‘Isuca’ Review: Intriguing Plot With Excess Fan Service
The story of Isuca revolves around Shinchiro Asano, a young man who gets a job as a housekeeper in order to pay his rent. When he accidentally releases a dangerous spirit into this world he learns that his employer, fellow student Sakuya Shizuma, has been trained to hunt and seal away these creatures. Learning that he possesses some strong spiritual abilities, Shinchiro is compelled to aid Sakuya in her battle against spirits. He ends up getting drawn into a power struggle between Sakuya and her sister, Suseri, who are fighting to earn the right as head of the Shizuma family.
Before I get into what bothers me about this anime, I feel like I really should touch on the positives. As the show surrounds a clan of exorcists, each character has their own unique fighting styles and abilities to aid the wider group. There is the distinction made between Eastern and Western magic, where Eastern magic focuses more on summoning spiritual energy and Western magic utilizes glyphs and alchemical symbols. Though the animation is ultimately average, the studio, Arms Corporation, is consistent in its execution. In terms of characters, each one seems to be pulled straight out of the database, but it should be noted that character types are put into the database because they work. Each character works well both with and against one another, creating emotional tension that drives the story of the power struggle within the family while also addressing the outside threats.
Overall, Isuca is solid. I have seen similar series before, so it is not staggeringly fresh or unique, but is an entertaining story with some charm and promise. The mystery of the Shizuma clan and the unique spiritual monsters the characters come up against add intrigue to the show and keep your attention.
The catch for me is the excessive fan service. Though the show does become tamer in the later episodes, those first couple ones can be uncomfortable to watch. I understand a panty shot or two to add a little bit of flare for your intended male audience, but is it really necessary that almost every time Sakuya falls she somehow ends up sitting on Shinchiro’s face? When the monsters attack, do they really only have to rip the clothes off of the girls? Did you really need that scene where Suseri sneaks into the bath to wash Shinchiro’s back with her breasts? Is it absolutely necessary to have that one side character constantly preaching about the appeal of breasts? Or to have men crowding around the school windows when girls run for gym class so that they can comment on the “jiggle”?
Fan service tends to walk that thin line between comedy and excess. Isuca starts in the realm of comedy, but swiftly boards an express train to meet Highschool of the Dead in the land of excess. It gets to the point where there is so much cleavage and butt shown that the animators gave up on having carefully placed clothes or props and just started putting shadows across anything inappropriate. Which seems to scream the idea that there will eventually be an uncensored release of Isuca.
Of course, as I said before, the later episodes become tamer as the story takes precedence over fan service. So I suppose my verdict on this is that if you find the story interesting to give it a shot. From there you can decide whether or not the excessive fan service is something you can deal with, or if you would rather something that does not make you feel so uncomfortable.