Hozuki's Coolheadedness TV 

Orius

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Sep 20, 2020
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4.00 star(s) Rating: 4.00/5 1 Vote
Title: Hozuki's Coolheadedness

Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Animation, Comedy

First aired: 2014-01-10

Creator: Eguchi Natsumi

Cast: Yoshimasa Hosoya, Noriaki Sugiyama, Ayaka Suwa, Touko Aoyama, Satomi Satou, Yui Ogura, Hiroki Yasumoto, Atsumi Tanezaki, Daisuke Hirakawa, Eri Kitamura, Hiroki Goto, Koji Yusa, Sumire Uesaka, Takashi Matsuyama, Takashi Nagasako, Tetsuya Kakihara, Yumiko Kobayashi, Yoshiaki Hasegawa

Overview: Hōzuki is the aide to the great king of Hell, King Enma. Calm and super-sadistic, Hōzuki tries to resolve the various problems in Hell, including a rampaging Momotarō and his companions. However, he also likes spending his free time on his hobbies, such as fawning over cute animals and raising "Goldfish Flowers."
 

Orius

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A comedy set in Hell. That's anime for ya.

The unique premise immediately grabbed my attention. I like my anime to be special and out-of-the-box. This fits my taste quite well.
 
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Mendalla

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Aug 29, 2020
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You know, I keep trying anime TV shows. Anime should be in my wheelhouse. Often weird and fantastical, it seems like stuff I should love. I did enjoy the movie Akira but that's about it. No other anime has really engaged me.
 
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Orius

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You know, I keep trying anime TV shows. Anime should be in my wheelhouse. Often weird and fantastical, it seems like stuff I should love. I did enjoy the movie Akira but that's about it. No other anime has really engaged me.
I think you should expand your horizons. I still believe that anime is varied enough in its genres that there's almost an anime for everyone. There are a lot of niched and unexplored anime out there that are overlooked because they're not the mainstream kind of anime like Naruto or One Piece.

I think that's why I haven't given up on anime-watching yet even though I've already seen most of the big-name titles like Fullmetal Alchemist, Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, Death Note, etc. I still believe that there's a story out there that will still impress me somehow.
 
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Orius

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Hozuki's Coolheadedness
Making or Breaking Hell / The Discovery of Hell's Mysteries
Season: 1
Episode: 1
Air date: 2014-01-10

Guest stars: Hiromichi Tezuka, Kanami Satou, Kenjirou Tsuda, Megumi Toda, Shohei Kajikawa, Takahiko Sakaguma, Yoshiaki Hasegawa, Yukitoshi Tokumoto
Story 1: Hozuki is tasked to solve the many problems of Hell. He encounters a problem man named Momotaro, who was a famous ogre slayer when he was alive. | Story 2: Hozuki's love or goldfish plants is revealed. He and King Enma discuss the animals of Australia, pets, and the kind of girl Hozuki likes.

Interesting first episode with two parts. The first story is about Momotaro ("Peach Boy", the Japanese folk lore hero), while the second has Hozukl, the main character who's the aide to the King of Hell, watching a tourism show showcasing Australian landmarks and animals while expressing his own love for fuzzy critters. He also spends time tending to goldfish plants (literally what it sounds like, plants with gigantic goldfishes on them).

Like Gintama, it's definitely a show that would be better appreciated by Japanese viewers due to its various references to Japanese culture, folk lore, and media. There were some references that I couldn't quite catch, so the comedy didn't flow smoothly for me. Oh well.

The first story actually has a pretty heartwarming vibe to it amidst the zany comedy, with Momotaro the hero trying to relive his glory days now that he's in Hell. It's all very quirky, and I think I'll come to enjoy this anime quite nicely.
 
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Orius

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Sep 20, 2020
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Hozuki's Coolheadedness
Demons and Underwear and Crabs / The State of Hell, and This and That
Season: 1
Episode: 2
Air date: 2014-01-17

Guest stars: Chisa Yokoyama, Hiroki Goto, Kenjirou Tsuda, Satomi Satou, Takahiko Sakaguma, Tesshou Genda, Yoshiaki Hasegawa, Yukitoshi Tokumoto
Story 1: Nasubi and Karauri talk about the importance of underwear while cleaning the bank of the Sanzu River. Hozuki goes to supervise them, and while Hozuki and Karauri are distracted discussing several belongings spread along the river, Nasubi sees a giant crab attacking people. | Story 2: Satan, the European King of Hell, visits the Japanese Hell while secretly plans to spy and later dominate it. While on a tour through the Hell accompanied by Hozuki, Satan gets scared by Hozuki for the way he treats Enma. Satan also gets astonished to have to eat goldfish plants; he ends up liking the culture shock. However, Satan runs away from the Japanese Hell when, while spying Hozuki's room, sees that Hozuki needs a "Satan" to create a panacea. When Satan leaves, Hozuki notices he wrote "Santa" wrong.

