we rent tsukumogami box art


 Seiji and his sister Oko own a small curio shop in Edo and earn a decent living while enjoying the company of the eccentric town folks. Except it’s not exactly a shop, it’s a rental business so they don’t actually sell anything. And they aren’t really siblings, they are step-cousins and one is adopted so really, they’re more like acquaintances or co-workers. Also, the curios in the shop are tsukumogami that lead exciting lives behind the scenes… There are some pretty eccentric folks in town, that part was right! And now, years after a great fire ravaged the area, Oko’s long lost love interest may be back in town. How will Seiji react?

If it feels like I just tacked on those last two sentences because I realized I needed to actually put in some plot synopsis, it’s cause I did. Lately, I’ve realized that I’ve become way too vague with my summaries. It’s like I’m trying to capture the spirit of the anime rather than the story. If I was reading these as actual reviews, without having seen the shows, I would find them very useless and frustrating! I’ll work on it!

We Rent Tsukumogami ep4-8 (41)
anime really makes Japan look like a wonderland

We all know I have a Yokai fetish. At least we all know now! Not only that but tsukumogami are some of my favourites. I find the idea that an object can be cherished so much by its owner that it grows a soul, very poetic for some reason. It makes me want to take better care of my belongings.

It’s, therefore, no surprise that the title of this anime was all that was needed to get me to watch the show.

I have to say the art style was a bit of a surprise. It’s that glossy style with soft colours and rounded designs that I’ve come to associate with cute girl shows. It reminded me somewhat of Slow Start, Gabriel DropOut and New Game. And that’s not at all a bad thing. At least as far as characters are concerned. To me, the tsukumogami were just a little too simple in design. Which isn’t exactly fair criticism on my part. There’s absolutely no reason that tsukumogami should be intricate and weird looking. I just would have liked to see that, I guess.

The voice acting here is a little flat but considering how the narrative is generally presented, I think it may have been on purpose. There something rather surface level about the series. Although, the scene transition effect was unexpectedly adventurous. It was n fact a little jarring at times, as it clashed a bit with the series. I kept forgetting about it and every time it came up, the frantic effect made me think there was a glitch n the playback until I remembered.

We Rent Tsukumogami ep4-8 (23)
I didn’t manage to get a screencap of it – how annoying!

We Rent Tsukumogami is basically a Slice of Life set in historical Edo Japan. There is an overarching romantic story about a long lost love interest of Oko’s who is in a higher social economic class so there are some complications there. This story is mentioned in passing in a few episodes and eventually gets a neat little conclusion by the end of the series. For the most part, though, we see recurring characters who are friends and customers of Seiji’s and Oko’s, and their various adventures, as each episode, our heroes try to help their friends out through the Tsukumogami.

The very naïve and uncomplicated way that everything is presented, from characters to dialogue to general narrative, gave the impression of a show aimed at small children. At one point I wrote in my notes “this is like Sesame Street but with a few more prostitutes”. (Honestly, they mention prostitutes a lot in this show, all lovely people but seems like it was a popular profession at the time).

Indeed, We Rent Tsukumogami is nothing special. The writing is ok and the stories are unmemorable but it is inherently watchable. Like anime junk food. I had no issue watching the entire thing in two sittings. Of course, it also didn’t require any brain power on my part. And this is why I think the simplistic voice acting delivery may have been on purpose, it seems like a natural fit.

We Rent Tsukumogami ep9-12 (3)
as a prostitute?

For me, an aspect that drew me in and kept me interested despite the less than stellar elements, is just how “Japanese” it was. I learned quite a bit about Edo history and customs. The traditional imagery (albeit reimagined with super cute designs and colours) and backgrounds were pleasant for a Japanophile like me. I have a feeling without this aspect, I would have found the series considerably more tedious.

Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with it but if you’re not interested in Japanese history (or you haven’t become madly infatuated with one of the characters, it happens to all of us) maybe you can give We Rent Tsukumogami a pass.

Favourite character: the young master of the Omi-ya

We Rent Tsukumogami ep4-8 (3)
I’m sure the fact that he looks a little like Murasakibara has nothing to do with it

What this anime taught me: This is where the real fun is!

First, it thought me what a netsuke is and now I want one!

Second it thought me that kiseru have surprisingly romantic implications. Well actually I learned that those long think Japanese pipes that I have always admired are called kiseru, then I learned that prostitutes would often give them as presents to men they had fallen in love with to mark their favour. The expression to make it rain kiseru, means that a man is very popular with the ladies.

