May 6, 2012 7:22 pm by Cholisose
This week, we will discuss the first four episodes of Ookami Kakushi.
Our first four episodes of Ookami Kakushi have established the general premise of the series and introduced the main characters, but for the most part this series should feel pretty familiar to those who have watched a few horror anime in the past. Similar to Higurashi, Shiki, and Another, the story of Ookami Kakushi begins with a high school student transferring to a small reculsive town or village, where murderous acts are secretly taking place. There is, of course, variation from one series to the next, but the general atmosphere for the setting is quite orthodox.
One significant difference may be in the division that separates the two sides of Jouga, the town Ookami Kakushi takes place in. One side is more heavily-poulated, bustling with shops and modern culture. The other side, meanwhile, remains small and rooted in older, more traditional ways. It is the old side of town that is shrouded in mystery, and where (presumably) the masked cult emerges from each night in order to hunt down those who have been “wolfed away.”
What is our supernatural situation in this town, precisely? It is the masked cult that is running/flying around killing people, but those they take down are apparently turning wild and impulsive. Presumably these victims have become wolf-like, and perhaps may even become werewolves of some sort if they aren’t dealt with. What is causing this phenomenon is unclear, but it seems the mysterious hassaku fruit is what keeps the madness at bay, along with some kind of medicine (presumably) being created by Bio Technolyze Drug Manufacturing (perhaps using hassaku as a primary ingredient). The fact the hassaku harvest was small this year seems to be the reason people are going crazy. The question then is, is it right for the masked cult to be killing all these people off? I’m curious to know if the people of Jouga in general are aware of the masked cult, or of the “wolfed away” phenomenon for that matter. Certainly some people know what’s going on (namely Nemuru’s family—but Isuzu’s family also seems in the know, likely since past generations of the family were from the old side of town). It will be interesting to see if Scythe Girl and her masked cult will continue to be portrayed as dark and murderous, or if their actions will be recognized as necessary for the town’s survival.
It also may be worth noting that both those who are turning wolf-like and those wearing the masks exhibit red eye syndrome. Whether this is an actual plot element or simply a clear haunting visual is unclear, but it does seem to imply a “those who fight monsters” situation.
“Hiroshi belongs to everyone!”
The main character of our story is Hiroshi, who like many visual novel protagonists, is described as very plain and ordinary. This unfortunately doesn’t translate well for anime (or most any other medium) in my opinion, but I suppose this is an adaptation challenge that must be dealt with in some way. In this case, there is a great focus on how nearly everyone in this town is absolutely fascinated with the boy. Like Asagiri (notably also a transfer student), we can’t help but wonder WHY. What is it that Isuzu saw in Hiro, to make her so thoroughly head-over-heels for him… right from the very first moment she met him? Perhaps love is difficult to explain, but usually people have some reason for liking certain people. Isuzu’s obsessive attachment to Hiro is fairly bizarre in and of itself, but on top of this nearly every single student in his class is also remarkably engrossed by the new transfer student. Why is everyone so amazed by Hiro?
Of course, this general fascination turns from bizarre to creepy once Isuzu’s brother Issei tries to make his move on the boy. The dark side of shounen-ai, perhaps—but it seems Issei is simply turning wolf-like from hassaku deprivation. Why Issei specifically is having withdrawals is unclear, as is his attachment to Hiro. My best guess is that as someone who has transferred from another part of the country, Hiro may give off a unique “scent,” let’s call it. (This may also be a subconscious explanation for everyone’s fascination with him.)
I’m hoping that Hiro will develop into a more interesting character in the next batch of episodes though, because to be honest I don’t care too much about him. He’s no Keiichi, at any rate. XP But I am intrigued by the general setup of our story, and wonder what role the many side characters will play before this is over.
Mysterious Characters and Conflicts
As in many horror mysteries, there is a good variety of characters in Ookami Kakushi to make us wonder what everyone is up to, and how their decisions will affect everyone else’s course of action. But I must wonder—what is the central conflict of this story? It’s clear there are people becoming wolf-like, but that problem is already being dealt with by Scythe Girl. We perhaps may worry for Hiro’s well-being, but Isuzu is already working to keep Issei in check. Is the main goal then to find a way to stop this curse affecting this town? We do have a number of characters researching the myths and legends behind the town, but they don’t even really know about the “wolfed away” phenomenon yet. At least Hiro has come to witness the masked cult at the end of episode four, so hopefully things will start to move toward a main conflict soon enough.
The most interesting character to me right now is Scythe Girl, who not only has a really imaginative character design, but seems to have the greatest struggle to deal with. I mean, she looks no older than Hiro and his classmates, but she has to go around each night killing people with a giant scythe! (And if the OP is any indication, she can fly like the friggin’ Batman.) I imagine we will learn more about her as the series goes along, but seriously… the sooner the better.
I am also very intrigued by Nemuru, who stands out the most out of all of Hiro’s classmates for not caring about him at all. Interestingly, she is blatantly feared by all her classmates, and the fact she calls Hiro’s existance an annoyance is also curious. It adds weight to my theory that Hiro’s presence is awakening the wolf side in people around him, and is evidence that Nemuru is well aware of the phenomenon in general. The fact she lives in the old town and is also the niece of the doctor in league with the drug company hints further at her importance in the story. It even makes me wonder if Nemuru is in fact Scythe Girl herself. The obvious problem with that is their different hair colors, but if she can wear a mask she can wear a wig as well, I imagine. It would be wise to hide your identity after all, if you’re going around killing people on a regular basis.
Our other major mystery character is the bishie who is apparently investigating the series of murders in Jouga. (I don’t think his name has been revealed yet, so for now he is Mysterious Bishounen.) It seems that his fiancee(?) was killed by Scythe Girl, but other than that any further details are pretty vague. He seems like a wild card for the series, but will hopefully move the plot along in the process.
It will also be interesting to see what will become of the rest of the cast, though I do hope for a little more fleshing out of their personalities. Isuzu has essentially shown nothing but undying and contant devotion to Hiroshi, which is a little exhausting after a while. Asagiri has also shown little more than her deep interest in dark mysteries (though this has been helpful in terms of exposition). Mana at least is a bit more interesting since she’s had a few different characters to interact with, and I do wonder if the series will delve into her wheelchair-bound situation further. The fact that Kaori, the violinist, has been introduced also makes me wonder what part she will play in the series.
“Sadness is always what comes after love.”
This line is what starts off the OP (which is really good, by the way—as is the haunting and dramatic ED), and it seems to establish a major point in Ookami Kakushi’s general tone and atmosphere. There have been multiple confessions of love (to varying degrees) in these first four episodes, and things haven’t turned out too well for many of those involved. In fact, some of those killed by Scythe Girl seem to be offed shotly after they have come to terms with their love—which is perhaps responsible for fully(?) awakening their wolf sides.
Characters are becoming infatuated with one another, but how much of this is genuine love? Are some/most/all of the characters being affected by their subconscious “wolfness,” making them become enamored with (or at least greatly like) other characters (such as Hiro)? Of course, one can make the argument that this isn’t so different from falling in love in reality. How much of this emotion is driven by hormones, for example? (Particularly for teenagers?) What aspects of falling in love are genuine in the first place? Is love primarily a selfless or a selfish feeling? When madly in love, how much like “ravenous wolves” can people become? Is Ookami Kakushi’s premise just one dark, elaborate metaphor?
And much like Higurashi, Ookami Kakushi is set up for plenty of tragedies to ensue, since nobody is safe from the looming scythe of death. Will everyone’s love lives be torn apart by the wolf plague and masked cult? It will be interesting to see how far the terror will reach by the end of the series.