Almost done with the winter shows I swear! Actually, technically this is the last winter show since next week's, The Future Diary, started last fall and then after that I get to start talking about spring shows since Ozma is already done and we're halfway through the season anyway. In any case, this anime is another series where I saw it on the listing for the winter charts, found the manga, tried out a few chapters, and liked it well enough that I caught the anime while it was coming out. In case anyone hasn't picked up on it by now, I like fantasy in all forms, from high fantasy Western novels to anime involving any and all kinds of spirits and, something that also should've been pretty noticeable by now, even if a show is just mediocre I generally don't drop them. So yet again I have come across an anime with some strong points but a lot of weak points as well.
InuxBoku Secret Service
Summary: While Ririchiyo comes off as a classic, cold-hearted tsundere she's actually quite embarrassed by her rude tendencies and moves into the Masion de Ayakashi to help deal with that problem. But there is more to the Masion than meets the eye, like the name suggests it's where descendents of ayakashi (spirits of sorts) come to live, some as residents and others as bodyguards. Ririchiyo is initially very unhappy with her new bodyguard Soushi but realizes that dealing with all of this is the first step to changing her character.
The Good: When the show deals with the characters, especially Ririchiyo and Soushi with their backstories, it's rather interesting and manages to just toe the line between being emotional and being over-dramatic. Better yet, the characters do develop some and the show has a solid ending, not a "tune into the manga for more!" ending but a real ending that wrapped everything up satisfyingly and that's a bit rare with manga/light novel adaptations. While the story could have worked fairly well without the supernatural aspect (not perfectly but pretty well) in the end I didn't feel like it was an extraneous detail and was satisfied with how that part of the story fit in.
The Bad: The show ends on a strong note but a lot of the middle episodes are forgettable and not that important in the long run. The show is only 12 episodes so it can't have been much shorter, likewise I believe I've heard that the first 16 chapters of the manga makes up one arc so there wasn't much more to use, honestly I'm stumped at what they could've done better but it's clear that this wasn't as great a show as it could have been. Perhaps if the show had had real character development, instead of half a dozen comedy episodes, it would have been a stronger show, as it is aside from a few episodes it's a rather forgettable one.
The Audio: Much like Otome Yokai Zakuro, this show features several different ending songs, each sung by different voice actors (sometimes as solos and others as duets) depending on who was important in each episode and I like it when shows have more than one ending song and use it to reflect the mood of the episode. Of course, none of these songs were subtitled on Crunchyroll so I think I missed the meaning of a lot of the songs that way, guess I'll just have to check out the streams by The Anime Network and see if they translated any of them. I also liked the opening song fairly well so no complaints in this department.
The Visuals: Actually, no complaints here either, Studio David Productions hasn't done a lot of series so far but the show looked very nice. The original manga designs contributed, while more than a few of characters are rather eccentric but they're good looking eccentrics. The show actually manages to provide fanservice for both genders with shots of Ririchiyo in a short skirt and high socks (yet not actually revealing anything) and Soushi in suits and glasses. It's some of the least obtrusive fanservice I've ever seen and it seems like it worked too.
As Lost in America pointed out the sales figures so far for this show are interesting, a very unusual split between DVD and BR sales and, based on past surveys/people paying attention to the buying habits of the sexes, it seems to indicate that the show was bought by equal numbers of guys and girls. Honestly I think this proves my point about the fanservice, sure there was some for both but both of them were unobtrusive enough that no one minded. In any case, the show is currently being streamed on both Crunchyroll and The Anime Network and Sentai Filmworks/Section 23 has also picked up the series for a US release.