Like Hanasaku Iroha last season, this is a first episode that effectively and efficiently introduces us to its characters, setting, and premise while looking fantastic in the process. It kicked some serious ass. A college sociology student living in Tokyo just can’t escape the village he left; a village where “gods” can be summoned in the form of Kakashi – mechanized dolls – by the Seki, or summoners.
Kuga, our lead, is enjoying his new life in the city when that village pays him a visit in the form of his little sister Utao and an escaped convict, Aki. Both are Seki, so messes will be made. The show moves effortlessly from a laid-back night of drinking and karaoke to a bloody corpse and a mexican standoff with kakashi. There are tiny moments of levity that dot tense scenes and really lend a rich and complex mood to the proceedings.
The bonds of the characters are quickly built: Kuga left the village, but he won’t let anyone hurt Utao or his friend (the lovely Shiba, who hails from the same village but just now learns about the dolls. It’s apparent he was/is a Seki, and probably a good one, since for all of Aki’s threats and posturing, he stands his ground, and blood doesn’t wig him out.
So yeah, this series has a lot going for it. I’m hoping it can maintain this level of energy, while cognizant that precious few anime are this good for every epiosde of their run. Still, it was an excellent start, the opening sequence is very slick, and production values are above reproach. Along with Memo-cho, this is another new summer series to get excited about. Rating: 4