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The mysteries of Ookami Kakushi are gradually unraveling, and the various characters are beginning clash much more violently. Episodes 5 to 8 may not have taken me by surprise too much, but overall I feel it’s coming along nicely.

Hungry Like the Wolf

Overall Ookami Kakushi has been rather tame in terms of horror, so I don’t think it’s meant to be watched the same way as many other horror anime out there. The atmosphere in Ookami Kakushi is mainly a troubling and uncertain one, where you’re not quite sure why everyone is acting the way they are. Characters fall for one another, but are their feelings legitimate or influenced by the wolf god effect? Similarly, characters have specific roles to play out–how necessary are they, and are there ways for anyone to avoid the tragedies they repeatedly create for themselves?

Much of the disappointment people may have in this show may be largely stem from Ookami Kakushi not living up to the expectations of those who enjoyed Ryukishi07’s most famous work, Higurashi–When They Cry. The comparisons between the two series are not unwarranted–there are many similarities between the two stories, enough to make it (fairly) safe to say Ookami Kakushi is a watered-down version of Higurashi. The whole town keeping a secret, students “transferring,” mysterious folklore and rituals, a traditional festival, changing eye colors to denote a “dark side” for characters, and a group of girls who become the transfer student boy’s friends (and are quick to wield dangerous weapons) are some of the obvious elements, but even small scenes such as Nemuru waiting out in the rain for Hiroshi hearken back to specific moments in Higurashi. But that said, I’ve still found Ookami Kakushi entertaining, and perhaps even engaging, when I take the time to think of some of the story’s thematic elements.

Love Hurts

All throughout the series there’s been characters falling for one another–how much of this is influenced by love, and how much by the wolf god effect, seems to vary from character to character. That said, it’s led to quite a bit of tragedy so far in this series.

As was kind of expected, Issei continued to be influenced by his wolf cravings, and in the end was killed after apparently infecting his girlfriend via a kiss. Interestingly, Isuzu nearly suffered this same fate the very next episode, when she just about gave in to her own cravings for Hiroshi. It was pretty clear that Isuzu was in wolf god mode, not just from the color of her eyes, but from just how forceful she had become with Hiroshi. While gripping his arms tight enough to give Hiroshi bleeding wounds, Isuzu desperately insisted her love for him had been real from the moment she laid eyes on him. What is this phenomenon we call “love at first sight?” How common is it for people to build lasting relationships with infatuation as a foundation? Of course, every situation is different, just as all people are different. But it’s interesting to think about… Is Isuzu really in love with Hiroshi? Or is it just her wolf god nature kicking in, thanks to the hassaku drought, the red full moon, and the fact Hiroshi is apparently a desirable anomaly of some sort?

“Hiro, do you like hassaku? Until I met you, I thought they were sour and hated them. But after meeting you, I didn’t just think they were sour. It became painful, and I hated them even more.”

Her dialogue to Hiroshi after temporarily escaping Nemuru was intriguing to me (during the [bizarre] sequence with Isuzu leaping with Hiroshi in front of the red full moon). There may be more than one way to interpret this. My first guess though is that the hassaku inhibit one’s wolf god cravings, which in Isuzu’s case would (theoretically) be her craving for Hiroshi–therefore it’s painful for her to live by the Old Town’s rules and keep her feelings for Hiroshi in check. Or perhaps she’s just upset with her situation in general, because she can’t be wholly certain if she is actually in love with him or not. In the end, she did give herself up to the masked clan. It will be interesting to see if she will do anything further before the series ends.

It’s now been confirmed that it’s not just coincidence the masked cult and the “wolfed away” people all get the red eye effect–the members of Nemuru’s clan (and perhaps all of Old Town) are Jouga wolves: people who have superhuman abilities, but are also cursed to prey on the human beings they fall for. Unless, of course, they have a good supply of hassaku to keep these instincts at bay. Whether or not Jouga wolves end up killing those they love hasn’t been shown (I don’t recall), since Nemuru has been taking down those that have gone wild, and it hasn’t yet been shown what will happen to Issei’s girlfriend. But at any rate, it seems the members of the masked cult must deal with these instincts just as much as those they kill. Nemuru keeps the cult from killing Hiroshi, who is indeed a major reason for people going wild, it seems–but what is influencing Nemuru’s decision, I wonder? Does she simply not want an innocent classmate of hers to be killed? Or does she have any further feelings for him? And if so, how much of that is influenced by the wolf god effect? Do note that she’s essentially given up her (extremely significant) position in the clan for this boy. I rather doubt she won’t suffer any further consequences for what will surely be viewed as treason by her clan. She has some interest in Hiroshi, as evidenced by her waiting out in the rain for him–but what sort of interest is it, exactly?

