Title: Okami-San and her Seven Companions
Encompasses: Complete Series
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia and New Zealand), Funimation Entertainment (North America)
Based on: The light novel series by Masashi Okita
Genre: Action, Romantic Comedy
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition (16:9)
Runtime: 300 Minutes
Classification: M for Animated Violence
Special Thanks: Madman Entertainment for providing me with a review sample of this release
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?
Most of us would have grown up hearing classic fairy tales from Little Red Riding Hood which focused on a young girl who while travelling to her grandmothers is tailed by a wolf who wants to eat her, The Tortoise and the Hare which involves a race between an arrogant but fast hare and a slow tortoise… to name just a few. Over the years these tales have been adapted with additional tweaks to the storyline, such as one adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood I watched when studying Japanese in school which involved a rather bloody end for the wolf… to taking characters from a series and putting them in a completely different setting – the animated film Hoodwinked! comes to mind in this regard. Okami-san and Her Seven Companions features a number of character personalities and elements from different fairy tales and puts them in a modern setting with its own quirks. Does it work?….. surprisingly it works very well.
The story follows Ryoko Okami “The Wolf” who studies at Otogi Academy and alongside six others – Ringo (Little Red Riding Hood), Alice and Litz (The Ant and the Grasshopper), Otsu (Tsuru no Ongaeshi), Otohime and Liszt (Urashima Tarō) words for the Otogi Bank. The Otogi Bank is a campus service which acts as a wishes bank, where they will fulfill the request of a requestee and in return will request that they repay the favor in the future. One day while heading home after a days work, she hears a romantic confession from Ryoshi (The Huntsman in LRRH) – a guy with very little presence, a fear of being stared at but is dependable when the time arises. He becomes her seventh companion and begins working for the Otogi Bank, slowly deconstructing her tsundere personality and undertaking several fairytale and non-fairy tale inspired requests.
The episodes are clearly split up into “Request” episodes which focus on the writers own interpretations of fairy tales (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves etc) and “Storyline” episodes which are not as prominent as you may expect. You are initially set up in the second episode to what the main storyline may entail, then a few episodes later get confirmation about why Okami has sheltered herself away and a traumatic experience of abuse and bullying at the hands of her previous school’s classmates and at the time boyfriend. The problem is, while they set it up to be a promising plot, it never really delivers anything other than a few action scenes – even at the final episode there is no conclusion to anything (Very anti-climatic). That is not to say the storytelling is bad and would complement a second season but for a season of this length I still expected more.
Where the storyline does shine is away from the overarching plot and developing the individual characters, often using adaptations of fairy tales to deliver storylines based around characters that represent or are named after the respective work. Some episodes may be limited in enjoyment if you don’t have a knowledge of Japanese fairy tales used in this series, however most are literature classics you would have read when you were younger. While character development is limited for some of the characters who despite appearing in every episode are considered secondary/minor, the relationship and personality clashes between Okami, Ringo and Ryoshi work well together and are developed appropriately.
Where the series shone was with the narrator. In most series a narrator may be used to occasionally introduce the setting or the events that happened in the previous episode… in this series she is representative of a stereotypical fairy tale narrator with the added perk of being able to break the fourth wall and having a certain degree of wit and sarcasm. Sure it may occasionally come down to teasing the main characters about their flat chests in a variety of ways however the role was creatively implemented and was used consistently throughout the episodes so it didn’t seem like an afterthought. Overall however, while the main story was lacking in each content, refinement and any form of resolution, the series was more heavily focused on individual episodes and character development for which it provided an entertaining watch.
For the record, I reviewed this series on Blu-ray, so quality may vary between releases. While some character designs may not exactly represent the characters from the respective fairy tale, the character designs are overall nicely designed with enough variety of facial / clothing features to suit the characters individual personalities and quirks (and they don’t hesitate to throw in a well endowed character here and there as well). Environment designs often have a good degree of detailing with often bright and colourful designs which complement the characters well. The series doesn’t get all too much time to shine when it comes to animation, but there are no noticeable problems with the basic animation while action scenes are often short but action-filled and above average in quality. There are also cameo appearances of characters from Toradora! and A Certain Scientific Railgun in one episode, for those who are interested.
Both the opening sequence ”Ready Go! by May’n” and ending sequence “Akazukin-chan Goyoujin by OToGi8″ proved to be enjoyable upbeat songs which suited the themes of the show. The music proved above average but was nothing memorable. There was some evident alterations made to the English script in some places, however having listened to both I personally prefer the English dub over the Japanese one as given the focus of the series, it was much easier to enjoy it through dialogue rather than subtitles. As I mentioned above, I loved the role of the narrator and Luci Christian (Nagisa Furukawa / Clannad) did a brilliant job of delivering the sarcastic comedy with an older-sounding voice I have never heard from her before. Brina Palencia (Ciel Phantomhive / Black Butler), Joel McDonald (Minato Sahashi / Sekirei) and Monica Rial (Hazuki / Moon Phase) each proved more than capable in their roles as Ryoko, Ryoshi and Ringo respectively. There were a fair few voice roles to fill in this release, and while some were better than others I had no qualms with the English voice acting.
In terms of extra content, there is quite a nice collection of content spread over the two discs. These include:
- Commentary for two episodes “Episode 1: Okami-san and Her Otogi Bank Companions” and “Episode 6: Okami-san and Akazukin-chan, and While We’re at it, Ryoshi-kun”.
- Tokyo International Anime Fair Promotional Video
- Promotional Video
- Original TV Commercials
- US English Trailer
- Textless Opening and Closing Sequences
- Trailers for the following Funimation anime releases: The Legend of Legendary Heroes, One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist, Fairy Tail, Dragon Ball Z, Sands of Destruction and Spice and Wolf.
In conclusion, while the main storyline was weak for this season I did think it was a funny and at times quirky anime series that is well worth checking out – perhaps for a more casual viewer of anime. Having some knowledge of the lesser-known fairy tales shown in this series will prove helpful, but for the most part the storylines do seem more focused on more well known tales such as Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and so forth (Including an interesting scene with the Three Little Pigs). I am personally anticipating an announcement for a second season, as it would not to the series any justice to leave it here.
Storyline / Character Development: B
Music/Voice Acting: B
Extra Content: A
Personal Preference: B
Overall Score: B