Review: Yozakura Quartet (2008)

The Fall 2008 anime season is coming to a close and although some series will continue into the Winter 2009 season, the remaining series will finish their run by the end of this year. One of the series that ended early is Yozakura Quartet, which ran for twelve episodes. For those who didn’t watch the series, here’s brief synopsis:

Based on the manga by Suzuhito Yasuda, the story of Yozakura Quartet takes place in the fictional town of Sakurashin, a town where humans and yokai live in harmony. Four teenagers with special abilities (and their friends) must protect Sakurashin from a vengeful yokai who is bent on destroying the town, and the situation is complicated by the fact that the villain has taken over the body of one of our heroes’ friends.

I picked up the series after reading favourable previews from various other anime blogs. The story sounds like your standard supernatural action series, but the main characters seem interesting so I thought let’s give it a try. Unfortunately, Yozakura Quartet was a disappointment from the first episode. The first thing that caught my attention was that the poor production quality. The animation was simply not up to snuff when compared to any other recent series of the same genre. The deficiency is particular evident during the action scenes, where some of the special effects were made the series look very low budget. Perhaps Yozakura Quartet is low budget, but they certainly didn’t have to make it so obvious. Another sign of poor production quality was in the monster designs. Every monster that showed up in Yozakura Quartet were either shapeless blobs or white and texture-less. The prime example of this was the giant lizard monsters that appeared near the end of the series. Those lizard monsters were basically giant, texture-less, white blobs with some teeth and claws stuck on to them. This just goes to show how little effort was put into designing the monsters, although I’m not sure whether if this is the fault of the animation studio or the mangaka.

The story of Yozakura Quartet isn’t much better. Other than the fact that letting four teenagers run a town is a terrible idea, Yozakura Quartet managed to portray our four teenage heroes as a bunch of indecisive and useless idiots. This is particular evident in Hime, who is too weak and keeps getting beaten up until the very last fight, and Akina, who just doesn’t have the guts to take out the villain even when he knows that there’s no way his possessed friend can be saved. Some of the supporting characters like the local deities Yuhi and Yui don’t really know what they are supposed to be doing. Yuhi and Yui want to help the good guys but are prohibited from doing so, and unfortunately the reasons that stops them from helping are not explained to us. The only people who seem to be know what they are doing are the villains, but the series fails to explain how exactly the villains are going about accomplishing their goals. All of this added together results in an unlikable cast and a story that is more confusing than it should be.

In summary, Yozakura Quartet was a disappointment in its entirety. I thought the series was going to get better as time went on, but things actually got worse. I guess you could say that none of the episodes were really terrible (ex like some of the episodes in To-Love-Ru), but on the other hand none of the episodes can be considered as good; they are all mediocre at the very best. If you haven’t watched the series already, don’t bother with unless you are a die-hard fan of the manga.

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