Ok, today, lets take Inukami (literally, “dog-god”). Preferably someplace far away, because I found it to be quite aggravating. I had some expectations for it after seeing Riuva’s review, but this show just didn’t cut it. There’s simply no there, there. If you’d rather watch this series with no foreknowledge, beware, because I’m going to get into spoilers. Except they’re not really spoilers, because as of ep.11, not a damn thing has really happened, except Youko is getting along with Kouda’s ten inukami, and everyone despises Keita as a pervert when they aren’t appreciating him for his better qualities. Yawn. The opening song and animation advertises an action-adventure with magical girls, romance, and maybe a little fanservice. Perhaps it would be a nice show — if that’s what they had made. What the viewer gets is nothing like that.
Here’s the setup: In Japanese lore, inukami are “dog-gods” or powerful dog spirits; good guys. In the show, they tend to mainifest human forms (usually young-appearing) most of the time, and pair off with inukami “tamers” who wield magical powers of their own. Together, they fight against evil spirits and other unsavory things. Their existance is known to the government, who provides free medical care (to the spirits), and often contract jobs. Most tamers are drawn from the Kawahira family, who have been tamers since way back in history. As the backstory gets filled in through the first ten episodes, it becomes apparent that ritual and custom surrounds the pairing, although it’s incorrect to call it a “paring” since one tamer can accept a contract with any number of inukami. Kouda, whom we never see (unless it’s briefly in the opening), has ten, ranging in apparent age from the child Tomohané, up through the twenty-ish (appearing) Sendan.
Vows and tokens are exchanged, symbolizing an exchange of magical power, and this is only done on one designated day per year. The teenaged Keita, male lead and cousin of Kouda, as well as being the grandson of the old lady who heads the family, is a goofball that coudln’t get a contract with any inukami, and so was kicked out of the family.
How goofy is he? On the designated day, he rushed out to the forest and ran round with a bullhorn advertising for a cute young female inukami to contract with him, making it sound like he was asking for a pet. Naturally, they ignored him, thus his ejection from the family. But a couple of months prior to the opening of the series, he is called back and told of an inukami that will contract with him. Her name is Youko (or Yoko), and the process of their pairing is a tad….destructive. It seems that Youko is a very powerful and wild inukami that no one’s been able to “tame” but for some reason that Keita should know but doesn’t remember, she’s interested in him. Scoring their first match (as in ‘combat with each other’) is difficult; it seems he’s damn near indestructable, but she can knock him out and crisp him if she pushes it. As for the vows, it looks more like he’s ended up serving her, as he’s the one in the dog collar.
|Keita’s trying to get too friendly with Kouda’s inukami at the pool, and Youko is about to jerk him up short. You’re my toy, dammit!|
Cut to the opening of the series, and they’ve settled into an apartment in town; he attends high-school and they sometimes fight spirits. More often, they’re arguing/fighting, as he’s a horny teenager, and she’s pretty much a cocktease. It’s obvious that they sleep together, but it appears that’s all they do–sleep. Youko is self-centered, wanting him to take her on a date, give her massages and trim her tail; but not give him any of the perks tamer’s normally get, such as domestic support. Worse, Youko leads him on with suggestive talk, but if Keita gets too rowdy (or she gets jealous), she teleports him outside, sans clothing–it’s resulted in his getting thrown into jail alongside a peeping tom and underwear thief several times. She treats him as a pervert and constantly destroys any porn of his she can find. Hmmm. I think I’ve seen that somewhere before too…. Ecchi nanowa ikenaito omoimasu! Now, instead of wanting to sleep with Youko, Keita referrs to her as a mutt and professes interest only in human girls.
Meanwhile, Kouda’s ten inukami are having their own problems. Sendan, the leader (and younger sister of Haké, the inukami of grandma/clan leader), wants to get rid of the pacifist Nadeshiko. Worse, Nadeshiko is Kouda’s favorite, which makes the others jealous. They hatch a plan, with Haké’s help, to send Nadeshiko to teach Youko how to behave by example; but they intend to force her to stay there. Nadeshiko and Youko know each other from way back, and strangely, Youko respects only her out of the ten — but that goes by the wayside with Keita at stake. So the nine decide they have to get rid of Youko so Nadeshiko will be able to stay with Keita. In an entirely overblown reaction on everyone’s part, Youko faces off against the other nine in what is almost a battle to the death. The nine’s death that is, because Youko is ridiculously powerful by comparison, and she ‘kicks their mutts’ before Nadeshiko intervenes, forcing Youko to back down. Afterwards, Youko is supposedly a bit more helpful to Keita (not that we ever see it), and the others no longer hate Nadeshiko, which was Haké’s real plan.