Fires in Edo (Tokyo), during the Edo period (1600s or so), were so frequent that people stopped amassing property as it was so likely it would just burn. That is when the popularity of lending shops took off. People would borrow decorations to use when they were greeting guests or fancy accessories for special events but would otherwise keep their homes fairly spartan.

There is more in fact! This is the type of tidbits that you get almost every episode. It worked for me.

Being ridiculous is better than being boring

Suggested drink: Ginger Curio

  • Every time a Tsukumogami turns back into an object – look at your glass
  • Every time Seji gets scolded by Oko – take a sip
  • Every time there is talk of a tea ceremony – take a sip
  • Every time we see a hair ornament – ruffle your hair
  • Every time anyone says “curio” – get some water
  • Every time we see a prostitute  – take a sip
  • Every time – take a sip
  • Every time we learn a fun fact about the Edo period – take a sip
  • Every time Goi wants to go over things – pay attention

We Rent Tsukumogami ep1-3 (8)

Even though the visuals aren’t exactly special I found them comforting! You can see the full gallery on imgur or Pinterest. I will add a few here as well:

13 thoughts

  1. I am a bit late to the party, sorry about that! I am currently working on “𝐴 𝑉𝑖𝑒𝑤𝑒𝑟’𝑠 𝐺𝑢𝑖𝑑𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑇𝑠𝑢𝑘𝑢𝑚𝑜𝑔𝑎𝑚𝑖 𝑈𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑢” and during my research made a happy discovery—all the episode titles are traditional Japanese colors.

    So, for Irina who loves color so much, here is a sneak peek of the color names with English translations*.

    [1] Rikyū Nezumi (Tea Leaf Gray)
    [2] Kuchinashi (Gardenia Yellow)
    [3] Nadeshiko (Dianthus Pink)
    [4] Kogarekō (Burnt Incense Brown)
    [5] Fukugawa Nezumi (Fukugawa Gray)
    [6] Heki Ruri (Azure Blue)
    [7] Uraha Yanagi (Willow Leaf Green)
    [8] Edo Murasaki (Edo Purple)
    [9] Hizoku (Concealed Color)
    [10] Binrōji Zome (Betel Nut Brown)
    [11] Nise Murasaki (False Purple)
    [12] Suō (Sappanwood Red)

    *BTW, all translations are mine, so please credit me by linking back to this blog comment if you share this information elsewhere. Just right-click on the comment time marker and copy the comment URL. 🙂 Many thanks in advance!

    1. Oh wow. You rock so much! Two greys and two purples huh…. Beyond the boundary also has all colour episode titles!!!

  2. I liked it, but as you say, it is not outstanding. I am a history buff and Japanophile myself, so it was intriguing to me that way. And yeah, I’m a yokai fan, and I’ve wanted my possessions to have souls since I read the Velveteen Rabbit. If I just love my plushies enough… I digress. And I agree, this is a delicious little anime for certain people, but perhaps not appealing to a wide, general audience.

  3. Yeah, it was sort of okay, but no more. I agree, the daily history through objects we don’t see much of anymore was interesting. But, well, the show was my most anticipated of the season, and so it was a little disappointing.

    I did also like the way the humans and tsukumogami communicate by talking amongst each other while letting the other group overhear them. That was a nice touch. I remember some scenes fondly, I liked some of the supporting cast, but other than that I don’t feel strongly either way.

  4. I don’t know what happened with this one. I just kind of stopped watching it and never felt compelled to go back and finish it.

    1. I have a clue why. And I bet if I wasn’t binging it, i would not have stuck around for 3 months…

  5. Don’t know if I ever told you this, but I am a pretty big history buff. Especially when it comes to the history of Asian countries. So honestly even though it doesn’t really sound totally like my cup of tea, you review is convincing enough for me to maybe give it a try 😊

    1. You did not tell me. And as a collection of historical tidbits, this show is actually pretty good. It’s the sort of casual day to day life in Edo that you don’t really hear about that much otherwise. On that front, I thought it was great

      1. Well…I’m being a good boy and am watching a lot of anime currently. I have just finished Attack on Titan, am now well on my way with the first season of March Comes in Like a Lion, and next up is Tsurune😊 So…maybe I can get to this one somewhere next month or in October 😊😊

Leave me a comment and make my day!