- Titles: Yozakura Shijuusou, Quartet of Cherry Blossoms in the Night
- Genre: Action, supernatural, urban fantasy, yokai
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Nomad
There will come a time when we put aside our differences and humans will co-exist peacefully with demons. Or a least, that’s the dream. And to make that dream come true, Hime, an ancient dragon spirit has become mayor of a small town where both humans and demons are free to roam. It’s a great experiment to prove that peace is viable. But it’s not without its bumps in the road and that’s where the rest of the Hiizumi Life Counseling Office comes in. A group of brave demons, and one human, that make sure no one gets too out of hand. But it seems someone is working against them. Someone is trying to breach the town’s barrier and plunge the world into chaos. Someone that looks just like Hime and Akina’s childhood friend.
I have had Yozakura Quartet on my watchlist for so long now. When I first got HiDive I went through the entire library and just added everything that looked even mildly interesting. I’m pretty sure I picked this one based on the key visuals. I liked the scarf!
Yozukara Quartet (or at least this version of it) was made by Nomad studios about 14 years ago. It’s a decent production. I really have no complaints and I would leave it at that if I hadn’t found out that there is an alternative series that came out in 2013 (Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta). Sadly I can’t find that version to watch anywhere.
The thing is, from all the images I’ve seen, the 2013 version is just more my style. I like the goofier, rounder character designs of that version. And the colours look more exciting too.
Oh well, sometimes you just have to make do with what you have. And let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with this production at all. And the art is really consistent, something that is getting much more unusual in contemporary anime. Sadly.
Story & Characters
The summary I wrote and the subtitles of the anime refer to the not quite human characters of Yozukara Quartet as demons throughout the entire show. But I’m not deaf, I can hear the Japanese dialogue. And they clearly say Yokai! Besides, it’s sort of obvious. These “demons” are all drastically different, don’t seem to have any particular interest in humans and there are clearly oni, dragons and kitsune. So this is in fact a Yokai story and just like that, it’s in my wheelhouse.
For those of you new here, I really like stories about Yokai!
In fact, I even learned about a type of Yokai I didn’t know before, the satori. This was a little confusing. Two important characters are satori in the show. Both of them look like cat spirits or wolves maybe even like foxes. They have pointy ears and fluffy tails. And they can read minds. And other characters sometimes refer to that tricky fox so I thought they meant the satori. But in folklore, satori are indeed mind-reading yokai but they are supposed to look like monkeys. Not even monkey people or anything, actual monkeys. It took me a while to figure out that some serious creative liberties were taken.
The overarching plot is a little convoluted and can sound a little like a soap opera at times but it’s delivered with humour and some pretty good pacing so it doesn’t feel maudlin. I have to admit, I liked it. It’s a bit difficult to discuss without going into some minor spoilers. I’m not sure I would even call them spoilers, Yozukara Quartet is an action anime not a mystery in any way. Ok, so I’m about to discuss some plot points in more detail. I really don’t think it spoils anything but it is stuff you find out later in the season. So if you want to go into it completely blind, this is where I leave you. Thanks for stopping by!
The main antagonist of Yozukara Quartet is Eijin Hiizumi. He wants to destroy the barrier and wreak havoc although we don’t really know why. He seems powerful but not overwhelmingly so. Here’s the twist though, Eijin doesn’t have a body. He exists by taking over the bodies of others. And right now, he’s in the body of someone who was very close and very loved by most of the main characters. And they don’t know if their old friend is still alive in there.
This isn’t a completely original plot twist but it did add a lot of conflict and I liked the fact that brute force (either physical or spiritual) couldn’t be counted on for an easy solution.
Yozukara Quartet also has a nice moral ambiguity in the characters. Take Eijin. He is an undisputed villain. He takes over the bodies of others without permission and seems to incite people to act violently. He also wants to break the barrier. He’s often cruel in his speeches and tends to poke at people’s weaknesses. But we don’t actually know his motivations for most of the series. We see him use his powers mostly to make plants grow and he seems to have some deep-rooted belief that the destruction of the town would be better for everyone. There are hints that he’s being somewhat altruistic, at least in his own mind.
Meanwhile, the protagonists can act selfishly and brashly. They are all young and the narrative insists on showing us that their lack of experience does lead to some mistakes in judgement. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that they are perpetrating something harmful without realizing it.
There’s even a land god called Yuuhi who obviously has his own opinions on everything that’s going on but insists on staying neutral. Sort of implying that there is no ultimate right or wrong in the story.
Yozukara Quartet is by no means perfect, I’m not trying to say that at all. Some episodes meander a bit too much for my tastes and it trips a bit over its own lore here and there but I have to appreciate the scale of the story. On many occasions, it reminded me of Ushio and Tora but that show had almost 40 episodes to get the story across whereas Yozukara Quartet has to make do with 12. I won’t lie, it does hurt the pacing and keeps the story shallower than it could have been. But I still think it’s rather underrated.
I mostly enjoyed Yozukara Quartet and if you liked Ushio and Tora and would also recommend this series. I saw that the later alternative was considerably better rated and if I ever find it anywhere I will definitely be watching it. Might look into the manga as well. I really like the story. I will say that for this version, I prefer the story itself to the characters if that makes sense. But I like them well enough!
You might like this anime if:
You enjoy Yokai-based urban fantasy
My favourite character:
Yuuhi – always bet on a God
Obviously a Quartet
- Every time anyone performs a “tuning” – take a sip
- Every time there’s blue lightening – duck
- Every time Kyousuke’s horns come out – gasp!
- Every time Hime blushes – awwwww
- Every time Touka has an obvious crush on Akina – take a sip
- Every time Ao takes off her hat – take a sip
- Every time Battle nun shows up – cheer!
- Every time the Tsun-dere song plays – sing-a-long
- Every time anyone says Satori – take a sip
- Every time the nurse TV show is on – take a sip
- Every time a scene ends with the lyrics: I don’t have the answer – take a sip
- Every time Akina and Kyousuke bicker – take a sip
- Every time Kotoha sticks her tongue out – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.