32 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Hozuki no Reitetsu episode 1 – Efficient government middle management employee

hozuki 1It’s anime like Hozuki no Reitetsu that make me pleased that I have a blog that has a decent number of readers. Not because it’s super thrilling to write about, but because fucking nobody will watch this anime without someone selling them on it. Hozuki no Reitetsu is about a government middle manager who is competent at his job, dealing with problems, delegating issues, hiring staff and watching nature programmes during his lunch break. There. That was me selling you on it. Excited, right? You’re running off to check it out right now, right?

…you’re not making this easy for me Hozuki.

hozuki 2Hozoki no Reitetsu really is about a government worker. He just happens to be a government worker in hell. How they present this is pretty clever though. 7 circles of hell, which in turn are divided into 272 subdivisions. I’m not sure quite how its run. I doubt each subdivision has an elected council seeing as they run as a monarchy. However the monarch in question does a lot of administrative work himself and definitely acts more like a mayor than someone with the divine right of kings who lives a life of luxury. It’s more like a setting inside a multinational corporation, but the way its presented is its definitely trying to emulate the life of local political structures.

Which full points for originality on that one. The local politics of hell with a demon acting as councillor, treating heaven like some fussy neighbouring county council who can’t sort their own shit out but they have to work together to aid tourism in both sectors. It takes a lot of work to run the various circles of hell, which will inevitably come with a lot of administrative issues. The story focuses on Hozuki, this one demon who is very good at his job. He’s the middle manager that you would be very lucky to have starting a new job. He’s tough but fair. You don’t want to let him down, but if you have an issue he’s going to be able to sort it out. If someone is giving you a hard time and you can’t get them to fuck off, you can go to him with the problem and he will tell them to fuck off for you. If you’re moving divisions or leaving the job, he will get you that new job and give you a stellar reference.

hozuki 4That’s what makes Hozuki work as a character to focus a story around. He’s the boss you respect but can’t imagine getting any closer to. He’s weirdly distant, which is what makes the segment where he talks about his hobbies, preference in women and desires for a holiday so interesting. It’s like seeing your boss order a pint at a bar, but it ends up being some slightly strange local beer because he’s still weirdly distant from you. I think the show needs to be told from the perspective of someone below Hozuki though. That way the boss-image would come through much stronger. As it is though it’s still a pretty interesting and unique character and certainly something I’ve never really seen in anime before.

It’s also delightfully weird. Hozuki watering his bizarre fish plants, where it’s nothing more than a fish on the end of a stalk. Sending the animals to their new job as they chew a tortured soul for all eternity as if it was nothing more dramatic than giving them a job in advertising. I really like what Wit Studio has done with the show, particularly the watercolour-on-dirty-parchment backgrounds. It fits the show absolutely perfectly. Plus there’s that fantastic OP that is not just another crappy jpop thing but something actually relevant to the show (take note Kill la Kill). It feels like a Noitamina show without actually airing in Noitamina. It doesn’t all work. It’s pretty low-key with nothing much of a plot, and a few of the jokes are lost in translation. But it’s a fascinating little cultural oddity and very unique.

hozuki 3Have I sold you on it yet?

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32 Comments

  1. Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m sold. Seriously. Anime and politics should dance more often. Will definitely be looking for this one.

  2. Yajirobe
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Slice of death: The anime.

    It’s odd, but I hope Wit aren’t banking on that to fill the gaps in humour. I almost want them to go full Aqua Teen with the characters though.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      Yeah I dunno if oddness can keep it up, but for now it’s a cool oddity

  3. Varyn
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Was it just me or did the pheasant pull a Jojo’s pose before being mildly insulted to the ground?

    • il-Palazzo
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      To me it looks like he’s just summoned from a Yu-Gi-Oh card, probably by Crow Hogan.

      “I summon Lurio the Pheasant!”

      • Scamp
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        That totally sounds like one of those crappy cards with 900 attack and no special abilities

  4. Raiphin
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    yes yesss I can’t wait to get home and watch this. (Granted I intended to anyway because let me at that tasty tasty mythology.)

  5. Cirith
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    You did indeed kindle my interest.

  6. Ken
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    I guess I don’t know enough about the Hell in Japanese mythology to really relate to this. What i understood was funny but much of it went over my head.

