Hozuki’s Coolheadedness II – Hell is Other People

 

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  • Genre : Slice of Life, Comedy, Supernatural
  • Episodes: 26
  • Studio:

 

If you think your job is tough, imagine having to make sure Hell runs smoothly. It’s not exactly a place full of the most dependable people, after all. Keeping everything smooth and on schedule is an impressive feat and you don’t have the courtesy of putting it off. Only the most impressive bureaucracy can survive under those circumstances. But it’s all good. As long as you have the right administration in place, anything is possible. From delicate PR relations to the daily grind of dealing out the appropriate punishment to fit every imaginable crime, to the mundane bookkeeping and manual labor required to keep such a gargantuan operation running, all you need is someone devilishly organized and wickedly rigorous. Luckily Hozuki is here to show us how cooler heads can prevail.

As some of you may know, I have a particular fondness of Japanese mythology (or in fact mythology of all types) which really attracted me to the first season of this series. Because of the episodic structure of the show, it was easy to take a break between seasons without losing track of the story. Now I’m back to see if the second season lived up to the first.

Hozuki's Coolheadedness 2 - 2-6 (5)

favourite depiction of eternal torment ever!

Hozuki has always been a very interesting looking show. Backgrounds are rendered in classical ink wash painting style, which look like traditional paintings, while character designs are bright and crisp adaptations of folklore creatures. For me, I think everything is really brought together by the beautiful rainbow of colors that contrast hell’s stark panoramas with the surprisingly joyful looking bureaucratic and diplomatic offices that keep the place running.

Basically, it’s fun to look at. Even paring down the screencaps as much as possible, I ended up with a completely unreasonable number of pictures I just liked too much to trash. Don’t worry, I’m not going to dump them all in this post and freeze your computer. OK, I’m going to dump a lot in this post. I’m a simple soul, I like pictures.

Hozuki's Coolheadedness 2 - 2-6 (42)

I like the little skull, it’s cute

Once again, I want to point out how fantastic Hozuki’s voice actor is. For the record that would be Yasumoto, Hiroki I really think this is one of his greatest performances and it goes a long way towards creating a memorable character. The voice cast in general is really good, but he stands out, alongside Tanezaki, Atsumi as Mustard and Matsuyama, Takashi as the pheasant. Hearing the interaction between these three actors really highlights how important performances are. Although in a vacuum I don’t notice Yusa, Kouji performance as Hakutaku all that much, the interplay between him and Hozuki is also delightful. They make for a very charming comedy duo and I wish they would have shared more scenes this season. Finally, newcomers, the Zashiki Warashi twins have a distinct expressionless delivery which is likely either going to annoy or charm viewers. I was solidly in the latter camp; however, it does take some getting use to.

I rarely go on this much about voice acting. However, as an essentially talkative comedy, voice delivery is particularly important to the enjoyment of a series like Hozuki’s Coolheadedness and I’m happy to report the actors really came through.

exactly!

As for the story (stories) such as it is, Hozuki continues to be a slice of death anime with very loosely connected vignettes portraying the often mundane daily tasks of an official in hell, and it’s absolutely divine. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. I just wanted to make the pun.

Fact is, whether the writing and cast just found their footing or whether I was just better disposed to the show, I ended up enjoying the second season considerably more than the first. Episodes regularly left me grinning from ear to ear and I found the ritual of watching a couple (or 6) at the end of a long day to be a genuinely comforting experience.

The mix of Japanese mythology and modern sensibilities is still there but the supporting characters are better integrated and somehow the pacing seems more fluid and natural. A lot of irreverent and referential jokes have been added to the mix for quick punchlines, mixed in with the more general humor that comes from the silly treatment of grim situations and old timey theology.

Hozuki's Coolheadedness 2 - 23-26 (11)

what a pleasant looking river of blood

Basically, it is in many ways just charming. The experience feels tailored to a Japanophile like myself, but is still presented in such a clearly accessible way that you do not feel like your sitting through a lesson of any kind.

I wanted to compare Hozuki to a more popular show to give those who have not seen it an idea of what they would be in for and I’m afraid I’m drawing a blank. If any of my readers have seen another series like this, please let me know in the comments.

