OP: 「熱風は流転する」 (Neppuu wa Ruten Suru) by Philosophy no Dance
「祭里とすずと妖」 (Matsuri to Suzu to Ayakashi)
“Matsuri, Suzu, and Ayakashi”
Ayakashi Triangle makes its grand debut this Winter as your go-to ecchi anime for ninja combat. But while Ayakashi hunter Matsuri is caught up in saving his childhood friend Suzu from the legendary King of Ayakashi, Matsuri has a spell that transforms them into a girl.
HERE I AM WITH MY NINJA CLAN
Shonen Jump + has had quite a positive track record with anime adaptations with Chainsaw Man, Summer Time Rendering, and Spy x Family’s adaptations absolutely dominating 2022. World’s End Harem has its fans as well and I had a great time with Romantic Killer. Kubo-san has its premiere this season and the upcoming Oshi no Ko has picked up a ton of hype along the way. But among the new wave of exciting manga to come from the Jump + platform, only one was created by Kentaro Yabuki, the mangaka behind the renowned ecchi manga To Love Ru.
While To Love Ru is the cornerstone of mid-aughts ecchi, I’d say Ayakashi Triangle’s charm comes from the fact that it borrows more from how ecchi was back in the early 2010s. Not only was the ninja ecchi subgenre massive during this era, but it also tried elaborating more on the interpersonal relationships gathered from the characters’ bonds as massive breasts are bouncing and massaged. For a story made in 2020, it feels like it was made in a time when Moe had a tighter stranglehold on ecchi with girls like Suzu being paraded more for their cuteness than their assets.
That greater emphasis on wholesome character interactions and Moe comes out in full force in Ayakashi Triangle’s first episode as we spend most of the episode analyzing the strained relationship between Matsuri and Suzu. Matsuri never let Suzu in on how her connection with Ayakashi made her more prone to be devoured as a powerful Medium, so she’s led to believe her best friend turned into a Ayakashi-hunting jerk just because he grew up to be a jerk. It can be a bit overbearing, but Matsuri did bring it on himself for not letting Suzu know she’s a medium by the time he was pushed to join his grandpa’s clan.
To the show’s credit, I like how they dole out their story’s lore with the different Ayakashi and how each acknowledges the humans around them. I’m not sure if it’s giving Yabuki too much credit as a writer because I’m only familiar with the rage behind To Love Ru’s ending, but I appreciate how easily the show conveys its lore and explains everything we’d need to know about the characters. Rather than letting ambiguity consume the narrative to the point where you won’t know critical information from the get-go, they set you up with everything you need by the time the King of Ayakashi, Shirogane, turns Matsuri into a girl.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE DIAMONDS, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE PEARLS, I’M THAT GIRL
I believe this marks the third gender-bending anime of this Winter with Oniichan wa Oshimai! and Eiyuuou, Bu wo Kiwameru Tame Tenseisu: Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kishi♀ coming out first. I haven’t seen Eiyuuou, but I know I was discouraged from covering Oniichan wa Oshimai! because of how often the MC’s quest to overcome their NEET lifestyle was followed up with urinating for the camera all the time. In Ayakashi Triangle’s case, thankfully there’s no urine to be had for the time being, though we are still starting out.
Surprisingly enough, Matsuri seems to be taking his transformation into stride. At the moment, he’s just curious about why his new breasts are so huge and squishy, much to Suzu’s dismay. While supernatural transformation seems to constantly be part of a joke centered around guys having to come around to learn what life is like for girls, there is a ray of hope that Matsuri’s no-nonsense mentality about being a Ayakashi-fighting ninja will factor into how little he pays attention to his girl body as he tries to find out how he can return to his guy body.
However, there is a weird undercurrent about what Matsuri’s transformation entails though when it comes to his current connection with Suzu. Shirogane’s main motivation for transforming Matsuri into a girl stems from his creepy fascination with Suzu and whether Matsuri living a peaceful life as a guy will mean he’ll get to do all kinds of things with Suzu. I mean, he could still do those things in a girl’s body, but Shirogane and the show itself seem to think that Matsuri couldn’t possibly have a legit relationship or an intimate connection with Suzu without having guy parts.
Still, the story of Ayakashi Triangle is just beginning, so only time will tell how much romance or ecchi will be in the series, let alone how much of it will focus on Matsuri’s new body. Hopefully, it turns out to be a pretty solid action ecchi, especially since ninja ecchi is an underrated anime genre for having a nice combination of both action and T&A.