki: Well, it’s two sides of the same coin as I mentioned. Too little done for 25 episodes. You make a fair point about the outline which would have been fine for one-cour (or perhaps as much as 15 episodes of time as I proposed). I definitely agree that too much time was spent on “cast meets”. Very inefficient use of time. Still, IMO there’s more than just the length of time factor. For one, Haku’s character could and should have been set up better beyond “world’s foremost gutter cleaner”. That’s why I focused more on the “too little” aspect because IMO there’s more than just make it shorter to improve here. So while I agree that the second half (cour) did play out better, I think room for improvement remains for that as well.

    2. @daikama @Erimaki

      You’re right that it’s not strictly a middle book from a narrative standpoint. Though that also depends on how much the Tusukuru crew fits into the next book. If they’re a major factor (and I think they will be), it’ll become more of a middle book, and not to its benefit.

      I was thinking more about how it faffs about and sets up for the big finish (while building on what came before more than necessary), which is classic of the syndrome.


      LotR still could have had middle book syndrome if it had all been one book. It’s called sagging middle syndrome, and it’s the same thing but for the middle of the book. LotR is just better than that. And that series being one book would have been too damn long, so phew.

  9. https://randomc.net/image/Utawarerumono/Utawarerumono%20Itsuwari%20no%20Kamen%20-%2025%20-%2037.jpg
    The anime removed a scene before Kuon meets Oboro, which players felt transitions Game 2’s plot into Game 3’s. One of the 8-Pillar Generals sends assassins to kill Kuon, but she transforms into her other monster form and kills them. Oboro arrives in time to calm her down and ask her to go home to Tsukuru. The scene is important because it highlights the more vengeful aspect of her personality, something the anime didn’t address. Ads for Game 3 hint that Kuon wants to make Tsukuru invade Yamato to get revenge for Haku’s “death” – suggesting all-out war will be a major part of Game 3.

    Haku assuming Oshutoru’s identity is hinted at earlier in the game. While hanging out in Oshutoru’s office, he decides to make and wear a paper mask resembling Oshutoru’s one. Nekone comes in and mistakes Haku for Oshutoru; he plays along and starts petting her. When Oshutoru comes back, Nekone whacks Haku for tricking her.

    1. And that is why it’s never a good idea to let people think you’re dead for more than a day: one of them might be the daughter of a god whose vengeance will make your whole plan meaningless.

      Seriously, what would telling the group, or even just Kuon, have changed? It would’ve spared some grief, that’s it. They all kept Oshutoru’s secret before, they can do it again.

      Blatant bad decisions for the sake of drama are not good writing, mmkay? >.<

      1. Some gameplayers think Haku faking his death and not telling the others was him trying to commit himself onto a set path to protect Anju and save Yamato out of guilt; a reverse of the lazy, apathetic role he had earlier.

        But yes, this twist is just to cause DRAMA.

      2. There’s something to be said for taking away your escape—for burning the ships and making the only way out through victory. That argument just breaks down somewhat when burning the ships directly diminishes your strategic and combat ability.

    2. Does that mean that at least one of the generals knows her realy identity as princess of Tusukuru or were the assassins sent after her for being part of Oshutaru’s group?

      You made me really curious about the game epilogue but there’s no video to be found, unfortunately. 🙁 Looks like Aquaplus is taking them down and/or blocking the inbuilt PS4 streaming.

    1. Ah how typical. So many adaptations are trashed by a producer and or director who really wanted to do something of their own or think they are better than than the source producers. Only best way I have seen the changing work is Game of Thrones where the original author actually has group TV writing experience and is given lots of input into the adaptation, and that author is willing to basically improve their story in parts also. (Tyron in books actually fights ok on horse back even though he has little martial training in book, in TV he gets knocked out before battle way more in character)

  10. Weird, I thought this episode worked well, first part included. Sure it’s not the best episode in all of anime ever, but I thought it got the point it wanted to make across. Above average for Itsuwari no Kamen, in my opinion.

    On the first part of the episode, I can’t really say much more than “it worked for me”. Considering this was Kuon’s flashback, the grey coloring at times was pretty effective at showing, like you wrote, that her world was crumbling. Now, it could have been done better, definitely, and apparently the director couldn’t decide between colored or colorless, audio or no audio, etc. (Personally, I would have put all of Kuon’s flashback in grey and probably only use audio for “Haku died”, or not at all).