In a way, this feels very much like a western workplace sitcom. Realization just dawned on me; this is the adult workplace comedy anime I was looking for. Once you strip away the layers of mysticism and esotericism of the setting (i.e. classical “Japanese” hell, as it is referred to in the series – as opposed to European heel which is also referenced), the actual meat of the show is really just a series of zany interactions and silly situation set in hell. Not unlike The Office if it was full of demons and damned souls. Guys, I’m really happy with this description. I think it’s quite apt.

Hozuki's Coolheadedness 2 - 7-10 (13)

complete with quirky pretty girl

Do I recommend this show, yes I do! Unless you openly dislike situational workplace comedies, I think you will find something to enjoy in Hozuki’s Coolheadedness.

Favorite character: Hozuki

What this anime taught me:  Taoism is surprisingly close to Voodoo

Carrots could improve your vision but alcohol can double it!

Suggested drink: Gates of Hell

  • Every time we see goldfish in any form – take a sip
  • Every time we see peaches or physalis  – take a sip
  • Every time we see a rabbit – squee
  • Every time Hozuki wears his hair in a Chinese bun – take a sip
  • Every time Ichiko and Niko laugh – question your conflicting feelings
  • Every time anything meows – take a sip
  • Every time you spot a Ghibli reference – take a sip
  • Every time anyone sings – clap
  • Every time there’s a mention or image of pooh – get a snack
  • Every time Hozuki’s solution is violence – nod

I didn’t know where to add this but I loved the second OP. I couldn’t find the show version,. The closest I managed to dig up was this full version:

I tried to pick out some of my favourite screen captures and as usual, I will be uploading the rest to pinterest.

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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20 Responses

  1. foovay says:

    This is one of my favorite animes and you do a great job, as always, at putting into words what makes it so amusing. I rarely get through an episode without laughing out loud. It tickles my love of slice of life (because you’re right, it is) as well as my love of mythology. I did a happy dance when I saw it got a second season, and I hope it gets many more!

    • Irina says:

      Same here! We should start a petition. It also looks great. I’m looking into getting a high rez print to put up

  2. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    I’ve loved this series since its very first episode! What I really like about the second season is the arrival of the twins–they bring out an unexpected paternal side to Hozuki. It’s actually quite endearing how they interact.

  3. Never heard of this series before, but I’m definitely going to check it out now. Thanks!

  4. sabakuink says:

    I love Hozuki’s Coolheadness too. Good call on the esoteric association between Taosim and Voodoo! Buddhism incorporated many aspects of Taoism during its development in China. In a very rough nutshell, Taoism provided the metaphysical concepts and Buddhism provided the symbolic (and colorful) imagery. This esoteric Buddhism crossed into Japan during the 8th(-ish) century, where it additionally absorbed native Shinto beliefs. Due to its association with the highly esteemed Chinese culture, esoteric Buddhism rapidly found favor within the Japanese Imperial Court during the Heian Period.

    P.S. – A bit of an oversimplification but… Taoism minus the imagery is… Zen! 😉

  5. Dawnstorm says:

    It’s interesting. In my memory the first season remains distinct, while the other two run together in the sense that I don’t remember what came in which episode. The first season is among my favourite anime comedies ever, while the follow up seasons were more uneven for me, but still way above the comedy avarage in anime. Love the Zashiki Warashi twins. Little Hozuki was adorable (if that’s the right word…). And I fully agree about the voice acting. Can’t really talk much about this season, as I might accidentally spoil something from the thrid. Heh.

    But, yeah, I’d really love a fourth season. So Hakutaku’s kitties made their debut in this season? There’s this picture of Nasubi’s inspiration… (Nasubi may be among my faourite characters, what with always walking through hell with this dopy expression, using everything he can for his art.)

    • Irina says:

      Yes the kitties started here and haunt me! There’s a 3rd season?? I thought this one finished last summer, when did it have time to air?
      I hope it gets picked up for legal streaming in Canada soon!

      • Dawnstorm says:

        How many episodes did you see in season 2? It’s possible that season 2 aired as a split cour, which I remember as 2 seasons. (That would also explain why they would run together in my head: same season, just airing with a break). If you saw 24-26 episodes, you saw it all.

  6. I love this anime! I wrote a brief article about it on my blog. I love the Zashiki twins. They really add something awesome and fun to the whole anime. Great post as always!

  7. moyatori says:

    Hahaha, “slice of death.” Your screenshots of hell are perfect. And the Sartre quote…

  8. Scott says:

    This sounds so cool and unique. The only anime I can think of that gets close to this idea is Death Parade.

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