I still remember my friends‘ misplaced enthusiasm for Inu x Boku SS during the early season, but who can blame them? The first three episodes showcase a beautiful anime with all the things I love—cute girls, adorable fashion, traditional folklore, and, perhaps most importantly, even a dash of yuri. My friends know my tastes and fetishes well. Unfortunately, what they did not know was that the fun would not last. Within a few episodes, Inu x Boku SS would quickly degenerate into messy narratives and thematic inconsistencies.
The main story follows the budding romance between a pair of master-servants: Ririchiyo and Miketsukami. While I can appreciate a genuine, fun look at power dynamics, BDSM, and especially the submissive partner, Inu x Boku SS is anything but that. Instead, it treats us to sloppy drama mired in trivial teenage angst of a tsundere—albeit a fascinating one—and an exceedingly boring pretty boy.
Ririchiyo has her noteworthy moments, but those are largely dragged down by Miketsukami, who has very little personality to offer. True, this grotesquely nice, ridiculously subservient personality is part of his development. However, that development, despite being heartfelt and somewhat inspired, comes too late and lasts too briefly. For over ten episodes of this short series, we have one huge, annoying blank of the male-half of this drama. Inu x Boku SS has him repeat one single thing: throw his dignity to please Ririchiyo to show the audience just what a hopeless, self-sacrificing romantic he is. I hated Miketsukami and all nine of his tales and one-dimension of his character.
Oh, by the way, the characters in Inu x Boku SS are youkais from traditional Japanese mythology. I must have forgotten to mention it in detail earlier because it has little bearing to anything else that goes on. Ririchiyo is an oni, Miketsukami is a fox spirit, and their friends are an assortment of Yuki-Onna, Gashadokuro, and others. The characters are all paired in a master-servant relationship with each other because of some youkai familial tradition.
Or something like that. This supernatural thread is so convoluted and irrelevant to the core story surrounding Ririchiyo and Miketsukami; that they are youkai seems more as a trivia or a gimmick than something with weight. This is especially frustrating because the first few episodes led the audience to believe that this is a story about youkai: their powers and their issues (perhaps against tradition, responsibilities, and limitations). However, this theme is soon abandoned, and we are given a bland romance. The folklore aspect of Inu x Boku SS is then shoehorned in rather awkwardly. The lazy premise—that their love life is dictated and limited by their youkai lineage—could easily do without the youkai part.
I do not claim that genres cannot blend. However, when a work blends genres, those genres should work harmoniously, and the tone of the series consistent with each element. I found the romance and the youkai themes in Inu x Boku SS to work against each other. One is a sluggish, dull drama filled with somewhat immature monologues. The other is the awesome, flamboyant display of action and prowess. The juxtaposition of these is jarring, and the anime does little to integrate both.
It almost seems as though the whole youkai element is a mere fashion statement. To that end, Inu x Boku SS succeeds beautifully. I loved the various costumes and outfits—youkai or casual. Ririchyo is simply gorgeous. Her youkai form is full of delightful little details: those horns, the little oni mask, her kimono. And in her human form, she really rouses my fetish for leggings, garter belts, and most particularly, that seam in the back of a stocking. The combination of uptight semi-formal attire and the hidden sexual allure of black lingerie… “May I slip a finger into your knee sock?”
While Ririchiyo has the best looks, her friend Karuta has the best personality. Indeed, Karuta steals the show as the most easily lovable character. Besides simply being super adorable, she has this quiet strength behind her seeming obliviousness. Karuta leads the cast of supporting characters—the yuri maniac, the bondage king, and many others—as the saving grace of Inu x Boku SS.
I suppose Karuta, leggings, garterbelts, seams, kimonos, and Peking duck are the few genuinely enjoyable things about this anime. With only these, the series falls just slightly shy of being great.
… Or maybe, they are the only things that matters to today’s audience, including me. Admittedly, Inu x Boku SS tickled my fascinations in both the adorable and the sexual.
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