Sousei no Onmyouji was another one of those Spring series for which I had pretty high expectations. Not quite in the top tier, but certainly near the top of the second – and the premiere didn’t disappoint. I have other series coming up that I think are safer bets because I’ve read the source material, but this shounen comes from a very well-regarded manga by Sukeno Yoshiaki, who also created the underrated Binbougami Ga!. And there’s been something about all the preview material that I find very eye-catching.
In hindsight, this might very well have been the best premiere I watched today – if not, it’s certainly a matter of inches either way. There may not be another studio more unjustly dismissed than Pierrot – they’re still talked about with dismissive scorn by most anime fans, but if you look at their batting average over the last couple of years they may just be hitting at a higher rate than anybody else. They choose good material to adapt, they generally make the right decisions in their adaptations, and they’re even starting to deliver very solid production values a lot of the time – just look at Akatsuki no Yona, and with Osomatsu-san being a generational hit as an original for them I hope that trend only continues.
Sousei no Onmyouji isn’t exactly a mold-breaker – there are a lot of very familiar elements to the basic supernatural shounen in its DNA. But the execution is really good – this episode just flew by and was beautifully directed by relative newbie Taguchi Tomohisa. The dialogue was snappy and the exposition nicely measured. We’ve had a few good onmyouji anime over the years but none for a while, and they always seem to make an interesting subject for a good writer.
The “twin star exorcists” of the title are middle-schoolers Emmadou Rokuro (Hanae Natsuki) and Adashino Benio (Han Megumi), both onmyouji from prestigious backgrounds but as different as can be. Benio is from an elite Kyoto family, a steely and soft-spoken kuudere type. Rokuro meanwhile is a rambunctious Eddoko, a classic hotheaded shounen lead (seemingly) who has a particular weakness for girls, who universally reject him. His past is explored more thoroughly in the premiere, and it’s soon made clear why he’s so reluctant to engage his onmyoudo side – he was involved in something called the “Hinatsuki Incident” at the age of 12 that left a lot of trainees dead.
Sousei no Onmyouji is clearly going to have an ensemble cast (we meet some of them here) but it’s obvious Han and Hanae are going to have to do the heavy lifting. Happily they seem up to the challenge. Hanae hasn’t always seemed as engaged lately as he does here, but engaged he is. As for Han, it says something about her talent that one could as easily see her in either of these two lead roles. Benio is a bit of a new direction for Han but it seems she’s very much ready for it. I look forward to learning more about what makes Benio tick in the coming weeks.
There are some ground rules still to be laid out about how the evil Kagare and the dimensional shifting in this mythology works – does an overpowered Benio have the option to just leave and go back to our dimension, for example? And of course there’s a fated link between Benio and Rokuro still to be explored. But I’m interested – I like what I see from Sousei no Onmyouji. There’s a very strong group of actors still to enter the story (including Namikawa Daisuke) and there’s a ton of spark and panache to the direction of the series. I doubt Sousei no Onmyouji will break a lot of rules or end up as the best show of the season, but I think it has a chance to be a very good one.