Utafurrirumono, 01-02

April 20, 2006 at 7:23 am (Anime)

Apparently Utawarerumono is based on some furry eroge. If I’d known this before I watched it, I might not have watched it. It’s not that I have anything against furry eroge or whatever, it’s just that the three prior experiences I’ve had with anime based on eroge were all very short-lived due to immense boredom. Air I think I sat through 1.5 episodes of before turning it off. Canvas 2 would have been less, except it turned up as a random sampler at CWRU AnSoc. FSN I think I made it through maybe five minutes before stopping it in disgust. Sooooo boring. But this piece of shit is going to be the second instance of a show destroying a useful metric I’ve had for dismissing anime without watching them (Mai Hime destroyed the No-tv-anime-scored-by-Kajiura-Yuki-just-get-the-OST-instead rule).


It’s hard to express in words and screencaps what I like about this show, not because I’m confused about it, but because it is very aural in nature. The scoring and sound in the show, including the voicework, give it a very mellow feel. Well, there are lots of ways mellow can manifest. Air was mellow. It was also boring though. The pacing in Utawarerumono is not breath-seizingly slow, nor was the first episode spent introducing a harem.

The main characters live in a secluded valley. Japanese nature imagery seems to be focused somewhat on small or enclosed spaces. I suppose Japan doesn’t really have “wide-open spaces” like we think of in the U.S. In June I’m going back to Virginia for a month, and I plan to spend at least one if not several (non-consecutive, I don’t camp so much) days tucked away in the Blue Ridge mountains. If I get up early enough on the right day of the week (Sunday, in the bible belt) then I can have a mountain to myself for a few hours. These aren’t the immense but barren monuments of the Rockies, they’re heavily wooded and have a feeling of quiet but comfortable seclusion. I like it up there. So I guess it’s unsurprising that I have some sympathy for Shinto aesthetics and depictions of secluded mountain villages, rivers, glades, and so forth. Utwarereumono is tapping that sympathy for me. It’s sort of like they strung together a bunch of haiku around a story that feels like a Japanese folktale, added some blushing dog-girls, and called it a show.

This show is channeling a lot of Mononoke-Hime, so if you liked that you might want to give it a shot. There are a couple of different things going on, but they all seem to be focused on the man vs. nature conflict. In this shot, Eroruu’s childhood friend has shown up to announce more taxes for the dirty commoners. Hakuoro tries to tell him about the exploitation of the working class, and the childhood friend naturally responds with violent oppression. Unfortunately for him, Hakuoro is three times faster:

Red Comet jokes aside, this unremovable mask gives me some kind of Freudgasm. Some sick part of me wants to write a long piece on its potential symbolism, but honestly it’s probably just there as a combination plot-convenience-device and hey-wouldn’t-this-look-cool thing.

From the little I understand of Shinto, it doesn’t have a huge moral agenda. The kami don’t necessarily require reverance, though some might desire it, they simply exist. Putting off their problems with their capitalist overlords until later, in the second episode the characters decide that, even though they may be cursed for it, they can’t sit by while their babies get pwnd, and that they need to kill this spirit-tiger-thing. Of course, it’s skin can’t be pierced with any blade, but fortunately the tiger-thing is not a member of the host club and it loses its invulnerability while wet. Ugh. Wet fur smells.

With a feeling of melancholy victory, the villagemen return and find out the loli dog girl has given birth to a new spirit-tiger-thing. They decide they can’t kill the cute kitty even if it grows up to murder them all. This is an old story template, but it’s also one I sort of like.

Alright since I know this is based on an eroge, I’m a little perturbed by the potential inevitablity that this is going to turn into a furry-incest-lolipalooza. The tail scene made me snicker though.

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