Hating Youko is another matter, as the relationship is a bit testy for a while before things settle down. Which not only happens too quickly to be real, but before long, Youko is siding with the ten against Keita and constantly beating him up for being a pervert towards the others. It may just be jealousy though, because instead of chasing human girls, now he’s after all his cousin’s inukami, except the too-young Tomohané. (Not the first inconsistency, nor the last. Pretty soon, it’s Keita lustily chasing cute inukami, and all of them (including Tomohané) abusing him mercilessly. And even while he’s chasing them, and getting beaten up, he’s winning them over with his selfless acts. Make sense? Other real pervs show up occasionally, and every few episodes, so does some spirit or another that they have to fight. That’s the entire plot in a nutshell. By episode 11, there is no hint of a long term story, villian, or hook, other than something about Keita and Youko having met before – -which he doesn’t remember. Nah, we’ve never seen that done before, either, right?
In short, this show doesn’t do anything besides spend its time portraying men as hopeless perverts that should be serving women and kept in line with frying pans to the head. At one point, Youko is leading Keita around on a leash. By the tenth episode, she’s got him well trained; Keita is grooming her and everything. This show isn’t made for guys, it’s the ladies revenge for all those harem comedies! So, if we guys subject ourselves to the show, we should just be watching for the fanservice, right?
Wrong. The fanservice here is much like Youko, just a bunch of cockteasing with no intent for any action. The only time you see panties is when they’re on a clothesline. Cleavage? A little, once or twice. Godannar blows this show away without even trying, and there’s plenty of better stuff out there.. Tight clothes, suggestive dialogue, and sillhouettes are the extent of the fanservice. Unless that is, you happen to like seeing naked men, which this series has in abundance. Male genetalia, with a few exceptions, are hidden by a crayon drawing of an elephant, and usually a small boy going “Mommy! Elephant!” to make the point. That’s about the only limit. I suspect that on the DVD, we won’t be so lucky. The first episode has a spirit flying about shooting beams from his nipples that makes the clothes disappear from any man it hits. He shoots an area effect beam from his crotch. And of course, aside from his trench coat, he’s naked. The second episode has a bunch of big burly martial artists (dressed only in those skimpy crotch-wraps) that have been posessed by dog spirits. Exorcism? What excorcism? Keita ends up having to roll and play with them, including getting licked by them as if they were real dogs. Ewwwwwwwwww. If you’ve got the slightest trace of homophobia anywhere in your psyche, the first couple of episodes are going to bring it to the surface.
Of course, a lot of women out there would just say, “Ha! Turnabout’s fair play for all that yuri stuff you guys watch!” Which reminds me of another complaint I have; ten cute inukami (less Tomohané, add Youko), even twins, and nothing happening! How wrong is that?
Fine. Ladies, this is the series you’ve been waiting for. You watch it. I’ll go hunt up Galaxy Angel and download it….
Addendum: I kind of got sidetracked by my aggravation over the Keita-Youko relationship… let me make it clear. I think there has to be some conflict between them, because if there weren’t, the show is just a straight action-adventure/harem fantasy. Since the question in a romance story is “will they get together,” and these two start together, there has to be an issue that divides them in order to create the romantic tension. The writers picked “the nature of their relationship” as that issue. Within that concept, they could have gone the tsundere route easily–basically flipping the roles of Inuyasha and Kagome into Youko and Keita; she’d be the tough one learning to open up. I think I was expecting a reverse Inuyasha crossed with Yumeria, based on the OP, and instead I got this dreck; to me, Youko is a profoundly unlikable character after watching her humiliate and browbeat Keita for 11 episodes.
Boiled down to its simplest level, Inukami has been a battle for psychological and sexual dominance between Keita and Youko, lightly sprinkled with action sequences and Japanese lore. In such a plot, if both sides call off the battle and decide to make love, not war, it’s a romantic story. But if either side wins or loses, it’s a fetish story. After 11 episodes, Youko is definately winning. She’s paid lip service to being more helpful to Keita, but what we see is Keita waiting on her hand, foot, and nail clippers.
So what we’ve got here is a yaoi-flavored fetish story for girls, not a harem comedy for guys, not a romance, and not an action-adventure show.
Addendum 2: While poking around at my anime pusher’s site, I’ve just discovered that Galaxy Angels was released in Region 1, so the downloads have been discontinued. (Next time, check first, dummy!)
Addendum 3: I’ve been kicking Inukami! around over at Riuva in the comments of the second article. Head over there if you’re interested. Or just bored. The looping .gif is worth the click.
Addendum 4: Well, I’ll be damned. At tj_han’s suggestion, I went a bit further and watched the next two episodes, 12 and 13. THAT is the series I thought I was going to see. If the rest of it had been up to that level, I’d be as big a fan as he is.