Yozakura Quartet: Almost Amazing
For my first review, I will be talking about Yozakura Quartet, a series that I feel like dropping, but I can’t bring myself to do so. The main problem is that the source material is so weak, that it is hard to embellish it into something better. However, the characters are some of the best I’ve seen in a while in terms of both design and personality.
What initially drew me in was the cover of the first graphic novel, featuring Hime with a Fender Telecaster. This is my favorite kind of guitar, so I kept the series in mind, but never actually got around to reading it. So when the anime was announced, I was excited, and immediately downloaded it, despite only having a vague idea of the plot.
The series takes place in a modern Japanese town populated mostly by youkai, demons of sorts, who for the most part want to live a normal life, despite having super powers and whatnot. However, there are a couple of these youkai who just can’t let people enjoy themselves, and decide to use their powers to fuck things up. The afformentioned quartet (from left to right: Kotoha, Hime, Akina, and Ao) are called in to stop these youkai and banish them from the world Ghostbusters style.
So the premise isn’t anything new, but what initially drew me in was the character designs. All the characters have this hip, fresh look in their faces and dress that I’ve only seen equaled by Bleach’s Tite Kubo. The color contrast between the characters from Ao’s blue and white to Hime’s orange and black contrast nicely Also, the way they interact is very natural and refreshing. The parts of the series where the characters are doing mundane tasks, such as working at a kindergarten, with the aid of their powers were quite enjoyable. YQ could have made for a very good slice of life/comedy anime.
Unfortunately, the director did not have this in mind when making the anime. While the first 4 or 5 episodes focused on introducing the characters and their abilities, they always tried to squeeze in a scene or two involving the antagonist, Enjin, and his diabolically ambiguous scheme to do something evil. The weak plot would have only been a minor annoyance had it been better explained. Despite putting a fair amount of emphasis on the Nanagou, 7 trees that act as a barrier, they don’t clearly explain what they do and how they work. Despite being 9 episodes into the series, Enjin’s intentions are still not very clear, and there seems to be no deeper motive to his actions besides destroying the world.
It’s really quite a shame, as YQ could have been very good had they decided to deviate from the source material a bit more. After reading only the first volume of the manga, I find that the only deviations they did take are giving Akina the power to banish youkai instead of making him a normal human, and adding some village elder characters who have something to do with the plot, although their role is not very well explained either.
Yozakura Quartet has a lot going for it. The scenes about their day to day happenings are nicely written. The animation and art, while not revolutionary in any way, is pleasing. The soundtrack is solid classic rock, with a sweet little guitar riff at the eyecatches. It’s just dragged down by its terribly explained, generic plot. So do I recommend Yozakura Quartet? The answer is an apprehensive yes. Personally, I feel that episodes 1, 3, and 5 show what I like most about this series, so if you had to pick any 3 episodes to watch, it would be those. After 9 episodes, YQ gets a 6/10. I’m hoping that the series redeems itself in the finale, bu the way things are going, this seems unlikely.
My next review will probably be Gundam 00: Season 2, quite possibly the best comedy of the season.