The world of Yozakura Quartet is actually not one, but two worlds: one of humans, and one of youkai. Despite appearing mostly human, youkai may have animal like physical traits, along with a number of special abilities. Normally youkai are confined to their world, but some have found their way into the realm of humanity. As a symbol of peace, and a bridge between the two realms, a city was constructed within the protective barrier of seven magical trees, otherwise known as the Seven Pillars. This city of Sakurashin is home to both humans and youkai, with the peace between them maintained by the Hizumi Life Counseling Office.
The director of this office is Akina Hiizumi, a teenager with the inherited family ability to perform “tuning,” which can send harmful youkai back to their world permanently. He is aided by a group of girls, including the town’s 16 year old youkai mayor, Hime Yarizakura, their town’s announcer and resident telepath, Ao Nanami, and Kotoha Isone, a half-youkai who can summon objects just by stating the object’s name.
As new residents enter and mysterious events begin to take place, this quartet of protectors and their closest friends must continue to guard the city of Sakurashin, and maintain the fragile balance of peace between humans and youkai.
Yozakura Quartet is an extremely odd show, and you'll be forgiven for scratching your head and wondering what the hell was going on come the end of the show.
The series began life as a manga by Suzuhito Yasuda that was published by Kodansha in Japan, and by Del Rey in the US. Prior to the manga, Suzuhito worked as the character designer on Kuwashima Yoshikazu's series Kamisama Kazoku, and Yozakura Quartet is his first solo work.
The anime was directed by Matsuo Kou (Kure-nai, Rozen Maiden, Red Garden, Dead Girls), and shows some of the trademarks of Matsuo's directorial skill.
The story is very similar to that
of Rosario + Vampire, in that a human boy is living in a town with Youkai (vampires, oni, etc,), however it differs from R+V in numerous ways, not the least of which is the fact that the human boy, Hizumi Akina, is not helpless, and actually has a position of authority within the town. Akina works on behalf of the town's elders as chief of the "Youkai Life Consulation Office" with Nanami Ao (a satori who has the ability to read minds), and Isone Kotoha (a hanyou, or half human-youkai). Together with Akina's childhood friend Yarisakura Hime, who is the "mayor" of the town and a descendant of a dragon, the four manage the everyday needs of the town, and work to protect it's residents from youkai who have gone out of control.
The big problem with this show is that, even though it had quite a lot of potential, the story jumps around far too much and nothing is ever really explained. Now, a show like Aria can get away with not explaining things, but a show like this needs some solid reasons for the actions of it's protagonists. The most the audience is given are hints though, which may lead you to believe that an explanation is forthcoming (prepare to be disappointed though). The main antagonist for example, Enjin, has taken over the body of Akina and Hime's best friend Gin, however there is very little explanation as to who Enjin is, or about why he chose Gin. Little is known about the friendship between Akina, Hime and Gin, even though this plays a direct role in confrontations with Enjin.
The animation for Yozakura Quartet is extremely well done. The animation is smooth, even during the fight scenes, and the CG that is in the show is oft times seamless and indistinguishable from the normal animation. The characters in Yozakura Quartet are reflective of the fact that Suzuhito worked on Kamisama Kazoku as the influence from that manga/anime is very clear, especially in the faces.
The sound is actually very impressive on the whole. Director Matsuo Kou has very clearly drawn on his experience with Kure-nai, as the VAs had recorded their lines prior to the show being animated. This means that conversations and arguments are often a lot more complex than other anime, and brings a sense of realism to the characters that is often missing. The effects are also of a very high standard, and can sometimes set the tone of a scene without the need for visuals.
My one gripe with the sound, and the reason I didn't give this section a higher score, is the fact that although the music was pretty decent on the whole, there was too much of it. There are many scenes in the show where the same track plays, almost to the point where it becomes annoying. This track is played during many dramatic or tense moments, and often ruins the mood of the scene as it doesn't really fit with the characters or actions/events.
The characters are fairly average on the whole. There are no original or excellent characters in this show, and many seem to fall into one stereotype or another. The one character who annoyed me the most was Akina, especially where Enjin is concerned. It was disappointing to see that there was little to no growth for almost all the characters, even Akina and Hime, and that Akina was the stereottypical male lead who can't make a decision on his own.
That said, the show is enjoyable to a certain degree. I enjoyed watching it for the most part, but not as much as I was hoping. Because of it's inability to stick to the point, and the wishy-washy nature of it's characters, I found this show somewhat disappointing. I have given it a good rating only on the basis of it's animation and sound (which would have been higher if the show hadn't played that damn song all the time).
Fans of Rosario + Vampire or Kure-nai may enjoy this show, but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who wants a strong story with great characters.
It's truly a shame that a show with such potential should be let down in this way.
There are few times when an avid anime fan goes into something expecting so much and gets so little in return. Yozakura Quartet happens to be one such example. Based on a much more highly acclaimed manga, the first episode starts off with all one could expect from a show that could deliver. Interesting, well-drawn characters centered around at least a moderately unique plotline. The music and sound quality are top notch and there are even early introductions to romance possibilities.
However, as some stories tend to do, that’s when the train leaves the tracks. Yozakura Quartet is about a group of young people (there are
5 of them actually, and originally 6 so the title really makes no sense) who protect a town that harbors both humans and Youkai. An evil Youkai, who has possessed the body of the best friend of two of the members, is out to seek the destruction of the town and bring about an era of all-Youkai rule, essentially snuffing out humans.
