Wagaya no Oinari-Sama is a 24 episode comedy, fantasy anime set in modern day Japan, featuring light themes of romance and (ugh) ecchi/harem. Before reading this review I’d like to disclose my personal bias against ecchi, harem, pointless fan-service and shoehorned romance that doesn’t go anywhere (it happens so much, that I’m now wary whenever I see that an anime has a hint of romance in it).
I was slightly disappointed by the quality of this anime, considering it was made in 2008. I could only find it subtitled in 480p, but I did find a non-subbed version in 720p. Turned out to look exactly the same as the lower quality version. An anime whose visual quality doesn't improve in HD goes to show that it probably was never released in HD in the first place or it just looked so terrible. The 720p was likely upscaled from the normal DVD resolution. The style is nothing interesting and unique. Just more of the usual generic anime character designs, though they are done well. There are a few nice things like the various non-humans, the two guardian beasts at the temple and Kuu’s rather magnificent fox form. The quality made me feel like this was an anime from the early 2000s.
As I mentioned in the intro, this anime does delve lightly into harem ecchi territory. While you won’t be seeing panty shots or wanton cleavage, there are various aspects of ecchi anime incorporated here. For starters, Kuu often grabs the Tagagami siblings and thrusts them face-first into her bosom, where Noboru looks uncomfortable and possibly blushes. Perhaps the most unsettling is that she is unsure of her gender at the start and switches between being a female/male when in human form. In one early episode, the anime almost seems to suggest that she attempts to use sex appeal to prevent a fight. There’s also the trope jealous posse of schoolboys, who all have the hots for Kuu and are jealous that Noboru gets to live with her. Misaki Sakura has wild fantasies about what goes on between Noboru and the girls he’s living with. Later there’s even some sexual harassment as a girl’s ass gets touched and two male beasts try to look up a girl’s towel to see up her legs. There’s even ridiculously unreal boob jiggle, it’s like boobs are made out of jelly, which they obviously aren’t. There’s even a scene where the same girls clothes are falling off because of something that’s even worse.
Underage drinking is something that is never depicted in anime, after all it’s against the law in Japan. But here, a guileless young girl unknowingly takes an offer of beer, when she’s thirsty and of course she gets smashed from just the one as a first time drinker would. At least they were realistic enough to depict the Asian glow, but you don’t need me to tell you how bad this is. Younger folks (who may take pride in their underage drinking) may disagree with me here, but as a responsible person I must condone showing this sort of thing on TV. At least other anime make the effort to abuse loopholes by making their characters drunk by other means.
The first intro sequence music is pretty damn good, almost to the point where I want to find out the artist and get the music. The outro is not that amazing, but it’s decent. The music used in the anime is a good mix, there are some nifty rock tunes and some serious orchestral music that made me feel like I was watching an epic fantasy movie. But it doesn’t hit it all, a few parts of the music felt cheesy and old, once again contributing to the feel that this anime is older than it really is.
This anime is available in Japanese only. While the voices were mostly accurate, there were times where Toru sounded a bit too feminine, his female voice actor probably not being able to hold the tone of voice. One thing that really annoyed me about the voicing though, were the terrible laughs. The VAs made no effort to laugh in some cases, instead literally saying “kekekekeke” which is used to denote laughing in written Japanese, particularly manga. Kuu is voiced by Yukana Nogami, who’s voiced C.C. in Code Geass, Yumi Azusa in Soul Eater and the Succubus/mysterious blue-haired woman in Tower of Druaga. Male Kuu is voiced by Yuuichi Nakamura, voice of Tomoya Okazaki in Clannad, Greed in FMA Brotherhood, Gorou in Squid Girl and Makoto from the short Yumekuri. Noboru is voiced by Takahiro Mizushima, the voice of Takamatsu in Angel Beats, Rolo in Code Geass, Shingo Uryuu in Mashiro-Iro Symphony and Romeo in Romeo X Juliet. Toru is voiced by Yu Shimamura, who voiced Annie Leonhardt in Attack on Titan and Masako Araki in Kuroko no Basuke. Kou is voiced by Saori Hayami, the voice of Haqua in The World God only Knows, Fuuka Kamigusa in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo and Sawa Okita in Tari Tari. Other voices include Daisuke Ono as Ebisu, Yui Kano as Misaki Sakura, Yui Horie as Miyako, Mikako Takahashi/Wataru Hatano as Gyokuyou and Mitsuru Miyamoto as Haruki Takagami. Looking at the voice cast I also noticed Rie Kugimiya is around. But the wired thing is that the characters voiced by her weren’t recognisable as her voice. It didn’t sound like the usual bitchy tsundere voice. This was a pleasant surprise. So Rie Kugimiya doesn’t just voice annoying bitchy characters eh? Who’d have thought it.
