Series Review – Utawarerumono

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Oboro knows how to get some serious tail

Utawarerumono originally aired in 2006, so I was little surprised it was revived for a sequel almost 10 years later. I was curious about this season’s Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen, but didn’t want to just dive in without seeing the original. After all, it felt like even if I could follow the story, I’d miss a slew of references and head nods. It also seemed to be a decently rated show so I gave it a shot. So, if you wanted to watch the new season but would rather not watch 26 episodes of the original one then you’re in luck because I did all the work for you! All spoilers are locked up nice and tight under spoiler tags.

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Summary: Originally an “adult tactical role-playing visual novel” (i.e. you fuck a bunch of girls with animal ears and sometimes fight things), Utawarerumono gained popularity quite easily, as anyone would imagine from something with girls sporting animal ears of all shapes and sizes. The anime cuts down on the sexual parts of the visual novel and focuses on war tactics, but the amount of female characters hovering around the main lead make it clear this was adapted from a harem game.

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Ladies love a masked man of mystery

It seems like there’s a ton of lore to Utawarerumono, and this may feel like a daunting amount of information to absorb. But it really only comes into play at the very end of the series. Until the sci-fi infodump at the end, Utawarerumono is as simple as it gets. It’s just an action show about warring states, like a much furrier version of Legend of Arslan. Despite the attempt to blow the audience’s mind in the end with crazy plot twists, I’ll always think of Utawarerumono as an average and kind of clumsy action series.

To be fair, the show starts off on a rather strong note. Hakuoro wakes up with amnesia and heavy wounds to Eruruu, a kind girl with cat-like (or dog-like…?) ears who lets him reside in her village. The first few episodes focus strongly on establishing the bond between this mysterious stranger Hakuoro and Eruruu. Neither we, the audience, nor Hakuoro have any idea why everyone has animal ears but him. No one knows who he is either and why he has a mask permanently fused to his face. It’s exciting to learn more about the village, the customs and beliefs of these animal people, and how Hakuoro fits into all of it.

As an outsider, it takes him time to get to gain the trust of the other villagers. I really enjoyed seeing him get to know everyone and work alongside them to prove his worth. Even he seemed surprised to find where his skills were, since he had no memories of his life before. I think another aspect of the first few episodes that made it so strong was the sharp focus it had. Hakuoro, Eruruu, and her sister Aruruu were the only main characters at that point. It was easy to weave a tightly-knit narrative with world-building and ample character development as Hakuoro became more intimate with everyone. It was especially pleasant to watch him coax Aruruu into liking him, as it took a lot of time and effort. The same really can’t be said for future girls who just instantly adore him and babble about their deepest secrets during first encounters. The magic of this first arc is really short-lived, as the story becomes less and less about learning the fascinating culture behind these people and more about shallow conversations with cute girls. The world-building becomes non-existent and character development comes to a screeching halt, with only Eruruu and Hakuoro being allowed a minimal amount of growth.

Once Hakuoro becomes the leader, everything goes downhill.

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Don’t worry, they’re just level 1 monsters!

After becoming the leader, Hakuoro is now in charge of pretty much everything. The rest of the series is now about invading places, killing armies, obtaining a new girl at some point, and then moving onto the next conquest. Even his tactics for winning aren’t very clever, as they mostly amount to just breaking into wherever he wants to invade. It’s the equivalent of trying to attach a story to one of those beat-em-up games like Dynasty Warriors or Sengoku Basara where you run around and send entire armies flying with overpowered attacks. It’s just wave after wave of enemies and because of this mechanical process, the show often feels like there’s no greater end goal. When one city or village is taken over, a new villain inevitably arises and it feels like Hakuoro achieved nothing since he’s back at square one. Utawarerumono is really just a montage of very average fight scenes, which is a pleasant time-killer but evokes zero emotional attachment.