    I didn’t think for a moment that Haku was actually dead, but I don’t think the audience was supposed to think that anyways. The first part was much more about how the characters took it (Kuon in particular, obviously), than being shocked about Haku’s “death”. In general, I feel there’s a weird fixation that for every death in anime there must be a shocking, surprsining and loved victim to make the scene effective. Now, those are certainly all good things to have, but I believe the survivors’ reaction to said death can work just as well (obviously having both would be best, I’m just saying one of the two can work well on its own). It’s kind of like how shipping seems to be the most important thing ever with some people.

    Quick note on Haku not telling Kuon about the whole becoming Oshutoru thing: It’s definitely stupid, but it is in character for him. He was always passive as hell and somewhat detouched from his surrounding, so disregarding the obvious emotional decision to confide in the person closest to him isn’t unbelievable. But still stupid.

    Anyways, I agree that Itsuwari no Kamen wasn’t very good. It had good building blocks (setting was interesting, it had background to get fame from, the cast was pretty likable, and so on), but didn’t really know what to do with them. In the end it dragged on way too long before things started happening, introductions took way too long early on (Atui/Kiuru episode was the worst of these and coincidence or not, it was apparently mostly anime-original), most of the cast didn’t get enough screen time and development to matter, the balance between action and SoL was bad, neither the action or the SoL segments were that good on their own, many of the jokes fell flat (yaoi/fujoshi jokes aren’t that funny, and poor Rurutie suffered from that a lot)…

    In short, Itsuwari no Kamen was one of those series I really wanted to like (I liked the first series, I liked most of the cast based on first impressions, I liked Kuon, etc.), but couldn’t because the execution was so bad.

  11. Ok 10 to 20 years from now I want a remake if you take the first series and stretch it to 32 episodes as it suffered from being to rushed in the second half and not exploring the other girls relationships to the hero and then do this part as 16 episodes with the deleted parts put back in and much more Kuon and way better filming and showing of the battles (to me it clear there was good meat their just translated to film badly) you could have a great show. And you have 48 episodes total to fit the TV schedule as you will air it as one 48 plus what ever the third part needs. (after seeing third part can tell if need to steal from first two or shorten it)

    They got gold here just have to do it right not wrong.

    I always like what is human considerations with the Emperor thinking the new people not really human when they clearly are intelligent self willed beings.

    Thanks for doing this Stilts sorry it did not live to our expectations I was thinking at the start how cool it would have been if I had been reading your reviews of the first series back when I watched it.

  12. I thinks this series suffers the “middle child/series” syndrome more than most others. I don’t think it was all bad but honestly they didn’t need to stretch it to 24 episodes just to get what we got. I read somewhere online that the VN which this series is based on is due to release the third “volume” soon so I guess it’s a matter of simply not having enough source material for it to be meaningful.

    All things said and done, this felt like a prologue of sorts. An introduction to the actual story. Basically all of the events should have been crammed into 12 episodes or less and the remaining of the 24 devoted to the actual meat of the story.

    This is an introductory chapter and unlike the White Album one that can stand alone all be it I’m dying that they didn’t continue onto the Finale and Coda Chapters given that the source material is there, it just doesn’t seem correct for it to stand alone. I feel like they should have waited and animated this and the next game together.

    On the episode. For a large part I agree with the review and its overuse of some “dramatic techniques” but I guess it wasn’t all that bad since that small seed of doubt about Haku’s fate did keep you glued to the screen. If anything tho, I believe the highlight of the episode for me was the monologue of Haku towards the end. The one where he seems to reach out to Kuon saying “I am here”. If anything was worth mentioning in this episode it was that.

    1. To be fair, the White Album 2 anime did what it was supposed to do—ginned up more interest in the visual novel. Maybe…I don’t know if they actually saw a jump in sales, since it was already pretty popular. But I don’t think it sold a lot, so it was a situation where there was a lack of a financial incentive. This anime, and presumably a third season, would have that—sell more games. Advertise, basically.

  13. If you told me half a year ago that I would end up hating this show, I doubt I would have believed you. But here we are. *sigh* This is easily one of the most dissapointing shows (and one of the worst sequels) in years.

    How did they screw up this one so badly? I mean, the first Utawarerumono wasn’t perfect, but it was a hell of a lot fun, and its formula worked. There was plenty of potential in its universe for more worldbuilding, and the first episodes of this show seemed to do just that. But then we reach the capital and everything just goes downhill. Instead of focusing on its strengths, the show went off on nonsensical tangents that were neither funny nor doing a good job of developing characters. It was just faffing about, basically. And then, after wasting the viewer’s time for half a season, the big conflicts finally started happening…and they sucked. The tactics were lame, the fights uninteresting and most wars were only half-finished. And then it just ends, with Haku finally ending up in a leadership position (which felt completely unearned, to me), something the first show took care of after its first freaking big arc.

