OP Sequence

OP: 「モノノケ・イン・ザ・フィクション」 (Mononoke in the Fiction) by Uso to Chameleon

「ヌシの大蛇は聞いていた」 (Nushi no Daija wa kiiteita)
“What the Guardian Serpent Heard”

Kyokou Suiri’s been my surprise of the season. I went in with average expectations, since Stilts did the rounds and asked if anyone wanted to cover it after he wrote about Episode 1. As it turned out, I became completely suckered by the whimsical mystery premise and eccentric dialogues – with youkai being the backdrop.

Maybe the run in with youkais and being made their goddess of wisdom pulled a few of her screws loose. Nevertheless, Kotoko is one heck of a baller. Which is to say she’s my character of the season so far – sequels excluded. Her amusing interactions with Kuro have formed the basis of this series up till this point – primarily consisting of her attempts to woo him while he coldly brushes her off. But, it’s not like Kuro is a heartless bastard. When she comes to visit him, he looks after her in his own way – packing her tonjiro and bento, spraying her with bug repellent, and providing a jacket for warmth. And he ultimately follows her to intervene should the meeting go awry – although this doesn’t turn out to be an issue, with the deity behaving extremely amicably (in spite of the fact it voiced a craving to eat young girls!). Clearly Kotoko chose well – and we can see that Kuro is a kind young man who acts slightly aloof and jaded because of his experiences with youkai and the impact said experience has had upon his life.

As for the Snake God of the Lake, they request Kotoko’s wisdom to figure out why Aoi Tanio would dispose of a corpse in their specific lake. And even with reasonable explanations, the Snake God proves extremely difficult to satisfy. Kotoko strings together a sequence of plausible motives and conjectures, eventually satiating the Snake God’s desire for closure. For me, this brings up an interesting point. That even though the youkai anointed her their goddess of wisdom, Kotoko is not beyond exploitation and trickery when being called in to resolve problems — because that’s her role as a mediator. But that’s what makes everything so impressive. She wove together such a believable narrative that like the Snake God, I never even doubted her for a second. I didn’t even need to suspend my disbelief, because I was believing her the whole entire time – so Kyokou Suiri passes my personal test with flying colours.

「鋼鉄婦人の噂」 (Koutetsu fujin no uwasa)
“The Rumors of the Steel Lady”

Cue a timeskip. It seemed like an odd choice, especially since we’re only two episodes in. However, it paid huge dividends. I was reminded of the dynamic between Mr Incredible and Elastagirl pre and post timeskip, where they get straight to the meat of things. The legal deflowering joke by Kotoko made the whole thing entirely worthwhile. That aside, a youkai named ‘Steel Lady Nanase’ has been terrorising the city and is allegedly the ghost of an idol who had a massive bust. Her appearances have been causing accidents, but as far as I’m aware, no deaths have occurred yet. I’d go out on a leg and say she’s probably misunderstood – we don’t have a motive or proper life context to work with in fathoming why she’s causing trouble. If I had to guess, her body is out of control, but her actual consciousness resides with the missing face and doesn’t harbour malicious intent.

Saki’s reappearance contributed excellently towards the overarching narrative, not to mention the presence her force of character brings to the screen. Though she gives the outwards appearance of strong and independent woman, her scenes gave greater insight as to why she chose to break up with Kuro, and the heavy regrets she’s been having ever since. Saki’s encounter with youkai effectively ruined her life, inflicting a deep-seated trauma upon her. And when she invariably stumbles across Steel Lady Nanase, she sees it as an opportunity to overcome her own weaknesses and wash away past regrets – only to discover that the ghost is well, a ghost and impervious to physical damage. Just as Saki’s about to be crushed by the iron beam, Kotoko rescues her and proves that while she’s no youkai bane like Kuro, she’s also no slouch when it comes to fighting them. And funnily enough, it wasn’t that much better for Saki – being rescued by the middle school girl who’s currently dating the boyfriend you never got over that made a joke about getting her virginity taken by him. As much as I like Kotoko, she definitely deserved that punch in the face for openly bragging about how she’s Kuro’s current girlfriend, with her desperate cry of ‘Meep!’ failing to win my sympathies (although it won my chuckles). Other than that, I can’t wait for the resolution of Steel Lady Nanase’s mystery, because there’s definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to her supposedly tragic backstory used to explain why she’s haunting the city.

Looking forwards, the path that Kyokou Suiri is seeking to take seems fairly obvious. Arcs of mystery and mediation featuring particular youkai, with Kotoko and Kuro resolving them as a power couple with a combination of her wisdom and his fearsome youkai slaying powers, with some involvement and drama in the backdrop featuring other girls who are interested in Kuro. It’s quite similar to Bakemonogatari and Arakawa Under the Bridge, albeit strange in its own way without the distinctive Shaft style. But I can see fans of those two shows enjoying Kyokou Suiri. And I reckon haters who disliked the pretentious dialogue and abstract post-modernist style of both should still give this a chance – since Kyokou Suiri remains relatively down to earth in its depiction of characters and youkai. Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss? As always, thank you very much for reading this post. There’s an extremely good chance this series will be picked up, whether by myself or Guardian Enzo, so stay tuned for more when the next episode drops.



