The ladies all get to dress up a bit when their latest spirit happens to enjoy a good formal party.
What They Say:
Soldiers are allegedly being targeted by a spirit at parties and balls for government officials. Apparently, they're lured away by a woman who suddenly transforms into a giant spider. The Spirit Affairs team is in charge of security for tonight's military gala, per Lt. Hanadate Takatoshi's request. Zakuro and the others must dress in western clothing to disguise themselves as ordinary guests...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the things that most shows get to do at some point is to allow the characters to dress up a bit compared to how they usually are. Whether it's a costume party or just something formal, if not a holiday, they get to step out of their regular clothes. With Otome Yokai Zakuro, they get a bit creative with it as the group is assigned to a mission involving a spirit that's causing trouble at parties where young women are being taken advantage of and spirited away. For the ladies of the Ministry of Spirit Affairs, they get to go to quite the little Western shindig in all their European finery when it comes to their clothes. Hair done up, a nice layer of elegance about it all and the men in their dress uniforms gives us all the hallmarks of a proper outfit bit of fanservice.
When it comes to the bonds that tie the characters together, there's a nice scene that starts off not so nicely as Zakuro is accosted by a couple of senior military officers who end up hazing her, a policy which is strictly not allowed. It's an interesting moment as she has to play nice since they are part of the same overall organization, but she doesn't want to be taken advantage of. It's a strange sight to see her worried and not quite scared. When Kei steps in to rescue her from it in a civil way, so as to not embarrass anyone too awful much, her reaction is very surprising to both the viewer and Kei as it's a moment of her not being as strong as she almost always presents herself as. It's another moment in the softening of the feelings between the two with their issues, one that's definitely adding to a growing number of them.
The actual spirit aspect of the story only really comes into play towards the end, which is unfortunate since it could be quite the creepy one if it's used a bit more than it is. The spidery elements give it a creepy feel and definitely fits in with the nature of the responsible spirits acts and social stylings. What is appreciated is that it does shift some of the burden outside of Zakuro and Kei and onto others to deal with. While we've had some group efforts on it before, going this route helps to bolster things a bit with Ganryu taking a bit of the lead, as best as he can, while the twins provide the additional support. The visuals for it sell it quite well when it gets rolling and really does a nice job of bring it all together in a fairly non-traditional way.
Otome Yokai Zakuro gets to play dress up and it works out pretty well here as everyone looks nice and plays well in the upper segments of society when needed. The positives do come in the form of quiet moments, the growing bonds between Zakuro and Kei as well as a welcome shift to others to try and handle the bulk of the issue. It's definitely a plus to not see everything resting on Zakuro's hands this time but it was also really nice to see her a bit more uncertain at times and not quite so strong, even as powerful as she is. This series is still finding itself but it's doing it in a way that doesn't harm itself at the same time. This episode was a good bit of fun overall with some really nice designs and a good use of a standard story idea.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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.