Hoozuki no Reitetsu [Anime Review]

Warning: Spoilers ahead!
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Anime Info

Hoozuki no Reitetsu

Movie: Hozuki's Coolheadedness

Romaji: Hōzuki no Reitetsu

Japanese: 鬼灯の冷徹

Director: Hiro Kaburaki [鏑木ひろ]

Author: Natsumi Eguchi [江口 夏実]

Producer: George Wada [和田丈嗣]

Release Date: 10 January 2014

Episodes: 13

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Supernatural

Broadcaster: Animeism (Mainichi Broadcasting System)

Language: Japanese

Country: Japan

Opening Theme Song(s): Jigoku no Sata mo Kimi Shidai [地獄の沙汰も君次第] by Jigoku no Sata All Stars

Ending Theme Song(s):

1. Ookina Kingyou no Kinoshitade [大きな金魚の樹の下で] by Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus (東京混声合唱団) (ep 1)

2. Parallax View [パララックス・ビュー] by Sadesper Record feat. Sumire Uesaka (eps 2-7, 9-13)

3. Caramel Peach Jam 120% [キャラメル桃ジャム120%] by Peach Maki (Sumire Uesaka) (ep 8)

Hoozuki no Reitetsu - Anime Synopsis

Hell is a bureaucracy, and business is running smoother than ever thanks to the demonic efficiency of Hoozuki, chief deputy to Lord Enma, the King of Hell. Whether offering counsel to the Momotarou of Japanese folklore or receiving diplomatic missions from the Judeo-Christian Hell, the demon who runs the show from behind the king's imposing shadow is ready to beat down any challenges coming his way into a bloody pulp.

Metaphorically, of course...

The poster boy for micromanagement and armed with negotiation skills worthy of Wall Street, Hoozuki no Reitetsu follows the sadistic and level-headed Hoozuki as he spends his days troubleshooting hell. With an abundance of familiar faces from popular Japanese legends and East Asian mythology working middle management positions, this referential and anachronistic dark comedy brings new meaning to the phrase "employer liability."

Just exactly how hard could it be to manage employees from hell, anyway? You might wonder....

Hoozuki no Reitetsu - Recurring Characters

Hoozuki Hoozuki/鬼灯: Hoozuki is the talented, sadistic deputy of the King of Hell, Enma. He tries to solve various problems in Hell. In his spare time, he takes care of the animals and raises Goldfish grass. Despite his cool and sadistic exterior though, Hoozuki is extremely fond of animals. He expresses disgust, and even outright hatred for humans who abuse animals and treats Momotaro's three animal companions like his friends. In the first episode he is also seen discussing plans with Enma to visit the Outback so he can see Australia's great variety of interesting animals. Hoozuki also admits to visiting a great number of zoos all over the human world during his vacations there, hiding his ears and horns under a hat while telling curious tourists that he is training to be a ninja.

Enma Enma - The Great King of Hell/閻魔大王: Despite what we know of The Great King of Hell or Enma in Japanese as an imposing and strict figure in the afterlife via old texts and history book, the Enma in this anime is practically a goofball. He is always at the mercy of Hoozuki's hands, whether it's a slipped disc or a sore throat. He dotes on his grandchild way too much, and even went as far as bringing his grandchild to work and letting his grandchild sentence sinners to different parts of Hell without so much as a trial.

Karauri Karauri/唐瓜: A hell minion who is sensible and thoughtful despite his young age. A good friend of Nasubi, another hell minion. When both Karauri and Nasubi get together, laughter and wacky scenario ensures even though Karauri doesn't intend things to go wacky. Karauri has a secret crush on another hell minion called O-ko, although it's more like a puppy-crush to be honest.

Nasubi Nasubi/茄子: A hell minion who says practically anything that pops into his head, also a good friend of Karauri, another hell minion. Nasubi is supposedly good at arts such as painting, clay works and such. He was even commissioned to do a mural art for Hoozuki, although it resulted in a life-like version of our real-life contemporary version of the Mouth of Truth partly because of a certain paint material mixed in slyly by Hoozuki.

