First Impressions – Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko

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Hentai Ouji probably isn’t my cup of tea, but I can see where it’s pretty good at what it does.

Wai, it’s another LN adaptation with a long title and alliterative character names to show us how clever it is – and it stars Kaji Yuuki to boot.  Both those things are like plagues at the moment, so by every right this series should be pretty terrible.  But it isn’t – and thank heavens for small favors.

It’s interesting watching this right after Shingeki no Kyoijin, because it’s a chance to hear Kaji Yuuki at the full extent of what passes for his range.  These were the two shows, in fact, that were blasting at me in stereo from adjoining booths at Anime Contents Expo – and while at least this time I didn’t have to listen to Kaji in both shows simultaneously, it really is a reminder of just how much he leaves to be desired as an actor.  But I will say this – he’s less of a drag on a show doing this sort of performance than he is trying to do anguished rage, which is a small compliment I suppose but better than nothing.

What sets this series above most of its cohorts, I think, is that is packs a sort of honest, manic comic energy into every frame.  It’s also quite pretty to look at – Iizuko Haruka is quite a distinctive and pleasing character designer, and the animation is very solid.  All in all it’s one of the better-looking JC Staff series in a while.  The premise is a notch about most of the competition in cleverness too, centered around the titular “stony cat” statue that grants wishes by taking away something you don’t need and giving it to someone who does.  Where that leaves us is with the likewise-titular Prince, Yokodera Youto, giving up his “PR instinct” so he’ll have more time for ecchi – which seems to place him in a remake of Lair, Liar.  We also have Tsutsukakushi Tsukiko (Ogura Yui) who’s given up the ability to form facial expressions, and they team up to try and get their lost abilities back.  The other major ingredients in the soup are Tsukiko’s older sister Tsukushi (Tamura Yukari), Yokodera’s captain on the track team, and ojou-sama Azusa Azuki (Ishihara Kaori) who’s inherited Yokodera’s PR sense and to whom the ending of the premiere finds him pledging himself to be her “dog”.

Yes, it’s all as stupid as it sounds – but in a pretty good way.  Stupid works sometimes if a show embraces it proudly, and Hentai-Neko certainly does.  It’s your basic screwball comedy with light ecchi and a lot of preposterous situations, some of which are pretty funny in the premiere.  I can see the trip-wire of many the LN comedy adaptation – the smug, self-satisfied tone – already looming as a potential problem.  Trying too hard to remind an audience how clever or funny it is rarely holds much appeal, but if Hentai Ouji keeps it unpretentiously dumb it has a chance to deliver a pretty good dose of laughs pretty consistently.

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2 comments

  1. i

    I thought you might pick this up just because it is Kaji Yuki doing a non irritating role for once and it is funny. The comedy also gets better even when falling prey to harem antics and whatnot.

    I watched it right after Shinjeki no Kyojin (in which my favourite moment was when Misa shut him up, thank god) so it gave me a 180 turn on my regards for him. I really think he does this kind of role better. The man makes angst sound worse than it should and under my dictatorship would have his vocal cords ripped out for it but he is forgiven thanks to JC.

    Hentai Ouji is also right up JC's alley so I expect a solid, entertaining romcom, if ultimately unremarkable.

    I hope you stick with it.

  2. A

    I was a bit dubious about this one but it was engagingly daft and kind of endeared itself to me on that basis.

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