“ Director: Naokatsu Tsuda / Studio: Mvm Entertainment / DVD Release Date: 12 Aug 2013 / Run Time: 312 minutes „
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Inu X Boku is a thirteen episode anime series based on the manga comics penned by illustrator Cocoa Fujiwara (I'd rather have a bowl of cocoa pops.) Despite foregoing high school, to pursue a career as a manga artist, Cocoa's series revolves around students who happen to be part human and part Yokai (monsters from Japanese folklore.) Said high schoolers are based at Maison de Ayakashi, a lavish dormitory that comes complete with secret service agents who are tasked with protecting the complex's residents from harm. The show's main character is Ririchiyo Shirakiin, a wealthy teenager who has recently moved into the Ayakashi building.
Despite having a pampered upbringing, Ririchiyo isn't much of a people person, as her parents neglected her in favour of her sister when she was growing up. The lack of affection has resulted in Ririchiyo developing a rather unfriendly personality. Whenever someone tries to interact with her she cannot help but counter their advances with sarcastic rhetoric, which has left her alienated and lonely. All that changes however when Soshi Miketsukami is assigned to be her bodyguard. No matter how rude she is to her protector, Soshi takes the abuse with a smile and comes back for more.
As you may suspect, all this leads to romance blossoming between the pair. Miketsukami is clearly smitten with Ririchiyo, although she isn't as forthcoming in reciprocating his feelings. Many of the early episodes have Miketsukami smothering his love with embarrassing compliments much to Ririchiyo's annoyance. Although, in public, she lambasts her servant for his amorous displays, in private she cannot help but feel touched by all the attention he is bestowing upon her. The question is can Ririchiyo summon up the courage to pursue a relationship with Miketsukami or will she be unable to enact on her true feelings?
When I finished watching the first two episodes of Inu X Boku I wasn't sure if I would have the fortitude to see the series to its fruition. I detested the show's opening, mainly because the linchpin of the story is the romance between the leads, which I didn't care for. As far as courtships go it feels as forced as something you would find within the pages of a Twilight novel. I found the cycle of Ririchiyo spurning Miketsukami's kindness and then scolding herself for being rude a real bore. On the flip side Miketsukami's stalker like infatuation with Ririchiyo is downright unhealthy. The age difference between the two is also a tad creepy. Ririchiyo is in her mid-teens, and looks considerably younger, whilst Miketsukami is well into his twenties. It's not Gary Glitter like outrageous, but I still felt uncomfortable watching the whole thing play out.
Ever the glutton for punishment, I persisted with my viewing of the series (partly because I had spent good money on the DVDs) and thankfully I was rewarded for my tenacity. Although the romance aspect of the show never won me over I managed to find some entertainment courtesy of the funny supporting cast. The leads are grating, but at least I managed to chuckle at the antics of the busty lesbian Nobara, who is lumbered with protecting a womanizer. Another funny character is Watanuki who tries to act like a delinquent, only to have his badass persona foiled by random bouts of transforming into an adorable racoon. The funniest character would however have to be Ririchiyo's masked fiancée Kagero Shokiin. He's a sadomasochist who brands everyone he meets a human toilet. Given his raunchy outbursts I am surprised that the series only carries an age rating of twelve. Perhaps the censors fell asleep during the first two episodes prior to him making an appearance?
I struggled on deciding what to rate Inu X Boku. The weak opening made me fear that I had purchased a one star show, so I was relieved when the subsequent comedic episodes managed to salvage the series. The love story wasn't my cup of tea, but at least it succeeded in subjugating my expectations. For a while it looked like it would culminate in a cliché clash between the heroine's true love and her mean fiancée, but right at the end it manages to pull off a neat twist. Despite my bashing of the story I was considering awarding Inu X Boku a three out of five, but my final rating sadly has to be two stars. I am knocking off a star due to a number of scenes being affected by image pixilation. It's the first time I have experienced that on my hardware and given that it occurs on both discs I suspect it has something to do with a mishap during the DVD authoring process. It's a shame that my overall opinion of the series was soured by a technical issue that should have been picked up by quality control.