- Genre: Slice of Death, Supernatural, Yokai, comedy, folklore
- Episodes: 13
- Studio: Wit Studio
Hell is nothing if not… efficient! Judging all those souls, dealing out appropriate punishment, making time for diplomatic relations with all the other hells, it can really be… Well you get the idea. It takes a lot of work to keep a place like that running smoothly. After all, demons aren’t exactly known for their work ethic. That’s why the great king Emma has had his hands full keeping it all together for all these centuries. But he’s had help. No self respecting ruler of the underworld would go without a reliable right hand man and devoted minion. And Hozuki’s sure is reliable. Hell’s secretary takes his job very seriously and works tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure our eternal torment goes off without a hitch. Thank heavens for that!
I don’t know when it happened, but I’m slowly developing a niche specialty in Yokai themed anime. Time travel and Yokai, that will be my brand! I’m kidding, I know exactly when it happened. Cough..Natsume…cough.
Once in a while I will get a crush on an anime series for no reason whatsoever. I’ll have vaguely heard of a show, maybe seen one image from it and decide that it’s my favorite. Nevermind that I have no clue what the show is actually about or that it has a 3.8 rating on MAL. It’s me and random show forever! And you better watch out if the poor series fails to live up to my completely unreasonable and arbitrary expectations! Do you do that too? Please say yes…I don’t want to be the only crazy one again… So Hozuki’s coolheadedness was one of these shows.
In fact, the only things I knew about the series were the title, the look of the main character from the cover of the manga vol 1 and a vague notion of yokainess. I had not so much as seen a screenshot of the show. That turned out to be a plus.
Hozuki is deeply steeped in Japanese folklore and that’s reflected in the visuals. The character designs are softened (animemafied) version of classic mythological creatures and characters. There is a bit of dissonance when western characters get introduced which look much more cartoonish by comparison. Beyond that, the colour palette and patterns also recall traditional Japanese art and outdoor scenes are stylized to give the appearance of woodcut paintings. It’s fantastic!
There is a very clear and well defined aesthetic running through the entire series and I suppose if it’s not your preference this could be tiresome. It is my preference. I thought it was beautiful and I believe the visual presentation of Hozuki’s coolheadedness is one of its strongest aspects.
Other aspect of the production are less clear cut. The voice acting is a bit, let’s call it theatrical. It’s overstated and emphatic on purpose. Not only does it give the impression of watching a play, but it also highlights how monotone and deadpan Hozuki is. This approach can be hit or miss as I found it made the more energetic characters rather annoying. However, I really enjoyed Hozuki so I was surprised to see that although I had heard his voice actor in quite a few things before, (Yasumoto, Hiroki), I had never picked up on his performance. Perhaps the even tempered and slightly expressionless Hozuki was just a perfect role for him or maybe I just failed to notice. I’ll try to pay more attention in the future.
All of this to say that in presentation, Hozuki’s coolheadedness feels like a frantic take on classic folklore and that makes sense. The stories are after all comedic adaptations or rather reimaginings of eastern myths. I say stories, in plural, because the format here is purely episodic. Aside from the recurring characters, one tale has very little to do with the next and once you have a handle on who’s who, you can pretty much watch them in whatever order you like. Much like the voice acting, episodes can be hit or miss ranging from pleasantly amusing to somewhat dull.
Right from the very start, I had this feeling that everything was flying about a foot over my head. Which means it should be fine for most of you (cause I’m super short, get it, get it!!?!!) I know just enough classic Japanese folk tales and eastern mythology to recognize certain names and images but nowhere near enough to truly appreciate the context. I tended to feel much more situated in the few episodes that referenced European theology but even my understanding of Christianity is pretty basic. I’m sure I missed out on the majority of references and therefore jokes. However, I could still tell there was a reference in the first place and for me that was already good enough.
That’s probably why, despite this obvious handicap, I rather enjoyed the series. Keep in mind that I’m a big nerd when it comes to folk and fairy tales in general. I love that stuff. On top of that I’m a Japanophile and Yokai enthusiast. It was a thrill for me to discover these stories and look up the original tales from which they took inspiration. This said, even with my predisposition to the genre, I knew I would have enjoyed the series more if I had been familiar with these sources to begin with.
If you don’t happen to have a specific interest in folktales or Japanese history, I think the humor and plots may be a bit thin to keep you vested in the series. One upside of a rigorously episodic structure is that you don’t have to invest too much time to get a good idea of what you’re in for. You can easily watch an episode or two and make up your mind from there. It’s also the type of show that you can consume slowly and gradually. Watching episodes here and there, whenever the mood strikes you.
Because of how unique it is, Hozuki’s coolheadedness is not going to be for everyone but that’s also the reason I encourage you to give it a try if anything sounds remotely interesting. Fact is I really can’t think of another show quite like it.
Favorite character: Hakutaku
What this anime taught me: the glory of peaches
Roses are red, violets are blue, poems are hard, Beer.
Suggested drink: A Little Piece Of Heaven
- Every time Hozuki uses his club – take a sip
- Every time Hozuki uses violence on Enma sama – take a sip
- Every time anyone eats fish or seafood – have a snack
- Every time we see goldfish – take a sip
- Every time Hozuki slaps someone – take a sip
- Every time we see a rabbit – take a gulp
- Every time Hozuki and Hakutaku biker – breath in
- Every time anyone says Hozuki and Hakutaku are alike – take a sip
- every time they are actually alike – take another
- Every time Hozuki scowls – take a sip
- Every time we hear of a new and specific hell – take a sip