Otome Yokai Zakuro Episode #02 (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, October 11, 2010
Release Date: Monday, October 11, 2010

The Ministry is now in order though those within it aren't exactly keen on working with each other still. Why can't humans, half spirits and full spirits just get along?

What They Say
The Ministry of Spirit Affairs is up and running as human, half-spirit, and spirit begin an awkward life together. Zakuro is growing annoyed with the intrusion of Jesuit customs and the spirit-phobic soldier, Agemaki Kei, into her life. That is when they are tasked with conducting an inquiry into a spirit that's terrorizing the construction site of a western-style place of lodging known as a hotel. So Zakuro's motley crew of seven make their way to the hotel...

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The integration of the Ministry of Spirit Affairs is certainly a key selling point in this show, more than anything else, as it brings together three different types of beings. Each of them have their prejudices and that brings in a fair bit of tension along the way, innocent as some of it may be by those who hold them. One of the reasons I fell out of favor with the Star Trek: Voyager show so early on was that it brought together two groups of people that lost all their tension after an episode or two. Otome Yokai Zakuro has to cope with that problem as well as you don't want to lose the tension, but you want to bring the humans, the half breeds and the full on spirits together in a way that feels natural but not rushed or forced.

A lot of the initial tension in the show at this point is between Zakuro and Kei, since he's so frightened to be there at times and has so many awkward questions that he continues to ask. When the myth about fox spirits eating candles get asked and Zakuro flips out at him. Of course, the full on fox spirit eases his concerns about it by stating it's not true, but it's just another seeded moment of tension between the two. So when everyone gets sent off to their first job working together publicly, investigating a spirit at a construction site that's causing trouble, Zakuro wants little to do with him and Kei is too off balance to handle it well since even a glance of malice from her causes him to flinch and fall.

The style of the show is still one of its stronger points right now and it's interesting that when they do battle with the spirit, a lot of it is done up in the form of a singing chant with Zakuro as the focus. It's actually quite enchanting watching the women sing it into submission essentially and then taking proper care of it. This kind of fighting style definitely gives it an edge to separate it from other shows. The animation itself is still working that balance between the standard cute stuff and the more detailed real world approach to good effect. The world has a strong design feel to it and the human characters tend to be rather well done while the spirits have a slightly otherworldly effect to them for those in human form while the others are definitely more cartoonish, which works to give each of the three types their own visual identity.

In Summary:
At this stage of the show, the main selling point is the way the series is going to handle the racial prejudices that are coming into play. The overall idea is familiar with the different types working together, more often than not done as a comedy or hentai, but this one is playing it in a more realistic way rather than everyone going along happily. The tensions are interesting watch play out, both within the group where it's still rather high but also with those on the outside where it's even more pronounced and blunt. When people who hate spirits are saved by spirits, even then it doesn't change their opinion and I'd rather see that shown than an instant convert simply because their life was saved. Otome Yokai Zakuro has some good potential, but a lot will depend on how well they can keep the tensions there while easing them within the group.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Crunchyroll
Running time: 24
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Otome Yokai ZAKURO