To be fair, the fight scenes can be quite fun. The mounts for everyone aren’t horses, but raptors with saddles, which is already a wonderful addition to this weird furry world. Also, each character has a very distinct fighting style. Oboro’s two-handed and needlessly flashy sword technique is always a delight, and Karula is a girl who wields what is basically a massive steel beam ripped off a building. Since new girls are introduced so often that they’re still bringing in more for the last episodes, there’s always a new style to explore. So the good news (I suppose) is that the fighting is decently entertaining. The bad news is that there isn’t much else other than ok fighting except for some less than ok character development.

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Any conversation with Eruruu and Hakuoro is generally great, and the two encounter numerous roadbumps in their relationship as they try to support each other through trying times. However, it feels like even Eruruu gets tossed aside sometimes in favour of the show squeezing more action in. The problem is that they tried to fit in every single girl and (what seems like) parts of every single route in the game. A new girl will be introduced, we’ll learn her schtick, and then she’ll fade into the background as the story progresses. I can’t even tell you what Touka did, other than being cute. Another major disappointment is that sometimes an attempt will be made to start a really interesting storyline…only for it to be completely dropped for the rest of the series.

For example, at one point it is revealed that…and this isn’t in spoiler tags because of how inconsequential it is…Camus is a vampire. She bites Aruruu and gets all upset over it, crying on Hakuoro’s shoulder about how she wishes she could control it. Then everyone forgives her and the entire fact she was secretly a fucking vampire is forgotten. At one point, they buy an incredibly rare and magical animal said to bring good luck that was previously seen lurking around Camus in a suspicious manner…and it does nothing. They make a big fuss at first about the potential uses for this magical creature (like curing the one girl who has an uncurable illness WHICH THEY DON’T DO) and then for the rest of the series all it does is squeak a few times. There’s also an arc where you discover Karula’s past and she reunites with people only to say “naw, I’m gonna ignore ’em”.

It’s ridiculous. Instead of ever following through on any of these stories, we get these little half-baked vignettes that never go anywhere, despite having a lot of promise at the beginning. I would have loved to learn more about Camus being a vampire and the implications it would have on her friendship with Aruruu. Why not have them agonize longer over whether or not to kill the magical bunny thing to cure Yuzuha’s illness, or at least have it bring them luck somehow? If the potential for greatness wasn’t there,  I wouldn’t be so mad.


The famous fan

Finally, the end gets a little hectic as we discover the truth about Hakuoro. It had been hinted at for some time, but when the reveal finally happened I completely changed my view of the world. Mostly, it made me really creeped out at everyone and felt less inclined to learn more about the setting and the animal people. That’s probably not a good way to end a series, having your audience feel like everything they loved has been tainted. It sure was one hell of a twist though! I’ll give them that. It was neat that it changed my perspective so much, but not so neat that my view of the world became more negative.

Overall, Utawarerumono is an unremarkable series with decent action, too many characters and not enough time for proper development, cute animal ears, and a hell of an ending. If this show had not tried to do so many things at once, I think it would have been much better. Throwing in zombies, cloning, angels, robots and Gods all into one show just didn’t work.


TL;DR Gimme Facts for Season 2

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Why is Yuzuha, this sick little blind girl, so important??? Well….

Still too lazy to read everything? Don’t worry, I’ll make it so you can watch the new season without missing a beat! Here’s a neat bullet list of stuff that seems to be referenced in the new season that ties back to season 1. Feel free to add info in the comments because apparently some season 2 references come from the game, which I have next to no knowledge of. I’d love for this to be a good resource page for people who want to start season 2 but maybe don’t have the motivation to watch an entire 26 episode series that I just told you wasn’t all that great. Thanks for your help!

(List may be updated as more episodes of season 2 are released)

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A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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35 Responses to “Series Review – Utawarerumono”

  1. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Oboro knows how to get some serious tail

    What is better than one trappu? Two trappu. 😀 Actually this is not at all surpising considering this is based on Japanese history + Ainu mythology. The daimyos were known to have close male *companions*. And so did the Greeks.

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    Also, the Kemonomimi Project was a success!

    An Izuna-tan Aruruu is Fine Too. With skylion Mukkuru as her pet.

    The whole series actually was quite nice to watch even without the erobits. There are no HCGs of Underwaterraymono lurking on this PC. >_>

    • akagami says:

      What is better than one trappu? Two trappu.

