[Click here to see my review of the first OVA and second to third OVAs]
Hatori Chise has always had the misfortune of seeing youkai and all manner of fae creatures. This has made her life not only extremely dangerous, but also isolating. With relatives thinking she’s a horrid child or walking misfortune, she’s dropped off from place to place until she finally ends up on auction in the underground, not caring what happens to her so long as the pain of her wanderings is done. But the person who buys her isn’t what she expected. For one thing, he isn’t really human….
If you read my reviews for the OVA prequels, I had noted that there was a scene of violence that was sudden and a bit shocking, only barely allowing the show to remain in a YA rating from the scene not lasting too long. Sadly that level of violence doesn’t just return in the TV series, it gets significantly worse. Not that we see more blood, parse, but rather the sounds, voice acting and cinematography all make the physiological horror of the violence pretty… well, disturbing. Especially the torture scenes near the end of the series. There is an episode where cats are brutalized for an elixir, arms sliced, eye plucked out… Overall, there were multiple episodes that were really hard for me to stomach. Sure this is a boon to the studio in that those scenes are supposed to be disturbing and the way they are framed does that job seamlessly. But that also means this show has no other place in my blog but the WZ. If you are squeamish at ALL with violence, this show is a hard skip.
And if violence doesn’t scare you? Well… The first part of this show is decent. The writing for the lead is slow, but steady and the show don’t tell is strong, which really keeps the world vibrant. The visuals are great and the world of the fae is both beautiful and extremely dangerous. The music is also quite memorable, which we don’t often enough in anime.
My main issue, aside from the uncomfortable levels of violence, was the ending. The strides the lead made towards independence take some large steps backwards as she once again depends very heavily on her captor/master/teacher/friend (?). I’ve never been fond of the mythological beast falls for mortal shtick and this show didn’t convert me. I will give them credit for mentioning, more than once, that fae are not like mortals and thus can’t even view life and love the same way. But the fact that the male lead is a “half formed,” makes that idea murky enough for the show to walk the gray area of “maybe she can change him.” Which is an angle I hate even more. People changing on their own as they learn and grow is one thing. People changing for the sake of keeping someone else under their control and influence? Noooot my fav.
Overall, this show was poised to take on some heavy topics in a well written fantasy setting. And while it does do a bit of this, perhaps even more than most entire franchises manage, it also had some downs that retract progress made. And I’m pretty certain the reason for this backtrack was simply due to the expectation for this to be a romance. The writers pretty much wrote the lead into a corner and realized they had only two options: keep the story character-based and go in a very different direction from how they originally marketed their product oooooor force the leads together and keep the title going strong despite requiring the entire supporting staff to go out of character for this to take place. Spoiler alert: option A was left in the dust.
I still think the OVA and beginning of the series was strong, but yeah. The ending kinda killed this show for me personally.