What They Say:
The Takagami brothers are protected by a mischievous, supernatural fox named Kugen. Together with absent-minded shrine maiden Ko, their adventures are full of action and comedy in this mysterious story. Extraordinary things happen in their ordinary lives.
The monolingual presentation for this release is pretty good with a standard stereo mix encoded at 224kbps. The show is more dialogue than anything else but when it dips into the realm of action it holds up pretty well. The dialogue doesn’t stretch the mix much since it’s all fairly relaxed most of the time and it’s rare more than one person speaks at a time or is off the center part of the stage when doing so. It’s not a huge standout show with the action but it has a good sense of self when it gets rolling which allows it to have some impact to it. The mix doesn’t overwhelm but it serves the material well and the Japanese language track here is pretty much spot on throughout.
Originally airing in the spring of 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The two disc set contains the first twelve episodes spread out in a six/six format. The show has a good bit rate to it and a very good look overall with a lot of bright, clean colors that stand out well. There’s a lot of detail to the show in the backgrounds and the animation has a lot going for it throughout. It’s not a show that’s very flashy, but it has some strong moments in the action scenes when they arrive. There’s little in the way of noise overall and it’s free of cross coloration while only having a touch of aliasing during some panning sequences. Overall the look of the transfer is very good here and it represents the source material well.
This series is just like everything else from NIS America in that it gets a really great presentation for its packaging. The oversized box is done in portrait mode with a really well done illustration that has Ku, Ko and Daigoro on one side with the two women in their shrine maiden outfits. The back side goes with a larger cast shot that brings in most of the main cast and some of the others that make strong appearances using the same designs as the other side which really works well. Within the box we get the two clear thinpak cases where the first volume pairs up Ko and Ku together in the maiden outfits with a simple soft background with light flowers on it. The framing is nice in that it gives it an older feeling that ties in well with the theme of the show. The second volume pairs up Mubyo with her puppets along with Ku that looks rather adorable. The back covers are laid out the same with the background wrapping around of the checkered look while having an image associated with every episode number and title listed. The discs features are clearly listed with bonus features for the second disc laid out very cleanly. The technical grids are well laid out with everything clear and and accurate. The reverse sides are done with either yellow and white checkered or pink and white checkered patterns. .
Like previous NIS America releases, the real big bonus item here is the hardcover book that’s included. The book is presented as a Takagami family album and it’s filled with lots and lots of great pictures and a mixture of promotional artwork as well that’s labeled as such. There’s the inclusion of some character profiles as well that’s done with a bit of text and images of various characters that’s fairly standard. We also get a brief look at some technical terms from the series by episode and the full production credits breakdown. But it’s the great looking gallery that really shines here and shows off the characters very, very well.
The extras are all on the second volume as we get a few commercials from before the show started and after and in general as well. In addition to that, we get a set of four short clips that highlight parts and characters of the series to help flesh things out just a touch. Add in the clean opening and closing and you have a decent selection of basic extras.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based off of the light novels which spawned a manga that’s still ongoing as well from the same author, Jin Shibamura, Our Home’s Fox Deity is a twenty-four episode series adapted by studio Zexcs. Because of its light novel origins, the show has a different feel from the ones adapted from manga since the chapter by chapter approach makes it easier and somewhat more predictable. The light novel model tends to play things out a bit differently with the story unfolding in a more natural and less structured way, giving it more spontaneity in a sense. With this kind of style used and a very mellow approach to the music overall, it’s a series that has a lot going for it.
Taking place in the present day, the series revolves around two young men of the Mizuchi family, Noboru aged sixteen and Toru aged eleven. They’re called out to the country by their grandmother who is an elder priestess at the temple there because Toru is in danger from unsavory spiritual elements that want to cause him harm because the two brothers are now very important. Noboru has become the head of the family, not that he knew about that, and Toru is considered a key target by those that want to get back at the family for any number of reasons not clearly detailed here in the first half of the series. Because of this targeting, their grandmother has Noboru unseal the fox deity that’s been trapped in the cave for quite some time in order to have it watch over Toru.
Though bound to watch over Toru, the fox deity named Kugen agrees to it all and essentially moves in with the brothers and their father in order to be close. The boys mother was a priestess that Kugen was very familiar with when she was back at the temple and it adds an interesting angle to it as the women of that particular line only live until the age of thirty at best. Because of this, Toru never knew his mother and has issues because of that, which becomes an area that Kugen tries to help out with. What’s neat about Kugen is that because of his age, he has a very different outlook on life and takes advantage of both sides of it by becoming either a man or a woman depending on the situation. He becomes motherly with Toru over things but also gets very womanly when there’s a buffet involved or pools since he loves the whole idea. With the world changing so much, Ku looks forward to experiencing much of it.
With Ku serving as a protector, there are definitely things he has to protect him from. The modern day use of gods and deities in this setting is nicely executed as Ku has to deal with introducing himself to the local deity, Ebisu. Ebisu in particular is very amusing since he’s a god of business who has a convenience store in order to increase his funds a bit. Ebisu has some neat layers to him as he manipulates things but also because others are trying to manipulate others as well as gods and spirits from other lands become involved for reasons that aren’t altogether clear at times. All of it plays out rather slowly and at its own pacing as Toru is continually targeted, but it changes up regularly enough that you want to see what’s coming next rather than getting bored with a targeting of the week kind of approach which this doesn’t feel like it has.
Our Home’s Fox Deity does play up one story path that is definitely predictable and you can see how it’s going to shape things. While Ku will do most anything that Toru asks, when it comes to dealing with the big things, Toru is very forgiving as is appropriate for a child of that age. Ku isn’t exactly surprised by it once he gets to know Toru a little but it also stems from what he knew of Toru’s mother. Having a lot of things determined by Toru makes sense with the whimsical nature of Ku and the way he views the world. Noboru has a bit of influence as well and when they bring it all back together with the boys mother and Ku’s affection for her when she was younger, there’s a lot to like with it.
The visual design for the show is rather straightforward but Zexcs has done a really nice job here in making it feel like a lived in world. The details in the shops and homes allows us to feel like they’re a living part of the show just as much as the more natural scenes in parks and the mountains for example. The characters really stand out well here as nobody really looks like someone else outside of the two brothers and the father having a lot of similar traits for obvious reasons. Ku is an interesting case in that he shifts between three forms, male, female and fox, and all of them share a lot of similar traits but also stand on their own. Having Ku doing this based on the situation has it changing a lot, but there’s a whole lot of charm to the way Ku acts and is animated when he’s in his fox form.
Our Home’s Fox Deity is a rare series that completely and utterly charmed me when I felt like it shouldn’t. The series uses a very familiar story idea and executes it so well and with such a sure hand that you have to admire it. With a strong visual quality to it from the animation studio and a sense of really understanding the characters, they hit all the right notes. And they do it without coming across as a monster of the week kind of approach as well. The various layers that are peeled back when it comes to the spirits, the deities and the relations among them and how they interact builds slowly but surely. And that approach really works well in making this feel like a very cemented show in that it knows what it wants to do and is hitting all the right marks. It may not stand out in a big way, but it’s the kind of quality quiet show that can charm you completely and make you a fan for a long, long time.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: NIS America
Release Date: November 16th, 2010
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.