    • Cirith
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      Circles sound more Dante to me, and I don’t think Shinto has a hell but these show is probably a mix of different ideas.

      • Clarste
        Posted January 11, 2014 at 6:56 am | Permalink

        It’s the classic Japanese version of Buddhist Hell. The Eight Greater Hells and the Mountain of Needles and all that are pretty famous and part of the general layman understanding of the religion.

        Actually, the whole thing reminds me of Touhou, which has the same sort of banal bureaucracy characterization of the afterlife. Well, that’s probably an even more common way of looking at it.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      A lot went over my head too. Thankfully I know the Momotaro tale, but only because I took a glance at the manga first and the scanlators literally started the chapter by telling you Momotaro first

  7. Yokoelf
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    My question is: is this watchable and fully enjoyable by gaijin?

    • Raiphin
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:38 am | Permalink

      you’ll probably notice a couple bits and not know the reference, but still enjoyable. Find a version with the opening and ending subbed for extra credit, the lyrics seemed pretty hilarious from the ~50% I could make out.

    • Gan_HOPE326
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      The biggest joke of the episode was an obscure reference to a Japanese ad that I had to Google to understand. And half an episode was carried on a Japanese fairy tale that we have no clue of (again, had to pause the episode and check Wikipedia). Other than that the humour was deadpan but understandable.

      • Raiphin
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        To be fair, those Sofbank ads are totally worth watching in their own right.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t get the softbank ads either…

  8. Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    I’m sold. I always enjoy variety, and hell is a very fun place for things to happen.

  9. Erif
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    I actually really like Kill la Kill’s OP, it’s very much a throwback to early J-Pop, and pretty good to boot.

    Anyway, you have convinced me to check this out.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      Booooo Kill la Kills OP is a travesty of both terrible song and terrible fit for the show. It is the reason why anime OPs suck in one single perfect 90 second capsule. Fuck that OP

  10. Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    You could have just said “Gintama in Hell” I think.

    • Hanasra
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      This is very different from Gintama I think. Hozuki rarely break the fourth wall, and it is more of a low key comedy than high one like Gintama.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      Yeah it’s not very Gintama. Gintama is kinda manic, while Hozuki has a totally different style of humour

  11. Hanasra
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I’m sold. Never been in a rush to watch an anime after Mushishi Special until now.

  12. Gan_HOPE326
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    This reminded me of the depiction of hell that we had – of all places – in Dragonball Z. The bureaucracy, King Enma, the various hells with torments like the mountain of spikes, I understand it all comes from a mix of Buddhism stories and Japanese folklore, but still, to me it’s a throwback to DBZ and Yu Yu Hakusho. Anyway, a very odd premiere. I hope the humour improves though, it didn’t make me laugh too much – it was either too obscure or too subtle for me, most of the times. Artistically impressive though, I love the style. And I think the screaming fish-plant was what entertained me the most.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      Hah, I see what you’re going for with the DBZ comparison. They probably draw from the same mythology.

  13. Kiraly
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I just hope some other group picks this up, the CR/HS translation was horrifying. I kept having to pause the video because what I read in the subs made no sense with what I was hearing from the audio.

    • Raiphin
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      ^truth.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Eh, it’s a difficult anime to translate. Not perfect but I prefer it to what they do with Gintama where they plaster TL notes on the screen every minutes

      • Cirith
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        Oh which version is that? I watched on crunchyroll and I don’t think they did that. I”m curious whether such notes would reveal that I missed many things in Gintama.

  14. Posted January 11, 2014 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Lucky for you I gave the show a shot before reading and was already sold.

    I’m not sure what it is, but I like inventive slice of life stuff: the kind of show where the characters are already well-rounded and fun to just have talk all the time.

    Then again, I love Monogatari and all those characters were pretty thin to begin with, but all seem to have great conversations. Also why I loved the commentary.

    I suppose I just like watching people talk about things in a believable manner?

  15. Posted January 11, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I’m certainly seeing the points you made, but I’m not buying it yet.
    It was kind of boring and dull to me. In general I liked Hozuki as a character and what he did, but I also found myself browsing tumblr while the anime was still going.
    Well, mabye it’s just not for me.

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