Hoozuki no Reitetsu – 08

Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -10 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -22 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -30

I’m buying pretty much everything Hoozuki no Reitetsu is selling at the moment.

The development of this series is unidirectional at this stage, and it’s the right direction – it just keeps getting better and better every week.  Or else it was this great all along and it’s simply taken a little longer than some elite shows to completely win me over.  I’m not sure and I’m not sure it matters, because it’s risen to the top of the charts for this season either way.  One of the best measures for me in judging any series is how much I look forward to the next episode, and I find this is the Winter show I’m most looking forward to every week – and the one I most often watch more than once.

I actually hadn’t realized that there were already 13 volumes of Hoozuki no Reitetsu, so if the series does as well as Stalker predicts a second season might not be so far off after all.  That would be a good thing, because there are so many very funny characters in this cast and so much stylistic versatility (it reminds me of Minami-ke in that way) that the series is nowhere close to feeling tired or stale – it has so many rich veins from which to mine laughs that it feels as if it could go on for years.

This week brings us just the second appearances of two of those hilarious cast members – Peach Maki and Koban, the feline gossip hack and paparazzi wannabe.  Peach has released her debut single (on the “Hell Child” label) “Caramel Peach Jam 120%”.  The video is a ridiculous montage of saccharine idol vamping and freakish Hell imagery, and the song is every bit as preposterous (it doubles as the episode’s ED).  Meanwhile we check in at River Styx Weekly – whose offices are a giant cat tree – where Chief Editor Sneezy orders Koban to get another Peach Maki scoop.

Intent on getting the story, Koban stakes out Maki’s appearance on Hell TV (her dressing room is full of congratulatory bouquets, many from the anime staff) , where she happens to run into Hoozuki (who’s just taped an appearance of his own).  This poses a problem for Koban, whose last run-in with Hoozuki gave him a bleeding ulcer.  Predictably this turns out equally poorly for the kitty columnist, whose efforts to entrap the pair into being outed for an affair (“Would you go out for a split second and then break it off?”) lead to a roll of exposed film and a sumaho full of write-protected photos of the floor in the hallway.  Hoozuki also follows through on his threat to send the photo collection from the stripping hag (who dreams of idol stardom herself) to the RSW offices – which lands the editor in the hospital with two broken rear legs.

As brilliant as that is, the second chapter is even better.  It again features Karauri and especially Nasubi, who’re among the best of the supporting cast.  Nasubi pretty much crosses the line into ridiculously moe this week (“Oh, gyah!”) and also reveals himself to be something of an idiot savant.  Sculpting, sketching, painting – the little minion is a cracker at all of it, and possessed of an encylcopedic knowledge of art history (and a delightfully eclectic sensibility) to boot.  This comes in handy as the mural outside Enma’s great hall – 200 years of exposure to hot hellish winds and all – is flaking and peeling badly.  Hoozuki stumbles across Nasubi sketching in the fields, and Karauri clues their boss in on his friend’s talent.  Hoozuki, impressed, asks to go back to Nasubi’s dorm room and see his collection (Nasubi’s reaction here is utterly priceless – as is Karauri’s reaction to his reaction) and, even more astounded (especially by “Iron Sun Goddess”), commissions Nasubi to repaint the mural in his own unique style.

There’s a boatload of great comedy here.  We have the “black cord rock” paint which Nasubi has used to paint a picture which perpetually seethes with rage at the company president’s son.  There’s Hoozuki’s retelling of Hakutaku’s extreme incompetence as an artist (I have doubts about the impartiality of the reporter here).  But it’s with this little group that Hoozuki no Reitetsu works best in a non-ironic way.  Karauri’s weary loyalty to his trying best friend, Nasubi’s feckless idiocy, Hoozuki’s sincere words of praise – it’s about as earnest as this show gets, and it has a real charm to it.  I liked the story Karauri told about how he was worried that his friend wouldn’t be able to make a living as an artist and talked him into becoming a minion, and his enthusiastic endorsement of Nasubi’s talent.  I also find it interesting that Hoozuki calls the boys “-san” rather than “-kun” – which would be virtually universal in non-workplace situations, and more common even between co-workers such as these.

The upshot of all this is that Nasubi paints a mural (with Hoozuki and Karauri’s assistance) that everyone heartily approves of, though because Hoozuki slipped in some of the black cord rock paint it really does “jump out at you“.  There’s one other issue – turns out the old mural was painted by none other than Hokusai Katsuhika (considered one of the greatest ukiyo-e painters in history) himself (one of Nasubi’s favorites).  Karauri is horrified but Hoozuki isn’t too worried, as Hokusai (who changed his name 30 times and relocated 93 times in his life) is about to launch his new manga in “Midnight Monthly” and is far too busy to notice.  There’s another joke hidden even here, as Hokusai published a collection of sketches called “The Hokusai Manga” during his lifetime that was not a manga at all in the modern sense of the word, and “Midnight Monthly” is hyping this as “The Real Hokusai Manga!”  This is just that sort of show – don’t blink, because there’s treasure hidden everywhere.

Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -8 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -9 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -11
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -12 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -13 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -14
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -15 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -16 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -17
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -18 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -19 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -20
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -21 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -23 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -24
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -25 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -26 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -27
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -28 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -29 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -31
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -32 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -33 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -34
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -35 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -36 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -37
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -38 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -39 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -40
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -41 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -42 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -43
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -44 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -45 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -46

ED: “Caramel Peach jam 120%” by Peach Maki (Sumire Uesaka)

Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -47 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -48 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -49
Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -50 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -51 Hoozuki no Reitetsu - 08 -52
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14 comments

  1. R

    Have to give the series credit for treating it's eastern and western Audience equally as far as Obscure References go. Not sure that a lot of japanese Viewers got the references to Felix the Cat and the Smurfs.

  2. k

    Actually, those were added by the translator, like with the Brangelina reference in an earlier episode. In the original they were references to things that most of the non-Japanese audience probably never even heard about.

  3. A

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if that Peach Maki video is a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu parody, that's what I thought it was anyway.

  4. I'll take your word for that, as I know next to nothing of her work.

  5. k

    "I also find it interesting that Hoozuki calls the boys "-san" rather than "-kun" "

    He does that with most everyone under him in rank. I think it's partly because he uses keigo all the time, and because it makes him sound more aloof and condescending.

  6. I was also thinking it could be a reflection of the fat that they're older than their physical appearance would indicate.

  7. k

    Could be, though he uses -san with most everyone he has no other respectful honorific for (including Momotarou and his animal friends), with the possible exception of Hakutaku… I don't remember what he calls him. I think it's for the aloofness and the sarcasm of using polite and respectful language even though he clearly doesn't feel respect for them. ^^;;

  8. Well, if he really wanted to be sarcastic he could go with -sama (which I think he uses with Enma), which would be so far out of line with underlings that it could only be interpreted as pointed. -san is respectful but pretty neutral. I hadn't noticed that he called Shiroutachi -san, too, though – which means he pretty much uses it with everybody.

  9. k

    "Sama" would be way too crude, it wouldn't work. I think in Japanese the one of best ways to tell someone off/criticize them/generally feel them like crap and make it really sting is to use unfailingly polite language, and Hoozuki does this perfectly. I'm not saying he specifically mocks Karauri & Nasubi (or anyone else for that matter), just that this is part of his personality, emphasizing his aloofness and meanness. His speech is always polite regardless of who he's speaking to, what he's actually saying and what he really means, and as such he often drips with understated sarcasm. (Except with Hakutaku, apparently he pisses him off enough to slip up from time to time.)

    FWIW, he doesn't use -san with everyone, just with those he doesn't call something else. Enma-sama, Yoshitsune-kou, etc.

  10. It's certainly just as rude (perhaps more) to use too-polite language with someone who thinks they're familiar with you as it is to use too-casual language with someone who thinks they should be addressed formally. It's more emotionally insulting, anyway. Whether that's the underpinning of Hoozuki's choice of honorifics is hard to say.

  11. M

    This week hit all the right notes for me. Such a pleasure when that happens with HnR.

  12. e

    ROFL :,D . I wonder if my prior clicking by chance on one of your past GeK reviews (and with that I could only dive in and revisit a few of my favourites Ginga episodes… ) had uncorked my emotional well but I was really feeling this HnR episode. I had to literally pause and wipe my eyes while laughing a few times.
    The newspaper office design is genius. Btw are those warming patches on the old lady's back at the end?
    What a sweet hell of a video and song – and those peachy foxfires – too. I must agree with Koban on one thing though: Hoozuki and Maki do look fine together. The lack of asshat helps too.
    The second half was brill. I can vouch for odd mental processing too. That was soo spot-on. And the Hokusai jokes killed me – I was despairing with Karauri after the reveal though – .
    Two refs I might have caught or just imagined:
    1) Nasubi's room round window cleverly functioning as the mouth of a… demonic spin on Totoro's graffito?
    2) the living toad on Karauri's belly. I was immediately reminded of the – very srs bsnss and triggered by rage no chikara – Black Jack OVA #9 by Dezaki: 'The Carbuncle' .

    In short: :,DDDDD.

  13. R

    So I ended up completely attached to the ones series I was sure I'd never get into (or understand) so three hoorah's for Enzou (or not, I'm running out of the free time if I keep adding shows to my backlog XD)

    On a totally unrelated note, this series has some really good music. It was the first thing I noticed in the first episode (loved the beginning song during the intro, sort of a modern twist on traditional southeast asian music)

  14. Hoozuki has a way of gradually sucking you into the vortex of its strange genius, even if you don't get all the references.

    Yes, the music here is excellent, including the various OP/EDs as well. I'm not that familiar with Tomosiro's work but it definitely suits the material here.

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