First Impressions: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi


Summary: Once Upon A Time there were scopophobics, grown-up Taigas, flat chests, Cinderella drop-kicks, a bunch of Railgun alumni, and Neko Neko Knuckles. And they lived happily ever after.

Let's get this bit of semi-relevance out of the way, first: Like Brad Rice, I loved ToraDora!. It was one of the smartest romance anime in years. Even my not-really-an-anime-watcher sister and her boyfriend loved it. The latter two, however, couldn't get over Taiga's looking like an eight-year-old. Caused them much distress, it did.

Ryouko Ookami is the perfect solution to that. Anyone who was ever disturbed by Taiga's loli-liciousness should immediately superimpose her character design onto ToraDora!. Then all will be well and good in the world.

Alright. On to the show.

The marketing line seems to angle Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi (Ms. Wolf and Her Seven Friends) as a romantic comedy take on traditional fairy tales and fables. For better or worse, though, the angle is rather shallow, exploiting the classics in motif rather than theme. Perhaps it's a consequence of having to fit the whole "High School Life Romantic Comedy" structure, but I'm not about to complain. There have been enough attempts - anime and otherwise - to bring "edge" to old stories (which themselves need no help being "omg grimdark" in their original form) that my inner cynic growls in displeasure when made aware of such things.

Instead, the fairy tales provide a pleasantly fluffy schema for names, visuals, character stereotypes, and plot devices. Ryouko Ookami (whose looks would certainly inspire wolf-like behavior in male otaku) dorms with her friend/Red-Riding-Hood-analogue Ringo Akai, and serves as the muscle behind the "Otogi Bank", a student club that deals in fixin' problems and doing favors, presumably on the guarantee that the favors be returned "when the time comes". Especially amusing is the not-quite-subtle implication that the kids' little club is more "Don Corleone" than "Mother Teresa". Sadly, a choice opportunity to have one potential client "kiss the hand" went untaken. 

Besides Ringo and Ms. Wolf herself, the Bank supports several other characters, including a maid who gets off on reciprocity (really), a wicked-witch inventor, a President-Secretary sibling pair whose fairy tale references I can't place, and two people named Urashima and Otohime, proving that the tales to be exploited are not all of western origin.

If it ended there, of course, the show would be just be called "Ms. Wolf and Her Six Friends." Which brings up Ryoushi Morino, a secret admirer of Ryouko's who suffers from a severely exploitable case of Scopophobia. Following a pathetically awkward confession and ethically dubious HR processing, Ryoushi ends up as the Bank's newest recruit, his first mission to aid a client in preventing a permanently injured tennis club member from resigning his position. Definitely not the work of a socially beneficial organization.

Failure after failure plagues Ryoushi's assignment (mostly due to his fear of being looked at), and desperation leads to a blind pumpkin-carriage chase scene that ends in the Cinderella-esque client drop-kicking the Prince of Tennis in the face. A quick after-school heart-to-heart has Ryouko finally accepting Ryoushi as a Bank member, though in midst of that mandatory mawkishness are the infinitely more interesting pair of Ryouko's boxing gloves, the Neko Neko Knuckles, which leave a cat-face imprint on poor bastards' faces.

The best came last, however, as the show's fairy tale references kicked into higher gear. I won't spoil it for you completely, but suffice it to say: that the Prince (of Tennis)'s search for a foot to match his assailant's shoe pays off.

Visually, Ookami-san is rather splendid. It doesn't quite have the decadent production values of a Kyoto Animation or Production I.G. gig, but it's consistently smooth, boasts a high frame rate, and "pops" quite well. It compares very favorably to A Certain Scientific Railgun, which was also animated by J.C. Staff. They've been on a roll of late, I have to say.

The voice performances are equally solid. As might have been expected, the show was carried by its slate of Railgun veterans. Shizuka Itou (aka Index's Kaori Kanzaki) and Kanae Itou (aka Railgun's Saten-san) deliver a great coodere and bloody-minded loli, respectively, but the true landmark acting came from a character who didn't appear on-screen at all: The Narrator, who is voiced by Satomi Arai. She comments on the happenings in the manner of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 viewer, but fully immersed in Kuroko's personality and mannerisms, making her and a perfect fit for the show's "Once Upon A Time" pretensions. The cast also boasts Rie Kugimiya and Yui Horie, but their roles got so few lines that they were all but unrecognizable. As time goes on I'm hoping their characters' presences will grow to fit their talents better.

In the offing Ookami-san looks to be an entertaining, if otherwise unremarkable experience. It shows promise and stands to be really clever if it can take care not to run some of its gags into the ground. Alright already, we know Ryouko's flat as a pancake and Ryoushi cowers when seen, let's move on! It didn't exactly blow me away in amazement on first sight, but then again, neither did Index, Railgun, Familiar of Zero, or ToraDora!. Make me proud, J.C. Staff!

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures



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