This second episode is a bit weaker due to the randomness of the humor in the first-half. The second story though is a lot more amusing, featuring Satan paying the King of Hell a visit, secretly planning to spy on them in order to take over the Japanese Hell. However, Satan gets a case of culture shock when he finds out that the Japanese Hell is a lot more cruel than his European one. It's this kind of playful writing that toys with the morbidity of the setting that keeps me watching.
 
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Orius

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Hozuki's Coolheadedness, Season 1
There was a time when both anime and manga were niched forms of entertainment, even in Japan. That changed over the past two decades and anime have since incorporated much more universal themes and even western or American styles that would appeal to non-Japanese viewers. However, there are still one or two anime and manga out there that are more appealing to Japanese viewers because of their historical references, such as "Hozuki's Coolheadedness", a slice of life comedy about the eponymous aide to the King of Hell and the many other colorful employees working their 9-to-5 in the underworld.

Unlike a comedy like "Gintama" or "Nichijou", Hozuki's Coolheadedness' form of humor is more low-key and dry, kinda like if "The Office" or "Dilbert" were set in Hell. However, I found that most of its humor doesn't work for me because it often makes fun of characters extracted from traditional Japanese folk lore like the prideful Momotarō still seeking his glory days, the herbal expert Hakutaku whose real life counterpart is often worshiped as a spirit of herbalism, or the flying taxi Oboroguruma (who has a human face on the front) taken from a Japanese bestiary collecting many similarly spooky creatures from Japanese folklore. The fact that I inadvertently stumbled onto such an anime shows just how niched anime can still be in spite of their diverse genres and themes.

Oftentimes, its brand of comedy also involves the mockery of the Japanese culture like the workaholism in Japan or how bureaucratic the system in Hell is in the anime. There's a playfulness in its writing where the normal expected traits of Hell and its elements are subverted or played for laughs, such as the famous Lilith who's portrayed as an adulter that left Adam because they argued over whom should be "on top" in bed, or how the European Hell is far more subdued than the more cruel and punishing methods of the Japanese one, with Satan himself even becoming shocked at how the residents of Hell are being punished for their sins. The anime's worldbuilding in particular is quite extensive, showing the other unusual parts of Hell you wouldn't expect like the existence of paparazzies chasing after the latest pop star idol or holding sports day events and obon festivals (Buddhist event to commemorate one's ancestors) in Hell. Evidently, this can sometimes lead to the humor being too random and not having any real point. That's usually the main trait of slice of life, I suppose, though I personally find it difficult to see the appeal of watching characters doing random things just for the fun of it.

In all fairness, Hozuki's playful parody of Hell and its punishments has a charm to it. In the final episode of the second season, for example, Hozuki breaks the fourth wall by addressing the audience, "So, what did you think of daily life in Hell? Should you find yourself here one day, in accordance with your crimes, you can rest assured I will give you the treatment you deserve." Even the opening theme of the anime feels like a corporate video promoting how fun and positive the company of "Hell" really is. The anime would often show the punishment of the sinners in a comedic light, with Hozuki flamboyantly preaching about how they should repent for their sins while the minions of Hell indulge in their own vices (be it alcoholism or adultery). To them, working in Hell is just another job.

But ultimately, Hozuki's Coolheadedness feels like an acquired taste, one which you would get more enjoyment out of if you actually grew up in Japan reading these folk tale bedtime stories. Its unique aesthetic is arguably its strongest point, bearing striking resemblance with ink wash paintings of East Asia. The humor might not always land, but its animation is often beautiful and distinctive from your run-of-the-mill anime. And yet, that's another thing that you would have greater appreciation for if you grew up in Japan where such a traditional artstyle is an essential part of their culture, even today.

Final Rating: 7.3/10
 
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TV show information provided by The Movie Database

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