When I mentioned that more OZ had arrived, I was amused at the reaction from one of the team – “yawn”.
It’s true, Otogi Zoshi is stoic and, if we’re honest, plodding at times. OZ takes the traditional, historically accurate approach, unlike the comparable Samurai 7 from MVM, and subsequently must adopt the formal, traditionalist style of the times. That said, it’s a stunning looking piece of animation, and if you can adapt to the pace (and this takes ome effort), it’s also quite compelling in places.
The second disc of this series ambles along, and despite some interesting battles, does little to enhance the rather 2-dimensional characters deployed to retrieve the mystical objects scattered around Japan. Yes, there are a few hidden agendas, but the pace on this disc is so leaden that it's hard to care when any one of them becomes injured. In fact, the characters are so underplayed there isn't even a character guide on the official website.
The third disc actually amps up the action a notch, and by the final act, we have a conclusion of sorts as our team of adventurers, having completed their quest for the Magatama’s, unveil a traitor in the royal court and must fight to save not only the capital but the wider world as well. If you’ve been put off by the slow nature of the series, this volume may be just enough to lure you back to the fold – it’s apocalyptic and genuinely stunning in places, but with enough emotional punch to give it some depth, although whether or not you care about the characters assorted fates at this point is dependant on your attention span.
Given a choice between this and Samurai 7, I’d go for 7 every time – it may be full of long winded speeches and suffer from inferior production values, but it has character and is far more entertaining.
The preview for the next volume shows OZ shifting to modern day Tokyo, which looks interesting and certainly piqued my interest. The idea of reincarnated souls returning to finish their quest is a great premise, and hopefully stripped of the historical trappings, it’ll loosen up a touch.
In the end, there are better titles vying for your cash – whilst OZ scores high on production values and historical accuracy, it comes at the cost of character and entertainment value.
Group discussion with Mizuho Nishikubo (Director), Kazuchika Kise (Character Design/Supervising Animation Director), Shou Tajima (Original Character Design) and Yoshiki Sakurai (Episode Director/Screenplay)
Tokyo University Heian lecture
Original promotional spots
Behind the scenes
Group discussion: Part 4
'Wish Upon A Star' (ending theme) discussion
Tokyo University Heian lescture
Original promotional spots