Flowers! Pink! Blood!
Well, if there’s one show that has surprised me thus far this season, it is Otome Youkai Zakuro. As I queued up the episode, I was all set for some fairly standard shoujo proceedings, with little else. So it came as a surprise to me to find the screen splattered with blood a scant two minutes or so in.
OYZ was both much better animated than I was anticipating, and much funnier than I was anticipating. It also had much more blood. Sure, the description indicates that there will be some youkai fighting going on, but the aesthetic feel of the promo art gave absolutely no reason for thinking that this would be of the sword-slashing, blood-gushing variety. Not only did we have some blood flying, but the animation itself for the brief fight scenes was well-done. The first scene had some interesting choreography and art direction as well.
Like I said, I was also surprised at the level of humor in the first episode. While I did smirk a few times at Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt (which is allegedly a comedy), I outright guffawed at points in OYZ’s inaugural episode, and found myself snickering several times throughout. Agemaki’s fear of the youkai was just flat-out funny, particularly when he admitted that he wouldn’t stand up and run away from Raiju because he couldn’t move.
Other things that surprised me in the episode: the twin-tailed twins are actually female! They are shown naked in the OP, and they very clearly have boobs. This came as a shock to me, as I’d expected that they were actually male given Lily Hoshino’s track record on such things. So those of you tuning in out of a feeble hope for some BL… well, your hopes are going to be dashed. Sorry!
Anyway, it is undeniable that what we have here will be a lot of romance going forward. I was peeved when Zakuro got all blushy and swoony over Agemaki, but thankfully this didn’t last long since she realized that he’s a scaredy-cat. I prefer this approach to the romance, personally! The romantically shy routine is just so frustrating! The twins also manage to subvert the usual ‘man leads the way’ approach with shoujo romance while simultaneously not going the ‘sexual harassment means I love you and that all the guys should be jealous of that’/Kanokon route, either. Uh, not that I’m expecting any legit romance for that threesome; its just funny. Now, if only Zakuro can stay all spunky and shit and not just go mushy over Agemaki. The manga volumes’ covers are encouraging on this point! Zakuro might have the guy half wrapped around her by the fourth volume, but she’s still brandishing a sword! I am now crossing my fingers and not believing at all that things could ever turn out so well.
However, at the moment, things do look fairly good. Yeah, we’ve got a stereotypical shy girl, but it looks like she’s getting paired with the quiet guy, so its ok and may actually even be a bit sweet. The fight scenes are solid (I’m enjoying the singing paired with it immensely), the humor is solid, and the visuals are quite good. Definitely worth checking out.