- Genre : Slice of Life, Comedy, Supernatural
- Episodes: 26
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.