Sunday, March 15, 2015

Anime Review No. 97 (OtoBoku)

OtoBoku: The Maidens are Falling for Me! (2006 TV Series)
Director-Munenori Nawa
Writer: Katsumi Hasegawa, Masaharu Amiya, Masashi Suzuki and Tomoyoshi Nagai

Some guilty pleasures are so due to just trashy and full of fanservice. Agent Aika from last time is like that. Yet others are so due to being far out and weird/surreal they are and that you are surprised that anyone would like this, much less give it the time of day. The other 2 entries this month are like that. Let’s talk about OtoBoku.

It is an original story by Caramel Box, based on an eroge visual novel that came out in 2005. The anime adaptation came out about a year after that as OtoBoku came out at a time when visual novel adaptations were king (the Key VN adaptations). The story is a simple setup. Mizuho is a young man who gets roped into going to an all girls school by his grandfather’s last will. Lucky for him he is so androgynous that a simple makeover by confidant/childhood friend Mariya and bears a resemblance to his late mother. With only his teacher knows and headmaster knowing who he really is, he strives to do the best he can at the new situation he has gotten into. He meets various other girls at the school, be it the redhead tsundere Kaichou and her Vice Prez megane babe Kimie-san, the mysterious dark haired beauty Shion and 2 kouhai, the genki Yukari and the cutie Kana among others.
Yesh thats a boy (FFWL i guess xD)
Essentially OtoBoku is a rather gentle, soothing and laidback slice of life school story but with a gender bender twist. Yes this is a sub genre of anime called Otokonoko which is basically pretty pretty boys ending up in situations where they must dress up as girls for some reason or other. Yeah a very high concept idea I know. Of course Mizuho takes it in stride and use the opportunity to become a better person and improve the lives of the other students as best as he can. There are also elements of yuri anime as well here, like the senpai-kouhai pairing and emphasis on female on female relationships as per Strawberry Panic. At times certain elements of the show downright copy Strawberry Panic, not surprising considering this came out right after Strawberry Panic-Elder election is pretty much a ripoff of the Etolie plot line from Strawberry Panic except not as drawn out.
It-its not because I like you or anything gosh -blush-
In fact OtoBoku starts out a bit like Strawberry Panic in that it does little story arcs for the first half with Mizuho coming into his own given his weird situation and real light and fluff. Whether it’s dealing with the rivalry between Takako and Mariya, winning over the student body by becoming Elder or helping Ichiko, a ghost girl, come to terms with her untimely death. Then episode 6 brings in a more coherent storyline that extends to the end, giving the show more a dramatic and serious edge. Granted its more situational stories but there is more cohesion between the episodes. An interesting love triangle develops between Mizuho, Takako (Kaichou-san) and Mariya, though it is mostly due to misunderstanding and lack of proper communication. Yet, the Takako route is the prominent one in the anime series which reveals the the VN origin of this show but I find it works very well. Takako, next to Mizuho, is my favorite character of the show. That comes to mainly how well she is written, though she does start off as a tsundere and rigid authority figure but as the show goes on she softens up to and develop feelings for Mizuho. I feel that the series has a predictable yet satisfactory conclusion. There is an episode 13 that is just a silly chibifest rendition of Cinderella that is really hilarious and full of laughs.

We are soooo blitzed right now xD
Animation is mostly solid if a little unimpressive. Like Strawberry Panic, it has a look not too different from the source material it is based on and goes its intended job without derping or excelling at it. It does have an unique chibi design which I termed ‘fugly chibi’ which whenever it shifts from the more straightforward character design art to this I burst out laughing but given that this was intended for the more LOL moments that is to be expected. The music feels like leftovers from Ouran and the voice acting (in japanese, no dub) is rather solid if predictable in terms of casting and performance, except for one. Mizuho is voiced by renowned seiyuu Yui Horie who isn’t quite adept at sounding more like a boy then as a very girly girl at times. As I mentioned, this is was released by Media Blasters around the same time as Strawberry Panic when they just churn bare-bones releases without a dub. Its so bad in fact that the edition I have contain discs with no artwork on the discs themselves.

Now there is Futari no Elder, a 3 episode OVA made in 2012 with a different director and studio, based on a spinoff manga of the original story. It is a somewhat more somber and serious story granted and has a slightly similar initial incident to OtoBoku but feels enough like a natural sequel and separate story and not a mere copy/paste job of the original series. It is also a nice, short and self-contained story which proves to be a bit more emotionally resonant with me at least then the TV series. It also looks a bit better than the 2006 series, naturally. It gets a recommendation from yours truly though good luck finding it as this hasn’t gotten an official release and I doubt it will but hey a guy can dream.

So yeah Otoboku is a guilty pleasure that fortunately has enough charm and amusement to it to be somewhat enjoyable, even given the weird and off-putting premise. Next time, won’t be such the case.

Til next time dear readers

1 comment:

Overlord-G said...

Might as well pick this up when bored.