    I mean, this is it? Thís is what we’ve spent 25 episodes building up towards? Middle-book syndrome doesn’t even begin to cover it. What were they thinking?! And even with the main story being, well, boring and unsatisfying as it is, it could’ve had some fondness for it if at least the characters were worth it. But they’re not! I don’t give a damn for any of the new characters save Kuon. They stayed underdeveloped throughout the entire show (despite all the slice-of-life bits), took turns juggling the idiot ball, frequently annoyed the hell out of me and get constant unearned praise. If that wasn’t enough, the old characters aren’t used well either, because they barely do anything (even when they should) and seem to exist just for fanservice. And so many scenes were just badly executed as well, so any attempt at drama fell completely flat (as even the final episode proves). I can’t really think of many things it actually did do well, save for the decent episode here and there.

    This show is the very definition of a trainwreck, and I’m very glad that it’s over. It’s like Robotics;Notes all over again. If there’s ever a sequel, it’ll have to back in line and pass the three-episode-rule like any other, because I have little patience to sit through this kind of slog again.

  14. This final episode actually exceeded my expectations. Not amazing, but good enough. I guess you could attribute that to Nekone, since I really felt for her. Strangely, regarding Haku’s supposed death, I felt bad for Maroro more than Kuon. Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure Maroro has heard about Haku’s death. But that’s my take on it. I actually like Kuon more than Maroro too.

    Overall, I think the series messed up the pacing. I would’ve preferred if they compressed the first twelve episodes into six or eight and elaborate the 2nd half a little more. It wouldn’t make it The Empire Strikes Back level, but I think we’d get a slightly more positive impression of it.

    As an advert for the game, this show didn’t work on me. The first Utawarerumono anime made me drop it and play the game. It wasn’t bad, I just got hooked on the game and never got to finish watching it. While this one, I finished watching but have no plans on getting the game.

    As a game to anime adaption, I feel this is more Two Heart 2 than Utawarerumono or Tears to Tiara.

  15. I could see an anime of Game 3 being made – it’ll definitely be good advertising for the source game.
    Plus, anime sales shouldn’t be their primary concern because it’s the game sales that matter in the end ( like how the Season 1 Garo anime sold poorly, but their backers consider the sales irrelevant because it’s just an ad for the primary tokusatsu series.)

    What they do need to get is a different director though.

  16. I’m pretty sure Haku didn’t tell even Kuon because he needed to focus on “becoming” Oshutoru. It’s less a matter of trust and more a matter of him needing to leave “Haku” in the past. No matter how competent Kuon may be, if she knows he is Haku, then her feelings will still bleed into their interactions in some way. Most of the group seemed to have a connection to Oshtoru through Haku, rather than personally, so I’d expect their interactions to maintain a sense of distance that might not be there if he revealed his true identity.

    I’m not sold that they could have gotten by without the Oshutoru masquerade, either. Nekone is the only one who could confirm that Haku is Oshutoru’s chosen heir, but even her word isn’t necessarily enough to convince everyone that they should support Haku. A title and trust from the predecessor only go so far in enhancing a reputation; Haku himself doesn’t have the public record of loyalty to the Emperor or Anju, and no one knows of his relation to the Emperor. Rather than weighing the trust in Oshutoru vs. the trust in the other generals, the people now have to consider their trust in Oshutoru’s assessment of Haku. No matter how much trust people have in an individual, they generally put more weight on their own views rather than depend on someone else to tell them how to feel (ever known anyone in a relationship that everyone else can see is bad news, but insists there’s nothing wrong?) Sure, having the princess is a great card, since she is the publically announced heir to the throne, but she’s still in no shape to actually do anything.

    None of this is to say Itsuwari no Kamen was actually good, though. Maybe all the set up it did for the third game actually pays off well, but as a stand-alone season, there could have been much more tightening up and balancing out the slice-of-life bits so that we actually got more character development and plot advancement at the same time. Certainly not the best way to burn through the goodwill capital earned through the first series.

  17. Everything I can say is pretty much summed up.

    Otherwise, rather than a Kamina/Simon from TTGL, it feels more like we have a Lelouch/Suzaku-style thing from Lelouch of the Rebellion with Oshutoru and Haku (minus mind-controlling forcing things along).