      Well they never actually addressed the gender issue in the anime, they skirted around it ^^ Hints yes, but they never came out and said it. Sooo if you imagine hard enough, maybe!

      There are no HCGs of Underwaterraymono lurking on this PC. >_>

      *peeks at DGK’s computer*

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        Yes, the gender issue was never fully set in stone. It was always coyly skirted around in the game as well and left to the fapper player to use their imaginations.

        No. I do not carry HCGs on my portable tabletbook nor on USB sticks/drives/SDcards. Which I am using right now.


        • Overcooled says:

          I saw someone post a screenshot (from the game) of the twins declaring they were male on twitter but then again, there’s always photoshop. Plus, ambiguous genders can be more fun!

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        Also, there is no questionable utaware pictures on either of these two desktops I am now using.

      • Di Gi Kazune says:



        akagami, you can peek all you want. As of this moment, after a stocktake, there is not a single byte of Utaware CGs anywhere in the house.



        I don’t know to be surprised or sad at this development.

  2. akagami says:

    Hmmmmmmmm, I thought it was a decent fantasy anime. Granted, I watched this years ago, so my memory is a bit hazy. I didn’t find the twist at the end to be detrimental to my viewing enjoyment at all, rather I found it to be an interesting aspect of their world. All in all, I thought it was a pretty decent adaption of a H-game.

    I remember being a big fan of Touka and Karura. Eruruu, not as much.

    I’d recommend the series if you don’t mind or like fantasy harem anime. The little things like Oboro always being tailed by the two twins made me smile =) I never played the game so I can’t offer any lore details, unfortunately.

    • Overcooled says:

      Yeah, it was…decent. It definitely had promise, but it kind of waffled on too many subjects to really impress me. Watching it fresh and then going straight for season 2 feels really good though, because everything is fresh in my mind.

      Karula and Touka were my faves too! Eruruu was fine, albeit a little clingy.

  3. Sumairii says:

    I’ve posted this before, I’ll post it again. 🙂

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      Looks like a Kerbal in one of my rockets. That has just suffered massive structural failure during ascent. And the cockpit is spinning around. In an uncontrollable spin. Soon to be in a descent.

    • Overcooled says:

      This post is improved just by having this gif here, I love it.

    • akagami says:

      By the way, I could never figure out how you are all posting images, gifs, or videos. Is it a site admin only ability?

  4. Sumairii says:

    From what little I remember of the first season, I have to say I agree with your assessment. The show was doing pretty peachy, then it became a seemingly endless warring states game. And of course, the weird parts at the end were weird. They definitely added a huge twist to the story, but ventured a bit too much into strange territory.

    • zztop says:

      Yeah, the whole twist just came out of nowwhere. Maybe if they’d dropped a few clues and mysteries here and there, it wouldn’t be so bad.

    • Overcooled says:

      Yeah, it starts off well enough and then squanders the magic. I still can’t believe the lack of ear and tail twitches in season 1 compared to season 2 where they’re twitching and wagging all the time!

  5. zztop says:

    Another major disappointment is that sometimes an attempt will be made to start a really interesting storyline…only for it to be completely dropped for the rest of the series.

    I’m guessing this was also a side-effect of trying to cram all the game’s multiple plotlines into the anime. You end up cutting a lot of backstory for minor characters.

    I rewatched the anime, and I see why they made Haku somewhat weak and lazy for Game 2. Game 1’s Hakuoro was a bit too perfect, being a king, fighter, lover and tactician all at once!!

    Don’t worry, they’re just level 1 monsters!

    Those are Suu’s and Kimihito/Darling’s children you’re talking about! You monster!

    • Overcooled says:

      It’s a shame because the characters are actually really interesting…they’re just never given the time to have any real impact on anything.

      I like that Haku is kinda lazy (and maskless) because it makes me like him more. Hakuoro seemed so serious all that time that I couldn’t relate to him at all. And man was he perfect!

      If I’m a monster in the Monster Musume world, isn’t that a good thing?

      • zztop says:

        If I’m a monster in the Monster Musume world, isn’t that a good thing?