Kuugen Tenko AKA Kuu (as nicknamed by Miyako/Toru) is a very long-lived Youkai: an astral fox deity and a guardian of the Miduchi family. Trapped within a rock long ago by the head of the family for her mischief and pranks in the past, she is once again called upon for her help. Except she is not necessarily a she, or at least she claims that she can’t remember what gender she is apparently due to the fact that she’s lived so long. Last I heard, foxes were animals too and come in male or female forms, plus how would one forget their gender? While her true form is a rather majestic fox with white and gold fur, she also has a human form as a very attractive blonde woman and the ability to hide her tail/ears. Which pop out every time she gets excited. Or a rather androgenous guy who looks almost exactly the same. Makes no sense to me why this is a thing. She uses her fan, which can transform into a sword and she can utilise fire magic and other spells, aiding her very skilled combat abilities. She was very fond of Miyako Miduchi, the very first head of the family who treated her like a friend and is similarly protective of her children. She is very mischievous and loves to eat food, she can be hot-headed and likes to mess about. A very immature and naïve fox, to the point where she is a tad annoying and can really cause trouble for others. She is easily provoked and won’t back down from a fight even, especially if she’s being insulted or told to do something she doesn’t want to.
Kou (surname unknown) is a Miko (shrine maiden) who is skilled in the use of water magic for combat and support, known as a sentinel. She has been entrusted by Noboru’s grandmother to watch over and protect them. She is always wearing her shrine maiden outfit at all times and it appears to be the only set of clothes she owns. She contains a dragon in her body, sometimes causing her skin to glow like green dragon scales. Growing up as a shrine maiden, she is naïve to modern day Japanese culture, thus she has a few odd habits like lying horizontally on luggage racks on public transport. She wants to be very helpful to the Takahashi brothers, whom she refers to with the ‘sama’ honorific. She attempts this by helping out around the house, but her clumsiness and complete lack of experience results in things breaking and impossible accidents, thus she is terrible at doing chores and cooking. She could almost be classified as a deadly chef, but she apparently manages to cook rice well. There is the possibility that she has feelings for Noboru.
Noboru Takahashi is a 16 year old highschool boy. Being the oldest son of the previous head of the Miduchi family, he is the current head of the family, but cannot be the priest since that role can only be taken up by women of the Miduchi bloodline, whose powers are diminishing over time. He is also the chosen master of Kuu. He’s the typical harem/romance male protagonist, who has no clue that a bunch of girls like him. He is protective of his family and those newly in their care. At school he is in the badminton club and at home he is the one who is the best at cooking and doing the housework, which he has learnt to do in his mother’s absence. It is said he has inherited more from his father as he is lacking the spiritual power from his mother’s bloodline. He is very sensible and mature for his age, worrying over things like the budget and the girls’ misbehaviour. He’s wary of letting Kou do certain tasks, since he knows that accidents are likely.
Toru Takahashi is an 11 year old elementary school boy. Being the youngest of the Takahashi siblings, he was unable to ever make memories of his mother who died shortly after his birth. He only knows her from pictures and this is a big shame, since he is the one who inherited her spiritual energy. Thus he is a prime target for rouge Youkai, who attack the protagonists in an attempt to devour him and his tasty Miduchi blood. He’s a very kind boy who tries his best to avoid hurting other’s feelings and to make them happy.
