Kotoko Iwanaga went missing as a child and was found missing one leg and one eye. Since then, she has been able to see and interact with Spirits, working as their Goddess of Wisdom to solve their issues.
What did you watch?
It took one look at the poster for In/Spectre for me to decide I was going to watch it. Then, it was a toss-up as to whether I covered it here or on Ecchi Hunter. After one episode, I was impressed and also certain that it was not an Ecchi Hunter title despite the faceless idol that dominated the poster. It also has a cool supernatural vibe to it and I’ve been looking forward to something like Boogiepop and Others. Anyhow, basically, I pick what I’m watching based on the promo image. Not a trailer, a single image. It’s not terribly scientific, but oftentimes, I get a pleasant surprise. Was this one of those times? There will be spoilers beyond this point.
Kotoko sat on a bench outside of the hospital she goes to for checkups. There’s nothing particularly wrong with her, although she did go missing as a child and was then found missing an eye and a leg! Anyhow, while she’s been at the hospital, a certain young man caught her eye, although he was in a relationship. Then, when she discovered that it had ended, she sat and waited for him to show up. He did and they began to talk. Kotoko, who is pretty forthright, asked Kurou about his relationship and how it ended!
He told her a story, but some of it didn’t add up. Kotoko questioned him further, proposing a story that would be more plausible. After some more discussions, it turns out that Kurou is not exactly human and Kotoko is the Goddess of Wisdom to the yokai and other mysterious beings that inhabit the shadows. They form an unlikely partnership and begin to solve the various issues that the yokai bring to Kotoko.
What did you think?
This series started off so well. It had some fascinating dialogue and I loved the back and forth between Kotoko and Kurou. However, by the time that they had finished their second problem, I was starting to develop concerns. We spent a lot of time sitting around listening to Kotoko talk. She would offer various solutions and stories until one was delivered that would satisfy the yokai concerned. My first problem here was that it started to get a little boring. It’s literally all exposition and most of it probably isn’t even true.
Not long after that, we had a two-year time skip and apparently Kotoko and Kurou were now in a relationship. It seemed unlikely and the fact that we missed the development didn’t help. Finally, the arc with Steel Lady Nanase went on far too long and in the end, we spent four episodes watching Kotoko chat on a message board. It became utterly infuriating and all of the interesting dialogue became white noise as all we would do is listen to Kotoko talking and occasionally see Kurou getting killed.
What was your favourite moment?
In the first episode, Kotoko picked apart Kurou’s story and then told him a story about herself. She told him about how she had met with the yokai when she was a little girl. They asked her to become their Goddess of Wisdom and solve their issues to which she agreed. It cost her an eye and a leg, but she could now see, hear, and interact with the yokai as she pleased. With the way the story was going at that point, I found myself questioning whether this actually happened or whether it was some sort of delusional coping mechanism from something quite traumatic happening to her. She then even said the very same thing. I liked how reflective and curious it started out.
What was your least favourite moment?
I still can’t believe they had Kotoko sitting in the back of a car, chatting on a web forum for four episodes. The ideas she put forward had some merit and we’re occasionally funny, like when she basically framed Saki, but it was incredibly dull watching this play out over so many episodes. After Kotoko told her first story and revealed that she had three more to tell and there were four episodes left, I kind of lost my patience with the series, especially when it did just what I was fearing.
Who was your favourite character?
I felt like Saki was the most believable character in the series. Maybe that’s because she was a normal person, but I also went off Kotoko and Kurou as the series progressed. Kurou’s backstory was tragic and should have really been played out to more impact, rather than a handful of moments that didn’t really connect with me. Kotoko started to get jealous and clingy which was odd considering how confident she had been in the beginning.
Who was your least favourite character?
I’m going to go with Kurou. The guy was indestructible and could change the future, but he was so completely dull. Even his interactions with Kotoko were lifeless and she was supposed to be his girlfriend. He even admitted it in the last episode. The two-year time skip really took away the chance for the audience to get to know Kurou and see how he fell for Kotoko. However, much in keeping with the story as a whole, we’re hit with some exposition rather than seeing it happen.
Would you like some more?
If this series had stuck the early format, switching up the monsters and the problems every two or three episodes, I would say yes. However, knowing that they spent ten episodes on the Steel Lady Nanase arc, I will absolutely not be watching a second season if they make one. It’s a real shame because it started off so well. It had a catchy OP and ED, lots of interesting dialogue and interactions, but then that seemed to be all it had. The story and the pacing were slow and tedious.
What have you learnt?
Like almost everything, there’s no point putting all of your eggs in one basket. From a storytelling perspective, this series focused on the dialogue and it was good, possibly even great, but without a well-paced story and some action to break it up, it got tired. There needs to be balance and that’s something I’m working on with my own writing. I tend to do action well and often don’t take the time to slow things down. I think that’s why I started writing novellas and short stories. I like to get to the point, but I can now see why I shouldn’t just breeze through all the plot points in a non-stop whirlwind of action. It is fun though!
Other Posts in the Series
- Season One
- Episode 1 – One Eye, One Leg
- Episode 2 – What the Guardian Serpent Heard
- Episode 3 – The Rumors of the Steel Lady
- Episode 4 – Idol Dies by Steel Beam
- Episode 5 – A Monster of the Imagination
- Episode 6 – Logical Fiction
- Episode 7 – Preparing to Conquer the Steel Lady
- Episode 8 – She Who Spins Fiction
- Episode 9 – The Committee to Conquer Steel Lady Nanase
- Episode 10 – Dueling Fictions
- Episode 11 – The Ultimate Fiction
- Episode 12 – She Who Defends Order