This is review number four hundred and thirty two. This anime is part of the Fall 2014 lineup, and it’s called Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji. It’s a twelve episode anime about a dude and a chick falling in love or some generic sh*t like that. Let’s just read on.
The anime follows Erika Shinohara and Kyouya Sata as pretend couples. Erika had trouble making friends and she only gained some after pretending she has a boyfriend. When her friends got suspicious, she randomly took a picture of a hot guy walking on the streets. They won’t recognize a stranger, right? Well, not if the guy is a popular handsome figure at your school. Erika had a choice. Approach the guy and ask to be pretend BF and GF or just fess up about her lies. She chose to approach the guy. He did agree though. Oh, Erika had to turn around three times first and bark like a dog. Kyouya just found his new pet.
Taking the Pants Off
Oh boy, it’s been awhile. How do we this again? Seriously, I wasn’t even planning on releasing a review because life just got interestingly hectic. I’ll do another post about that. Let’s focus on this anime. Yeah, let’s dive in on this very disappointing anime. First of all, this anime felt weird upon first impression. I kept thinking the entire thing would look better if it was a live action show, and you know what, there is actually a live action movie of this one. It looks pretty cool. Check it out. But anyways, this show is….passable. I think that’s the right word for it. It’s not really bad, since it stuck close to the original source. However, it’s not really good either since it deviated from the original source as well. I told you, it’s been a while since I did this. I’m not making any sense.
Basically it all boils down to the adaptation itself. The show fails on some technical aspects, but since the original source is good by itself, the show thrived. As a shoujo anime, this show sucks. Like, the very fundamental, almost subliminal, aspects of the shoujo genre are botched by this anime. All of my complaints with this anime are entirely technical. From animation to series composition and all that sh*t. I keep circling back to the manga though, because it is pretty damn good. I urge you to just read the original source and leave this anime alone. Every inch of praise you can think to give this anime is basically thanks to the engaging manga it adapted badly. This show will make you giddy, because it did hit the right spots in some moments, but it can also be a chore to watch. It’s really just a mess, so let’s go at it one step at a time.
This anime kinda lacks a story. It worked off its premise for the majority of its first half, and then it just developed into another premise. There isn’t really a story. See, it’s time to get technical. A premise is the stuff you read off MyAnimeList’s description of the show. It’s the stuff presented in the first episode, but it eventually gets layered by other stuff until it blossoms into a story. For a good example, let’s look at Ao Haru Ride. The premise is about a boy and girl that used to like each other, grew up apart, reunited and the guy is an absolute d*ck now. The chick still kinda digs him though, so she chases after him trying to reignite the heat of their past. The story blossoms from that. We discover the guy is a d*ck because his mother died but he strung along the girl for too long that she basically had enough. When he’s ready to love her though, the girl has already found another dude willing to love her back. So the d*ck now chases after the girl. Now, for Ookami Shoujo, the premise is about the girl pretending to have a boyfriend. She snapped a picture of a random dude to serve as her BF, he turns out to be a popular handsome guy in school, and she now tries to convince him to play pretend couple. He agrees though, and he soon uses it as a blackmail to treat the girl badly. The chick has no choice though, since she got herself in that situation in the first place. She, however, cannot resist his charm and situational trouble ensues.
The story, well, there isn’t really one. The anime just follow the hilarious misadventures of the boy and the girl as a pretend couple. While the girl does fall in love with the guy, ohmygosh spoiler, the story doesn’t really set off. I actually don’t know what the anime is trying to achieve. While Ao Haru Ride never really had a good adaptation, I was still sold on the teenage angst and misguided worshipping of the couple. For this anime, the flavor never really develops. We see the couple just get into different cute situations that ends with them acting like a cute couple. The guy gets sick, they spend Christmas together, a Valentines episodes and a lot of other sh*t like that. It lacks body though. At some point, you kinda want more from your story. You wanna fall in love with the characters and you want to cheer for them. You want to cherish every moment they have as much as they do, and this anime just isn’t giving us the goods. I still remember this creepy scene in Ao Haru Ride where the girl literally smells the guy’s hair while he is sleeping, and it comes off as cute since the girl’s misguided innocence is in full display. It’s weird how just the small details actually make a shoujo manga work, and this particular anime failed on delivering those small details. I had to check the manga to see where the anime tripped and I was shocked when I realized it was over the simplest of details.
If you actually check the manga, you’d realize the anime is adapting it as is. This means that every frame actually comes alive in the anime because the show used it as the gawd damn storyboard for the show. Now, I love anime that adapts an original source verbatim but I HATE a show that lazily uses the manga as the storyboard. See, more technical stuff. Is this what you wanted to read about when you clicked on this review? Taking the manga, copying a panel and adding colors aren’t really that impressive. It’s actually cheap. A lot of hentai anime does this. Instead of wasting money on a good looking anime, just animating the manga is good enough. For hentai, I have no problem with this, since the original source is often a lot more terrifying with its liquids and thrusting sound effects. For a shoujo anime though, the process looks cheap. Copy pasting from the manga just makes your show a glorified moving picture. It isn’t really an adaptation. An adaptation captures the intention of the author. It captures the main idea it was trying to deliver. In Ookami Shoujo’s case, it tells us that love is complicated but it doesn’t have to be. It’s only complicated because people are complicated. Strip away the nonsense and love can be easily expressed. Did you get any of that in the anime? You won’t. Why? Because the little details, the nuance, of the manga is not adapted by the anime.
