Otome Youkai Zakuro 13 and Wrap-up

Omodaka is reformed after all, as Agemaki saves him against Rangui, who has killed Daidai and is threatening to devour everyone else in her path. She loathes Zakuro most of all. Zakuro cannot move but she can tell what’s going on around her. When Agemaki says the magic words, she wakes up and takes care of business.

After the Village of Oracles mess is sorted out, word comes down that Spirit Affairs is to be resolved, and the soldiers recalled. This news forces Zakuro to confess to Agemaki as he confessed to her (FINALLY). Susukihotaru and Riken and Ganryuu and the twins make similar pacts to keep in touch. It seems a page is about to be turned…and then everything returns to the way it was as Spirit Affairs is almost instantly reinstated.

While that last twist was somewhat unnecessary considering the series has ended, it is consistent with the series’ overarching hope and optimism. Terrible things may have befallen the half-spirit girls in the past, but that past cannot define them. Life will go on with their military companions, and together they’ll help humans and spirits to understand each other just as they grew to. Rating: 3.5

Series Mean Ranking: 3.192 (Ranked 13th out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)

Otome Youkai Zakuro 12

Zakuro’s penultimate episode wasn’t that bad, but there were some issues. First of all, Agemaki & Co. basically teleport to the Village of Oracles by having guardian lions roar in their general direction. I was expecting something a little cleverer and more involving. Second: Omedaka has carried Zakuro to the same place his mom bonded with Zakuro’s father, presumably to rape her. Byakuroku is also with him. You’d think with the two sets of eyes between them, they’d have noticed Agemaki approaching them. Similarly, just when Byokuraku is about to kill Agemaki, Riken, Ganryu, and the other girls show up in the nick of time. This is a very open hilltop; how were they able to sneak up like that?

Regardless of these oddities, Agemaki sheds his fear and confronts Omedaka head on with his mother’s wishes. Thankfully, this isn’t quite enough to make Omedaka stand down. In fact, he changes his mind and decides to kill Zakuro, which he’s about to do, but then notices his house is on fire, so he picks her up and runs home. (Not to point out another issue, but why didn’t he just kill her right there?)

Anyway, the reason his house is on fire is the twist that will take us to the finale: Lady Rangui, whom he discarded once no longer of use, has seduced Daidai to do her bidding, and together they’ve staged a revolt at the household, setting it ablaze and freeing the half-spirits imprisoned there. So Rangui and Daidai have done Spirit Affairs a favor by releasing the prisoners, but I have a feeling that’s all they’ll help with, and will prove a pain in the butt next week. Rating: 3

Otome Youkai Zakuro 10

While attending a festival in a human-friendly district, Agemaki ends up alone with Zakuro and confesses to her (pretty much). Surprised by his words, she runs off…and is instantly spirited away to the village of oracles. It is here where half-spirits are born and, like Byakuroku and Daidai, live oppressed lives as mere “tools” for the villagers.

Hanadate (or Omodaka, revealed as the main antagonist) had her brought here so that he could “join with her”, as two accursed spirits with the “same dark blood.” In other words, he wants her to birth his child. Considering they’re of the same blood, that’s obviously creepy. But it’s another example of half-spirits-as-tools, in this case, a tool for making a powerful progeny.

So Agemaki and the others need to rescue her before something very bad happens, and likely free all the trod-upon half-spirits in the village before she’ll let them rescue her. The only problem is, the village “hovers outside reality,” which I imagine is a place hard for humans to reach, if not impossible. Finally, it’s in captivity, when Omodaka tries to kiss Zakuro, that she realizes where her true affections lie. Perhaps this ordeal will convince her to be honest with herself. Rating: 3.5

Otome Youkai Zakuro 9

After much sturm und drang last week, a lighthearted and/or lightweight episode was expected by me, and in the first couple acts, this was very much the case. Spirit Affairs has to catch a mostly-harmless spirit forged from the countless thoughts of young ladies pining for love. The half-spirit girls’ usual shtick (using sakura sticks) won’t work on it; only a confession of love will send it away.

When they find this beast, grown larger and more dangerous, it’s Zakuro and Agemaki who find it; but Lt. Hanadate is with them too; and when neither of the others can get over the embarrassment to do it, he – not Agemaki – confesses his love for Zakuro. Playing along, she confesses her love for him, and the Kokkuri is gone. Agemaki isn’t happy; even if she didn’t mean it, it still stings.

This is pretty much the final time we see Hanadate before we learn that he’s in league with the Black Widow; unconvincingly hiding his face with a noh mask. This is bad news, since Zakuro’s feelings for Hanadate and Agemaki remain as confused as ever. When she finds out he’s evil (or being controlled), that will most definitely change…Rating: 3

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