by Ryan A.
Inu x Boku SS is a Winter 2012 series which follows the life of Ririchiyo Shirakiin, a youkai descendant and a member of the wealthy Shirakiin family, as she moves into the Ayakashi Kan seeking independence. This supernatural story is filled with stylish appeal, sexual aesthetics, and light fetishism throughout, yet is not primarily service-orientated in a contemporary sense. While the story often feels generic, the characters and chemistry provide lovable elements for entertainment, and one of the freshest elements in my opinion is the main character, Ririchiyo, who is a consciously torn existence as we discover. Her surface appearance is very doll-like and she happens to be fitting of an ojou in both prideful mannerism and her silky, midnight hime-cut. Yet her most noticeable trait is a vice she clearly addresses in the first episode: a “sharp tongue.”
The tsundere classification is far from original but presented uniquely in that she is the protagonist, the primary character and brings the audience into her first-person view. Ririchiyo’s haughty tongue is also a familiar personality trait aligned with characters like Victorique (Gosick) and Dalian (Dantalian no Shokka) with an important difference in her interior monologues, which reveal truth about her feelings. She puts on a face, despite the pain it causes her (ドM).
Ririchiyo’s characterization happens to be quite comical though. Sure tsundere is a tired character trait but Ririchiyo actively bends her response and manner, inside and out, in nearly every scene. Alone in her room, we see a sweet girl without the aggressive armor. While elsewhere, she is ready to verbally slash down the “opposition,” even when it leads to her own suffering. It’s quite obvious the other characters of Ayakashi House are aware of her personality, especially Sorinozuka, who is right in calling her “thoughtful.”
Her tsun is fairly moderate and cool-tempered, refraining from flashy bursts of emotion. But her reactions and the way she proceeds are amusing because of the immediate dissonance offered by her self-consciousness; essentially nodding yes while saying no. A regular example of her boutique tsun occurs in the mornings, when she readily scorns others in conversation but pliantly finishes her attack with a soft 「おはようございます。」. Though trivial, I find these small displays amusing and feel they raise her endearing qualities.
Additionally, being in Ririchiyo’s point-of-view allows the story to brush sentiments without needing to skillfully build up situations in-scene, and it generally works. Light drama introduced between Ririchiyo and Miketsukami remindeds me of a young lovers’ quarrel. The conflict is childish and dreck but somehow adequate in execution, a hat tip to the background music. Sustainability of this melodrama based in Ririchiyo’s social separation of self does not set Inu x Boku apart from similar stories, but the perspective offers what I believe is a less pretentious look at the tsundere archetype: her side of story is a reward.
What’s more is that Inu x Boku seems aware of it’s identity and does not needlessly play games with characters or audience. Ririchiyo’s everyday life brings enjoyment instead of despair or contempt. And through amusement and lighthearted gestures, I feel this character brings out the entertainment potential of a pretty standard anime. For that, Inu x Boku has been a surprising treat this season.
About the Guest Author:
A super classy, intelligent man, Ryan A. has been a very close friend for a long time. I admire and love his tastes, aesthetics, styles, and attitudes. Over at aloe, dream, Ryan writes beautiful, dissecting posts about anime and other various things, all with an elegant air. It is a sincere pleasure to borrow a bit of that for Listless Ink.