Episode 1 Impressions: Utawarerumono -Itsuwari no Kamen-

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Utawarerumono was quite a hit back when it aired in 2006, featuring an expansive fantasy world with great characters and a shocking twist to its conclusion. While Itsuwari no Kamen’s tie-ins are still unknown, one can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic for this new series.

utawarerumonoitsuwarinokamen02Synopsis
Waking up on a snow-covered mountain, a man with no memory gazes upon a vast valley. After nearly becoming food to a large bug-like creature, he’s saved by a slime-like creature before nearly attacked by it as well. Thankfully, a girl named Kuon shows up and rushes him to safety.

Following this, Kuon’s kindness continues as she takes it upon herself to become his guardian and see that this amnesic man makes it to safety. She seems to know her way around the mountains, having a desire to explore before setting her sights on her true goals and settling down, and this comes in handy as she sees them safely to town.

Upon arriving, the two get some much-needed rest and Kuon gives the man the name Haku. Naming him after “One of the Sung.” The following day, Kuon assesses Haku’s ability to aid around the village. Claiming those that don’t work, don’t eat. utawarerumonoitsuwarinokamen05It seems he lacks any strength or skill, but he does have smarts as he manages to fix a nearby mill.

Thoughts
As a returning fan of the original Utawarerumono, I had a lot of fears at the synopsis for this series. Taking quite a few of the setup for the original and reskinning it, I wasn’t sure if it would offer anything but a play off of an old song. Thankfully, while my expectations were low, I was thoroughly pleased at what I got.

Sure, the protagonist wakes up to no memory and meets a cute animal girl; he grabs her tail in curiosity; she happens to dabble in herbs and medicines; he’s also brought into a village and shown kindness; however, it sort of stops there. The personalities of each character and the delivery of introductions are substantially different in this case.

Haku is a fairly solid lead so far. Yes he’s an amnesic case, but he doesn’t spend too utawarerumonoitsuwarinokamen06much time dwelling on it. Instead being thrown into the world and soaking in what’s around him. He’s also rather clever and has a somewhat silly (though lazy) personality.

Kuon on the otherhand is a total archetype breaker and takes on the roll of both kind, silly, and even pervy. That later one being a bit of a shocker (and leading to a hilarious moment for the episode). Can we say waifu of the season already?

Visually, this show looks outstanding so far. The characters are lively (that tail is all over the place), the animation is great, the environments look full, and the character designs are very pleasing. Kuon is absolutely adorable for the record. I can’t wait for more of the “harem” to show up. I just hope White Fox can keep it up. It’s been listed at 25 episodes and to keep this quality for that long is going to take some considerable efforts.

utawarerumonoitsuwarinokamen09As far as the plot itself, it’s both great and a bit uncertain at the same time. Whats great is that there’s no narration or information dumps, despite Haku being amnesic. Instead, the world is introduced by walking into it and exploring it. The fear from that comes in just how expansive this world will end up being. Sometimes a lack of information means there’s nothing there. But I’m putting my trust in this show just because I’ve liked what I’ve seen of its exploration so far.

Calling On The Original?
What does this show mean to a returning fan? How about those fearing they need to watch the original? Based on the first episode, I feel like this series may just stick to only hidden references and lore call backs. Take for example, and this is not a spoiler, the main protagonist’s name. Kuon gives him the name of Haku, claiming it is a name with a long history behind it. “Name of one of the Sung.” An obvious utawarerumonoitsuwarinokamen11reference to Hakuro, the main protagonist of the original.

So while I believe that they will reference the first as lore or history, I don’t think it will have a direct effect. Though that could change substantially in the future (I’m still wondering who the masked man is in the key art). For now, I can recommend it to returning fans that will get those references and call-backs, as well as for those that have never seen the original as it wouldn’t rely on it to tell its story.

This show is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.com!  If you’ve watched the original Utawarerumono and want to get a refresher on the world and tie-ins, check out our recap podcast episode!

Episode 1: Curse

THUMBS UP!

IMPRESSIONS VERDICT:
Great!

Pros:

  • Great visuals
  • Great character designs
  • Laugh out loud moments
  • Great fantasy setup

Cons:

  • None

Impressions are based on a single episode and don’t necessarily reflect the series as a whole. Unless dropped, we will continue to give updates on thoughts and impressions of the series as time goes by.

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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.