  18. I think this anime worked up to a point. That was while Haku was still in the village. The slow build up to that point was very good and set the tone for what should have come. Up to that point, I think it was very much like the original series. And that was a good thing. Hell, Kuon was such a standout that I couldn’t wait for more.

    It basically failed after that point. Someone mentioned that the person who directed this, hadn’t actually played the game, and this honestly seemed exactly like that. There was too much emphasis on Haku’s ordinary life, rather than the life of what it means to be apart of the Empire and how Haku’s life changes due to it. Because it does and should’ve changed. Yes, he’ll still carry a good chunk of his old self up until he becomes Oshutaru, but we should readily have seen that growth.

    Also, for those not sold on Haku becoming Oshutaru, that’s because we don’t actually see him become the general that Oshutaru saw him become. We’ve only seen Haku and that’s all. There was no instances of him budding into a general worthy of being Oshutaru. If he had become that general, we could buy him becoming Oshutaru and taking on his mantle.

    As for his plan of being Oshutaru, he pretty much has no choice but to be him. Oshutaru is the only one who can coerce the people into going into civil war on Anju’s behalf. They would only believe that someone like Oshutaru is driving them down the right course of action, because of this. Also, only Oshutaru would be someone that could be Anju’s Regent and they would believe in him that he has no desire to become King or rule the country.

    Haku’s attitude towards things would make people instantly believe he’s trying to usurp the throne or marry himself to Anju and make things worse. Yes, he may be a general and people can believe in him, but they would not trust him to be Anju’s Regent. They would believe he’d have an ulterior motive. And that isn’t something anyone can afford when trying to be a Regent. Haku’s literally borrowing Oshutaru’s goodwill and name to be able to keep Anju and the good people of the Empire safe.

    The princess Anju definitely isn’t worthy right now and the people would normally believe that. Except that Oshutaru basically asks that civil war to occur. To ask for that, it means that he believes that Anju will definitely become someone worthy and people would buy that. Because it is Oshutaru speaking. Which is another reason that it must be Oshutaru and not Haku speaking. Oshutaru’s words are pretty much worth buying into. Haku’s not so much.

    Yes, civil war isn’t the greatest idea, but for Oshutaru (who Haku has decided to be), he doesn’t have much choice. To protect Anju, he must win the country and put her on the throne, because otherwise, she’ll die or be in so much constant fear of dying that she might as well be dead.

    Also, for everyone saying this is a terrible idea by Oshutaru to keep it a secret from all the people he cares about, it also isn’t. He needs them to react to him as Oshutaru, not Haku. Them knowing it is Haku, they never, ever would. The only person of Oshutaru’s former gang that knows nearly broke and gave up his secret. The moment she nearly did, it immediately put why he couldn’t tell Kuon. If someone like Nekone knew and nearly broke, he couldn’t trust anyone else doing the same. Though he loves Kuon, he can’t afford to risk it.

    It also actually is a very damn good thing he didn’t as well. With Kuon being a ruler of a country, he needs her to act as that very ruler. He can’t afford her to react to him as she would a friend (or after his death, a lover) would. Oshutaru needs her to react to him as Oshutaru and that’s exactly what will happen.

    Now I know you are probably about to say “didn’t Yamato just invade her country, thereby giving her a perfectly good opportunity as her country’s ruler for an excuse to invade them in retaliation?”. Yes, and that’s likely what will happen. We’ll have the original game’s premise all over again. Except this time you know the motivation of the invading country and while you’ll understand, they aren’t justifiable.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Kuon and Oshutaru actually end up fighting and it is because of the metal fan that Oshutaru kept that gives him away. Or worse, makes her mothers believe he is Hakuoro. Because remember, if Haku makes them believe Haku was just like Hakuoro, then this would do double. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if the two of them fight, he utilizes the fan to fend someone off and Kuon calls out to him as Haku.

    It would cause quite a potential rift in all who follow him, because there will likely be some who wonder if Oshutaru has changed slightly, as Nekone won’t be able to catch or advise him on what her brother would’ve done in certain situation. Especially in the middle of a fight.

    I really wish this series built up to these points really well, because frankly, we are definitely heading to this point with the story. Also, I may not have mentioned it before, but someone earlier wrote that the director didn’t bother playing the game or at least trying to understand the material. Such a shame. Here’s hoping season 3, which will be coming I’m sure, gets a different director.

