Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen – 02

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That lovely, cozy, immersive quality I spoke of last week? It was largely supplanted this week by an ably executed but mostly pedestrian adventure-of-the-week.

When Kuon is hired by Ukon to hunt some giriri (giant centipedes) lurking on the outskirts of the village, and Kuon insists Haku comes along, it means a fast pace and more action than last week, with so much going on relative to last week it was hard to settle in. All the extra action also exposed the show’s sometimes iffy production values.

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Ukon is a pretty bland strongman with a penchant for being surprised whenever Haku makes himself useful, while Mororo is the archetypal prancing anime dandy. Neither are repellant, but they’re not as interesting as Kuon and Haku on their own.

The episode is effective in one regard: it shows there are all kinds of ways to contribute, not just to the village, but in a more high-stakes situation involving giant centipedes. Haku also demonstrates he’s a natural math whiz, which will serve him well in the capital.

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My problem with Utawarerumono: I find myself preferring a slighter cast and well-placed bursts of action punctuating more world-building slice-of-life; in other words, a series of episodes like its first. But that’s probably not what this show is going to be, judging from its 25-episode length and an OP positively bursting with dozens of different characters that made my eyes glaze over.

A trip to the capital means more introductions…a lot more, as well as a departure from the snowy environs that drew me into the show in the first place. I’m not saying I feel misled, nor expected the show to languish in that village for 25 episodes. I’m just saying the things I like about the show and the things the show intends to focus on may not be the same going forward.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

6 thoughts on “Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen – 02”

  1. It depends I guess. Those attributes of the first episode are due to the output of the production team so there is some chance that when the story moves to different environments some of that world building may come to the fore again. It wasn’t totally forgotten in this episode. Such as in the counting scene where we are quietly introduced to this world’s maths calculating system, and also in paying respects at the grave of the team member killed by the boro-centipedey thing.

    As you say Introducing a large cast of characters in shows like this can be an issue – it’s what irreparably undermined Log Horizon for example. Too many characters to progress can lead to a show losing focus and just drifting around focusing on characters we don’t – or can’t care about. It’s not a given however. SAO Aincrad etc kept things reasonably tight with a largish cast by demarcating different levels of importance to characters and had the good sense to leave characters behind as the story moved on. I’m hoping Utawarerumono can do something similar. I certainly wouldn’t be sad never to see the effeminate courtier from the capital again as he was an annoying and somewhat tasteless cliche. In fact he was my one gripe from this episode.I was pretty satisfied with this episode – they had to establish Haku’s credentials more and set him up to progress in the world, and a Giri-Giri hunt was as good as a means as any. The first episode was good but I guess the amount of content to be covered (I’m assuming here) means the show has to keep Haku moving (with a few detours I guess).

  2. I don’t think you ever watched the prequel, did you? That’d actually make certain elements stand out further and create some more excitement because of certain elements (for instance, some knowledge as to what the curse actually is, or the fan Haku was given).
    So far, this series is following a similar structure to the first one, but with some more sense of adventure to it. A calm intro with hints of action followed by an action episode with some calm moments to set the stakes.
    The first series kept a fair amount of balance between the action and the world building slice-of-life sections, so I’d expect this one to do the same. And action did get noticeably better and more purposeful as things went along. The first series managed to develop its rather large cast pretty well while keeping its focus on he main two characters, so if the team behind this one is anywhere near as good (or mostly the same) then that won’t be a real worry moving forward.
    But yeah, maybe this series will pack more of a punch later on if you did watch the prequel, though so far it doesn’t seem entirely necessary to understand what’s going on, even though some things do become more fascinating with the knowledge from it.

      1. It’s just “Utawarerumono”.
        It was released back in 2006, so considering this is a sequel of an almost 10 year old series, it’s no surprise you haven’t seen the prequel. I just happened to stumble into it back in 2007 by pure luck, pretty much.

      2. 10-year-old prequel, huh? Yowza. Now I feel like I’m supposed to know Haku’s real name, and who he was/what he was up to before he ended up in the mountains with amnesia…

        In any case, I’m at a disadvantage here, much like Franklin and I were with Unlimited Blade Works.

        Compare that to Zane, who has diligently followed every Monogatari anime, OVA and film spanning seven years.

      3. I myself didn’t notice this series was a sequel until today. I kind of enjoy series that have a non-direct prequel where the newer series can be ‘stand alone’, but the references to the prequel make it so much better. Off the top of my head, Fate/Zero and the Fate series were like this

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