Misaki Sakura is a high-school girl in the same year as Noboru. The romance in this anime has this character at its centre and being a girl doesn’t change anything. Misaki has an obvious crush on Noboru and he can’t tell a thing. It doesn’t help that Misaki clearly lack the balls ovaries to confess her feelings for him. She has an over-active imagination and is quick to judge with her jealousy. She thinks that Noboru is getting up to no good at home with Kou and Kuu. She doesn’t know the truth about the whole fox thing, she often has her memories erased of such events by Kuu. Misaki often invite Noboru to walk home together and often Noboru misses these appointments as a result of the supernatural shenanigans that cause him to be targeted as the head of the Miduchi family.
Ebisu is the god of merchants and local god in the town of Suzunose where the protagonists live. His shrine is protected by his two loyal familiars Kouga and Eiga, beasts that look like a cross between a dog and a lion called Komainu. He looks rather young and he smokes. But most interesting of all is that he owns a convenience store. And he seeks profit like shameless whore. He’s willing to provoke Kuu to destroy stuff if it means he can make money off of it. And he is rather defensive of both his shop and his locale, he wants to maintain the status quo where he can enjoy making money. This guy is of course very stingy and a bit sneaky. Good luck getting a penny from him for free.
Mubyou is the god of something and is the god of the neighbouring town Akagi, which happens to be where Noboru goes to school. She utilises two hand puppets, is very kind and has great power, which causes even the other gods to fear her. But she is capable of mistakes, like losing her precious Sakasaen, an artefact of great power that could be a problem if it got in the wrong hands. She is a bit gullible too and jumps to conclusions without thinking things through. She cannot act within Ebisu’s land, using her godly powers there would break some rules or other.
The Takahashi brother are cared for by their single father who works as a bus driver, as their mother died soon after Toru’s birth. Haruki Takahashi met Miyako Miduchi at university, where they fell in love and eventually got married. Being with his loved one, his mind was opened to the world of spirits and gods. Now he treats them like every day occurrences and is completely tolerant of them. Fox-man and his child need somewhere to stay? Can a fox god and a sentinel stay with them forever? Sure, this guy is just too peaceful and relaxed. I found it odd how he wasn’t too hung over on not having his wife around. Miyako Takahashi (Miduchi) was the head of the Miduchi family and was raised to be a priest by her grandmother. She met Kuu at a young age and she acts kinda childish. She loved cute and adorable things, which is how she met her husband. He was dressed up in a bunny costume and was jumped by Miyako shouting that he was so adorable she wanted to take him home. Funny thing is that she kinda ended up doing so.
More minor characters now. Enjyu is an Oni (demon) who wishes peace and prosperity for her race, who have been oppressed by the other races for their birth. Oni don’t have any special spiritual powers and neither do they have the peace and freedom of humans. Thus Enju uses stuff she buys online and from a mysterious contact. She and her Oni pals run a church in town (funny cos they’re demons). They covet the mysterious girl known as Byakki, who is said to be their king and the only thing they have. The Byakki is all white and is wrapped in white cloth like mummy. She cannot talk and is very attached to Toru, who develops feelings for her, though he denies this when others ask him. Tsukuyomi is a god from some distant land in the Department of Custody and he works with his sidekick Bekira to keep the peace. Bekira is a big-boobed woman (whose boobs are jelly, ugh) who wears glasses and conforms to the trope glasses character. I.e. her glasses keep falling down and she keeps on adjusting them back. She also has skills in spiritual medicine which come in very handy in her work with the Department of Custody. Finally there is the mysterious silver fox deity Gyokuyou, who is somehow related to Kuu, the both seems to know each other and are very close. Guess how they know each other? It’s either surprising or obvious.