The first few episodes start slowly and then immediately we’re introduced to Enjin, the protagonist, who it turns out is far stronger than they. There’s no real room for development or explanation of how they’re related and it seemed to me that maybe this should have been a 24 episode series. But for some inexplicable reason, the story decides to stick with random fights throughout the rest of the series, leading to mindless, repetitious dialogue that we could have seen coming using “fill-in-the-blanks.” The heroes never grow in strength as the finale comes either, so the ending is an extreme example of dues ex machina, which is like a death warrant for any anime anyway. There are too many characters to fill the time slots, the relationships between the characters don’t grow an inch and several of the plot lines are never resolved.
There were some good things. As said before, the music was excellent and the ladies were very nice to look at – they were anything but bland or clichéd. The villain and his sidekick were diabolical and deserved a better defeat. And the art really was stunning in several points of the anime.
All in all, though, this was an anime that was a disappointment far greater than a regular bad show, because it had potential and went nowhere.
I'm writing this review, in part, to respond to the other reviews. I felt strongly that the number ratings given do not correspond with what was said, and that they were unnecessarily gentle. This series is 4(Decent) at best.
As to the story, it had a lot of potential, but none of that was realized. It ended up jumping around to random battles and poorly scripted conversations that seemed to have something to do with a general movement of plot, but in actuality did not. Lots of things happen in the plot, but the plot parts are so disjointed that no real story emerges, at
least no story that can stand up beyond a vague general description of the overall arc. Very poor, indeed.
The art is nothing special, and it is not at all bad. The battles scenes are very average, with fighters swinging around weapons and throwing colored light balls, but the actual feel of legitimate combat is lacking. The character designs are, for the most part, interesting. If there had been actual character development, it would have been nice.
The most abysmal part of the show was the opening. From an artistic perspective, it sucked quite badly. It didn't match anything in the show, thematic, stylistically, and was overall incongruous and lacking in substance. Whoever made it definitely has a fetish for strangely colored shapes and Adobe Aftereffects.
It's unfortunately that the opening was so bad, as the song chosen for it was not. Furthermore, the sound design for the rest was very good. Nothing ground breaking, but the Foley was well done enough to give the situations occurring some sense of depth, and the background music supported well without intruding on the story. That said, the music did not elevate the viewer/listener at all, as it can sometimes in masterpieces(Gai Rei Zero being an excellent example), but it didn't do anything wrong, which was good enough.
As you can probably tell, I hated watching this show. The first three episodes were fine, and offered the possibility of great potential in the future. However, things went downhill from there, until they fell off a bloody cliff into the bottomless chasm (i.e. episode 8) of being a waste of time. By 10, I was watching it on fast foreword, just to finish. I think, however, the most frustrating thing about the show was that the story made no apologies or real consequences for stupid decisions on the part of the protagonists. I mean, literally handing the bad guys the chance at world destruction is a mistake in my book. Hopefully that's not too much of a spoiler, but since this is such a bad show anyway, I doubt it will ruin your lack of enjoyment anymore than just watching can.
So yea, there were a few good aspects, but that like pointing out that the figure head is nice on a ship with no rudder and giant gaping holes in the hull. If the car is a rust bucket, you don't rate it average just because the windshield was recently cleaned. So yeah, I agree with a lot of what the other reviewers said, but I disagree strongly with their number ratings.
Yozakura Quartet was only a twelve episode series. That's not a lot of episodes to go wrong with. A basic plot and story can easily be done in twelve episodes. Characters can be fleshed out in twelves episodes. Yozakura Quartet did not manage to do any of that.
Story - 3
The first few episodes showed how much potential Yozakura Quartet had. They were interesting and hooked me instantly. The rest of the show continued to mock me as if saying I was a fool for having any hope in the plot. The characters made stupid decisions and many plot points never made sense or were poorly
explained. Do not be tricked by the strong beginning.
Animation - 8
The animation was pretty good. The character designs were wonderfully done, and all the fight scenes were fun to watch, if taken out of context. The plot seriously hindered my enjoyment of the fights, unfortunately.
Sound - 7
The OP/ED themes were okay, the actual score was nothing special. I really didn't pay much attention to the score, which means at least it didn't bother me. The seiyū's on the other hand were too good for this show. The seiyū's for Chiaki Shinichi (Nodame Cantabile), Shinku (Rozen Maiden), Suigintou (Rozen Maiden), Sebastian Michaelis (Kuroshitsuji), Nagi (Kannagi), Yin (Darker than BLACK), and many more were wasted voicing dull, irritating characters.
Character - 5
The characters started out okay, but slowly a serious case of bad characterization appeared. By the end of the show, I could only stand to watch around two or three characters. The rest made multiple stupid decisions and contradicted their behaviour from before.
Enjoyment - 3
Pretty animation and nice sound will go nowhere if the story fails and you want to strangle to the main leads. The story was a giant letdown, but every week I hoped it would get better. But it didn't.
Overall - 5
So much potential, so little results. Yozakura Quartet was mediocre to core. I didn't exactly hate it - I was disappointed by it. Please, don't waste your time with this anime when there are plenty of others (Kamisama Kazoku, for example, is by the same author and is so much better) that aren't such a letdown.
I discussed the allure and appeal of the meganekko, or "glasses girl", in my last "Behind the Glasses" article. Now let's turn our attention to the male equivalent: the megane danshi. Smart, stoic, and sexy, the "glasses guy" will challenge your mind and steal your heart!
A perfectly-timed gust of wind. A low camera angle. Once in a while we get a peek under a skirt. And sometimes, just sometimes, we get a glimpse of the legendary striped anime panties that are shimapan.