Onigiri currently airs on The Anime Network for paid subscribers. Each episode is roughly 3-4 minutes long and the first season is set to last 13 episodes. It's based on the video game of the same title. Three OVA episodes are available legally for FREE on the official Onigiri YouTube Channel.
*Sigh* What happened here?
Back in January, I wrote about Onigiri, the free video game that took PS4 users by storm. The video game has you create a fighter and then travel through a fantasy world, killing demons known as Kamigui, while also helping to save and then cultivate a strong fighter in Princess Shizuka.
While I praised the game for it's gender neutral, gender friendly storytelling and options, I did share with you all it's racy, anime commercials, which you can watch here. The commercials puzzle me, because while the video game does have sensual content, the girls are portrayed as independent, strong women (minus Shizuka at first) and the game treats men and women equally. There are even LBGTQ friendly options for the players and the focus is more on the combat rather than fanservice. But the ads feature overtly sexualized, sometimes nude women, in less heroic situations.
What I did not know at the time, was that the ads, which run at 2-3 minutes a piece, were actually free episodes of the new Onigiri anime, which had not been announced at the time they went live to YouTube. So with that being said, when I read the announcement that Onigiri was getting it's own, full fledged series, I was surprised. Ignoring the sexualized OVA, I went right to The Anime Network with the intent to binge watch the first seven episodes.
... And.... eh?
Don;t misunderstand me. This is not a bad show. In fact, there's a lot of good things about it.
For starters, the opening theme is done by STARMARIE. It's an energetic dance track that's also soothing on the ears. I highly recommend giving "Hime wa Rankiryu☆Goikkou-sama" a listen.
Also, the animation is fluid. There are no shortcuts made, no stock footage, just everything you could ask for in an anime. As a bonus, the colors and drawings actually match the video game art, something often overlooked when translating a game to the TV screen.
But as for accuracy? It's not here.
If you saw the OVA on YouTube, then you already know this show has no desire to follow the video game. Select elements appear, and certainly some of the game's characters, but it doesn't follow the path of the game at all.
Instead, we are treated to 3 minute episodes where the girls all act stupid.
It's a comedy, and I get that. But where it's based on a more serious video game, it's problematic. Princess Shizuka is the only character that retains around 95% of her in-game progression, while the other characters bumble about the screen, getting drunk, acting selfish and doing everything except going after the Kamigui. In fact, their lack of battle is a running gag on the show, where at the end of each episode, the narrator reminds the audience that this is supposed to be an adventure show about fighting the Kamigui.
As for the guys? They're accessories.
For a video game that was as gender friendly as Onigiri is, it amazes me just how sexist the anime is. Yeah, the girls are overtly sexualized, but at least they have personalities and dialogue. The men are basically paper dolls and a sword. In fact, outside of the narrator and maybe two background characters, NONE of the men have voice actors! This also becomes a running gag, where when they speak, all we get is a Final Fantasy style text box, and the girls just nod their heads and react. It's a clever joke, but it also sends the idea that men are toys.
That being said however, the anime is self-aware.
It's like the show knows it's not living up to the video game, and it's just trying to do the best it can in the short amount of time allotted. Each episode takes place in it's own story.
Some episodes will poke fun at the game. For example, you'll see two of the girls fighting demons, and then suddenly, the screen turns black, and a voice overhead says "You were caught cheating/using an illegal move, you are banned for three days" poking fun at the game's community rules. Other times, a character will earn exp points or they might "die" on camera only to re-spawn a second later with half of their money.
If you haven't played the video game, Onigiri might give you a few chuckles. But if you have played the game, you'll find yourself wondering what might have been.
Codename Sailor earth
Codename Sailor Earth is a lifelong anime and wrestling fan. IRL she is cartoonist Koriander Bullard, formerly Koriander Ake, a happily married Chicagoan. Her favorite anime is Sailor Moon. A baby in the late 80's, the first anime titles she ever saw were Speed Racer, Voltron and Robotech.