        Only if you’re a monstergirl. As a monsterguy, you end up looking uglier or less attractive looking than Kimihito.

        • BlackBriar says:

          That’s probably why they only showcased girls. Because despite their uneven physical forms, they’re still easy on the eyes.

          • Overcooled says:

            So basically I’d be a great monstergirl and the guys all get screwed over by being ugly.

            • skylion says:

              …until the day comes along that I perfect my flappycat cosplay then i would sooooo out monster-cute you…

            • BlackBriar says:

              Pretty much… That genre is more or less perfected for girls. Though I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what kind of monster girl you’d be.

            • Di Gi Kazune says:

              Would Diablo be considered a monsterguy? And what about Alucard?

      • BlackBriar says:

        If I’m a monster in the Monster Musume world, isn’t that a good thing?

        If you unintentionally kill your human mate, no, it’s not a good thing.

  6. BlackBriar says:

    Utawarerumono originally aired in 2006, so I was little surprised it was revived for a sequel almost 10 years later.

    I don’t think you should be so surprised in light of what came before. Remember Mushishi Zoku Shou, a sequel that came about 8 years after its original season. So it’s safe to assume anything is possible these days.

    Sounds like a hit or miss series depending on who’s watching. I, in particular, have trouble dealing with protagonists who are “perfect” in every way. In Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, I can’t tell you how much it took out of me to tolerate a lead like Tatsuya Shiba. However, Hakuoro (Not much different from the name of the second season’s human lead when you think about it) doesn’t sound so unbearable.

    So, if you wanted to watch the new season but would rather not watch 26 episodes of the original one then you’re in luck because I did all the work for you!

    Kudos to you recalling so much. After almost 10 years, especially after not watching recently, most would have their memories of the series’ happenings eroded to a certain degree. Unless it’s something that really impresses and stays with you.

    Accumulating this info was on a whim of mine but did well for getting some facts. Whether I read this or not, the second season is growing on me on its own. Hopefully it will end on a better note than its predecessor.

    • Overcooled says:

      Mushishi was also a special case and this is still not the norm – at least for series I’ve noticed/care about.

      For me it was a very “meh” show…more of a miss than a hit, but certainly not a total flop or else I wouldn’t have watched it to the end. The lead is pretty darn perfect, but I think Tatsuya is worse. At least Hakuoro isn’t overwhelming strong for most of the series. He actually gets beat up quite a bit.

      Oh, my memory isn’t that good…I only just rewatched it now so it would be hard to forget these things.

  7. Wanderer says:

    I haven’t finished the original Utawarerumono. I wasn’t watching a lot of anime when it first aired, so I missed it then. I just started it after episode 2 of Itsuwari no Kamen. So far I’ve gotten through 16 episodes. I’ve found it interesting, although it definitely feels… different from the new series. It wasted no time throwing the plot into motion, Show ▼

    Personally I think I like Itsuwari no Kamen’s style better. How much of that is just because I encountered it first, I can’t say. But Hakuoro was just too competent. I wouldn’t actually describe him as perfect, but he was very good at a lot of things, and approached his situation pretty stoically. Haku feels more human.

    More importantly, the new series has Kuon, who appears to have picked up all the best traits of the various girls from the previous season, as well as a few fun ones of her own. She is just a bundle of fun and adorability.

    Also also, the girls in this series have highly emotive ears and tails. The things move like they’re supposed to, rather than just sitting there as if they’re just props to remind us that these are animal-people. I love it.

  8. Wanderer says:

    Someone smack the spammy, if you would.

  9. Rakka de Glie says:

    Kuon is hakuoro’s daughter! I had assumed the second season happened much after the first one. Hakuoro must still be around since he’s immortal.

  10. akagami says:

    I have to agree though, Hakuoro seemed to be a very distant character, which the mask helped to perpetrate. I was pretty much indifferent to his character, though I enjoyed the rest of the cast. Maybe it was the lack of emotion, or the lack of portrayal of emotion.

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      Hakuoro is still better than some other op character is some other overrated show. saw was it? When you whack someone with the iron fan of command +10, it is classic.

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