If you watch any other shoujo anime, you’ll notice that the colors are usually light, often faded. Seriously, any JC Staff or Production IG romance has a soft palette. The main reason is because a lot of the scenes in the original source demand a soft palette. Oh boy, we’re now going more technical. Take a look at this image of the girl blushing in the anime:
It looks OK, right? Here she is in the manga:
So what’s different? Well, it’s the small details. Notice the bubbly circles in the background. It’s actually a very easy to miss detail in most shoujo anime, but it adds a lot to the experience. The anime lacks that. It lacks the subliminal signal that’ll make you feel something for the character. So most heartwarming or giddy moments in the show, like this:
Lacks the one-two punch it has in the manga.
Yeah, he’s saying the right words but it’s really gawd damn lacking. This is why I hate just copying a manga when you don’t even know what exactly you’re copying. If you’re wondering why the little bubbles of ink aren’t in the anime, it’s simply because it’s harder to animate. TYO Animations studio kinda went with a soft budget for this show. I’ll talk about the animation in detail later on. For now, let’s just dive deeper into where the adaptation fails. Yes, more technical stuff. Aren’t you glad TPAB is back?
Or is the correct word “oversimplified”? For some reason, there are certain chapters that the anime didn’t adapt. It’s weird, because the anime is adapting the manga verbatim yet it skipped some important chapters. I don’t really understand. For the most part, one chapter would usually be one episode in the anime. It looks good, since the manga’s progression is kept intact. Gutting out certain chapters kinda ruins the copy paste method of the show though. I only read up to the seventh chapter or whatever. I’m a lazy reader, but the anime didn’t adapt two chapters from the OG. It’s a beach episode and a story where the guy tutored the girl. I originally though that animating these episodes would be tough, so they gutted it out. I soon realized they kept out these episodes for two simple reasons. One, it made the guy look vulnerable. Two, it fleshed out the other characters. The anime really just focused on the couple and nothing else. It also honed in on one narrative: the girl chasing after the uninterested guy. It’s kinda the best part of the show anyways seeing the just give zero f*cks about everything. The two chapters gutted out kinda ruins the narrative though, as the guy actually chased after the girl in these chapters. I think in the beach chapter, the guy hinted that falling in love is easy when he gave an advice to this dude we never saw in the anime. He said that he’d protect the one he loved, or something like that, and it does ruin the narrative of the guy giving zero f*cks. The random guy he gave advice to though, is actually a boyfriend of one of the girl’s friends. The girl has two close friends in her class, and they never really do anything important. I think they’ll eventually have their own branching subplot, but the anime didn’t give any attention to them. The beach chapter kinda did though, so they gutted the sh*t out.
It’s kinda annoying though that the series composer had the wherewithal to exclude two chapters that doesn’t fit the given narrative, and yet the nuance of the story flew over their head. You already put in the gawd damn effort, so why didn’t you put in more?! I think sticking to this given narrative also prevented the story to blossom from the premise. A lot of sh*t happened in the anime. Another guy confessed to the girl, the two actually became a couple, she met his parents and yet there is still no real story to come off it. It’s hard to be engaged in a show that lacks flavor after stewing for so long. Speaking of flavor, this anime also did a disservice to our female lead character.
Unappealing and Average
Ok, going back to Ao Haru Ride and the creepy hair sniffing scene, the entire thing comes off as cute because we are in the head of a young girl that worships a guy. I hear the words “Stockholm syndrome” thrown around for this anime, and it’s not wrong. The anime did present it as such. The girl kinda fell in love with her blackmailer, and that’s about it. She’s not really like that in the manga. I mean, she’s kinda relatable too. Again, it’s the technical stuffs and it mainly boils down to one important thing.
The voice actor didn’t nail the character.
Props to Kanae Itou, but she did not give Erika justice. While she is a whiny and borderline annoying girl in the anime, she also has her moments. In fact, the character demands a wide range of emotions and not just the “I’m young and I want to fall in love” angle the anime tries to portray. There is a reason why the dude wanted her to stay by his side all the time, and it’s mainly because of her misguided innocence. Yes, the same damn thing that motivates the other chick into sniffing a guy’s hair. That creepy act was made cute, and Erika had a lot of those moments in the manga as well. You can feel the guy slowly get obsessed with her. It was a gradual process, and it was extremely botched in the adaptation. It’s because the vulnerability of the characters, much like those ink bubbles, aren’t adapted by the show. Kanae Itou lacked the sincerity to really pull it off. I’m not putting the blame on her though. She’s a talented voice actor, but clearly she wasn’t given the proper direction to play the Erika character. Those feeling of anticipation building after each chapter, the way the guy tramples on those feelings and the way the visuals soften up the annoying girl, there was a lot the anime missed.
