“You could always drop [Ookami Kakushi] and do a combo review with me on Sora No Woto.”
A comment left by Kaza on my last review of Ookami Kakushi. I’m seriously considering the offer. But part of me feels like I’m making a snap judgement – there is potential after all with a heavy mystery that’s slowly being revealed. The problem is that the revelation is coming too slowly and we’re losing interest along the way.
(For Humanity Cat (meow) – and anyone else wondering if they should watch this or not: To be honest, I’m not ready to drop this yet (and I may not drop it at all, but that shouldn’t be basis to watch it as I’m likely to complete this series out of duty) but it certainly isn’t something you have to rush to watch. Like FaS mentioned in their comment, you could start watching from the middle if it picks up. From between episodes one to three, you’re really not missing much.)
Synopsis: What starts off as a friendly car ride into the countryside for an afternoon barbeque soon turns creepy thanks to a few unsettling instances. One: Kaname’s observation regarding their surroundings. While setting up for their picnic/barbeque, Kaname casually brings up the Jouga Wolves again and makes the following comment:
“Our town is completely surrounded by forests and nature. Sometimes I get the feeling we’re getting held captive. In a cage called nature.”
After Hiroshi’s reaction to this, she laughs it off as a poem and tells Hiroshi to lighten up. She quickly changes subjects to that of the “missing” Isuzu – who’s later discovered in a swimsuit, playing in the water. She’s joined by Kaname (also wearing a swimsuit) and together they try to get Hiroshi to join them. He ends up falling in the water. (Is there anything you don’t fail at, Hiroshi?) Which brings me to creepy point number two: Isuzu’s overly “affectionate” behaviour toward Hiroshi is totally unwarranted in my opinion. Someone as plain, insecure, and uncertain about himself as Hiroshi doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would attract so much attention. But, I suppose, it’s not so much the way he looks or acts, but the way the smells… Also, those fishermen who were staring at Hiroshi while he sat by the river side…
The most unnerving of all these things, though, is Issei. The guy has creepy written all over him, from the way he looks at Hiroshi to the things he says. He “jokes” about Hiroshi not having to wash the sweater he lent him so as to not wash off his scent from the garment. Later that night, he’s seen smelling that same sweater. The following day, after Hiroshi goes to the local hospital to see the doctor (he’d caught a cold from getting wet the previous day), Issei “coincidentally” shows up and offers him a ride home. It’s during this trip that he loses control and tries to take advantage of Hiroshi – and Hiroshi would have been taken had he not knocked over Issei’s Hassaku air freshener, releasing something into the air and countering Issei’s initial impulse. After coming to his senses, he apologizes and tries to convince Hiroshi that he was just playing another joke on him – and the little idiot believes him… more or less. Hiroshi’s clearly unsettled by the incident but doesn’t pursue a better explanation.
We’re also introduced to a couple of new characters: Nemuru’s uncle, who’s a doctor working in the hospital, and Sakaki, who is in charge of Bio Technolyze Drug Manufacturing. At the end of the episode, Nemuru’s uncle tells her that Hiroshi had visited the hospital, and he also mentions that he (Hiroshi) had come to the village at a bad time – when the Hassaku harvest was poor. He then leaves things to Nemuru. Whatever that means.
Thoughts: This is moving at a painfully slow pace. Painfully. At first I was willing to forgive the poor character design (and weird “propping” like Mana’s outfits and the outdated cassette tape) in trade for a good story, but the “good” part of the story is being withheld from the few of us who are watching this. I mean, we’ve got quite a few clues to what might be going on: we know that there is an important underlying legend involving the Jouga Wolves that is most likely manifested through that hunting pack that shows up every night. The villagers of Jouga are, therefore, either said ancient Wolves in human form, or they are humans who are then somehow turned into “wild-humans” who are then hunted down. The Hassaku fruit is the key to keeping the people of the village in their right mind; but if it’s too late, then it’s death by scythe (and having your existence erased from the village records by some lame excuse).
A good mystery needs to be balanced between keeping the secret and unravelling the truth behind everything. This series leaves us nothing to look forward to each week; there is no anticipation built up for the coming episodes. Keep this up and no one will even care who or what the big secret behind the village is.