Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi
Why god why?
Animation: Like most J C Staff stuff it’s pretty good and consistent in it’s own simplistic way. The character designs are well thought out, if a little over designed, but it’s slick enough and never hurts the eyes. The backdrops are pretty good, though sometimes a little bland. Nothing here is exactly breath taking, it just does the job it was set out to do in the most efficient way possible, which is no bad thing at all. There are some nice design touches, like Ryouko’s Nekogauntlets, Ryoushi’s slingshot etc.
Sound: Well the OP and ED are ok, if slightly cheesy. The in-show sound was so unassuming that having just finished the last episode I can’t remember any apart from the pre-fight music which was just some guitar chugging and nothing special at all. The VA’s are all pretty good, except the narrator (which I’ll come back to), they all seemed to portray their roles quite well, some fell quite short, like Alice’s who always felt kind of ‘off’ and never quite right for the character. Ryouko’s VA shines through here, doing a great job as the tsundere nailing both the tsun and the dere. But lets talk about that huge elephant in the room. That damn narrator. Her VA is Satomi Arai, you may know her as Kuroko Shirai from To Aru Majutsu no Index or To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, now I don’t mind Kuroko’s voice, I know some people say it makes their ears bleed but I never found it really offensive, and actually quite fitting for the character. She uses the same voice here, but it’s more haughty, more ‘in your face’ and slightly snobbish. Sometimes it’s used to good effect, mainly in the first few episodes, but later it gets plain annoying, especially when she’s talking loudly over important pieces of dialog from the other cast members. I need to talk more about this, but will leave it till the plot section, because there is plenty more that annoys me about this.
Characters: The characters are pretty good, especially Ryouko who has a slightly cliched but interesting none-the-less background, but the support is good to in it’s own archetypal way, Ringo the (older) loli with a ‘heart of coal’, Urashima the play boy, Ryoushi the shy boy etc. The only characters that have any real development though are Ryouko, Ringo and Ryoushi, though they sometimes feel like they revert back to their original traits in the later episodes which can be frustrating even if it is often used for humour. All together, there’s nothing to dislike here, I feel the cast is too big for such a small amount of episodes, but it never annoys or frustrates like it does in other shows, mostly it just leaves secondary characters to have secondary roles which satisfies me.
Plot: Well it starts of quite episodic, and it’s not until we see Hitsujikai that we start to get some plot here. The plot builds quite nicely with a couple of confrontations early on and again the middle and it builds to a steady crescendo… only to fall at the last hurdle. Episode 11 leaves us with so much fallout, then episode 12 is completely unrelated to the entire storyline (except the romance between Ryouko and Ryoushi), and then it finishes, oh and there is currently no second season for it to continue, perhaps the Manga carries it on, but I haven’t checked yet. Then you have that f*****g narrator. Every time you have nay kind of development, plot or character, she spoils it, she talks over the top and pokes fun at the characters, this can be ok in some humorous circumstances, but she also does it in some serious ones, like when hearing about Ryouko’s traumatic back story, or when a moment is shared between Ryouko and Ryoushi after a particularly portentous scene. It feels out of place and distasteful. I understand that this is also supposedly a parody show, but it just isn’t funny enough for that, in either plot, characters or through the narrator. It’s a disappointing end to an show that promises so much.
Summary: I didn’t have many expectations from this show other than being told that Ryouko is a justified tsundere which as it turns out is true. Unfortunately, it promises so much in terms of plot and character development but ultimately jumps the shark at the end. And as said previously, this show just isn’t funny, the characters aren’t funny, the tropes they belong to aren’t funny, the narrator is trying too hard and fails at every step. It strips all the enjoyment from what should just be an unpretentious fun show. So what we are left with is a show of heavy potential with not an ounce of it realised. Ryouko is an interesting character, Ryoushi has the potential to be an interesting character, but it’s never realised, the same with Ringo and Hitsujikai, and as a result I spent most the time watching this anime screaming for an ounce of something, like a back story a flashback anything! And then when the last episode started and I realised it had nothing to do with anything that came before, I could have put a hammer through my monitor. Ultimately this anime is incredibly disappointing, but it is carried by Ryouko, if she wasn’t in it, or was only half as interesting, this would be one of the worst shows I’ve seen just in terms of unfulfilled potential. As it is though, I will give this show 6.5 out of 10, it is neither horrendous or particularly good, and some people may get more enjoyment than I can out of it.