Otome Youkai Zakuro – First Impressions

With so many series out this fall, it’s not surprising that one of them deals with youkai like Nurarihyon no Mago, one of my three summer carryovers. No biggie though, Zakuro wastes no time establishing itself as its own animal. Certainly, both deal with crossing between the human and spirit worlds, but in this case, by design: the army assigns three young lieutenants to support four half-youkai maidens in the fight against ‘youkai gone bad.’

That may sound a little dry, but it’s all in the details. Zakuro, the maiden with the biggest chip on her shoulder, is kind of a tsundere-lite, becoming instantly smitten with her lieutenant until she discovers he’s scared to death of youkai. The lieutenant himself, Kei, is the son of a high-ranking officer, and is determined to get over his fear. The best scenes of the episode were these two trying to feel each other out. I’m looking forward to how they both develop.

I appreciate how each lieutenant has their own girl to worry about (one of them has two), so there’s little chance of love triangles or competitions that will waste time. They’ve already been paired off, and they seem like good fits. The episode also mixed in some respectable comedy and a smidgen of social commentary, and was book-ended by action scenes that were most elegant and graceful, eschewing the typical weapons-clanking and screaming for some actual lyricism. Nice start. Rating: 3

Psychic Detective Yakumo – First Impressions

Psychic Detective Yakumo’s opening act was solid and confident. It had a decent detective story that introduced the key players and exhibited the skills of the ‘psychic detective’ (he can see and hear dead spirits and can act as a medium between the living and dead, for instance). There’s a nice, airy, effortless quality to how Yakumo does his detective work…he cares and doesn’t care at the same time.

I’m liking the return of Beetrain to my watchlist, their last major effort, Phantom, frankly kicked so much ass, Yakumo has its work cut out for it. Both series share similar character design and muted palette. That was about assassins; this is about a detective, who can also be a real jerk sometimes. This series also provided perhaps the best burn of the fall season, when Yakumo made light of his detective friend’s marital status (it was all in the delivery).

There isn’t much else in terms of horsing around in this series; it’s mature and serious, which is as it should be when you’re trying to solve murders. Finally, I love how this series starts off like all good private dick yarns: a damsel in distress walks into the dark office…and is unenthusiastically welcomed by an apathetic lone wolf. All that was missing was a bottle of scotch and the shadow of window blinds on the desk. Rating: 3