Hakutaku Hakutaku/白澤: Hakutaku is a Celestial Beast and pharmacist living in Togenkyo at the Sentou Farm in Heaven. He took in Momotaro as his assistant and has been imparting his skills to the ex-ogre slayer ever since. He dwells among rabbits who also learn medical skills from him and aid him in preparation of herbal concoctions. Hoozuki is his arch-nemesis despite their many similarities. Hakutaku comes across as gracious and charming and is extremely popular with the ladies, much as Hoozuki is. However he is an unrepentant womanizer and flirts with every pretty woman he sees including Peach Maki and Oko.

Oko O-ko/:お香 Another hell minion whom Karauri has a secret crush on, she works in the geisha quarters in Hell. Most impressionable moment of O-ko was when Hoozuki approaches her for ways of dieting in a bid to get Enma to slim down drastically. We see Hoozuki, Enma, O-ko, Kakisuke, Shiro and Lurio/Rurio following O-ko through Greater Hell and Cold Hell. Basically, he diet includes light exercise in the sweltering Greater Hell, followed by a quick cool-down in Cold Hell, and then rinse and repeat.

Momotaro Momotaro/桃太郎: A popular hero of Japanese folklore originating from Okayama Prefecture. His name translates as Peach Tarō, a common Japanese boy's name, and is often translated as Peach Boy. Leaving Momotaro's history aside, this Momotaro we see in the anime started out as an obnoxious guy challenging any and every Oni he sees in Hell but was cruelly defeated by Hoozuki's club with a blink of an eye. Momotaro ended up working as a trainee physician alongside Hakutaku, since Shangri-La is full of peaches and Hakutaky needs help in his physician work.

Kakisuke Kakisuke/柿助: A talking money who went on a oni quest with Momotaro, I find that Kakisuke's beginning before he joined Momotaro on his oni quest a little similar to our very own Journey to the West, although with a slight twist. Kakisuke started out by killing a crab and to atone for his sins, accompany Momotaro to Onigashima (鬼ヶ島) to defeat the Oni's that have been terrorizing humans.

Shiro Shiro/シロ:> Originally, Shiro was Momotarou's companion, from the Japanese folklore Momotarou aka Peach Boy, but now works in animal hell helping to punish deceased people who used to abuse animals during their life. He gets on well with Hoozuki, although sometimes Hoozuki's scary demeanour freaks Shiro out.

Lurio Lurio or Rurio/ルリオ: Another companion to Momotaro and gang during their Onigashima (鬼ヶ島) days, Rurio currently works in animal hell helping to punish deceased people who used to abuse animals during their life. Frequetly compared to as a dish in a restaurant by Shiro due to the fact that he is a pheasant.

Anime Review Overview

For this anime review, I will just randomly pick an episode/chapter to review with while at the same time try to find something in common that con connect with English readers who may find such anime shows confusing due to the history and knowledge one supposedly need to have in order to know what is going on. But honestly, just a quick Google check will probably acquaint you a little with Japanese history on Hell, making it slightly more easier to "grasp". But it definitely does help a lot if you are a Japan-fanatic as you instantly know what is going on, which Japanese folklore certain characters belong to, to quote for example. This time, I will however talk about Episode 2 Chapter 2 which also includes first impression of the start of the opening anime song instead as most of each episode actually comes in 2 chapters, titled The State of Hell, and This and That a.k.a 地獄の沙汰とあれやこれ (Jigoku no Sata to Are ya Kore).

My review..

Hoozuki no Reitetsu
Opening scene for Hoozuki no Reitetsu anime

Before I started watching this anime, I thought I already have the knowledge needed through my many years of reading, googling and researching through folklores, myths and history of Japan's Hell. But this anime actually challenges the already known knowledge of what I have learned about it. In fact, one cannot take this anime too seriously as it is more like a parody comedy version of what we expect to see. In other words, Hell is presented here as a modern corporation. Granted that the opening scene for this anime starts out with the denizens of Hell gathering and lining up for the opening song pretty much sums this up as a comedy rather than a straight-laced history of who is who in Japanese Hell. Just from the scene pictured above, you can pretty much see the similarities between Japanese Hell and Chinese Hell, with the appearance of Cow Head and Horse Face, but as females in this anime version. You can also see the Japanese Wanyūdō (輪入道 or わにゅうどう) beside Enma, but with a slight variant to what we already know.

