Hoozuki no Reitetsu–Anime Early Impressions

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Hoozuki posterSo far my second-favorite anime of the new season is Hoozuki no Reitetsu (“Cool-headed Hoozuki”) (Crunchyroll). This probably won’t appeal to everyone. It’s one of those shows that’s full of references to Japanese folklore, mythology and classic anime. I don’t get all the references even though I’ve been studying this stuff as a hobby for years. Still I find it pretty funny.

This is a comedy set it Hell, but it’s not a particularly dark comedy, just kind of offbeat. It doesn’t dwell much on the tortures of the damned. In any case this is the Japanese Buddhist hell, which isn’t supposed to be forever. (Though it may last a long time since the wicked don’t usually reform themselves easily.)

It’s a short set-piece comedy. Each episode consists of two 12-minute stories.

Harried King Enma
King Enma, the judge of the dead, is harried and overworked. Aside from his endless job of selecting the appropriate punishment for sinners, he is constantly beset with requests from his underlings to solve their problems. Hell’s workers seem a fairly incompetent lot, lacking initiative and creativity.
Fortunately King Enma can rely on his super-competent assistant Hoozuki. He is a tall, lanky oni with a dour face and an impassive voice. He is very smart but lacks any trace of a sense of humor. (It generally helps if the lead character in a comedy has no idea how funny it all is.)
In the first episode Momotarou shows up looking for oni to fight. (If you don’t know the story maybe you should go watch Folktales from Japan. Every third anime has a reference to it.)

Hoozuki convinces Momotarou to go to Heaven and get a job tending the peach trees. Momotarou’s animal companions are fed up with him so Hoozuki hires them to work in Animal Hell, torturing people who abused animals.
Goldfish flowers
Secretly Hoozuki is fond of cute things. In his spare time he raises goldfish flowers.
Goldfish flower contest
He’s so good at is that he serves as a judge at Hell’s annual goldfish flower contest.
Hoozuki and Enma
When he gets a chance to relax King Enma proves to be a cheerful, easygoing fellow though he seems a bit slow-witted. Of course we also see him yelling at sinners when he consigns them to various torments, but that’s just his job.
Nasubi and Karauri
Nasubi and Karauri are two low-level workers who are always messing up and creating problems for Hoozuki to solve. Nasubi is a total airhead. Karauri seems just a bit smarter and is always yelling at Nasubi.
Okou seems to be in charge of inventory. She seems reasonably competent.
Hoozuki Enma and Satan
In the second episode Satan, the boss of the European Hell, visits the Japanese Hell. He pretends to be nice but is actually plotting to invade Japanese Hell and take it over. He quickly finds himself overmatched.