Okami-san and Her Seven Companions
Studio: J.C. Staff
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Price: $69.98 – Available Here
Practically every child has heard a fairy tale of some kind as they were growing up, however only recently have these fairy tales been adapted into other forms of media outside of books and childrens’ cartoons. In fact, there has been a large influx in shows that feature fairy tale characters, including major motion pictures and television series.
However Japan was a little ahead of the game when Masashi Okita’s light novel series, Okami-san and her Seven Companions was adapted into an anime back in mid-2010. Now FUNimation has brought this series to anime fans in North America. Will this series stand out with its various fairy tale references or be crushed beneath the weight of too many references at once?
At the Otogi High School there exists a certain club that will take care of your problems for a price. However rather than having to pay immediately with money or something similar, you will simply need to promise that you will repay their favor in some way or another in the future. This club is called the Otogi Bank and they are basically a loan club for peoples’ problems and will go to extreme and unorthodox lengths to solve peoples’ problems.
The Otogi Bank has a few strange members already but the two who stand out the most are Ryoko Okami and her friend Ringo Akai. Ryoko may be a bit lacking upstairs (as the narrator references as fan dis-service more than once) but she makes up for this with her rough and violent personality, more eager to get into a fight than do anything girlish which makes her a shining example of a tomboy. Despite her personality a young boy named Ryoshi who is extremely shy has fallen in love with her and after failing to confess to her, joins Otogi Bank in an effort to become her shield and learn more about this wolfish girl.
The majority of the series follows a very basic formula with various issues coming into the Otogi Bank (many of which are also references to fairy tales, such as Cinderella and Snow White) which then must be solved usually with Ryoko, Ryoshi and Ringo leading the way with some help from the rest of the Otogi Bank along the way. This formulaic approach however grows to be a bit tiresome as the large amount of fairy tales referenced throughout the show begin to pile on one another and those who are familiar with said fairy tale will find themselves seeing zero innovation throughout that episode.
While these main characters are obviously the highlight of the series, each member of the supporting cast receives at least one episode where they are highlighted. It is also worth noting that nearly everyone single one of the supporting cast and even the main characters themselves are references to fairy tale characters, such as Ringo’s obvious reference to Little Red Riding Hood, Ryoshi being the Hunter and more which I will leave you to figure out.
At its core, Okami-san and her Seven Companions is a light hearted romantic comedy sprinkled with some fights and slingshot shooting with only a few shadows of darkness which are revealed later in the series. At the surface Okami is very strong and tries to always put up a tough front while Ryoshi can barely stand being outside amongst people, let alone being stared at.
As the series goes on however both of these characters start to expand on these traits, with Ryoshi’s weakness turning into his strength as he protects Okami both in combat and does his best to support the scared side of herself as he discovers that she only acts tough to hide her fear of bad situations, a sheep wearing wolf’s clothing…
This provides a decent romance story with a shy but determined male character and a tsundere female character who slowly loses her harsh exterior and becomes a little more dere towards the end of the series. However thanks to the format of the show, with an intrusive narrator providing constant commentary throughout every single episode viewers will find it hard to grow attached to characters which on the surface seem human and relatable, are held back by the story book formula.
At first glance, veteran anime viewers will notice that the style used for the character designs is a bit different from what everyone may be used to. However this art style works well with the fact that most of these characters are meant to be similar to characters from a story book. As such there are a few characters who are obviously designed with their fairy tale reference in mind, such as Ringo’s Red Riding Hood appearance.
As such, the characters are well designed and the backgrounds used throughout the series are relatively standard with only a few exceptional looking areas throughout the show. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about Okami-san and her Seven Companions’ animation quality. While fluid for the most part, there are plenty of times where the animation quality will drop during some of the fist fights.
Now earlier you may have noticed I mentioned that one of the issues with the storyline was thanks to the narrator. Now Luci Christian does a great job pretending to be a story teller and filling the role of the narrator for the anime, it is a huge detriment to the series as a whole. Rather than taking a back seat to the anime itself, the narrator intrudes almost constantly by saying a few lines here and there which will drown out what the main characters were saying at the time.
Because of these constant intrusions not only does it put a wall between the viewer and the characters, it also grows to be tiresome by the end of the series. For the most part however, the rest of the English voice cast does an excellent job with the dub, with Brina Palencia’s portrayal of Okami-san being the stand out performance amongst the cast.
As for background music we are treated to the standard fare that doesn’t stand out much and isn’t memorable. On the other hand, the opening song for the series is “Ready, Go!” by May’n is enjoyable to listen to and may be one that viewers will enjoy listening to more than once. The ending song is a far cry from the opening however as “Akazukin-chan Goyoujin” by OtoGi8 not only offers an entirely different tone, but is also set to story book styled artwork that is something many will likely avoid.
Viewers are given a bit more than your standard inclusions this time around as while this release does contain the standard clean opening and ending songs as well as commercials for past and upcoming FUNimation releases, there is also some audio commentary and a few promotional videos as well. It is worth noting that these promotional videos are very short however and are only given English subtitles so while it is nice they were included, will not provide much in the way of extra entertainment.
The two episode commentaries are much better however, as Episode 1’s commentary features Colleen Clinkenbeard, the voice of Otsu Tsurugaya, and Chuck Huber a writer for the series. This audio commentary doesn’t really follow the episode very much but does offer plenty of humorous jokes and some behind the scenes information about what the company had to do to adapt the show. Episode 6’s commentary features the voice actors of our two main characters with Brina Polencia, the voice of Okami, and Monica Rial, the voice of Ringo. This follows the episode a bit more closely than the first commentary and is also lower key, with the voice actors discussing the characters and the show itself.
Okami-san and her Seven Companions’ release falls at a fortuitous time, as the interest in fairy tale adapted media has never been higher. Thankfully, those who are looking to purchase this series will not be disappointed as there is plenty to enjoy despite a few issues here and there. The romance that slowly develops between Okami and Ryoshi is enjoyable to watch as both characters feed off of each other for character development. Despite the overly intrusive narrator there is a great romance story to be found here with interesting artwork and interesting premise.