Hoozuki no Reitetsu – 06

Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -13 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -21 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -29

That’s certainly a new meaning of the word “asshat”.

Winter 2014 is shaping up as the worst season in the Blu-ray era for anime sales (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though that’s a topic for a full post).  But not for all of them – 3 of the top 7 spots in the Winter 2014 stalker rankings are held by various BD/DVD packagings of Hoozuki no Reitetsu’s  first volume (and the fourth holds down the 14th spot). It placed first in a recent magazine poll for best series of the season, beating the second-place series (Noragami) by almost 3-1 – with 82% of the female respondents choosing Hoozuki.

So why is that, anyway?  If any series ever seemed like an unlikely commercial success – even a modest one – this is it.  The first clue would have been the strong manga sales, but as is so often the case with comedies it’s very hard to capture the appeal of this series in writing.  I love it, but it’s not easy to say just why.  There is an element of the same appeal that Shirokuma Cafe had here, but it’s certainly not the same – Hoozuki is far more overtly subversive, for starters.

While it’s nowhere near as outright dark as last week’s ep, this one does a nice job of showcasing many of the facets of Hoozuki no Reitetsu’s appeal.  It’s simultaneously cute and twisted.  It’s fearless, aiming its satirical missiles inwards at the Japanese and outwards at Europeans.  It’s literate while still being approachable and even gleefully stupid at times.  It’s lovely to look at, with the most interesting color palette of the season layered on top of its very traditional-looking Buddhist character designs and backgrounds.  But none of that really captures why it’s so funny, though – you just have to be there, I guess.

There were some very strong moments in both chapters this week – in fact I’d rank them about even.  The first introduces us to Peach Maki (Uesaka Sumire, who also sings the ED), one of the hottest idols in Hell, who features a peach motif in all her wardrobe.  It also introduces the hilarious Koban (Sugiyama Noriaki), a trashy gossip reporter for the “River Styx Weekly” who also happens to be a cat that acts very much like a cat.  Having been shot down by Maki he “hounds” Hoozuki to do a feature, which leads to a very funny run-in with Shirou (who asks to be interviewed himself, to which Koban replies “I don’t do dogs!”).  You can’t really get across why Koban is funny without watching Koban – and even then, I suppose it’s subject to personal tastes.

Later, Beelzebub (Konishi Katsuyuki) stops by for a visit.  He’s Satan’s right-hand demon, but unlike Hoozuki he’s a “career demon” – an elite who’s terrified of Hoozuki as a street rat who clawed his way up from the bottom.  As with Satan’s visit, Beelzebub’s trip to Buddhist Hell is mostly Hoozuki unintentionally terrifying him.  The highlight here is definitely the exchange that occurs when Beelzebub is being held up at security because his gastric juices are poisonous.  He blusters that he’s going to leave and Hoozuki takes him seriously (or does he?), and then feigns shock with the priceless “Oh, I see – that was a Western joke.  Pardon me – in the true national character of the Japanese I detest sudden visitors, so I apologize for thinking ‘Good-bye, good riddance!'”.

Now, that’s a pretty damn droll – and wordy – joke right there.  I was beside myself with laughter – having lived here for a while know the sheer truth of it just got to me, and it captures something in both the Japanese nature and the way Westerners perceive it.  Anime humor just doesn’t get much more dry than that – but it’s followed up mere minutes later by an equally brilliant exchange between Hoozuki and Maki when Hoozuki is taking the train to European Hell to sign an agreement.  Hoozuki remarks in a stage whisper that Peach’s hat “Looks like a behind.”  At her dismay he adds, “Everyone in the carriage probably thinks it pooped out your face” – to which the other passengers wordlessly give a thumb-up or “V” sign.  And thus, the Yang to your Yin.