♪♫♪ Hassaku… Hassaku… Jouga no Hassaku… ♪♫♪

The television and radio in the town of Jouga have this little jingle that plays fairly regularly, and Ookami Kakushi has continued to focus our attention on it in these past few episodes. At first I felt it was just meant to set the mood with something kind of strange, or perhaps even a little off-putting. The wolf costume has a crazed look to it to be honest, and having it dance around with some hassaku (presumably what is keeping it tame) kind of treads the line between dark humor and an unsettling atmosphere. (I will note though, that the advertisement for An Arctic Tale was pretty hilarious in episode 5, as well as how Mana and her father go back to their reading materials after the hassaku commercial airs.)

But is there any further reason for this repetitive earworm? I kind of like the theory that it’s actually a reminder for everyone in Old Town to keep eating their hassaku (similar to how the wolf statue and hassaku are left at the entry to various houses). It could also be a sort of warning, airing only on nights when Nemuru and her cohorts go hunting for Jouga wolves who can no longer control themselves. This could help explain why the streets are so empty at night (which is also supported by the fact all the town’s shops close early). The hassaku jingle lets all the Jouga wolves know to stay indoors and not interfere with the masked cult’s efforts to keep the town as stable as possible.

The Gods, the Fallen, the Hunter, and the White Wolf

There are quite a few terms that have turned up in the last few episodes. The Jouga wolves are sometimes referred to as gods, presumably due to their unnatural abilities. Is everyone in Old Town a god? And does everyone who gets kissed by a Jouga wolf in turn also become one? Do these people then get indoctrinated in Old Town’s ways, and have to live there from then on? If so, then what about those who have moved over to New Town? Do they just have to keep their transformed identity a secret? How many people in New Town are Jouga wolves? And for that matter, how many are in Hiroshi’s class? I still think everyone in that class was way too interested in him.

Kaname continued to fulfill her role as the one who goes about learning everything she can regarding Jouga’s mysteries. In the end the masked cult imprisoned her to keep her from learning anything further about the Jouga wolves (namely the counting rhyme, which we’re slowly getting exposed to in the episode previews). I’m a little surprised they didn’t straight-up kill her, but I’m intrigued by the label she’s been given as a “fallen.” What this entails exactly is unclear. She is a transfer student, so perhaps she is similar to Hiroshi and is a temptation for the Jouga wolves?

Nemuru is called the hunter by the members of the masked cult who work to fulfill the aims of the village leaders. It is apparently up to Nemuru to kill all the Jouga wolves who have lost control of themselves. Why her? And now that she’s lost her position, who is going to take her place? It seems Nemuru never really wanted to kill, but did so out of duty. Will she be able to find another method for the town to keep the crazed Jouga wolves at bay?

Mana’s violin teacher Kaori is apparently an important figure as well in the traditional community, and in episode 8 she is given a mask similar to those used by Nemuru’s cult. She is referred to as Lady White Wolf, though we’re not given any indication of what that means. There are some strange marks on her right arm, which I first took to mean some kind of burn or disease of some kind–perhaps an indication of becoming affected by the wolf god ailment. But she’s the only one who’s been shown to have this mark, as far as I can tell. There is likely something more significant about her.

The fact she looks just like Mieko, the fiancee of Sakaki-san (Mysterious Bishounen), may be a hint to something further than just coincidence. But speaking of Sakaki, I do wonder how far the show will go with his desire for revenge. He’s being portrayed in a negative light, but I do kind of wonder how we would feel as an audience if he were the protagonist of this story. I mean, as far as we can tell, Nemuru did kill Mieko. I find the predicament pretty interesting, though I imagine he’s only going to become downright mad in the next batch of episodes.

Well, I wrote a lot more than I was expecting to for this set of four episodes. What are your thoughts on Ookami Kakushi so far? Any predictions for how the series will end? What are you hoping the show will achieve in the last four episodes?