Once or twice a season (this time it’s Ginga e Kickoff and Shirokuma Café), there’s usually a show that wins you over with it’s simplicity – a show that just makes you feel good every time you watch it. It’s usually nothing fancy in terms of plot or animation, but often features a stellar seiyuu cast, and generally captures the uniquely Japanese blend of whimsy and weirdness that makes us love anime so much. And last Summer, that show was Nekogami Yaoyorozu – a show that couldn’t have been further off my radar screen going into the season, yet sneaked its way into my Top 20 list for 2011. It didn’t do a thing in terms of DVD sales – that was never in doubt – but while we won’t be getting another season, we do at least get a typically charming Spring OVA.
The entire cast of this series is off the charts – you’ll be hard-pressed to find more big names in one series, especially female seiyuu. The stars of the series are two of my absolute favorite seiyyu, Haruka Tomatsu as mischievous and lazy Cat God Mayu and Horie Yui as her human friend Yuzu. They also collaborate on the OP, and Haruka-san does a splendid job on the ED, one of my favorites of 2011. There’s also a bravura comic turn by Sanpei Yuko as the lone male in the regular cast, the local Guardian Deity Gonta, who has a God-sized crush on Yuzu. And who wouldn’t – as much as I love this cast it’s Hochan as Yuzu that’s the heart of the show – she’s an incredibly decent, warm and lovely character, and often provides some of the surprisingly emotional moments that this normally cheerful show can deliver.
As for OVA, it fits neatly in that scheme – it’s mostly very funny in a gentle sort of way, Gonta gets the biggest laughs, and there’s a quite moving little sequence at the end with Yuzu at its core – and there’s even some equal-opportunity fanservice (Yuzu and Gonta). Having spent some time in Japan during cherry blossom season, I can vouch for what Gonta went through – it’s almost impossible to find a good hanami (sakura viewing party) spot even in enormous Ueno Park, and offers to join the locals for a drink are everywhere. And Japan does get ahead of itself with progress sometimes, at the expense of some lovely relics of the past. If you’ve never seen Nekogami Yaoyorozu you could probably jump right to this OVA, but why would you want to? Go watch all twelve episodes first – you might just be surprised at how attached you become.