Everyone has a different sense of humor and while many people might enjoy a certain brand of humor, others may scoff or simply shake their heads at what others find funny. The slice-of-life genre is filled with different types of comedy series, many of which tend to feature an all-female cast doing random cute things or at the very least taking place in a school of sorts. As such, when Hozuki’s Coolheadedness first started airing it was a very different type of comedy series with an off-brand style of humor. So now that the series has been released in the West is it worth picking up?
Considering the massive number of people on the planet, managing Hell might seem like a hell of a hard job, especially when Enma, the King of Hell, is usually too busy passing judgment on souls or simply doesn’t want to handle specific tasks and is acting lazy. Because of this many of the smaller issues, such as staff shortages in one of the 272 different types of Hells present in the series or handling other religion’s dignitaries, tend to slip through the cracks and when that happens it is up to Enma’s Deputy Chief, Hozuki, to take care of things and make sure that all of Hell is running as efficiently as possible.
Despite the amount of jobs laid at his feet and being the second-in-command in Hell, Hozuki is more than just a stone-faced bureaucrat capable of intimidating anyone and quickly handling tasks in a calm (but occasionally frightening) manner. He is also a man of many different hobbies such as taking care of goldfish plants, interacting with his co-workers, and adoring any type of animal he comes across.
Thanks to the way that Hozuki’s Coolheadedness is set up, it is very similar to a workplace comedy but set in Hell where there are numerous fantastical areas and demons mixed in with an extremely heavy dose of legends and mythology. Enma plays the inept but good-natured boss that Hozuki usually has to reign in or clean up after all while dealing with the various issues that arise in Hell, such as the appearance of Momotaro, Beelzebub, and more.
The setting creates a lot of potential for humorous and really interesting situations but whether or not you’ll actually find most of the events that take place in Hozuki’s Coolheadedness funny is the main issue.While there is no denying Hozuki’s Coolheadedness is an interesting and intelligent series that delves deep into legends, features plenty of social commentary, takes jabs at politics and more, the style of humor in this series is as dry as a bone.
This dry humor is something of a rarity in many anime series and those looking for it will find plenty here but this is certainly not a series for everyone as it rarely actually tries to be funny and usually provokes laughs either through witty commentary or by the way that Hozuki deals with situations when they arise or even how ridiculous things tend to get. In fact, very few jokes are actually delivered in a decent manner and even the whole concept of turning hell into a bizarre office of sorts wears thin. This may not have been such an issue if Hozuki was an engaging character but he is far from it.
It is also worth noting that there is an immense viewing barrier to Hozuki’s Coolheadedness. As mentioned before, numerous characters from legends, mythologies, and religions appear and play various roles in the series and those who may be unfamiliar with some of Japan’s more obscure legends may struggle with the way that the series handles the jokes with these characters. Sentai Filmworks has tried to rectify this issue by providing large swathes of text that appear on screen to try and explain jokes and various cultural references but this often means that if you don’t already know what is going on you’ll likely need to either pause and read the information or completely take yourself away from the events happening in the show in order to quickly read why you should be laughing.
While the way that Hozuki’s Coolheadedness handles its humor and setting is unique, it is also unique in the manner that Wit Studio chose to present and animate the series. The animation studio has chosen to use a floating world (ukiyo-e) style of presentation to create a unique looking series with gorgeous and haunting backgrounds.
It is interesting to note that most of the characters are a bit more standard looking with various demonic features added for flair, though mythological creatures are designed to look similar to how they have usually been described. The aforementioned translator notes to explain various things are generally located at the top of the screen but as mentioned, they occasionally run four to five lines deep and obscure the series from time to time.
As one would expect for a series steeped in different kinds of lore but primarily Japanese lore, Sentai Filmworks has released Hozuki’s Coolheadedness with only the original Japanese voice track. This is a fitting choice as it not only fits the theme of the series better but a decent amount of the series’ humor actually comes from Hozuki’s stoic tone.
The soundtrack for the series is surprisingly fantastic at times as it implements numerous traditional Japanese instruments to fit the setting of Hozuki’s Coolheadedness. As far as the opening and ending themes are concerned, the opening theme is surprisingly catchy to the point it will be difficult to get out of your head after watching the show while the ending themes are unfortunately very unremarkable.
Hozuki’s Coolheadedness: Complete Collection comes only with a clean version of the opening animation, clean ending animation, and trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases.
As mentioned before, everyone has different tastes and a series like Hozuki’s Coolheadedness will fit the tastes of a very select audience. The dry humor, stunted jokes, and heavy reliance on lore makes the series as different from your average comedy anime as they come but being different doesn’t always mean it is good. While amusing at times and featuring artwork that is absolutely gorgeous and a fitting score, this unique take on a workplace comedy unfortunately leaves much to be desired and even well-versed viewers will find it to be generally unfunny.
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