Title: Otome Youkai Zakuro
Genre: Action, Romance
Summary: In an alternate history of the Meiji era where humans and magical beings known as “younin” live side by side, half-spirit girls team up with army lieutenants to fight spirit wrongdoers.
Review: You may be asking me, “Why are there only three screenshots you lazy son of a –“ let me stop you right there. There are only three screenshots because these three screenshots are what the anime is to me. They represent the real reason I kept watching every week, and the reason I consider Otome Youkai Zakuro the best anime released during the Fall 2010 season.
The art style was beautiful throughout the series. As you can see from the three screenshots above the anime had some great scenes. It just happened to be that these three stood out to me, but I’m sure if you watched the series you will find some of your own. The tear drops weren’t uncommon but they got me every time. Like some other anime, Otome Youkai Zakuro used the art to its advantage to portray the emotions of the characters. Sometimes words can only say so much, and for those times you need solid visuals to convey the rest. It was the typical romantic art that completed such situations. That isn’t to say that the anime was only good at watery eyes and rosy cheeks. The anime is considered to be in the action genre as well. The first three minutes of episode one should speak for itself, but in case you need further evidence I’ll continue. The anime didn’t forget about the action in later episodes. It wasn’t the flashiest, but it was well done. The sword fights, spirits, and spell fire were drawn well enough to entertain anyone. The fight scenes weren’t the best because it was basically a rerun of previous episodes. It was good enough though because fight scenes weren’t the focus of most episodes.
Otome Youkai Zakuro took me back to what I feel anime is all about. Sure there are a lot of anime out there you can get excited about with your friends saying things like, “Oh did you see that fight scene?! That was extreme!” But that doesn’t always make the anime good. Possibly worth watching because let’s be honest, guns and knives are cool, but nothing more than that. What made me like Otome Youkai Zakuro wasn’t the action; it was the characters and character development. You probably read in chidori3souske’s review that this anime didn’t exactly have the most stellar storyline. It was simple, easy to follow, and nothing too shocking. I can say that the anime was pretty predictable from the start. I called which solider would be paired up with which half-spirit(s), who the end-all villain was, and how everything would turn out between the characters. Nothing struck me as surprising which some of you may not like. I can completely understand wanting to be taken back or thrown off guard when it comes to stories, but to all my fellow twist fans don’t be discouraged. This anime wasn’t meant to have twists or shockers. So you keep hearing me talk about how great Otome Youaki Zakuro is, but all you hear is how linear and predictable the story is. Let me clear the air a little and say that I consider the anime to be more about the romance than anything else. The action, and supernatural came as a bonus. The way I see it, the action and supernatural was used to give a new spin on romance. Almost every action anime that is released has small hints at romance between the main character and his ally in arms, but never follow through with it. Why is that? Well because the audiences of an action anime don’t generally want to be bothered with drama that comes along with any relationship. I’m pretty sure the hero has enough to worry about than getting a girlfriend. Otome Youkai Zakuro on the other hand used the action to strengthen the relationship of its characters. I think placing the life of someone you love in danger is a great way to get the ball rolling. Most romances you see now take place in high school or some other non-dangerous zone. I got tired of seeing the worst case scenario being rejection.
The three main romances were all very different. I like to think of them as the three relationship categories. In the first section you have the instant attachment: a quick setup with few rules that looks like it is more fun than anything. Then you move onto the second relationship: the hand in glove. This type of relationship just seemed to work out, all the pieces fell together in perfect order. It didn’t need weeks to get setup, but it took a little time to make sure everyone was on the same page. And finally, possibly my favorite relationship: the workload. This relationship doesn’t just happen over a dinner conversation. It is the relationship that took a lot of struggle and hardships between the couple finally got their act together. Bystanders watch as the two quarrel yet can’t help but feel there is no stronger bond. These are the relationships that last the longest and have a deeper meaning than physical attraction. Otome Youkai Zakuro displayed all of these relationships perfectly. Although I wanted to say that Zakuro and Kei was the best match, I couldn’t help but liked the story between Susukihotaru and Riken. To avoid spoilers I will leave it at that.
As far as openings and endings go, Otome Youkai Zakuro competed with the best of them this season. They weren’t my cup of tea though. At least to listen to outside the anime, but it still deserves mentioning. There were three ending songs if I remember correctly, all of which were pretty good. Of course I did have my favorite being the first ending, I still enjoyed listening to the other two. The opening was also enjoyable. Two me it had the lyrics of a romance and the beat of an action series. It should be quite obvious why this song was a good choice for this anime. I did like the song the four girls sang at first, but after a while it got a little repetitive. Even though it can be considered their catch song (is that a thing or does it only work for phrases?) I just can’t back it up with any good statements. It had its place, but probably not something I would listen to if I got the OST.
Final statements: Otome Youkai Zakuro almost made it to the 9+ category, but missed it by a small margin. Unfortunately this small margin also brings it down to a high priority watch. Although a feat in and of itself, it could have done better. I spent a rant and a half about the storyline being predictable so that’s something to take into consideration despite the plus sides of great character development.