That’s the best I can do, really – it only really works if you see it happen.  There’s a nice little bonus at the end where Beelzebub and Hoozuki finally get past their hostility and see eye-to-eye – because they discover that they both have a thing for maids (all of this Beelzebub dutifully records in his weblog).  We also get a peek at Peach Maki on a TV quiz show (she’d mentioned it to Hoozuki earlier on the train) which is taking place in “Hellsinki“.  Yeah, the comedy here is all over the map – and that’s how I like it.  When a show can make you laugh as many ways as this one can, it’s pretty much impossible to get tired of it.  Which is a good thing, because if this series does indeed do pretty well on disc, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see another season sometime pretty soon.

Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -8 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -9 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -10
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -11 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -12 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -14
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -15 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -16 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -17
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -18 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -19 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -20
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -22 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -23 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -24
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -25 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -26 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -27
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -28 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -30 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -31
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -32 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -33 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -34
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -35 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -36 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 06 -37


  1. R

    I wasn't really convinced if I wanted to give this series a try, but that hilarious tongue on cheek comment about Japanese xenophobia and the type of Western tourists it commonly get (in my personal opinion, if a large portion of the tourists to the us were all mentally juvenile crazies who thought it was perfectly acceptable to behave the same way people do in western movies and TV shows and anything else about the culture is obviously not real because it doesn't conform to their perspective, I'm willing to bet America would start humming a similar tune) probably just convinced me. I love dry humor (probably why I love British shows souch XD)

  2. Well… I certainly agree that this exchange is one of the most incisive and hilarious comic anime moments in years. I do wonder if you've being the tiniest bit harsh in lumping the majority of all tourists into that category (most of them aren't into otaku stuff and never even visit Akiba, you know) and I would also point out that Japanese tourists come to America with a perspective that's just as skewed. But there's a grain of truth at least or it wouldn't be as hilarious as it is…

  3. R

    Most likely, but the normal tourists aren't the ones that leave lasting impressions on the populace. They just kind of go and take pictures, you won't be reading an article in the news about them. The ridiculous ones like the girls who cause all hell to break loose in a small local ryoukan because they expected mixed baths with handsome boys do (I wish I was kidding). And I get the distinct feeling Japan gets far more of those kinds of tourists from America than we do from them

  4. k

    I really tried to like this show – I didn't manage though. It feels like watching just another real life day of some corporate, abusive douche rather than a parody of it. The great setting isn't an excuse to make a comedy show which only focuses on nuances of work without actual, universal comedy. Doesn't help that the main character is kind of bland for a corpo demon, nor that it all circles around the theme of demonstrating power over others. Dropped permanently.

  5. e

    Quick note: Shiro's white-eyed pupil-less reaction at the fearsome magic of cats is pure old-school shoujo manga. Think BeruBara and GaraKamen ;).
    I'm pretty glad the show is doing well btw. Even when the occasional ref goes over our heads it's a rich enough blend there's still plenty in it to be found.
    Now… mr. cat reporter was absurdly adorable in big-eyed and purring mode. Damn I'm a hoar for cats :,D.
    The asshat bit was a moment of both LOL and facepalming. RL anecdote: some years ago they sold canned apricots. Not the ones in the usual water and sugar syrup, but apricots canned and floating in their own juice. Delicious stuff. Flavour, texture. Ah <3 . It struck me one day while placing them round side up on my plate they really resembled smooth lean supple buttocks…
    But hey her peach glasses look surprisingly wearable 8D.

    Also we got PUPPIES!

    The second half also was pretty good and the double-edged snark delicious. Beelzebub is such a Hell Dandy too :p. Plus the powers of maid outfits and Victorian fare knows no boundaries…

  6. p

    I think this is really best anime with Japanese comedy, if you understand a lot~ of Japan history, mythology or their (Japan people) daily habit thought you will see this anime good ^^
    I really love Hoozuki and become fan before the anime start, and it's not because fangirling or cute pairing or good fanart at pixiv or etc., it just simply fun and interesting story^^
    the manga itself let you learn more some Japanese thing that difficult to find by self.

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