Feb 2, 2020
YESTORAKS (All reviews)
Kyokou Suiri wasn’t a series that was at the top of my expectations list going into this season, but it was definitely mid-tier with a bullet.  Along with Runway de Waratte (which debuted about as promisingly as one could hope) they were my main sleeper picks.  Kyokou Suiri is an interesting and odd manga (actually based on a liht novel on the Kodansha Taiga seinen imprint) and there was a lot of promise here even if the show is flying way under the radar.  And while I wouldn’t put it on the same pedestal as Runway, I did like this premiere an awful lot.

It seems like forever ago now, but Brain’s Base was once upon a time among the real power studios in anime – and one quite closely aligned with my personal tastes.  We don’t see that much from these days since the bulk of the main staff bolted to form Shuka, but they’ve put together an extremely capable and experienced staff for In/Spectre, led by director Gotoh Keiji and writer Takagi Noboru.  Perhaps this series is more popular than I realized given that it has almost no following in English, because based on the premiere than anime seems to have quite a respectable budget.

I quite like the way this relationship is introduced.  It’s clear that there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, but the narrative never grinds to a halt to explain things to the audience – we just watch these two dance around each other and form our own picture.  That certainly applies to Kurou’s tale of how he and his fiancee ran into a kappa on the Kamo River in Kyoto.  He may (then again, he may not) believe he’s pulling the wool over Kotoko’s eye (already half-hidden by her beret) but she sees through the story he spins for her benefit.

Kotoko and Kurou are both strange and interesting people.  She’s brash, extremely blunt and refreshingly forward when it comes to her romantic feelings (though she did keep them bottled up for two years in deference to his relationship status).  He’s impassive and slightly unnerving in his presence.  But what’s interesting is that Kotoko isn’t unnerved by Kurou at all, despite the fact that all of the youkai and spirits that consider her a Kami are terrified of him.  Just exactly what Kurou is we don’t yet know – only that his body is poison to youkai, he has no fear and has done nothing yet to reveal why all of faerie seems to view him with dread.

There’s some quite amusing atmospheric stuff here, like the samurai ghost who loves romance novels and the little youkai who stirs Kotoko’s cocoa (say that ten times fast) in the hospital.  But the main draw of the premiere is definitely the chemistry between Kotoko and Kurou – which is considerable – and the snappy dialogue.  I haven’t waded deep enough into the source material to know the nature of the mysteries the premiere presents, and that’s fine – I rather look forward to the prospect of seeing how Kyokou Suiri goes about revealing it.