    Wow, this ended up being a lot longer than I had planned to be. Hope anyone who bothers to read enjoys my long post. Though just in case…

    TL;DR Version: The people will only follow Oshutaru to civil war. Nekone screwed up any chance of Kuon finding out the truth. The Haku Fan (since anyone who wields it is a Haku) will screw up his identity later on. Tusukuru will invade Yamato for the wrong reasons thanks to Kuon. The director of this anime is an idiot. Hope that was better for you all.

    Dorian S.
    1. Sadly, the lack of real Haku development in terms of the general-in-training side is also why, from purely an anime standpoint, whenever there was a rare time when Haku DOES appear competent, smart, tactical, skilled, etc., it just looks out-of-nowhere and more like plot convenience. Same goes for Kuon and her power. There just wasn’t enough buildup towards things that would most likely matter much more to the overall story so when such things are revealed, again, it looks forced or convenient.

  19. This was just badly done and wasted a good part of two cours. It’s almost as if someone took over the story after the first few episodes (and wrecked it). Haru was shown to be intelligent and inventive (learning the writing system quickly, able to do math in his head, repairing the mill). Then…nothing. He winds up cleaning gutters when he should have been taken under Oshutaru’s tutelage and learned statecraft and warfare while helping Oshutaru with jobs that utilized his abilities. Instead we get a lot of faffing around, BL and other episodes that did nothing to advance the story. Some of that is fine, but here it’s the majority of the episodes IMO. Oh, and let’s not forget Haru’s relationship with Kuon which was advanced by…oh wait, it never was advanced. We’re just supposed to assume it was.

    As too Haru becoming Oshutaru’s double, it could have been done in a way that made his not telling Kuon important to the story and a necessity also. Heinlein’s novel Double Star is an example where someone is forced to take on the persona and has to live out his life as that person to save his legacy. If the situation had been such that Haru had taken on Oshutaru’s persona to save someone or a resolve a situation and then been forced to keep it then it would have made more sense, but as I mentioned earlier, no effort was to show that Haru had any abilities or training to be a war general so him “playing” at being Oshutaru comes out of left field. He’s magically competent to to Oshutaru’s job(s)? Bah.

    Has to be one of the most disappointing animes I’ve watched, because it had a great deal of potential and it was squandered.

  20. Expectations for this series were definitely not met. Too much slice of life and anime clichees that weren’t funny.
    The first series showed how an anime SRPG should be adapted, while this one was dragging its feet.
    Still though, Kuon is reason enough for me to watch whatever comes next, kana.

    Am I the only one that didn’t notice until now that Nekone has the same eyebrows as her brother? Wow. 😀

    1. The first one was even botched in a rushed and confusing to many final arc, and left many key relationships and details undeveloped. But yes it was a way better translation. I noticed the problem the first watch long ago, it just that it was so cool to that point I gave it a pass after awhile.

  21. Oh love the song used for the Game being played it is a kick ass song and a wonderful preview anime with it for the game and anime look it up on youtube. Warning I played it over and over for over a hour.

    Was upset at first it was not used as the OP for the anime and now am glad it was not as the anime did not live up to the song.

  22. No reason a great character like Kuon could have not been involved a lot more in the slice of life even. Game events cut even better. At least we know now why her country allowed it’s crown princess to wonder around in foreign lands, you worry about what she will do to them not what they will do to her.

    Oh even if anime original they messed up by not letting Kuon’s mothers and sisters have at least one action scene vs any trash mob no need to actually be connected to the plot they could come up with. You got battle ladies one swinging basically a sharpened I beam and giant, unaffected by weapons, tiger you got to put em into action at least once.

  23. This episode was almost completely off for me at first watch, but somehow worked on second watch. Perhaps it’s because I’ve played the game and I’m more invest to the characters. But the big problem is that the meaning of the ending is mostly lost.

    It is evident when Gurren Lagaan is used for comparision. The growth of Haku is never shown to be up to the task of taking the position of Oshutoru in the anime, so it may look like the Gurren Lagaan situation. But in the game, his growth can be clearly seen as he work as secret agent, being tactically competent at first half of the story, and taking responsibiltiy at the second half. Eventually he becomes the counterpart of Oshutoru and at the same time the succesor of his brother, and being what he has become is half of the ultimate reason why he and Kuon will separate at some point. But the anime is almost completely lost on this.

    In terms of narrative, there are two major confrontations. One is his lost memory and the identity crisis it brings, and the other is the invasion to Tuskuru and the conflict with Kuon it brings. Both are completed with how Haku and Kuon handle their identity. So although it’s a setup, Itsuwari no Kamen is supposed to be able to stand on its own.

