Utawarerumono: The False Faces: Season 1
Episode 1 also reviewed here:
Also known as:
Utawarerumono Itsuwari no Kamen: Season 1
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2015
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12 episodes
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Review date:
25 March 2017
Utawarerumono Itsuwari Kamen
I quite like it, but I don't quite feel fit to review it. It's as if I haven't seen enough to comment. I don't get the impression that it's really started yet and I'm still waiting for the story to begin. So far it's mostly been pleasant, quiet-ish life in a fantasy world. However the people are nice and the humour works, so I'm happy to continue with Season 2.
Utawarerumono was originally an adult tactical role-playing visual novel, released for Windows and PlayStation. It got a manga and an anime series in 2006, but now, a decade later, a sequel game and anime have popped up. It's set in a fantasy-like world where people have tails and animal ears. The main character is Haku, an easy-going chap who's not even bothered about the fact that he has amnesia. It doesn't affect him. He just gets on with things. He's discovered and named in ep.1 by Kuon, a cat-girl who's nice, sensible, gets on with things and would be pretty much perfect if she'd stop saying "ka na" all the time.
"Ka na" expresses doubt. You put it at the end of sentences to add uncertainty, like "maybe" or "I wonder". Now I realise that there's a cultural difference and that it's common in Japanese to add "ka na" just to soften the tone of what you're saying. For some people it becomes a habit. However, for me, Kuon took it into Annoying Land. She's capable of using it and "zettai" ("definitely") in the same sentence.
Anyway, our heroes do a little minor adventuring, but this isn't an RPG-based world. The big red centipede creatures aren't showing up for contractually obliged fight scenes or anything. As it happens, Haku is rubbish at fighting. Kuon thinks Haku should get a job and is wondering what profession would be good for him. He's fond of inactivity, but he's also clever. They end up in the country's capital city, where among other complications they manage to make friends among the court and royal family.
And beyond that... um, stuff happens. I'd need to check my notes to say exactly what it is. It's entertaining and pleasant, but there's no storyline at this stage and it wouldn't affect much to show these episodes out of order. (The last episode ends with a more serious development, admittedly, but I'll have to watch Season 2 to see how that plays out.) Thinking back on my viewing experience, I have a vague idea of likeable people being amusing. That's more or less it. There are more girls than boys and they get in the bath a lot, but it's not the kind of show that's going to have nipples in the Blu-ray version. (Haku also has absolutely no interest in the girls, to a degree beyond even Noble Harem Hero. He doesn't even react to nudity.)
Looking through my notes for specific things to say...
Quite a lot of the female characters seem interested in Boys' Love manga. This might look like (and is) bait for the otaku audience, but as it happens it's also historically accurate. Feudal Japan had a printed art industry, some of which was erotic.
Um, that's it.
It's quite refreshing to watch. Its characters are aware of politics, having to earn a living and so on. It's not about dungeon-bashing. Its cast is likeable and Princess Anju is the most vivid of them, with her most eye-popping antics being in ep.11 ("The Princess Plays With Fire"). Ep.12 also has Haku receiving a surprising present. So far I'd say the show's fine and quite enjoyable, but if asked for a more definitive verdict, I don't think I'd feel qualified to comment without having seen Season 2.
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