Yozakura Quartet: ~Hana no Uta~ – 03

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Yozakura Quartet is, as ever, a hard show for me to categorize.

I’ve long suspected that this season was going to be a tougher one than usual to settle on a blogging schedule for, because there seemed likely to be an inordinate number of shows bunched very close together in terms of interest level – and that interest level seemed likely to be close to my usual blogging cutoff.  It’s worked out that way, in fact, and Yozakura Quartet is squarely entrenched in that cluster of series.  We’re at the three-episode point and to be honest, I’m still not sure if I’m going to blog it.

It was only today, as I read my old post from 2011 on the last of Ryo-timo’s Yozakura OVAs, that I realize that I said “Iā€™d love to have seen what he could have done with this material with a full cour to play with, rather than three OVA episodes.”  And so here we are, and the results are indeed interesting – Ryo-timo’s visual artistry is proudly on display – but Yozakura remains an oddly difficult story for me to really get engaged in.  I actually enjoy this show more than enough to blog it in most seasons, but it’s not an easy one to write about because it’s so matter-of-fact in the way it goes about its business.  If Uchouten Kazoku was a surrealistic show that didn’t act like it was surrealistic, Yozakura Quartet is a fantasy-action series that acts like a slice-of-life.

One aspect Ryo-timo didn’t spend much time on in the first two episodes (perhaps because it didn’t afford much in terms of fanservice opportunities) was Akina and his “tuning” ability.  This is one of the darker elements of Yozakura Quartet, an area where the idealistic nature that pervades much of the rest of the story and its depiction of human-youkai relations is put to the test.  You wouldn’t have guessed it from the introductory episodes but Akina is at worst a co-lead in this series with Hime, and in many ways he’s the one in the most difficult position when it comes to the balance of life in Sakura New Town.  That Shidou (and Akina’s grandfather) refer to his ability as “murder” is not hyperbole – he sends these sentient creatures off to an unknown dimension, a thinly-disguised metaphor for the afterlife.  It’s a huge responsibility on his shoulders, and his personality usually belies the fact that he’s carrying it.

Akina is one of Kaji Yuuki’s better roles, I think – one that falls in his very compact sweet spot as a seiyuu – and he’s effective in this series.  The way Akina’s power is finally brought to the surface in this episode is typically obtuse and irreverent YQ style, via the person of Touka, Kyousuke’s younger sister who’s likewise an ogre, and who’s crushing hard (she’s good at crushing) on Akina.  After Shidou’s car (seemingly sabotaged) goes out of control and barrels towards the mermaid-vampire tots Mina and Kana, Touka jumps in to shield them but in the process squeezes the blood out of them like juice from an orange.  These are youkai of course and thus they’re fine (eventually) but it’s a shocking moment nonetheless.  Still, Kyousuke’s rage at Akina that his sister (he is in fact a siscon, by the way) is suffering because Akina is not “duty-bound” (in the tuning business) seems odd, because there seems to be no chance that Kyousuke would actually want to see Touka tuned.  And in fact, Akina puts that to the test as his own way of mending fences with Kyousuke, bro-style.  It’s a very weird, classic Yozakura sequence.

That really defines this show in a nutshell – shit just happens, and you just go with it because hell – they do.  That can make for interesting viewing but not such interesting writing.  And the headline attraction is of course Ryo-timo’s art and cinematography, which continues to be a joy to see but is likewise tough to write about week after week.  There is a larger plot developing that’s been hinted at in the first three episodes, and as that asserts itself the series will have a bit more layering and thus perhaps be a better subject for weekly posts.  For the moment I’m still on the fence, but I suspect I’ll make a final decision after the next episode.

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8 comments

  1. K

    This is what I think. I think you should blog this anime. It's interesting, it makes me laugh and it has moment when you actually cared about the characters. There's something … real about this anime that makes me want to root for it. So please blog it.

    TQ

  2. Duly noted, and thanks for weighing in.

  3. G

    I think you should blog it as well. This is just a fun series to watch and I look forward to it each week.

    On another note I thought for sure Touka crushed those kids to death. I thought wow what a horrible thing for her to have to deal with now.

  4. t

    I agree with the fellows. I'd like to see you blog this. well…the poll os for this kind of stuff šŸ˜›

    it was kinda funny. last week episode ended with a kiss between two girls. this time it ended with a "fight" between two guys LOL
    I like the stuff happened this episode. not only in terms of characters, but we got a bit more info of "how this world is working", it was interesting and funny (:

  5. T

    I'm kind of surprised as to how similar our thoughts on are on the series, granted I've read about 50 something chapters of the manga first but even then one of the main thins that kept me reading it was the sort of "stuff just seems to happen" feeling without ever really feeling as though it goes above and beyond for anything, It's something I found both a positive yet a flaw as, to me at least, there are times where I wonder why I should care about certain things if "it just happens like that". The series is definitely entertaining, but it give you very little to speculate or think too heavily about, there are some things as this episode showed but ultimately it seems it's main purpose is to just let the viewer/reader sit back and have some fun for a few minutes. I assume this makes it harder to talk about since this season just happens to have a lot of those types of shows, to which if I had any recommendation as to handling this series it'd be to give it one of those mini posts you write for 2 or 3 series at a time.

  6. J

    I'm afraid that the producers are getting close to using up their Exposure Allowance and they will have to go back to the Ministry of Panty Shots to buy some more units. Maybe they will be able to pick some up cheap from Yowamushi Pedal or one of the other sports animes.

    That said, this show has style by the ton and it's great fun just watching Ryo-timo letting the kids be themselves.

  7. J

    So I hadn't watched this show until this season, so things are still a little vague for me, maybe you can help clarify.

    What is a siscon?

    And secondly, what is the big deal about being Duty-Bound? I know you mentioned it quickly, but I just can't seem to understand why he kept being blamed about not being duty-bound, when it seems like very few of the spirits/demons/ogres actually would want to leave.

  8. Siscon = a guy in love (or lust) with his sister or sisters.

    Duty-bound (as I understand it) basically means, is Akina actively in the business of "tuning" demons to the other dimension. I think this is a difficult subject partly for the reasons you said – there might be rare occasions a demon wants to go (immortality, perhaps) but also times it's not voluntary. But like many things, Yozakura just doesn't explain it very well – I think the audience is supposed to just go with the moment.

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