This time around, I shall be reviewing an anime that could realistically be described as a bit of an oddity: Wagaya No Oinari-Sama, aka Our Home’s Fox Deity.
Background: Coming out of Zexcs Studio (The Flowers of Evil, Noein and some other bits), the anime is based on a series of light novels by Jin Shibamura and features a fairly straight-forward plot: Tōru and Noburo Takagami have a lot to deal with. Toru, the younger brother, has found himself to be a regular target for various Youkai, primarily because of the high levels of Yin in his blood. In order to save his little brother from one such attack, Noburo releases Tenko Kūgen, a fox deity sealed by his family, and sets it the task of watching over Tōru. In order to do this, Tenko Kūgen must learn to adapt to the modern world. So far so standard, right? The question is, can the series rise above a seemingly generic premise?
The Good: I once read that Our Home’s Fox Deity did not know what sort of anime it wanted to be. While it would be easy to take this as a negative point, it is in actuality the series’ greatest strength. Throughout the 24 episodes, the show manages to show a healthy mix of elements including shōnen style fight scenes, an at times almost harem-esque set-up and a fair few slice of life tendencies. By not committing itself to one individual genre, it manages to haul itself away from the potentially generic trappings of the story-line and moves instead into something far more interesting.
The series adequately supports its’ genre-bending antics with a decent cast of characters. The OPENING VIDEO TO THE ANIME gives a good visual run-down of the key players, including an immediate shot of Tenko Kūgen’s three forms: fox, male and female. And why does the guardian spirit have three forms you ask? Well, Kuu, as she is affectionately known, has been sealed away for so long that she doesn’t remember what gender she used to be (I refer to her as she because she spends far more time in her female form than her male form). Without wanting to focus too much on the titular character, I would also like to mention that Kuu has an absolutely adorable laugh. A strange thing to pick up on, I know, but it’s an oddly strong piece of characterisation. Fellow deities Ebisu (orange and blue jacket) and Mubyou (girl with hand puppets) help bolster the supporting case, with Ebisu in particular shining when throwing out some fantastic comedic moments based around his role as ‘God of commerce’. Noburo’s school friend and potential love interest Misaki Sakura is highly entertaining when her imagination runs wild and she starts jumping to progressively more overblown conclusions about Noburo’s relationships to other cast members. Oh, and Daigoro (the little brown fox) is undeniably cute.
Story-wise, the series is not without surprises. The link between Kuu and Tōru and Noburo’s Mother may not be highly original, but it is certainly well executed. The series features two trips to an Onsen (bath house) and succeeds in not devolving into a mass of fan service gags, instead weaving a ghost story in one and a comedy mystery in the other. There’s even a double-episode about werewolves that features some beautifully done transformations.
The Bad: Wagaya No Oinari-Sama does not know what sort of anime it wants to be. Yes, I know that I said that that’s the series’ greatest strength, but there is a downside to it. You see, the lack of focus in one direction may well put some people off. While it shouldn’t in this case, it’s not impossible to imagine.
Despite having some strengths in that realm, the characters are not all hits either. The Takagami brothers are not unlikeable, don’t get me wrong, but neither are they stand-outs as leads. It’s not just the brothers that suffer in this way either: the Takagami family’s ‘sentinel’, Kō, is perfectly fine as a character but doesn’t really do anything to push herself ahead of Kuu in terms drawing your focus. When not losing her mind, the same could be said of Misaki Sakura, who at these times veers a little more towards being highly conventional as a character.
Subbed or Dubbed: There is no dub, so that makes this an easy choice. The voice cast is perfectly reasonable. Kuu’s female form and Ebisu are the most likely to impress, but it’s not like anyone else is in any way bad.
Final View: While you would be hard pushed to find anyone who could describe Our Home’s Fox Deity as perfect, it’s far from the generic tale that the plot could lead you to think that it is. What we have here is a well-executed mish-mash of genres that has some wonderfully entertaining moments to match most people’s tastes. It may not be you favourite anime of all time, but it beats a lot of shows out there with relative ease.
Final Score: 4 / 5