The plot goes that the fox deity Tenko Kuugen agrees to protect the son of Miyako Miduchi, Toru Takahashi, due to the kindness that Miyako showed her when she was younger. Only women of the Miduchi’s can become priestesses and only the head of the Miduchi family can access Kuu’s cave, where she was sealed long ago due to her misbehaviour. The sentinel of the Miduchi family, Kuu, also goes with her to the town of Suzunose where the two boys live with their father, widowed by their mother’s death. Many monsters and malicious spirits come after the Takahashi brother, usually in order to devour Toru Takahashi who has great spiritual power he has inherited from the Miduchi bloodline via his mother. Both Kuu and Kou always come to their rescue and protect them. Along the way, they meets various friends and acquaintances: gods, creatures and beings with spiritual power.
To say this has a thorough plot would be generous. The objective of the protagonists is to keep the peace and live. Not that it can’t be a big arc. The good thing is that things happen, but it feels very episodic, there is no overarching story, instead there’s various things around which the events revolve usually within just a few episodes. There are throwbacks to earlier episodes. I guess this is the type of anime for folks who like this type of episodic story where not much changes with the status quo, besides the introduction of various characters. There were never really any moments that made me feel like the characters were in serious trouble, since one could predict that one of the protagonists would come in to save the day.
So what does happen in this plot? Comedy? Not the type that would make me laugh, it was very repetitive and bland. The high-school aspect didn’t help, Kuu kept getting mistaken for a foreign high school age girl and the romance was as terrible as one would expect. The most serious it got was the Byakki arc, where Toru had feelings for Shiro. Noboru’s situation kinda turns into a love-triangle/harem, since Misaki never has the courage to make anything happen. It’s the usual terrible attempt at high-school romance where nothing happens. So I ask what’s the point of including that aspect?
Who is this anime for? For folks who like the high-school spiritual action and pointless harems with no conclusion. Or those who have a easy sense of humour. But most of all, people who like episodic anime where there’s something new and different happening each time. If one is searching for an overall plot, there’s not one here since the set-up doesn’t accommodate for it. There isn’t a big bad to defeat or an achievable objective, just the need to keep Noboru alive. Thus it lends itself to being suitable for even more in the form of sequels. I didn’t enjoy it too much, while the ecchi wasn’t as bad as most anime, it was still terrible and shameless. And I hate it when they try to incorporate one-sided romances that don’t go anywhere. Heck, wrapping that up might have provided this anime with a bit of an overlying narrative element. This can be avoided, but it’s not that bad of an anime to watch if folks are looking for something like this. If people want Japanese folklore in a similar episodic manner, I’d suggest an anime like XXXHOLiC.
Family-friendliness Rating: 4/5 Boob-jiggling, inappropriate camera angles, suggestive themes and underage drinking (lower is better)
Overall Rating:6 /10 (higher is better)
The fox god is cute, fun, and funny. She is a powerful entity but is also naive and like a child when she is exploring the community and all the new things she did not get to notice while she was confined. Yet despite her bitter past and sub par previous treatment, she is bright, cheery, and optimistic. The sentinal though feels a bit shallow as if her character was never fully completed. She is almost like a savant. She is really good at one thing, and a complete failure at everything else. But she is so bad and incompetent that it takes her the entire series just to learn a few new things most people experience as common sense. Common sense wise, she has even less than the fox, aka Kuu or Kugen. She is a typical dumb bimbo type character but with magical power. If she were just a hair more intelligent, capable of learning from her past and mistakes just a hair better, and actually had some measure of common sense, she would be a charming if not dimwitted character, but as she is, she is more of a nuisence than a boon to anyone around her.
