What’s it about ?
Did you know that in modern-day Kyoto, there’s a three-way deadlock in power under the surface between the humans, the tanuki & the tengu ? Nope, me neither.
(Adapted from a novel.)
Yasaburo, our protagonist, is a tanuki. As a trickster and talented shapeshifter, he laughs at your narrow conception of gender and spends the whole episode looking like a high school girl. I like him : he’s fun and has a nice, snarky sense of humour. And he’s a protagonist that actually does stuff ! How novel !
Pr Akadama is an old tengu and used to be Yasaburo’s mentor ; he’s but a shadow of his older self ever since he broke his back in an ill-fated prank. Nowadays, Yasaburo still looks after him because he feels guilty about said prank, but he’s just about the only one who still cares about the old geezer. Except maybe for…
“Benten”, aka Satomi Suzuki, was Pr Akadama’s other pupil. She’s a normal human, but that hasn’t stopped her from learning how to walk on air from the old master. It’s more than heavily hinted that there was something romantic between the two of them, but he clearly hasn’t worked out. The crowd she freys with right now sound like bad news, but she’s still the scariest person in the room at any time. She’s entirely unapologetic about having suggested the prank to Yasaburo at the time, but it’s clear she regrets it. Not that she’ll ever admit it.
It looks like further episodes in the series may explore a bit more Yasaburo’s siblings and family, but so far they’ve just been cameos. (Younger brother is cute ; older brother doesn’t approve of Yasaburo’s antics.)
Very nice : this Kyoto is bursting with life. There’s a lot of care to adjust the body language of each character to their true nature, and that without taking into account Benten, who owns every shot she’s in. I also love the initial camera trick of zooming in and out on the city to comically make a point about what’s happening in it.
I expected this to be semi-inpenetrable to someone who doesn’t know much about Japanese folklore (wait, tengu are crow spirits ? Why didn’t I notice that before ?), but this turns out to be perfectly accessible to the uninitiated. It’s basically a love triangle that ended very poorly for everyone involved, but the episode succeeds in making clear that there’s a lot left unsaid and to be explored. Kyoto feels like City of Adventure where anything can happen and factions secretly and discreetly feud against each other. (Surely there’s an interesting reason why Akadama was having both a tanuki and a human as students, given how the three groups don’t usually mingle ? What the heck was he up to ?)
This is reminding me of Durarara!!, minus any apparently boring character around. This can’t be a bad thing, right ? Definitely following this one.