They did nail the male character though.
Good gawd, you will hate how much of a d*ck he is and it’s often undeserved. Of course, these scenes play into the couple’s dynamic, not just the guy being an evil tissue wad. Still, they really put a lot of effort into bringing him to life. The way he mistreats Erika, the way he strung her along and the way he would just be downright mean to her, it will really push your buttons. I love that he pushes my buttons. I love that he can get a reaction out of me, because that is just the mark of a compelling character. I just wished they could’ve done the same to his partner.
This was missing in the anime. Shoujo scope is when one of the character looks at another, and the view is this close-up shot of the character they are looking at. This usually results in the character blushing, but for that moment, we saw a view of what they are looking at. I’m guessing the animation can’t do that, or the director just didn’t really care, but the manga had some awesome shoujo scope scenes that was severely lacking in the anime. Now, what the hell am I talking about, exactly? I’m pertaining to this:
Shoujo does this by default, and it is stupidly effective. The fact that this anime lacks it just tells you how much it blows as a shoujo anime.
Kasai and TYO Animations
I love TYO. I believe they did Tamayura and La Corda D’Oro. In terms animation, you can tell they can bring it. I mean, just satisfying visuals is a big thing and they didn’t really deliver any of that in this show. It was just really half-assed. It’s good enough, I guess, and I think that’s the mindset Kenichi Kasai also had when he directed this show. The animation is atrocious, and it’s a far cry from his usual flair. I mean, he did Honey and Clover and worked magic with Nodame Cantabile. You can tell this project was really just a paycheck for him, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. Not all your work deserves your passion. Even Akiyuki Shinbo half ass some of his works nowadays. I think departing JC Staff was a big deal for him, and he hasn’t delivered a Bakuman or a Love Stage ever since. I mean, this anime was his second to last work. His newest directorial work after this is on 2016, two years after this show, so that tells a lot. There was some magic in JC Staff that made him a reliable director, and I think he lost it when he left the company.
Sight and Sound
Being a copy-paste kinda anime, the visuals are mostly the same as the manga. The character design is very beautiful and it does scream shoujo. I particularly love how Erika would change her hair style throughout the series, and she even cut it at some point in the story. The character build are all the same though, but you can’t really expect much variety from a romance manga. They all have to be fashionably sexy and handsomely built. They have a specific audience to cater to. I love how Ayuko Hatta dedicates a lot of panels for the couples though. Every wide eyed expression, every blush and every contact feels so special with how much importance she gives them. She often eats up an entire page just to deliver the best facial reaction to the situation, and I absolutely love it. The reader would often have to stare a long while at the vulnerable characters, and it does help in cheering them on throughout the story. The anime completely botched this though. The use of bland colors absolutely killed the beauty of Hatta’s characters. Though to be fair, they used the same color scheme Hatta used in her colored pages. Those pages look atrocious as well, so adapting the intended vision was kinda a big part of the anime’s job. Well, they also kinda needed to animate the damn thing.
Animation is horrible. While the show did use the manga as a storyboard, they did very little to animate those scenes. A lot of times, there are very little movement. The transition animations look sloppy as hell, and the characters faces would distort because of how piss poor they animated the whole thing. Sometimes they’d short cut certain scenes, like doing a close up while a character is walking, so they won’t have to animate a different scene. Sometimes, characters would only move their mouth. Sometimes, there would be no animation. You just hear character talking while their back is turned against the camera. Certain scenes do look passable, but the overall animation isn’t good enough. If they weren’t lazily tracing the manga, I don’t think the anime would look presentable at all. No wonder they can’t animate the soft ink bubbles, something as simple as a walking cycle is too much for them. The show feels a tad robotic, and it really looks boring as time passes. While the entire thing looks OK, the show does fail on the little details. It’s hard to like something that looks so cheaply made. It just looks horribly half-assed.
The anime’s OP is “LOVE GOOD TIME” by SpecialThanks. I love this song. It’s catchy and stylish even though I’m sure the singer is doing some forced English lines. I have listened to this song countless times and it’s honestly the main reason why I finished the show. I just freakin’ enjoyed listening to it. The OP sequence does tell a lot about the show though. The horrid animation is present, the lack of a story is obvious and it actually featured a ton of just random situations which is aplenty in the actual show too.
The anime’s ED is “Ookami Heart” by Oresama. This is a weird techno pop song, but it is pretty catchy as well. A lot of awful shows have strong OSTs, and this anime is no different. It’s a stylish song, and I love how the anime tried to emulate that as well. The animation is still awful, but there is some genuine effort in the ED sequence that I do appreciate.
5/10 “It’s good enough to urge you to read the manga, so the show kinda served its purpose. Go on, read the manga instead.”
The entire show is just passable. It’s OK but it’s also entirely forgettable. It’s a huge disservice to the manga, so I really just want people to pick up the original source instead. This anime fails on the basics and the technical aspects so it can’t really give you any meaningful experience beyond what it lazily copied from the manga. If you like shoujo, I think this anime will just waste your time. Sure, it had its moments but it’s an inferior product that doesn’t deserve your attention. I do not recommend it.