What They Say:
Ryoko Okami, the “wolf,” and her BFF Ringo, also known as Little Red Riding Hood, are members of Otogi Bank – a high school club that helps classmates out of grim situations. One day, a meek young man proclaims his love to Ryoko, who does nothing but bite him in return. “You’re much too weak for me,” she huffs. So the boy joins Otogi Bank to prove he has the stuff to protect his beloved – even if it means taking a blow to the head with a lead pipe. He’s no Prince Charming, but will Ryoko allow herself to have her own happily ever after?
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this series is pretty standard fare for FUNimation in we get a pair of lossless audio tracks using the Dolby TrueHD codec. The Japanese track retains its original stereo mix while the English language adaptation gets bumped up to the 5.1 level. The show is pretty much mostly dialogue driven while there’s also some action to be had which boosts things up nicely without going over the top. The English mix is like a lot of the 5.1 upgrades in that it does boost the forward soundstage well but there’s nothing noticeable when it comes to the rear channels. It has a good feel overall with clear, clean dialogue and some solid placement, but it’s not a mix that screams out on either track for something that’s thoroughly and noticeably engaging.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is split across two discs with eight on the first dual layered disc while four are on the second single layered disc. The series has a very good, clean look here as it uses lots of good colors with plenty of brightness to it and a certain pop that never goes too big or distracting. There’s a solid feel to it throughout with only a few areas of softness that sometimes come across as being scene intentional. Detail is strong throughout and the animation flows well with no noticeable breakup or issues with line noise or cross coloration. Coming into this after the simulcast back in 2010 is obviously a world of difference and the visuals here and the overall quality definitely drew me in a lot more than that version did.
The limited edition release of this set comes with two standard sized Blu-ray cases inside a heavy chipboard box that fits the show well. With a bit of simple framing around it in black with an off white background, the front cover illustration of Okami is fantastic even as it plays up the fanservice side a bit by showing off a lot of leg with how she’s posing. There’s a lot of detail to be had here and it looks great overall as it draws you in, especially with her small smile. The back cover goes for a different pairing which isn’t quite as fanservice filled but it has a lot of detail as it wedges in a few of the other characters in small form throughout it as well, giving it an extra bit of fun and cuteness to it.
The cases inside the box are pretty well done as well with one case set for the DVD discs and the other for the Blu-ray discs. They use the same style as the box itself but without the mild framing not included. Each cover uses a different configuration of the supporting cast of the show to let them have their own time in the sun as well. Using the same illustration style, they all have a good level of detail to them and some very appealing layouts and designs overall. The back covers are kept very simple with each one having a different pairing of characters in near super deformed style against a bland background. The reverse side artwork is really well done and had me swap it out right away as the new front covers. The primary piece uses another piece of character artwork with a cutout circle that has an exterior background surrounded by a bit of an ornate border. The back side of the cover breaks down the episodes by number and title with respect to the format at hand while also adding in some cute little pint sized versions of the cast. No show related inserts are included.
The menu design for the release is fairly straightforward in that it’s a full screen work that uses clips from the show to highlight its prominent points. While it starts slow with a bit of a look at the town as we get in many of the openings, it also draws in a whole lot of action from the series across numerous episodes along with a bit of fanesrvice that’s all played to a kind of soft flute piece of instrumental music where everything cycles back to the logo against a white background. The navigation strip is centered just a bit above the bottom and is kept simple and a bit elegant like you’d expect of Otogi Bank and it definite fits with the gold plated look. Submenus load quickly and everything has a smooth and easy to use feel to it. The only area I really had issue with in a serious way was the episode selection in that it’s all kept far, far too small with the size of the text and the sheer amount of text that’s there due to the lengthy episode names. It’s very, very difficult to read even on larger screens, especially with the thin font used.
The extras for this release are pretty decent with some good things included for dub fans as episodes one and six get commentary tracks by the English production team. In addition to that, there’s a couple promotional videos from before its broadcast in Japan, a small selection of the original TV commercials as well as the clean opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series which spawned a manga adaptation this year by Masashi Okita with illustrations by Unaji, Okami-san (as it’s being called here) is a twelve episode series animated by J.C. Staff. The series takes place in a “far away” town call Otogiban and focuses specifically on Otogi Academy where the central character is that of Ryoko, a naturally flat chested young woman who has an interesting club that she runs there. This club, hidden well below the surface and apparently quite flush with money, deals with problem resolution for people, though not in the normal ways. Under the name of Otogi Bank with a nice young man named Liszt as the club president, it’s an intriguing group that has quite an air about it.
Though Ryoko isn’t exactly ample upstairs, and doesn’t provide the kind of obvious fanservice that people would expect as the narration goes, she’s still got an appeal about her. At least until you realize she has a gruff and surly personality. Enter Ryoshi, a very shy and quiet young man from her class who has quite the crush on her. Ryoko wants nothing to do with him, but he’s persistent and there’s an interesting bit of help that comes his way in the form of Ringo, a pint sized friend of Ryoko’s who has a huge interest in Ryoko’s love life, probably living vicariously through her. She sets up things so that Ryoshi ends up joining the Otogi Bank club in an endearingly cute way that only she can get away with.
The first half of the first episode does a rather good job of showing off the club and introducing the characters in a most basic way outside of the three principle characters of Ryoko, Ryoshi and Ringo. The series then launches into the second half, which is how much of the series itself works, in which they get a requestor in the form that comes into the club and asks for help. The process is amusing in that they explain clearly that they’re basically taking on jobs with the intent to cash in on it in some future time when the strength of the requestor is needed in some way. The first request that they deal with is from a young woman named Kakari’s who explains her interest in Ohji, the local Prince of Tennis (no relation, they assure us), who has suddenly quit the tennis club over what she believes is an injury. So she wants them to stop him from submitting his request to quit, which is actually a complicated process within the sports administration of the school.
The series uses this kind of approach for several episodes in the series as the group deals with what comes into the Bank and they handle them all admirably and without much in the way of real drama or over the top aspects. The stories themselves may be fairly unmemorable overall, but what sticks with you is the characters and their interactions. The supporting cast has some good moments here, especially with the young girl Otohime, but largely it’s all about the primary cast with Ryoshi making his way into the group and doing what he can to win over Ryoko. With Ryoko’s friend Ringo alongside her, they get to play off each other well as Ringo is in favor of what Ryoshi is doing since she knows it’s good for her friend overall. Ryoko’s a fun character as she plays the strong and active type well, but what we see very quickly is that Ryoshi has figured her out in that she acts tough in order to hide the scared part of her inside, the wolf’s clothing over the sheep that she is.
Though the series keeps things light and fun for the most part, there are underlying aspects to it with a darker edge. The one that coalesces around the final episodes involves another school in the area, Onigashima, which is viewed as a delinquent school of sorts that’s looking to make inroads in Otogi and works a few different angles to achieve it over its run. The other and more interesting story involves watching how Ryoshi reveals new layers about himself as it goes on and as he in turn exposes more of Ryoko to us. Ryoshi’s shyness is something that comes across poorly at first, but as we see the reasons why and the real skill and ability below the surface that he has, he becomes a much more fun character to watch, especially as he states things clearly most of the time with how he views others and situations they’re in.
Comparing the series to how it was when I first watched it, I definitely came away with a better appreciation for it here. The narrator was something that annoyed me the first time around since it was a whole lot of additional dialogue at times in a small streaming window of low quality. Here, where it has some room to breathe in the Japanese with subtitles, it’s a much more engaging and enjoyable element to it. There’s a good lightness to the show that keeps it free and flowing in a way that makes it smooth to go from episode to episode, even as there isn’t that much of an overall arc, and because of its nature and the way it can mock itself a little, things like the beauty contest episode don’t feel quite as bad as it might otherwise.
After the simulcast run back in 2010, I found myself not exactly looking forward to revisiting Okami-san since the weekly grind for it was just that, a bit of a grind. It had its moments but it didn’t capture me. Taking it in again but in marathon form really changed the perception of it overall, giving it a stronger narrative and a much more enjoyable group of characters that I didn’t connect or enjoy as much the first time around. With good looking visuals here in the high definition presentation, some good extras and a solid limited edition packaging, Okami-san and Her Seven Companions is a good, fun show that doesn’t take itself too seriously but knows when to try and change things up a little more so that it isn’t entirely predictable.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary for Episodes 1 & 6, Tokyo International Anime Fair Promotional Video, Promotional Video, Japanese TV Commercials, U.S. Trailer, Textless Opening Song, Textless Closing Song
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: April 3rd, 2012
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 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.