Even the lyrics to the opening song literally introduces the viewer the different parts of Japanese Hell, how wonderful Hell is whad the fact that the denizens of Hell is actually keeping a close watch on you in the mundane world. In other words, behave yourself as a proper human when you're alive or risk getting tortured for the various sins you committed when you're still alive. To take a closer look at the lyrics:

Japan’s Hell is a multi-sectional Hell.
All together it has 272 sections.
This is Hell, Hell, a wonderful Hell.
This is Hell, Hell, Hell, Hell.
Sanjiva, Kalasutra, Samghata, Raurava,
Maharaurava, Tapana, Pratapana, Avici,
Visashana and Kumbhipaka,
Sarameyadana, Lavana
Asipatravana, the Lake of Blood.

All in all, a surprisingly upbeat tune describing the types of Hell that we will be shown throughout the anime.

Hoozuki no Reitetsu
Satan, arriving as a guest to Japanese Hell. In actual reality, to spy on and take over the Asian side of Hell.

In this particular chapter, we see Satan, King of European Hell paying a diplomatic visit to Japanese Hell where Enma and Hoozuki resides and work at. It is obvious from the get-go that Satan is here for a much more nefarious visit. But in all honesty, I was expecting to see Satan with a goat's head here though instead of a somewhat hairy and baldy looking Satan. Throughout most episodes and chapters in the anime, we can see lots of characters from various folklore and mythologies being referenced and poked fun of in the show for our amusement. Like Satan here for example. Luckily, the extent of my knowledge on the paranormal side isn't just limited to only Japan itself, so I definitely had no problems understanding the cross-references and jokes peppered throughout the entire series.

Hoozuki no Reitetsu
Satan, not Santa. Oh Shiro, you goofball.

I like that the comedic timing in this series is always strong and the characters’ facial expressions are always spot on, making this a really enjoyable anime to watch when you are stressed out. To use as an example from the scene pictured just above, Satan is given a journey through Hell and one of them is the Anime Cruelty Hell where sinners who tortured animals in their mundane lives are sent here after they passed on. Shiro is introduced to Satan who initially thought he could get Shiro to shake hands (or paws), and promptly greeted Satan as Santa. In this anime's Japanese Hell, the background is portrayed using beautiful ink painted backgrounds with muted colors, thus giving a sense of agelessness and otherworldliness, despite the cell phones and televisions the characters uses in the anime. There's even a cafeteria in Hell too, if you are curious.

Hoozuki no Reitetsu
Demon Cure-All Remedy needs a Santa, not a Satan.

We finally see this chapter culminated in a visit to Hoozuki's residence for a meal, along the way spooking Santa Satan with a field full of Goldfish flowers that trembles every so slightly in the gentle breeze. Wait? Hell has gentle breezes? Oh never mind that. Satan is treated to a sashimi meal prepared on the spot with a giant Goldfish flower that coincidentally happens to be a winner in the Goldfish Flower competition. Midway through, Satan excuses himself to go to the toilet but ended up sneaking into Hoozuki's room and chancing upon a Demon Cure-All Remedy scroll. And at the end, we still see Satan being made a fool of although eventually we realized that there wasn't any ill intention from Enma and Hoozuki's side. It's just regular hell error on their part, but yea, Satan sure freaks out a lot here.

My thoughts..

Dark humour infused with comedy and eccentric characters that Japan-fanatics and paranormal fans would recognize make this Hell a lively and wonderfully fun place to visit on a stressful day. I give it 9/10 as I was never once bored with the show. And I didn't know a ghost's version of a ghost story actually involves living humans too.


Riih Rion is bashful when facing cameras and video-cams. But she soon realized she is more comfortable behind a PC screen than in front of a lens. Riih is passionate about beauty products, paranormal & folk lore from anywhere in the world and sushi. Especially sushi. Come visit her blogs or drop her a comment :D

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