Another down side is Sakura. She is a great character, cute, charming, sympathetic, endearing, and arguably as or more appealing than Kuu. The problem is, the bonehead antics of the household head and elder brother, Takagami. This type of cutsey chasing a love interest play is interesting for a while but as usual, anime too often drags things it shouldn't unnecessarily long. This is one such example. I may not be super senstive to a person's interest in me anymore than Takagami, but even I when watching it realize she is hinting at something and would at least inquire about it. Takagami is so dim about that, that he would not realize it if she paraded naked in front of him with a giant sign professing her love. Every episode Sakura appears in, makes me want her to win and finally get this dunderhead's attention, but the show always lets me down. Hey the love chase game is fun but it shouldn't drag on forever and worse, never have that resolved reward at the end. It is because they tease you like a carriage driver waving a carrot before a mule that a viewer like me gets frustrated.
Other than that, Takagami is a fine and intelligent character, he just has no social sense or woman radar whatsoever. But he has tons of good qualities that make him a good character. I would like to have seen him wake up though. His younger brother, supposedly has some sort of power too, but should it not be hinted at or seen at some point? Another carrot dangled before the eyes that never rewards you. Aside from a few flaws like this, this is a great overall anime. I suppose it needs another season or two however to feel complete as it has a few major unanswered or unresolved issues forshadowed through out the series and thats also a bit of a problem. Still the strength of the charming characters and their relations is its strongest appeal. The stories are mostly lighthearted and feel like filler but now and then there are hints of a overall long term story. Ths is also part of the reason the series seems incomplete with just the 24 episodes available. There is never that really big feeling dramatic ending story arc many of us have come to expect from good stories especially anime series which commonly has an overall story to the series as a whole.
One other slight annoyance is her sibling fox who we only see getting a full story near the end and as with the other dangled carrots it is a lead into an unfinished route. Sometimes it felt as though the series lacked a sense of focus and other times as if it had too many side stories interfering with the overall story. Yet it still holds a strong effect given the good characters despite some of the flaws with the anime. It has a charm all its own that you only get to experience by watching it.
If only it were improved in a few small areas and the series had another season with a more complete set of story arcs and so it provided some closure to all the forshadowing it left hanging and the unanswered questions it gave the impression would be answered but did not.
Not much is going on in this anime, the summary has almost all you need to know about the plot. This show is more about different small stories centered around a character or group (Mubyou, Shiro...).
I was pleasently surprised to see myself caring about Shiro and touched by the "ending" (not of the actual anime but of the the plot centered around her).
Much of this show is from Shinto yet, as I know nothing of this religion, I couldn't really get the references. I thought of it more as a tool to cement everything and everyone together and create an "environment" as a whole; it never felt like something important to drive the plot forward.
As for the comedy part, it was nothing to be remembered. I hardly laughed at any moment of the anime. Kou destroying the dishes was probably meant as a running gag but it never felt like a joke to begin with. It doesn't mean you won't laugh, maybe it was just not my kind of humour, to one his own of course but I believe most people won't laugh out loud often with Wagaya no Oinari-sama.
Nothing particular to say about it, it's decent. I increased my rating a bit as I especially liked the character design for non-human ones.
Again something this anime won't be praised about, it's correct but nothing really caught my attention except Mubyou and Kuugen's voice acting, I enjoyed it, especially when they're begging. Rie Kugimiya is better doing Kagura but she did a good job (but too short unfortunately) with Shiro anyway.
The two opening and endings were nice but as for the rest of the soundtrack, it doesn't really bring much to the actual scenes in the anime.
Toru and Noboru are boring as main characters, I thought they were very bland. As for the animation, it's again to the non-human characters you have to turn to to find the best (although Kou isn't bad actually, her clumsiness made her pretty cute at times). Kuugen was really likable with hermischievious personality, Mubyou also had something to make her enjoyable although it's harder to pinpoint what and Shiro was definitively one of the cutest character I know while carrying the best fights in the series.
While I cannot say it's the best anime I've ever watched, it was still enjoyable overall. Unlike those series you just can't wait to be over with, Wagaya no Oinari-sama made me want to come back for more. If a second season were to be aired I would surely watch it, not for its humour but for what is worth as a whole. I would like to see Kuugen, mubyou and Kou again but most of all, I'd love to see Shiro again.