By Dustin Cabeal
If you follow the site, you’ve probably noticed a lack of anime reviews lately, and that was intentional. Not that anyone gives a hoot, but my writing time is limited, and it got to the point that I wasn’t able to keep up with episode reviews and host an anime podcast. Instead, I decided to review first episodes and entire seasons. Partially to see how my thoughts are shaped and formed over the course of the season. With that comes the possibility of only first episode reviews because I’m not above dropping a series I’m not enjoying.
Such was the case with Tsugumomo. I disliked the first two episodes of the series a lot. It was a generic monster of the week fighting with a poorly explained plot. What was worse was the feeling that that story was incredibly dated. It came across as a spiritual successor to Tenchi Muyo in many ways, but none that said, “Hey, let’s make this in 2017.” That’s how it initially came off, and it didn’t quite shake all of that by the end of the series.
For some reason, as much as I disliked the first two episodes of the season, I couldn’t quite put it behind me. I’m glad for that because the third episode and on the show found its voice. There were hints of perverted fan service in the first two episodes. Though it was really with the third episode that a plot that was bigger than “monster of the week” was revealed and the crazy perversion was cranked to levels that put it just under Shimoneta in terms of what they were able to get away with throughout the season. Also, pun intended.
Let’s talk about the plot before we talk about the perversion. The story follows Kazuya Kagami as his beloved Obi one day turns into a beautiful blue haired girl named Kiriha. She’s not too unlike Ryoko, which wasn’t bad in the least bit. Eventually, if you stick with the series, everything is explained to us the viewers, but not to Kazuya. What he knows is that Kiriha is a tsukumogami which is a beloved object that has become conscious and can do supernatural things. There are of course good and bad tsukumogami, and after losing a fight to the local god Kukuri, Kazuya becomes the local malison cleanser. Basically, he fights possessed items because it’s still a monster of the week type deal. The difference is, there are consequences to defeating a malison. If the person that wishes for the object to come to life destroys it, then there’s no punishment, but if someone else does it, there’s atonement. This varies based on the wish, in one case it was a loss of the person’s voice.
What Kazuya doesn’t know and what isn’t fully revealed, has something to do with his past. I won’t say anything more than that, but it was a great use of the “I don’t remember, it was so long ago” character type. I hate when a fifteen-year-old can’t remember when they were seven, but that wasn’t the case here. How it’s handled is quite brilliant in that it’s completely subtle, but also incredibly emotional and moving.
As for the perversion, this is only a fraction of the comedy, but it is pretty damn hilarious. There was one part of it that I didn’t care for, and that was all the Loli TnA. Frankly, it’s the biggest black eye on the series because it’s unnecessary and gross. There were other parts that were perverted, but funny, but none that involved young girls.
Kiriha’s character journey is quite great and humorous. She ends up being depowered and reverting to a child but still, acts like the adult she is for the most part. The local god ends living in a secondary shrine on a playground and reverts to a child as well. The two have these deep, serious talks while building complex sand castles, which is just great. When the two are in kid form, they are adorable and funny, which makes the TnA all the more disappointing.
The best episode or rather half episode is one in which there’s hardly a word spoken. Instead, there’s growls, cries and a few words spoken. It was incredibly creative and caught my attention quickly. It was the equivalent of reading a comic with no dialogue. The artwork does all the work for the story, and it was fantastic in its execution and delivery. The jokes are simple, but I laughed a lot at the reactions from the characters in this episode.
There are plenty of stumbles in this first season of Tsugumomo. It is harem comedy at its core, but as with all good harem comedies, the main character has a tremendous amount of heart. Everything aside, the jokes, the fan service, at the end of it, what shined was the over arcing plotline that’s set up. No, a lot doesn’t happen in this first season, and the characters hang out a lot and just live; which is great because Tsugumomo doesn’t have this frantic, “Let’s get to the finish line” pace that most anime seem to have lately. It’s just hanging out, much like real life. While it is a bit dated in its storytelling and character designs, there ended up being something timeless about it at the same time. It’s an anime that I could have easily written off but ended up being charming even if a little misguided.
Tsugumomo – Season 1
Creator: Yoshikazu Hamada
Director: Ryōichi Kuraya