Wagaya no Oinari-sama Series Review

This was a title that I decided to watch on a whim, with the thought that I’d probably drop it in a few episodes because it was probably harem-esque, boring, and generic. Give the show all the rope it needs to hang itself, as the saying goes. Since, I’m writing the series review, though, you can probably guess that I got through the whole show.

Final Series Score: 11/12 A+
Rewatchablity: med-high
Pros: solid, well-developed characters that where very likable; every part of the show worked harmoniously to create an atmosphere for the characters to shine; it’s mix of light comedy, light drama, and small character-driven story arcs made the show feel original and pleasantly unpredictable
Cons: animation will not win any awards, people looking for an easily compartmentalized show will be frustrated

Awards given to this show by this blog

  • Best Fox Spirit of Spring 2008
  • #2 Top Continuing Anime of Summer 2008

Story

A pair of brothers belong to a family that have been caretakers of a shrine for hundreds of years. When the younger brother gets into trouble of the supernatural kind, they visit the family shrine to see if there’s something they can do. Luckily for them, the shrine has a trapped fox spirit and a shrine maiden that has power over water to combat this trouble. The grandma decides that both the fox spirit and the miko would be useful in protecting the brothers and sends them to live with the two brothers. This starts our show, and we get to follow the shrine maiden as she becomes acquainted with living in a city, the fox spirit as she/he/it sees how society has changed in the years since being trapped at the shrine, and the pitfalls that the brothers will fall into as they meet the area’s gods and spirits.

Thoughts and impressions

When I first starting watching this show, I was puzzled by how much I was enjoying it, nothing stuck out that I could point to as being the reason. I don’t think I was alone, judging by the lack of people that blogged about this show. I stuck with it and it slowly became apparent that the reason I liked this show so much was that the animators used every part of the show to develop and showcase the characters of this show.

For example, there’s a bit of action in the show, but not because fight scenes are a good way to pad the series; instead, we have a chance to see how willing the fox spirit, Kuu, is in protecting the two brothers. Also, there’s a bit of comedy in the show and the majority of it involves Kou, the shrine maiden, or Sakura. In Kou’s case, she’s lived in the country and has lived her entire life to fill the role of “Sentinel” at the shrine and thus doesn’t know about modern conveniences or how to act like a normal person. And in Sakura’s case, she has a way with over-analyzing what’s going on to absurd conclusions. In both cases, the comedy is used to reinforce traits of the characters. If your wondering, Kou does slowly learn throughout the show as would be realistic.

The story for the series is split into small arcs that run roughly one to four episodes and each one runs directly into the next. Characters introduced in one arc will almost always appear at some later point so the show does slowly build upon itself. This setup allows each arc to unfold differently and this keeps the show feeling fresh and interesting.

Sakura is one of the great reasons to watch this show

I mentioned in a comment on another blog that this show ascribes to the rule that I first learned in shop class in middle school: KISS – Keep it simple stupid. The show is not pretentious about itself, you won’t see any fancy narrative tricks that some shows use. Instead, it’ll find a simple solution to convey what it wants to. This is something I wish, frankly, other anime producers would take to heart sometimes.

Another thing that I really liked about this show was that it was consistent. So many two season animes have a period in the middle that the animators seem to lose focus and the quality of the show drops a great deal but this wasn’t one of them. This is probably helped by the slice-of-life feel of the show. I’ve noticed that shows that strive for a slice-of-life feel run on a more even keel as opposed to the more classic plot progression of raising tension, climax, and then resolution. But whatever the case, as I watched this show, I could always count on the next episode to be a good one.

There’s one last thing I wanted to comment on before concluding. I have a strong feeling that this show wasn’t given the largest budget to work with and the biggest proof I think is that for the last 5 episodes (of 24 total) was run with a new ending. This ending was done in a much nicer style then the show so I can’t help but think that it was only near the end when they realized that they’d have a bit of cash left that they did a second ending to the show. I have to hope that if a (well-deserved) second season is done then a little more money is spent on it.

So in conclusion, this show was a pleasant surprise and one that I’m sure just about anyone would enjoy watching. Don’t let the lackluster animation quality fool you, the characters and story are top quality and well worth the time.

Essential Information

  • 24 episodes
  • genre:Supernatural, Slice-of-Life
  • animation studio: Zexcs
  • director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki
  • OP: “KI-ZU-NA ~Haruka Naru Mono e” by Hitomi Sora
  • ED:”Kaze ga Nanika wo Iou to Shiteiru” by Saori Hayami and “Shiawase no Kotodama” by Yukana, Hayami Saori, Takahashi Mikako
  • Seiyuus of note: Yukana, Yuichi Nakamura, Takahiro Mizushima, Yui Kano
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