Inu X Boku SS ~ final thoughts

March 31, 2012

Ririchiyo Shirakiin in a scene from the OP.

Inu X Boku SS (The Dog and Me — Secret Service) is an oddity. The core story is great. It has some funny and cute moments scattered throughout. It suffers a bit from genre derangement syndrome (I’ll get back to that in a bit), but I do want to stress that I enjoyed watching it, and I think there are many people who would find that it is surprisingly effective as a love story.

While the post that follows really isn’t spoilery, I focus on my reaction to the series as a whole. Those looking for more of a description of what the series is about would be better served by the taste test I wrote based upon watching the first three episodes.

Ririchiyo's demon form.

First, I mentioned Genre Derangement Syndrome. Some shows are very good at mashing up different genres; I wrote a piece earlier describing this as the Genre Mash-up Genre. My example there was a show that asked, what if the male lead of a harem romantic comedy was a zombie who was accidentally turned into a mahou shoujo while trying to solve the mystery of his own murder? The result, of course, is something initially delightful that eventually has no idea where it is going. In that case I recommended watching the first few episodes, but the latter part of the series was trash. Inu X Boku is a whole different thing.

Inu X Boku doesn’t really mash up the various genres, it just seems a bit over ambitious. The most obvious aspect of that is the Supernatural Battle aspect that has its purpose, in terms of setting up the back-story that shapes the two main characters, but really is inconsequential with respect to the story being told. Another genre that Inu X Boku incorporates that really does nothing to further the story is Ecchi Fan-Service. It also seems to devolve into a Gag Comedy series at times, where no visible progress in the main story line is apparent. The School Life elements are more successful, and seem better integrated into the core story. Despite these additions, the actual genre here is Romance, or Romantic-Comedy.

While the incorporation of these other genre elements might seem like the creators were merely checking off boxes, and the show does seem to move slow at times, as it introduces characters that are unimportant to the plot, Inu X Boku doesn’t lose sight of it’s core story. As I have said in my previous posts, this is a story of two broken people coming together and healing each other with the power of love.

Soushi Miketsukami as a young boy. The burden of being born special.

I don’t want to say too much about the Romance story itself, because that is the part that makes Inu X Boku worth watching. I think this part was handled quite well. First we have a good internal perspective on Ririchiyo, we understand from the moment that we meet her that she is broken, that she knows it, and that she wants to change. Soushi is inscrutable at first. We don’t get to listen in on his thoughts, and breaking down the walls that he has built around himself is an important part of the second half of the series. Ultimately these two characters find themselves changed by their relationship, and the series doesn’t cop out with its ending.

The series includes multiple EDs that each feature different characters. The songs are performed by the voice actors and I think this was a good way to reveal aspects of them that don’t always come across through their interactions with other characters. The embedded video above is, I think, the best song musically. Unfortunately versions with the video have been taken down. If you want to see what all the EDs are like, take a look at this youtube video, which has them all.

Soushi Miketsukami, as a grown man he has much to regret.

As I said, I personally thought watching this series was worthwhile. To me the core story was apparent from the beginning, so I never considered the additional genre elements or the extraneous characters as more than a temporary nuisance. It is tempting to say that the show could have been improved by cutting out some of the extra parts, perhaps reducing the episode count. In practice it might not have been possible to do. I am glad that the core story is intact, and that it is completely told. The series has a strong ending.

8 Responses to “Inu X Boku SS ~ final thoughts”

  1. David A. Young Says:

    Generally, the inability of a character to simply express his or her feelings drives me right up a wall. It strikes me as such an obvious and unlikely plot device that it wears thin on me very quickly. On this show, however, I completely bought it. It was a logical consequence of the psychological damage that was done to her by her treatment as a youngster. And her awareness of this inability of hers to communicate honestly — but instead to instinctively lash out — was what led her to the academy, to further isolate herself, as being the only way she could think of to stop hurting others with her words. (And it is this concern for others, despite her own pain, that lends her the strength to break out of her self-imposed prision. Which is, of course, the same thing which leads Miketsukami to his salvation, as well.)

    And I liked it that these two damaged souls didn’t meet by concidence. I can’t remember if it was ever explicitly stated, but I have the definite impression that Miketsukami knew she was going to the academy, and that is why he chose to join it as a bodyguard. (After all, he knew everything else about her. It’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have found that out.)

    Although there were a lot of problems with this anime, its contral conceit was ambitious and delightful. That the cure for self-hatred is to honestly care for someone else. That the desire to ease their pain can give you the strength to abandon your own. Very cool.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Well said. I think the reason I was able to enjoy this show so much was that it was made clear from the beginning that Ririchiyo wasn’t just failing to be honest, she was struggling with her own inability to be honest about her feelings. As she says in the end, honestly expressing one’s feelings opens one’s self up to being hurt. Ririchiyo had been hurt by her family and her classmates. Nobody looked out for her out of concern for her as a person, but rather as a means to get something for themselves. She was isolated and in her loneliness she developed a mechanism to protect herself by hurting others. This wasn’t just a story where one character is a tsundere, it was a story about someone UN-learning a painful lesson. Ririchiyo had to UN-learn how to protect herself from the pain that human relationships can bring. In most shows the tsundere character never changes — instead their lack of authenticity is excused, and their lashing out (verbally or otherwise) is accepted as a permanent part of their personality. The fact that Ririchiyo and Soushi are able to grow as people, shows that this show is more ambitious than most others.

      I’m okay with this show being far from perfect, because it did such a good job with the core story.

  2. Sarra Says:

    I think you’ve really captured my feelings for this series here. It tends to flounder in cliches, because it’s picked up so many genres, but at its core it’s telling a really sweet story of two broken but likable characters.

    I personally think the anime is an extremely good adaptation of the manga. There were a couple of minor things that got moved around, but there’s only one instance I disagreed with, and looking back, I think it might make more sense that way now…

    The end of the last episode seemed to be hinting at a second season. Here’s hoping! ^_^

    • Joojoobees Says:

      “It tends to flounder in cliches, because it’s picked up so many genres, but at its core it’s telling a really sweet story of two broken but likable characters.”

      Yes, I wouldn’t say it is the best show I have ever watched, but it is very likable. I saw a lot of scorn heaped upon it, but I don’t think it was justified.

  3. David A. Young Says:

    By the way, I don’t know why I kept calling the apartment building “the academy.” I guess at some level it reminded me more of a large, elaborate dorm than anything else. Perhaps that was an offshoot of the fact that much of the setting around the periphery of the show didn’t work for me.

    But the core of it sure did, and that’s what counts.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I wondered why you were calling it “The Academy”, but I figured it had something to do with the meaning of the name. I noticed that several episodes open with Ririchiyo stating ominously that the hotel is also called “Ayakashi Ken”, so i assume it means something.

      • Sarra Says:

        “Ayakashi Kan” essentially means “Ayakashi Mansion”, “ayakashi” being the Japanese go-to word for the various spirits and monsters in their mythos.

      • Joojoobees Says:

        Thanks! That makes a lot of sense. I figured her saying it in an ominous tone had to be for a reason.🙂


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