Anime Review: Ookami-san Episodes 10, 11, and 12 (final)

(Originally published on Livejournal on 10/28/10)

Anime Review:
Ookami-san Episodes 10, 11, and 12 (finale)

About The Series: Ookami Ryouko is the member of the ‘Otogi Bank’, an organization at the Otogi Academy that helps other students with special favors or requests in exchange for requesting favors from them. Along with her best-friend Ringo (always dressed like Little Red Riding Hood), she is joined by Ryoushi (who has a paralyzing fear of being looked at and a professed crush on Ookami) and the rest of her friends in the Otogi Bank. Together, they try to solve the problems of their classmates, always seeming to get into trouble themselves along the way.

ep.10 tl;dr review: Otogi Bank comes under slander attack; Members are separated then kidnapped and attacked.

Episode 10 Synopsis: A smear campaign has developed against the Otogi Bank, and in response they rally with a special sale to fill up their ‘bank’ with favors for the expected battle to come. Ryouko and Ringo comes across the buxom-blonde Reiko (Shirou Hitsujikai’s right-hand girl), and take her in after she claims she has been beaten and abused — but Ringo is suspicious. Meanwhile, Ryoushi meets with Puss-in-Boots Nekomiya, who offers to train him in hand-to-hand combat. With all the members of the Otogi Bank scattered at different tasks, Hitsujikai puts his plan into action, kidnapping half the group’s members while Reiko subdues Ryouko before the rest of the group is able to figure out what is happening.

ep.11 tl;dr review: Frontal assault on the Onigashima High School; Final Boss fight is anti-climactic.

Episode 11 Synopsis: With the Otogi Bank scattered and under attack, they mount a recovery mission and rally the troops. However, Ryouko remains bound and kidnapped under the watchful eye of her arch-nemesis, Shirou Hitsujikai. With the help of some of the Otogi Academy students, including Momoko and her underlings plus the Three-Little-Pigs Brothers, they launch an assault against the Onigashima campus. Ultimately Ryoushi confronts Hitsujikai, where he is beaten to a pulp before he remembers the lessons he learned from Nekomiya, and manages a solid blow. Hitsujikai is vanquished, Ryouko is rescued and everyone lives happily ever after.

ep.12 tl;dr review: Little Match Girl’s advances forces Ryouko to confront her true feelings for Ryoushi; And they lived happily ever after, The End.

Episode 12 Synopsis: The critically-poor Himura believes her classmate Ryoushi is rich, and hatches a plan to marry him. Announcing her intentions point-blank, Himura then asks the Otogi Bank a favor of going on a date with Ryoushi. The reluctant Ryoushi meets up with the extremely-forward Himura, while a jealous Ryouko (although she denies it) and devious Ringo spy on them from afar. When Himura is attacked by loan sharks and forced to reveal the real reason for her actions, Ryoushi gets angry — but at the situation, not at her. Calling in favors, he arranges for Himura to escape her crushing debt; meanwhile Himura’s attention towards Ryoushi forces Ryouko to finally confront and accept her true feelings towards Ryoushi.

My Thoughts: In the final three episodes, there’s not much time left for the build-up to the grand finale — and they shove all the build-up into just one episode as the Otogi Bank is divided and then attacked. And then another episode for the climax itself…and that’s it. A bit rushed, you might think? Yup, I thought so as well — it almost seems like the producers suddenly went “Oh shit, there’s only three episodes left? We better slap together something quick!”

As for the climax itself, it’s was pretty weak sauce. We essentially had a repeat of the earlier attack on the Onigashima Academy from a few episodes back, where everyone attacks starting at the front gate, with fewer and fewer people left as they advance through the school, until only Ryoushi is left. The “Final Boss” is, unsurprisingly, Hitsujikai, and it all boils down to an old-fashioned fist-fight that ends with Ryoushi finally landing a *single* blow after being beaten silly. And…that’s it. Nothing is really resolved, Hitsujikai is not truly defeated, it’s more like “Until we meet again”. *Very* unsatisfying.

But wait, after the climax there’s still an entire episode left, which has nothing to do with the previous two episodes at all! It feels more like a tacked-on addendum, really. The good news, though, is that the final episode actually is fairly decent and addresses the *true* main story theme that underlies the entire series: the solidification of the relationship between Ryouko and Ryoushi. It took the catalyst of Himura for Ryouko to really step forward and *extremely reluctantly* confess her true feelings, not only to Ryoushi but more importantly to herself. It was a nice end-cap that does provide a conclusion of sorts for the series.

A few quick points:

– Even though the series focused on Ryouko and Ryoushi, Ringo almost manages to steal the show as the character with the most ‘character’. She’s my favorite, you always know something is up behind that devilish smirk.
– The rather sudden (and IMHO unnecessary) inclusion of the Puss-in-Boots dude sure seems forced. Was there really any point to that, other than to speed along Ryoushi’s self-development faster?
– So many things left unaddressed and unanswered. They shouldn’t have unraveled so many loose ends if they planned on leaving them unraveled.

The Verdict: – Underwhelmed.

SERIES FINAL GRADE: C+ – Alas, the show did not meet up with the high expectations set out at the beginning. Not by a long shot. I could sense the potential, but the story was scattered all over the place — by the end of the show it seems they had to rush to wrap things up. Strip away everything, and the series was primarily about Ryouko and Ryoushi developing and understanding their relationship to each other. Instead, we were treated to various tangential side-stories with secondary characters. Furthermore, the conclusion was open-ended and unsatisfying; but that may be entirely on purpose as they leave things open for a second season.

One other main point: The omnipresent narrator with the annoying voice that talks over the characters with pithy observations that were totally unnecessary needs to die in a fire. Take away all that narration, and I could bump up the final grade to a B- or a solid B. If they bring over the series on DVD to the United States, the producers would be smart to include an alternate audio track that omits the narration completely. For the love of god, PLEASE.

Hindsight is 20-20, and looking back I probably would not recommend the show in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible. Just…unimpressive. And with so many other shows that are more worthwhile to watch, my time could have been better spent.

Up Next for Spring and Summer 2010 shows: Highschool of the Dead (10-12), The Occult Academy (10-12), Shiki (10-12), Legend of Legendary Heroes (10-12), Shukufuku no Campanella (3), Kuttsukiboshi (1), MonHun Diary: Felyne Village in Danger (1-3), Armored Trooper Votoms: Phantom Arc (1), Hen Zemi (1), ToHeart adNext (1)

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