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Time for something a bit more colorful

The town of Meirocho is famous as the home of “urara,” female diviners and fortune tellers. Girls can train to become urara in the town starting at age fifteen. One of these girls is Chiya, who has so far lived her life alone in the mountains with only animals for company. Her eccentricities and lack of understanding of how to live among humans quickly earns her an enemy in Saku, the town’s captain of the watch, but friends in Kon, Nono, and Koume, her fellow trainees.

The three begin their training under Nono’s older sister Nina, but Chiya quickly reveals that she has no idea what an urara is nor any desire to be one. In fact, she is in town only to search for her long-missing mother. However, after watching a tea leaf reading by Nina, Chiya discovers an interest in the subject.

The girls then talk about the different types of divination and what they’re interested in. Koume specializes in tarot, Kon in kokkuri (communing with fox spirits), Nono in ventriloquism and Chiya is undecided. Kon attempts to use divination to figure out what Chiya’s specialty should be, but receives only cryptic, inconclusive answers. In an unrelated skit, Captain Saku begins feeling sick and is fawned over by her lovestruck subordinates.

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I love Saku already

Here we have the 2017 winter season’s first entry into the omnipresent “cute girls doing cute things” genre. There are the obligatory four girls, each with their own small set of personality quirks, and the spacy mentor character in Nina. Urara’s twist on the genre is that the characters are studying divination rather than attending a normal school. I will admit that I did find it pretty interesting, especially as we got some explanation as to how tea leaves and kokkuri work in this episode and will probably learn more about other styles of divination as Chiya does. The two divination scenes were both very well done, using poetic language, soft music and higher quality visuals to set them apart from the rest of the episode.

Other than the divination scenes, the episode was strong in areas in which “cute girls” shows usually are – bright, cheery color palette and overall peaceful tone – and weak in similar areas to the rest of its genre – character depth and actual connected plot. We did get a few hints at some sort of plot (Chiya’s missing mother and the cryptic words the girls received from their attempt at kokkuri) but who knows whether these hints will be relevant in future episodes. Character-wise, I did find myself enjoying Saku, a stoic older character who doesn’t serve a mentor role and clashes in personality with both the main four girls and her besotted underlings. Her fairly unique and rather attractive design didn’t hurt either!

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Uhhhh…

However, the show does have one strange, somewhat uncomfortable flaw that I cannot write this review without mentioning: fanservice. And not your average fanservice either – a fixation on the girls’ stomachs of all things. Chiya, raised by animals, thinks you should apologize by showing your stomach, and constantly does it to both herself and the other girls. There’s also a scene where Saku worries about Nina killing herself by cutting her stomach and one where Chiya’s stomach bulges out of her clothes after drinking too much tea (and is touched and poked by the other girls). It gave the episode a very weird vibe…sorry, show creator, but I guess I just don’t share your interest in looking at the naked stomachs of 15 year old girls.

Still, it had some positives, and was definitely better than the first two shows I reviewed this season. Out of 5 Dios:

diodio

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I’d much rather watch a show about Saku and her subordinates

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