One day Kazuya Kagami finds out that his mother's obi (kimono sash) is actually a tsukumogami- an inanimate object that has acquired life and the power to take human form, in this case the form of a girl calling herself Kiriha. While normally this apparently takes lifetimes to occur, ownership by someone with enough supernatural power can make it happen much more quickly- in fact, Kiriha originally came to life for Kazuya's mom, and helped her with her exorcism duties. Some people even radiate enough spiritual energy to enable "instant" tsukumogamis, called amasogis, to be created out of the strong desires of ordinary people. Kazuya himself is, it turns out, one of those sources of spiritual power, and is recruited as a "malison cleanser" (amasogi exorcist) to defeat the malign entities that his friends and classmates create out of their own wishes, in combination with his psychic energy.
When you think about it, there are some interesting ethical issues raised by this show, which the show doesn't really go into at all, because it's too busy with harem clichés and let's-push-the-envelope fanservice, along with Dragonball-esque battles- and, occasionally, a good joke or comically-themed episode. It's very much a kitchen-sink sort of show, and while some parts of the sink are definitely old, and encrusted with overuse, there are a few interesting gleams here and there, of parts more creatively wrought, so I was reluctant to throw the whole thing in the dumpster.
I think I'll mention my chief ethical concern with the show before I go on. At one point, after learning that his power is enabling others to conjure amasogis, Kazuya decides to wrap himself up in blankets in his room, and live there forever. Kiriha talks him out of it (well, talks AND coerces him physically- she typically uses carrot (fondling) and stick (kicking) approaches, both directed at his groin), but wouldn't Kazuya's idea actually be a valid approach? After all, Typhoid Mary was eventually locked up for the public's own good...and ESPECIALLY since all the people who unwittingly create amasogis from their desires- through Kazuya's power- are themselves punished for it, unless they can destroy their amasogis themselves, which is often far beyond their ability for the more powerful ones; Kazuya often is the only one who can do the trick. (Amasogis don't always take human form- sometimes they just possess objects.)
But Tsugumomo isn't really that concerned with all this; it mainly wants to be an over-the-top harem show. We have two scenes with naked women straddling an equally naked Kazuya in bed- with implications that something MIGHT have happened before they were caught. We have a scene in a bathtub, with all the females in the cast- including Kazuya's older sister- competing to "deflower" him. (Older sis, by the way, is a hardcore bro-con, and while the women in the tub sequence are under the influence of an amasogi-enhanced love potion, it's clear elsewhere in the show that older sis would be quite willing to introduce Kazuya to a woman's body anytime he asked.) We have Kiriha's frequent references to Kazuya's equipment, whether it's teasing references to his state of arousal or, again, her tendency when ticked off at him to kick him in that spot where it hurts the most- and she's classic moefang tsundere, so very little provocation is required to do the trick. (Exactly what she thinks about Kazuya, or exactly how she views herself in relation to him- except as a "partner" in amasogi exorcism- is kind of a mystery.) And we have a scene that made me profoundly uneasy: Kukuri, a "local god" (and the one who actually fought to force Kazuya to become a malison cleanser) is broke, and so has to go to ANOTHER local god, named Kanayama, for money- but Kanayama, who is female, actually loves molesting little girls, and Kukuri at least LOOKS like a little girl- and at this point in the story, Kiriha is also in the form of a little girl- so Kanayama has everyone play her horrendously rigged game of Concentration; if Kukuri or Kiriha match "money cards", they get the amounts on the cards, but if Hanayama matches her "molestation" cards correctly, she gets to perform whatever act is written on them. (One of the LESS unspeakable ones is "Neck nape licky licky".) Here, as elsewhere in the show, we're not SHOWN as much as is IMPLIED- but child molestation JUST AIN'T FUNNY, even if (1) they just LOOK like children, (2) it's performed by a woman, and (3) it's mostly off-camera. We're seriously pushing the limits here, in my opinion.
So why didn't I just give this thing one star? Because every once in a while, it actually made me smile, or showed a flash of cleverness in its plots. The smiles were from little things, like the trick Kazuya tried to play on Kiriha to keep her from following him to school.
There was one episode I liked in particular, in which an amasogi turns all Kazuya's classmates into participants in a dating sim game, and he has to consult the class otaku stereotype, one Osamu Osanai (who comes complete with huge glasses and bowl haircut) to help him navigate through this, and in particular "win the affection" of his childhood friend Chisato Chikaishi. (Yes, this is one of those shows where the characters tend to have first and last names beginning with the same sounds.) His "winning move" was actually kind of well thought-out, and I really liked this one, even if it DID have gratuitous fanservice tacked on as a kind of coda. Chisato, by the way, is one of those straight-laced scolding sorts; she likes to hit people with a paper fan when they do anything that offends her, though to be honest I often felt absolute agreement with her words, "Please disperse this supremely perverse harem immediately!".
I was also amused by the derogatory term Kokuyou, Kukuri's "shrine maiden", used for Kiriha, which I won't spoil by saying it here. Kokuyou is meant as an extreme contrast to the diminutive Kukuri; she's a gigantic woman- and particularly in the breast department, of course- whose detached, deadpan delivery somehow makes the insult even more effective.
An attempt to play things seriously, for a change, in Episode #9 was at least OK- it's effectively a "ghost story", even though Kiriha assures us there are no real ghosts, only amasogis.
Oh, I should mention the battles. Kazuya can fight with Kiriha through Kiriha's forming various things that cloth can (and a few things that you would think cloth COULDN'T.) While most of Kazuya's opponents are amasogis, one is a fellow malison cleanser, a girl named Sunao Sumeragi. Kazuya wonders what her complaint with him is, and he certainly can be forgiven for having no clue, for her "grievance" is actually twice removed (and really makes no sense at all). Besides her pointless grudge, she's also an egomaniac who mistreats HER tsukumogami, but nevertheless it looks like she's being set up for a much larger role in a second season of the show- a prospect that I have very mixed feelings about. Kazuya certainly has a lot of problems to deal with- besides all the aforementioned, his dead mom (who shows up in his dreams) was, for all her magical power, an utter flake; and his dad IS living, but has been browbeaten into submission by Kiriha.
I've got a few more observations to make as well:
(1) If someone is working through a lengthy magical chant designed to blast you into oblivion when it's done, you really AREN'T under any obligation to patiently wait for them to finish. Go on, be rude- you'll be much happier with the outcome, trust me.
(2) At one point, the contents of a bottle are all spilled, but later we see the bottle half full again. Can the contents regenerate? (Well, maybe here they COULD...)
(3) The opening song is one of those frenetic ditties that would seem to take minimal effort to compose; lots of piece-of-crap shows have those...
And this mostly IS a piece of crap. But not ALWAYS. Maybe a show that you really, REALLY want to utterly hate, but can't completely do so because it occasionally gets something right, is even more exasperating than one that's just a complete loss. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Nudity, implied sexual situations (along with more suggestive dialogue), and child molestation. ADULTS ONLY!
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Tsugumomo © 2017 Zero-G
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