  1. “featuring other girls who are interested in Kuro.”

    It’s not a harem show so you want see a lot of girls interested in Kuro. Besides, Kuro isn’t even the main protagonist of the show. Kotoko is. That’s the main difference between this and shows like Bakemonogatari.

  2. Kotoko’s proud assertion of her relationship with Kuro and the resulting punch were hilarious. Saki doesn’t put up with Kotoko’s attitude, in contrast to Kuro simply being deadpan or outright dismissing her. The music was on point as well, especially the violin parts during the fight against Nanase.

    With regards to comparing it Bakemonogatari, sadly I digress–after 3 episodes it wasn’t enjoyable or memorable enough to continue watching. I indeed found the dialogue (and perhaps even the entire premise) pretentious.

    With this show I’m intrigued enough to eagerly await the next episode. While it doesn’t make me as excited as Seishun Buta Yarou (another series that’s compared to Bakemonogatari), having a unique female lead like Kotoko brings its own quirky charm. 😀

    Magnus Tancred
    1. @Magnus Tancred, I completely forgot to mention the music. But as you pointed out, it’s been excellent and really matches up with what the show is trying to express.

      Aobuta is an apt comparison to make. However, I think it’s a bit too early to make judgements on which to prefer given Kyokou Suiri’s only had three episodes, while Aobuta’s had a full series and an entire film dedicated to it. We shall see.

      1. Regarding Aobuta, I was comparing it at the 3-episode mark just like Kyokou Suiri. My excitement level at the end of Mai’s arc was such that I wanted to know more about the characters and plot and was very, very tempted to hunt for spoilers, but somehow managed to refrain from doing so.

        Kyokou Suiri doesn’t get to that level (I don’t feel like reading the source material), but excited to see the next episode nonetheless.

        As for Bakemonogatari, I’m not even sure if I finished watching the third episode. Zero excitement, zero attachment. In other words, it just fell flat.

        Magnus Tancred
    2. Bakemonogatari gets better if you keep watching it. Dismissing a show after only 3 episodes is rather foolish and you mess out on some good stuff. And not every girl is interested in Koyomi.

      Tayo Jones
  3. This is show is so atypical. It’s really weird but…in a good way, to me at least.
    It’s the kind of show that I’d find difficult to recommend to most; while I certainly enjoy it, I could see someone calling it boring, and I really wouldn’t be offended. It’s certainly a unique case

    1. Kyokou Suri to me is a really difficult show for me to recommend to all of my coworkers who do watch Anime,

      While I enjoy Kyokou Suri is really similar to the Monogatari series where it’s more thought provoking and a lot of talking with a little bit of action. Unfortunately my coworkers are into more action/violence based Anime any titles that require using your brain they are not into. (They call all Anime that doesn’t have constant fighting a drama Anime)

        1. @Tayo Jones I totally agree, not all Anime need to have action to be good, as I mentioned My coworkers only watch Anime with fighting in it. I can recommend this show but they will reject it saying “Drama isn’t my thing dude.” and they cut themselves off of good story telling.

  4. Glad that this is being covered, I am also surprisingly enjoying this series more than I thought I would after watching it on a whim.

    Being in the typical camp of people (esp girls, I reckon??) who wanted to but really couldn’t enjoy Bakemonogatari, for the pretentious and overwhelmingly difficult to understand mystery dialogue and fan service, Kyokou Suiri is kind of the version that I can enjoy through a relatively more simple narrative, but still holding it’s own element in creating mystery and Sherlock style deductions.

    I think what really gets me also is how my first impressions of Kurou and Saki’s characters have really been overturned in a short span of 1-2 episodes.
    Was it just me? That thought of Saki as a “perfect woman” character, the one that is classically typed as the ex girl, who gets a bit jealous. Kurou was a bit less left field, it does kind of make sense that he can play the Perfect Boyfriend when paired alongside a (what I thought was) seemingly Boring Perfect Woman, but Kotoko sort of saw through him with that weird goat analysis.

      1. Please do not take offense when some people say that they didn’t enjoy Monogatari. We all have different preferences, that’s all. It only came up because Zaiden himself mentioned it in this episode review.

        Magnus Tancred
  5. Kotoko definitely carries the show. Can we submit her as a candidate for Best Girl 2020?

    Anyway, I did try reading the manga, but my head began to hurt due to its wordiness. I’m sticking to the anime. There’s a definite Monogatari vibe to the show, but the same could be said for Bunny Girl-senpai. And while I didn’t get very far into the manga, I do feel Kyokou Suiri distinguishes itself enough to not be a cheap knockoff of the aforementioned two– at least, in the few chapters I read.

    1. The manga gets better about the wordiness after the first big arc, but agree it’s very text heavy and unfortunately the series will probably just be centered mostly on the big arc. The anime does a great job streamlining things and making it easier to digest.

  6. I have adored Kotoko since I read the manga, and the anime is doing a great job of showing her strong points. She’s a very unconventional sort of heroine, but that is what makes her great.


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