Hoozuki no Reitetsu – 07

Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -16 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -19 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -44

Anime comedy doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.

It’s a shame there’s not enough material for a second season of Hoozuki no Reitetsu yet, because from the looks of things it would be very likely to get one if there were.  As of now Stalker predicts this will be the top selling Winter anime which, if true, would be one of the unlikeliest and most delightful stories I’ve ever seen on the commercial side of the medium.  Much – though not all – of the fanbase seems to be the fujoshi market.  I sort of get that and sort of don’t – I did muse in my First Impressions post that Hoozuki could draw on a similar demo to Shirokuma Cafe, but on the face of it this doesn’t match up especially well with the really big-selling fujoshi titles.

The great thing about Hoozuki, though, is that it doesn’t really match up well with any other anime, period – for me, as I said, it has a touch of Shirokuma but this series is obviously its own animal.  One of the hallmarks of great comedy for me is the ability to entertain across a broad range of styles (check) and to able to get laughs from both unapologetically intellectual and grade-school silly humor (check) in the Python/Seinfeld/SCTV tradition.

I liked but didn’t love this show out of the box, but the upward trajectory has been pretty steady and it’s really in a groove now, with pretty much every chapter a classic.  Hoozuki has an impressively large stable of funny and likeable characters to draw from, but two of my favorites are Nasubi and Karauri – the “Chip ‘n Dale of Hell” as the manga describes them.  Every mini-episode they’ve starred in has been hilarious, and the first chapter this week was the equal of the superb “Funiculi Funicula” chapter.  It finds the two minions on assignment washing clothes in Mortal Hell, where the frequently-lovestruck Karauri has developed a crush on hottie hellion Okou-sama (Kitamura Eri).  He persuades Hoozuki-sama to give the boys a tour of Mortal Hell, and hijinks ensue.

This sequence is pretty much flawless start to finish, top to bottom.  For starters Karauri and Nasubi are a blast to watch, each funny in their own right and hilarious in their extreme personality differences.  Nasubi has the attention span of a mayfly and his libido seems to operate on a fifth-grade level – he’s equally distracted by yakitori and boobies (and not shy about praising a woman’s oppai to her… face).  So much win here – I lost it when Hoozuki asked about Nasubi “Is he all right – in every possible implication?”  Later, when Okou-sama is describing the Hell for philanders who’ve had affairs, Nasubi muses “I’d love an eclair…”

As for Karauri, he reveals himself to be an “M” here, and a rather full-bore one at that.  He gazes longingly at the voluptuous Okou and sighs “I don’t know why, but I wish she would scold me.”  When Hoozuki slaps him for his transgressions his reply is “I don’t want to be punished… by a man!”  When Okou introduces her “Pervy Madams” punishment squad (Mortal Hell is moving with the times by getting more women into torturing roles) Karauri is practically orgiastic.  There’s also a truly hilarious (I’m using that word a lot) cameo here by Haru, Shizuku and Natsume (with original seiyuu) from Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (the cameo – though not the scene itself – is anime-original, no doubt here because Hoozuki director Kaburaki Hiro also directed that great series).

Not to be outdone is the great second episode, where Great King Enma throws out his back and rather than call a doctor, Hoozuki-sama decides he’s going to treat his boss himself.  If Nasubi and Karauri are one of this show’s great odd couples Enma and Hoozuki are the other – it’s pretty much impossible for them not to be funny together.  Hoozuki decides to put his amateur skills to the test with everything from acupuncture to leeches to shiatsu (including a legendary pressure point that causes diarrhoea) to moxibustion, with predictably disastrous (for Enma) results. 

Along the way Shirou and Momotarou’s animal pals stop by, and we get a look in the Mirror of Johari (a real piece of folklore) and a Buddhist scroll depicting Enma and the mirror (and Hoozuki), the latter of which gives Hoozuki another opportunity to insult his boss.  The mirror (after Hoozuki rewinds too far and shows the birth of Momotarou) reveals Hoozuki’s trip to Australia.  Here we see him taming a Tasmanian devil and petting a koala (he offers the menagerie a truly terrifying “would you like me to pet you, too?”) under the adoring eyes of a pretty blonde zookeeper.  What of his ears and horns?  He just wears a hat – and if that doesn’t work he uses “an incantation only Japanese people may evoke” – he tells the zookeeper in Engrish, “I am ninja.  It’s shugyou.”  Then, to the menagerie, “In particular, nine out of ten Japanese animation fans actually like this.”

Truly, that’s an impressive breadth of material for any comedy to cover in 22 minutes, touching on pretty much every color in the comedic rainbow.  I said once that Hoozuki no Reitetsu was like a survey course in Japanese culture, and while that’s true it doesn’t do justice to how universal much of this humor is – and to how ruthlessly it’s willing to use its own mirror and parody the modern Japanese character.  You get so much with this show – Japanese history, timely cultural references, meta-humor, kawaii in a good way, sight gags and puns.  I’m still not surprised Hoozuki isn’t finding much of an English-language audience, but I’m pleased as hell that it’s a hit in its home country.

Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -9 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -10 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -11
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -12 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -13 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -14
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -15 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -17 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -18
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -20 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -21 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -22
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -23 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -24 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -25
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -26 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -27 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -28
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -29 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -30 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -31
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -32 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -33 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -34
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -35 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -36 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -37
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -38 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -39 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -40
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -41 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -42 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -43
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -45 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -46 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 07 -47


  1. e

    'I'm pleased as hell that it's a hit in its home country.' I see what you did there.
    On the fujoshi bit… I don't know. Unless you have very detailed data on what kind of taste the buyers of this series have It seems almost like you're equalling female viewers with fujoshi. Does it hold true for the Japanese? Because many of of the rabid manga/dvd buyers I know in the West for instance are female who like titles from any demographic but are either indifferent to or outright dislike BL.

    Koala spotted! It's not pink but still better than nothing! Oh the timing of this show :,).
    The first segment had me at the eclair and friend comment ('I'm seeing my friend in a new light. He's quite repulsive. But as I'm his best friend I'll accept him. Donmai! ' *thumb up at friend* ). Also wth was the giant octopus for? Ok given the circumstances maybe ignorance is bliss after all…
    Also dat defective rewind and fastforward mirror (I was reminded of searching a certain passage on music tapes…). Gadgets from helllllllllllllll :,DD.
    Personally I find O-Koh's giga-serpents fascinating. Dat hot pink scaly living bra-band-y goodness! <3 .
    I do think the mangaka is taking a bit of inspiration from Pollon by Azuma Hideo – back then it was ancient Greek mythology, the MC the bumbling and mischievious child of Apollon (she of absurdly precocious bust, bearer of dubious sparkly powder of happiness with dancing animal mascot sketch) with her best pal Eros (he of the phallic navel…) and skewed retelling of heroes and gods' tales. With Hera in fishnet stockings and Betty Boop-esque red tight clothes throwing grenades at a perpetually lecherous Zeus… – .
    HnR gags and humour and some of the charades feel like an edgier and more refined relative. Also the humour in HnR can get suitably as dark as char and pretty visceral :p.

    Bonus: it finally struck me this week why Enma have me in stitches by his looks alone. He really looks like a certain LGBT manga and comics Italian publisher I know… aaaah :,D.

  2. I used to have to look at security video occasionally as part of work responsibilities, and it was exactly like that – impossible to zero in on the date and time you want quickly.

    As for the fujoshi connection, there are a couple of reasons to suspect it's a link here. First, the 2chan and twitter chatter about the series is very fujoshi-driven. And then, to be blunt, there are really almost no anime with a largely female demographic that sell well on disc except for fujoshi titles. Otomate adaptations generally hit the same core group of otome buyers, but shoujo and (God forbid) jousei titles almost never do well on disc, even if the manga is hugely popular. The evidence is overwhelming that the only titles that become hits on disc driven by female buyers are ones that appeal to fujoshi.

  3. e

    Oh goodness… this reminds me of video tapes. I could I forget about those.
    I was lucky enough I never happened to have to to search through security videos at work – just looking at monitors. Visitors and/or customers behaved for the most part. And you got the occasionally hilarious antics. Indeed we were lucky – but I can imagine.

    I see. Thanks. I still wonder though. Any ideas on such phenomenon, also based on your experience there so far?

  4. Can you be more specific about your question?

  5. e

    Let me try: in your opinion/observations why non-fujoshi Japanese female fans tend not to buy anime?

  6. Well, I don't think it's that so much as that only very, very hard-core people buy anime at all (usually). It's very expensive, so unless you're a serious fan you're just not going to drop that kind of coin on a TV show. So for the most part only male otaku (their tastes are fairly transparent at this point) and female fujoshi are willing to do so – guys mostly Blu-rays, women mostly DVDs.

    There are rare exceptions – Shingeki being by far the most significant of recent vintage. But they're few and far between. I think the reality is that it's rare for men to buy shows that don't specifically target otaku, and women to buy shows that don't specifically target fujoshi (or in a minor way otome, as mentioned earlier). And despite the fact that shows like KuroBas and Haikyuu get listed as shounen because they run in a shounen magazine, there's no question females are their main target audience.

  7. K

    I'm stunned that this is slated to sell over 8,000 discs. I remember after the premiere I thought it would be a miracle if it sold 500 a volume. Shows how out of touch I am with Japanese tastes.

  8. Well, my comment at that time was "so obscure you might find it on a milk carton".

  9. Z

    The two chapters in this episode were particularly good.

  10. C

    Hey Enzo. Completely off topic but… I want to watch Dr. Who. But i don't want to start from the first season until season 34. Where do you suggest I start? I want around season 25. Thanks.

  11. Well, as someone who prefers the classic series to the new one, I'd say start from the beginning! But if you really don't want to do that, at least watch the Tom Baker years – they start at season 12, I believe. And if you really, really don't want to watch any of the old show, I think you could skip the Eccelston year and start with David Tennant (either S2 or S28, depending on the reckoning).

  12. C

    Thanks Enzo. I'll consider starting with david tennant. I'm going to look for it right now. Thanks again.

  13. M

    Also a shadowy appearance of SF Akuma of all places to find him! : o

    I liked the second chapter less than the first since anytime spent on Enma is less time spent on the better characters. but it was decent.

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