2012 was the peak of a transition into a new style of anime, art styles were evolving, animation was skyrocketing in quality and slowly the industry had moved towards the mainstream. With studios churning out animes as demand was increasing Inu X Boku Secret Service seemed like just another 1-season wonder with a moe protagonist, but fans of the manga and fans of the show itself will most definitely disagree. While the premise itself isn’t all-too special, the execution is brilliant. What it lacks in plot and originality, it gains back in heart and atmosphere. Here’s why back-tracking and watching this little gem might be a good idea. Oh, and you should really read the manga too.
Ririchiyo Shirakiin moves to a luxury apartment building called ‘Ayakashi kan’ to be alone. She is atrocious at socialising and always ends up insulting or belittling people for no reason. Despite this, she really is a shy, awkward and sweet girl. Every member of Ayakashi kan receives their own personal Secret Service agent for protection- because all of them, including Ririchiyo, is descended from a supernatural creature. Even though Ririchiyo refuses to have an agent, the mysterious Soushi Miketsukami insists on being her official protection. He also insists that he has known her for a long time, and that she saved his life. Baffled, confused, she has no option but to accept his service. Together they live in the social bubble of Ayakashi kan. Ririchiyo must learn to get along with people with Soushi’s help, and the two steadily fall in love. But just what secret is Soushi Miketsukami hiding?
Girl meets boy, they fall in love. Typical plot, right? Well yes, this is pretty typical but as we so often realise with anime, it’s not the idea but the execution that counts.
One of the first things you notice about this show is the soundtrack. We have the slow, stilted chimes playing in combination with a tip-toeing piano theme. It’s slow, repetitive and hypnotic. It shows Ririchiyo as the character she is; she’s tiny and awkward, but she does make an impact and isn’t easily forgotten. As well as this, Inu X Boku’s ending theme changes in almost every episode- a song to represent each main character.
Speaking of characters, there’s definitely more to this anime than just our adorable protagonist. Soushi might give off a bit of a creepy vibe at first; he’s so dedicated that it suffocates Ririchiyo but we really warm to him after a while. As Ririchiyo begins to understand him, so do we. The rest of the cast are your typical kooky side characters. All of them are supernatural creatures like Ririchiyo, often transforming with hilarious consequences. There is a little guy with small-man syndrome, a perverted lady obsessed with knee socks and a guy with bunny ears who can see the future. They become Ririchiyo’s best friends and we love them.
What you get with Inu X Boku is mainly slice-of-life, but it isn’t boring or un-emotional like so many shows in the genre. The amount of emotion they manage to cram into 12 episodes is insane. You really get on Ririchiyo’s side- she’s had the toughest life, and now Soushi is here to love and cherish her like no-one ever has before. That’s hard not to get worked up about.
The creator of the manga, Coco Fujiwara, passed away last year, unfortunately meaning we’ll never get the whole story. The anime only covers the prologue and the manga stretches out into a dozen volumes but still remaining unfinished. This is a real kicker, because after the anime’s happy ending, things get very intense in the manga. Instead of a cute tale of love and comfort, it spawns into a tragic story. They, as supernatural creatures, are destined to repeat a horrible fate again and again as they reincarnate for eternity. This is unavoidable, and one of the reasons why the anime has a certain eerie feel to it.
Yes- the plot might be slow or lacking, the characters maybe a tad stereotypical. But it’s the music and the execution that make it the show that it is. I urge you not to skip this anime or the manga that accompanies it. Watch it and get a touching romance between supernatural humans. Then read it and weep. Forever. It gets way too little credit as a show and while it isn’t perfect, if you like a good romance then you should definitely give it a shot.