Isuca – What’s In a Name?

The Shimazu Clan: Japanese mages who devote their lives to ensuring that spirits do not enter our world and harm its inhabitants. This clan has remained strong for generations, but is currently caught in a power struggle as two young girls, Sakuya and Suseri, both seek to be the next head of the family. This is the struggle that Asano Shinichiro inadvertently finds himself a part of when he accepts a part-time job as Sakuya’s housekeeper.

Shinichiro seems to be just an ordinary young man, but it is discovered that he has a special ability that could prove absolutely crucial to Sakuya – the Eyes of Truth. This ability allows him to determine anyone’s True Name, the name they keep hidden that is the core of their being. For a spirit or a mage, it is impossible to disobey someone who speaks your True Name which makes Shinichiro’s gift extremely dangerous and powerful.

As to why it is so dangerous to let spirits in, the first episode showcases that very clearly. In order to remain in the world, they have to drain the life energy of people. As to how they do this, well that’s where my problem with this show begins. They give people ‘ultimate pleasure’ and kill them in the process, taking their life energy in exchange. Of course, the process usually involves dissolving people’s clothing so you get a lot of partial nude shots. And that leads into my problem…

This show is absurdly pandering and masturbatory. One of our protagonists, the cat spirit Tamako who becomes Shinichiro’s servant fairly early on, frequently runs around naked until ordered otherwise. When she puts on clothing, it’s basically underwear – a bra and a short skirt. Shinichiro’s abilities – both the Eyes of Truth and his secondary gift which is to give energy to people – activates when he kisses someone. The list goes on… but the show is constantly providing more and more ways to pander to the lowest common denominator.

And it doesn’t really offer much beyond that for the first half of the show. When you get into the second half, the last 4-5 episodes, things get a bit better. The characters, who had been incredibly bland up until then, start to flesh out a bit and become relatable. It’s too little, too late… but at least it is a start. Since the show seems likely to continue, based off of where it ended, there is some potential for the future. This also applies to the show’s action and battles, as they are really one-dimensional early on… but as you approach the end they do get a lot better. They’re not anything exceptional, but they at least become entertaining and somewhat dynamic.

And I think that’s really the story of the show… it starts off really bad, so bad that I almost gave up on watching it. And while it does improve, it never really gives up on the needlessly masturbatory tone and imagery. It really takes a lot of effort to ignore the show’s low points in order to get to the few highs it has. But I can’t say it’s all bad, and I would most likely watch a second season if one were to be made, just to see if they could develop on the good aspects they had built near the end of the season.

Comments are closed.