    At the end, it’s the story of Haku living as Haku and his days with Kuon. And when he has grown to become a great man, who would have thought of such past of him. But the anime don’t show this, but instead it’s mostly criticizing the game plot.

  24. Overall thoughts on the series as a whole:

    A solid nine out of ten. As someone who couldn’t get into the first series I thought it did a solid job even if it does have ‘middle book syndrome’ as a flaw. The characters were likable and even if there were a lot of slice of life episodes they did a good job of making me care about the cast so that I actually cared once the plot kicked in. Definitely looking forward to the next season if they decide to adapt the last game.

  25. I really didn’t have a problem with this episode, I enjoyed it. From the end of the last episode, all of Ukon’s death flags were raised. He’s dead. This episode opens with an incongruity that it appears Haku is dead (when he shouldn’t be, since his destiny is (obviously) to fill his brother’s shoes), but Oshutaru is there. So there’s uncertainty + incongruity = hey I’m interested. Let’s watch it unfold. The point of this Itsuwari no Kamen, from what I’ve been able to gather by watching it, is that Haku needs to grow up and put on his false mask. And he does… I would write more but I really don’t feel like it 😛

    Well, about taking Oshutaru’s role at the end rather than the middle like GL, off hand I don’t see how that’d work. Part of this season was to build up a sense of family and comfort with stuff, and to learn his identity was being the emperor’s brother. That comfort eventually shatters (first starts crumbling when he sees the power of the masks) down to the point where he has to abandon the person he was (the person created by Kuon) and be Oshutaru, and blah blah that’s what they did. I should go to bed. It’s not great but that’s what the story is, but it wasn’t executed well of course.

    So the conclusion and the final episode I enjoyed. The journey to this spot had a bunch of problems. Whatever, I still like it as a whole (first story and this one), let’s see what’s next.

  26. This series needed more Kokopo.

    More seriously, I think this series had a perfectly serviceable story arc and that the execution was a far bigger issue than “middle book syndrome.” Haku taking up Oshutaru’s mantle would have been a perfectly good ending for this middle story if the story had spent more time developing Haku (and his supporting cast). Treating serious conflicts as serious would also have helped.

  27. Nobody thought it was strange how Haku and Oshutoru resembled each other, thus having polar opposite character? Or how weirdly friendly the 2 were? Or how the dead one has ever made a better main char than the poor lazy guy? After all this story wasn’t all about Haku turning into Oshutoru but fusing the two together into what the main had to be from the very start: The long lost brother of the Emperor.

    Seems obvious? But it’s not really so obvious. We had hint here and there and the always unresolved sub-plot about Haku’s amnesia pointed this way all the time without us noticing. Add the flashback story where we learn the Emperor revived some of his lost family into living decoys. His wife and daughter were named but not his brother. No wonder if the replacement was Oshutoru. This would explain the affinity between the two. Oshutoru has always found Haku to be similar to him, even when we see no kind of evidence supporting this. And the opposite is also true. Oshutoru and Haku were indeed complementary. So, looking back in retrospective, this was exactly the point of the series, which I missed till now… well the poor writing didn’t help really. What a waste. :/

  28. i will watch previous season… heard is not “You must see” but i think i watch it this summer when i am free…

    anime was good..
    Loved how good and nice the atmosphere felt as the time pass and MC gets friends. emperor showing his good side and then showing his bad side cause “FEAR” etc… Great soundtrack The music was op..effect were awesome, action was less but worth it ..
    Loved the True friendship of Haku and Oshutoru … it looked like bros… i have a friend who is a bro to me and i will cry if he dies… when i saw oshutoru die it made me sad that he will no longer be by haki side drinking and enjoying life (of course fan girls will want a Yaoi doujinshi)

    so Weird thing

    kinda weird NOBODY notice the MC being non animal and Princess not mentioning that his grandfather has the same Feature as MC

    also weird that they did not showed emperor being week, he just died

    Sad thins…
    probaly the Rest of the cast will follow Oshutoru(haku) but is sad Kuon left…

    Sad that all those good time we saw wont be back.


    i hope that Kuon find out, or that haku tells the truth, cause it is sad as hell knowing he will spend his life pretending

    he must Stop cause he is not a fighter type, and he has not the mask power in him
    i just hope that after solving all this Conspiracy he can go back to who he was and live and who he really is

    as for the Conspirancy… meh…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *