What They Say:
Yuuto Amakawa’s life goes from ordinary to pawsitively arousing when beautiful demons start showing up! So what’s the problem with cat demon Himari Noihara hanging around and on him all the while calling him master? Just the small fact that Yuuto is completely allergic to her!
Unfortunately, he’ll have to suffer in silence, as Himari is dead set on sticking by his side in order to protect him from the Ayakashi demons hell-bent on seeking revenge against demon slayers. And it’s just Yuuto’s luck that he is the only remaining descendant of the Amakawa family, one of twelve demon slayer families who fought and killed Ayakashi for hundreds of years. Yuuto would prefer to keep the peace, but he may not have a choice to stay out of this long-running war.
Between the cat girl, sensual water deities, and boisterous demons galore, Yuuto will have to do all he can to stay abreast of everything happening around him. More importantly, he’ll have to find the power that dwells deep inside him. That is, if he can survive the jealous beauties that are vying for his attention!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The show has its moments of action to be sure and it’s well handled, though it has a kind of basic approach to it where it’s not quite so specific with placement. The show wants to go for bigger moments but can’t quite pull them off, so it feels full without the same kind of impact it should have. The dialogue side is a touch better, but again it’s not exactly a driving force for what they’re trying to do with it. The show does come across well with this format overall because it’s not doing anything big and in the end it’s solid where it counts in being clean and clear with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with seven on the first and five on the second. Animated by Zecxs, the series is one that has a kind of basic and simple approach to its animation in general, though more so with some of the character design aspects. This leaves us with a show that feels a bit low end in some ways but takes the time to really animate things when it comes to the fanservice, and that’s still the main draw to it so it works. The encoding handles things well, though there are source issues that are highlighted. We get some line noise in some of the busier pieces from time to time, often during the panning sequences, and there are some backgrounds of green that show more noise than it should. In general, it’s a decent looking show but not one that will have you raving about it in standard definition..
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized clear DVD case that comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork itself, just with brighter colors thanks to the cardstock. The front cover image goes for the sultry side as an easy picking with Himari in her school uniform, cat ears exposed, looking all adorable and sexy at the same time. It’s like they know their target market… The use of the pink stripe along the top works nicely with the yellow and deeper pink logo and I like the white background with all the soft pink paw prints. With the back cover, we get some nice shots from the show along the right and they’re of a good size so you can figure out what the animation itself looks like. The premise is well covered in the summary as is the episode and disc count along with the extras. It’s got an adorable feeling to it with the hearts and such so it works nicely. The case itself has some artwork on the reverse side that might make some cringe as it has two more shots of Himari in minimal attire. The left side has her in bra and panties and stockings with the episodes by number and title along the left while the right side has her curled up into herself as she’s mostly naked and, apparently, touching herself as well.
The menu design for this release reuses the packaging design for the most part as the overall striping pattern with the pinks and all the paw prints, which is certainly cute. The right is where all the action is as we get a good image of Himari in action and wearing more than one might expect for a fanservice kind of show. Along the left side we get the minimal but expected navigation. It’s still surprising that they offer the option to turn the subtitles off but I’m just too used to it being locked on Blu-ray releases these days. It’s not a standout design but it ties well with the packaging and it’s functional and problem free.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the manga by Matra Milan, which began running in Monthly Dragon Age since February of 2007 and has had thirteen volumes released in Japan between two magazine imprints, Omamari Himari is a twelve episode series that seeks to bring what appears to be a fairly pedestrian manga to life. The manga has been released in full in the US by publisher Yen Press and this series was animated by the studio Zexcs, which has been involved in a variety of different styles of shows and definitely ones of this nature.
The premise of Omamari Himari is rather straightforward. We’re introduced to a modern day setting in which the central focus is on a young man named Yuto Amakawa. Yuto isn’t aware of it but he comes from a very long family line that’s of great importance as one of the name houses of the country that deals in controlling and eliminating the Ayakashi population, or the spirits that inhabit the world. His parents died earlier, on his birthday no less, so now that his birthday has come around again he’s a bit depressed. His best female friend in school and in life is a cute young woman named Rinko who obviously cherishes him a lot as she does all the things you’d expect for a young man living on his own after such tragic experiences.
So what can make this life more difficult? As it turns out, Yuto has been protected by a charm from his grandmother all this time that has kept the Ayakashi away. But that charm is wilting now and the Ayakashi are putting their plans into motion to eliminate him before the protector of the family line, the demon slayer, can arrive. That the demon slayer is actually a young woman named Himari who excels at the sword, looks beautiful and really is “all that”, which is just the icing on the cake. What can make it even more appealing to viewers? Himari’s a catgirl Ayakashi, though she can make those aspects of her form disappear. This is actually a good thing as it turns out that Yuto is allergic to cats. With Himari now on the scene, explaining things to Yuto and then serving him properly as a protector, the basics are all set up.
And that does include the obvious jealousy factor from Rinko as she sees Himari as a threat, and rightly so when she keeps walking in on Himari undressing him or sleeping half naked with him. There are some fun competition moments here – especially when Rinko challenges her in a kendo match which is really quite the bad idea considering Himari is a demon slayer specializing in swords – but it’s all got the kind of basic light fun attached to it. Omamori Himari plays well to the standards with nothing terribly surprising with the character designs, though again Himari is really nicely designed if somewhat of a basic template, and everyone else has a good look and feel while not standing out. They make a lot of use of panty shots throughout the show, but it’s sort of a trick as at first it was rather light and subtle before it became obvious and essentially in your face.
As you can imagine, the show works its harem building in familiar ways with the first few episodes – the second episode is a beach episode, for crying out loud – but by the fourth episode it shifts the focus a bit more on the past and Himari suggests a return visit to Yuto’s grandparents, a place he hasn’t been in quite some time. Unfortunately for Himari, she mentions this in front of everyone else so it becomes a group trip with Yuto having Himari, Rinko and Shizuku tag along. And as you can imagine, there’s someone else at the house that’s going to be a part of the merry little band as Kaya is introduced. Kaya’s the small spritely type, a zashiki-warashi in fact, who harbors a deep hatred for Yuto simply because his being alive keeps Himari away from her. The little rivalry shows easily, but you can see the frustration with Rinko as she just knows that there’s yet another potential rival there.
The past is revisited nicely here, shades of Tenchi Muyo, as we see a younger Yuto meeting with Himari in cat form early on and getting along very well. The two of them did everything and it helps push a bit more the kind of bond that they have, though it’s one that rests more on Himari’s shoulders than Yuto’s. Himari’s a bit more provocative than usual this time around too, which is amusing though not unexpected, as she fans herself with her dress lifted high and straddles Yuto in a way that would make and young (or old) man’s blood boil. There’s a good relaxed atmosphere to the episode overall, barring Kaya’s outbursts, until we get a group of Ayakashi who decide they want to take out Yuto once and for all. Obligatory action ensues, though it’s worth noting that once again all new characters introduced are female. Nameless so far at least, but female nonetheless. And showing much cleavage and/or underwear. There’s plot to be had here, but it’s really very secondary to the fanservice.
It’s around the sixth episode that we get the introduction of Kuesu and she plays well against what we learned from Yuto’s trip back home and the return of many of his memories. While he believed he grew up playing with Himari at times, it turned out that it was not her that was his first kiss but rather someone else. With it being revealed that it was Kuesu of the Jinguji family, Himari is ready to kill her and Yuto really doesn’t know what to make of it. Yuto’s stunned even more when he learns from Kuesu that the two of them are in an arranged marriage which is why she’s come to keep an eye out for him at his grandfather’s request and because it’s important to both families. Kuesu’s definitely your strong and brash type, but as we learn it’s fairly justified as the Jinguji family is the most recent of the twelve families and they’re not well respected, especially as they use foreign magic. Her approach is completely in line with her life, and her understanding of what Himari and Shizuku are, but it clashes with Yuto’s own experiences which makes for a very difficult first meeting to say the least.
The flip side to the episode, there’s a good bit of material that delves into Himari and Yuto’s relationship while Shizuku makes her own attack against Kuesu to figure out her strengths. That adds a lot of action to the episode, but I rather preferred watching Himari stress over the fact that she thinks she’s losing to Kuesu and wonders whether Yuto really does prefer her, now that he’s kissed Kuesu three times. She’s very much a young girl in this regard and the way something so simple dominates her mind and she expresses a lot of questions to herself, but like most people (kids and adults!) she’s too afraid to voice them out loud and find out what’s really going on. Instead, she tries to get him to kiss her, even just on the cheek, so she can start to build a new rapport with him and figure out how he really feels about her. As much as a cliché as these two are, it’s easy enough to root for them to figure it all out and get together. Himari’s emotions and questions during this are good to watch, even as they mix up some fanservice into it to make sure you’re captured by it all.
So, it’s easy to see how things will go from there. The show dabbles in the fanservice often and with some decent gusto while not going too awful far in some ways, compared to other series. It does play a bit more story oriented than you might think since it introduces the heavier elements earlier, but it’s also mirroring the manga side so it’s dealing with what feels like some awkward storytelling from there that they just couldn’t figure out how to smooth over here without wholesale changes. Unfortunately, the bulk of what we get for story is so boilerplate and familiar, having seen it in numerous other shows over the years, that it doesn’t find enough of a hook in the characters to stand out on its own with that – something that a number of shows do figure out – and the fanservice itself can carry it only so far. The fact that it’s as story heavy as it is, ends up hurting it because that begins to feel like a wall we keep hitting instead of something more fun and lighter as it just can’t handle the serious side.
Omamari Himari manages to bring in just about every basic cliché into its first episode of the series and it runs with it throughout pretty much the entire run. There is a decent level of execution here for the time and budget, but it isn’t a high level of style, rather one that’s familiar and solid, and all the basics are in place for what would likely be a show that’ll easily get licensed at some point since it has all the hallmarks of what sells. At the same time, it is that kind of average mainstream show that almost feels like a placeholder, a manga series and an anime series that fits into an expected mold for a particular publication or a time slot where something is needed, something almost interchangeable. Funimation’s release is decent and I’m glad it has a physical release in some form rather than having just a streaming presentation, particularly since the manga got released over the last few years. It’s a show that would have done quite well twenty years ago but now is feeling fairly dated yet serviceable as a simple bit of action and fanservice.
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: Funimation
Release Date: November 8th, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.