Izumo, Episode 1: Call in a Dream Print
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Wednesday, 21 January 2009 00:00
IzumoAt the time that Izumo first aired in Japan, there seemed to be a trend for shows to try mixing genres, which the series seemed to be happily following - this time, it's harem / h-game conversion meets shounen fighting show, which is a combo that sets all sorts of alarm bells ringing. But with Fushigi Yuugi-style trips to the past also featuring, there's one story hook that I couldn't pass up on. Curses. Let's take a look, shall we...?

I'm sure Takeru Yagi thinks life is hard, what with being rudely awakened by his harem of girls each morning. I'd disagree, myself. He has no family of his own, however, and has been taken in by his grandfather, Rokusuke Toma, who looks after him with help from neighbour girls Kotono and Asuka Shiratori. In school, he's something of a master at kendo - there's only one other student who can beat him, long-time friend Takashi Yamato, but there are problems when Takeru is picked ahead of Takeshi to represent the school in an upcoming tournament. Meanwhile, there's a new transfer student in class, Seri Oosu, who claims to know him. It's all news to Takeru, until Seri's trademark violence helps to remind him. Later, strange things begin to happen when Takeru and Takashi handle an ancient sword that Rokusuke's been keeping...

Wakey wakey!Seri

Quiet momentTransport

The Fushigi Yuugi aspect comes into play at the end of the first episode, where the gang are all transported to an alternate world where adventures will no doubt occur. I'm also spoilt to the fact that Takashi's handling of the sword will turn him into an adversary for Takeru, in much the same way that Miaka and Yui ended up at each others' throats. But while Miaka's adventures had a certain guilty-pleasure feel to them, Izumo hasn't done anything yet to convince me that it's going to impress.

For starters, there's little about any of the characters so far that makes them likeable, while the setup of the rivalry between the two boys is rather sudden and convenient. The show has a premise that could use being developed over a few episodes, but instead it's all rushed through in this opening episode. The harem aspect of it also doesn't sit entirely well with me - I just can't quite see how all the girls can be usefully used in the story. I guess we're about to find out. Add in some issues with the subtitles for the episode, which don't quite appear to be a professional job, and you'd be forgiven for thinking I was about to give Izumo a thorough kicking.

Tempting. Very tempting. But I'm also aware of how many times I've slated the first episode or two of a series only to end up loving it after getting a few more episodes under my belt, so I'm more inclined to give the series a chance to prove itself. I've also seen a lot worse from opening episodes, which leaves me inclined to be more generous than I'd perhaps planned to be. Not going to slate it or rate it yet, but Izumo has some hard work to do to convince me that it's worthwhile...

Watch this episode

Rating - ***

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