Strange things are afoot in Joga City and this new arrival child will solve it all. By pure luck.
What They Say:
From the moment Hiroshi and his family arrive in Jouga, he senses something odd about the isolated village. It’s not that the people are cold and aloof; except for his beautiful class president, Nemuru, most welcome him quite warmly. But some also simply disappear.
Students transfer out of his school without any notice, and Hiroshi’s next door neighbor Isuzu, who seems quite infatuated with him, warns him to stay away from the old part of town. The upcoming Haasaku Festival, which celebrates the town’s unique oranges, seems to be generating an unusual level of concern, and groups of masked people roam the streets by night, hunting… something.
Could the legends of man-sized wolves roaming the mountains surrounding Jouga be real? Who is the girl with the scythe? What is the real purpose of the festival? And how does this all revolve around something called a Temptation? Hiroshi and his new circle of friends have little time to solve these riddles before the answers will become far more dangerous and personal than he could ever imagine!
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this series is done with just the original Japanese language in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The show is one that has a bit more action to it and that helps to utilize the forward soundstage well at the times that it does, but it’s never something that really stands out in a strong or engaging way. It covers the bases well and serves the material right, but you won’t mistake it for a big production. Dialogue is still the name of the game here and that mix is very standard with an almost full feeling to it where placement is minimal at best and there’s little in the way of depth to it. But while it feels a bit weak, it does get the job done without any bells and whistles and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series runs for twelve episodes and is spread evenly across two discs with six episodes each. Animated by AIC, the series has a very simple look to it with by the numbers kinds of backgrounds with mild amounts of detail. The show has a feeling like it didn’t have a good budget to it and went with a particular approach, but it’s generally a clean looking transfer without much in the way of problems outside of some noise. Some of it is intentional when the show gets dark and furious for story reasons, but some of the other darker areas and the reds don’t hold up all that well at times. Detail is decent for what there is of it and colors avoid over saturation and line noise, but the look of the show isn’t one that will draw a lot of attention.
One of the best aspects of this release is the packaging for it as we get a great piece of artwork for the front cover. Moody and very appealing with its color design and the way it teases some smile while having a strong bit of darkness to it, it plays up the mask side well and the innocent nature of the kids. I love the look of it overall even with the heavy moon imagery in the background. The back carries over the moon motif which is where it wants to keep all of the text, which makes the premise very easy to read and accessible. The premise covers everything well and it’s balanced out nicely with a look at the extras and the episode count. We get some good shots from the show of different sizes that highlights more of the characters while the remainder is fleshed out with the production credits and the technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design mirrors the front cover artwork in some good ways here as it uses the large moon imagery and lots of dark reds and black backgrounds to give it the appropriate feel. The left side features the artwork, the first volume showing us Isuzu in her usual school outfit which is a nice contrast to things, while the second disc goes in a different and lighter direction with Hiroshi’s sister sitting with some of her stuffed animals. The right side has the standard episode list breakdown by number and title along with a submenu for special features where appropriate. The show being monolingual makes things easier and you can turn subtitles off on the fly during playback even though there’s no language setup menu.
The only extras on this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the PlayStation Portable game of the same name that came out in 2009, Okamikaksuhi is a twelve episode series animated by AIC with the man behind When They Cry involved in the overall creation of the game. Not looking at the credits for this until after I had finished watching it, much of the series felt like a poor mans When They Cry as I watched it, though it’s easy to understand why they thought they’d have something more here considering the talent. With Ryukishi07 behind the game design which influenced the series, it also featured the character designs from Peach-Pit, which always draw in fans because of their cute looks while knowing there’s more underneath. While Okamikakushi has a lot of good ideas in general to it, they unfortunately suffer from poor execution and way too much familiarity. Enough so that you wonder if Ryukishi07 can do anything but this.
The series introduces us to the Kuzumi family as we see fifteen year old Hiroshi, his wheelchair bound twelve years old sister Mana, and their father move to Joga City, a rather secluded mountain/country place where the dynamic between old and new couldn’t be more profound. The appropriately labeled New City is full of people, shops, modern buildings and a sense of life to it, which is in stark contrast to Old City, where it feels like it stepped out of another century, feels run down and pretty much like a ghost town. As Hiroshi gets introduced more to the way of Joga, he’s warned away from spending time there because of the way the few residents are and the simple fact that there’s nothing there worth going to see or spending time on. There’s certainly no cute girls there to be sure, something that New City has in abundance.
What Joga City has going for it, that’s not quite as well known outside of it as some may think, is the whole Joga Wolf jingle and mascot which helps promote the rare fruit that grows there. A fruit that factors into the creepy nature of the town as it goes forward. But for much of the show early on through the first half, we’re getting to know the various high school students that inhabit the place, which is pretty unusual and made only more so because of the character designs where they’re so tiny, fragile and innocent looking. But hide more dangerous things under the surface, of course. Hiroshi is pretty much attacked hard by Isuzu, a very cute girl who finds herself hugely attracted to him and plays it almost like a grade school girl with how she is with him. But part of it is that she’s being protective of him from the things that exist in the town.
While we get a lot of school stuff with the various characters that are introduced, such as Nemuru and Isuzu’s older brother who gets positively creepy at times, it’s all done with this layer of leaving you wondering what the gimmick is. We get a lot of nods to the Joga Wolf and what it represents and there are moments where we get tales, hints and minor visual cues about the things that exist in the town that are human yet not human, such as when one student is attacked and is killed for the viewer to see, but everyone the next day at school just knows that he moved away in the middle of the night and accepts it since they know the deeper truth. That deeper truth, involving the way there’s a separate strain of humanity of sorts here that can be viewed as cursed, is stuck in a patient, quiet and long term battle with those that guard against it spilling out into the rest of the world. But it’s all so obliquely defined at times that it’s very hard to get into it and it’s done in such a roundabout way that you can’t embrace it strongly enough.
The series brings in another plot point along the way as well to complicate things and to try and bring it to something bigger as it progresses. Using the adult character of Sakaki, someone who knows there’s more to this town and is intent on gaining its secrets for biomedical use, works to win over some of the elders and acquire the data he needs for his own goals. It’s so by the numbers that it really is boring and while it does advance the big ending aspect of the show, it’s just dull in that regard and practically feels shoehorned in. When the show does get to its end of the main story, it’s all rather anticlimactic and just left me feeling empty about the whole experience. And then it decided to do an epilogue episode, which does cover some things a touch with what happened, but mostly just seems to be fluff. Which is fun for some series, but here the characters are so one dimensional that it was almost painful to watch at that point.
Okamikakushi has all the right pedigree parts behind it with its game origins that was designed by Ryukishi07, character designs by Peach-Pit and animation by AIC here. But the show suffers from some terrible execution and pacing with what it wants to do, leaving it feeling far too dragged out and without enough progress or engaging characters to make it interesting or engaging. It tries to be moody and you can see plenty of similarities to When The Cry – even when they talked about flooding the village – that it’s easy to write off as a copycat that just doesn’t succeed. And it doesn’t throughout. It’s a premise that I like overall, but it’s by the numbers and without anything that sets it apart to give it a life of its own. Okamikakushi has plenty of potential, but it just had the wrong team behind it from pretty much the get go.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 28th, 2013
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 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.