It’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.
Hozoki 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.
That’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.