Original Run: October 9, 2021 - December 25, 2021 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Historical, Romance, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Sana Kirioka
***The following may contain spoilers for Taishou Otome Fairy Tale. Reader discretion is advised.***
Tamahiko Shima (voiced by Yuusuke Kobayashi) is a self-described pessimist. Ever since losing his mother and the use of his right hand in an accident, he has become an outcast within the wealthy and influential Shima family. With his father preferring to consider him dead, Tamahiko lives a solitary existence in the rural countryside outside Tokyo.
Given his situation, Tamahiko believes there is no one who can ever love a failure such as himself. Except, that is before the arrival of Yuzuki Tachibana (voiced by Saya Aizawa).
To settle the Tachibana debt, the Shima family buys Yuzuki to become Tamahiko’s future wife. Thus, to everyone who sees them, Tamahiko and Yuzuki’s relationship is nothing more than a business deal.
However, Yuzuki quickly falls for Tamahiko’s unappreciated kindness. In turn, Yuzuki shows Tamahiko there are people willing to see the good in him. So despite how they may have met, the two begin a love story as strong as any other.
Taishou Otome Fairy Tale (Taishou Otome) was, ultimately, cute; like really freaking cute. It was a lovely slice-of-life romance chock-full of warm feel-goodness.
But – and this is quite a significant “but” – I have zero confidence this series will stick with me for long once this review comes out (January 2022). That is a shame because when we look at the final product, this was a good show.
This is definitely a series you should check out if you have the time and are looking for something with a noticeably unique flare.
Given such a setup, an aspect we need to recognize about Taishou Otome is that its premise is fundamentally messed-up. Our leads, Tamahiko Shima and Yuzuki Tachibana, met under – there’s no other way to put it – troubling circumstances. After all, the Shima family bought Yuzuki; her relationship with Tamahiko was not something she initiated.
However, Taishou Otome did something incredibly clever – it gave us a villain. Or, at the very least, this show gave us someone to hate. In this case, it was Tamahiko’s father; he wasn’t exactly the most stellar of parents.
By framing Tamahiko’s father as some sort of soulless businessman who cared more about his family’s names than his actual family, it leveled out Tamahiko and Yuzuki’s status in this inherently unequal.
(Sure, Tamahiko had it bad, but come on, Yuzuki never even had the illusion of choice.)
Taishou Otome dealt with a lot of assumptions. Most everyone who saw Yuzuki assumed her life was miserable; most never bothered to consider that she went ahead and made the most of her dealt hand. Likewise, nearly everyone saw Tamahiko as a spoiled rich child who saw the general public as beneath him.
There was one scene when a doctor came to care for Yuzuki when she collapsed from exhaustion and then berated Tamahiko for mistreating her. The doctor only saw the worst possible scenario and didn’t hesitate to cast Tamahiko as the bad guy.
There were a ton of the-grass-is-greener fallacies going on in this show. As a result of that, Tamahiko and Yuzuki became instantly endearing; you find yourself rooting for them long before you hit this series’s halfway point.
Taishou Otome knew how to bring you around to see its lead characters as a couple that should be together; the two complemented each other so well. And can you believe it? I haven’t even mentioned how this series used elements – i.e., the setting – to their full advantage.
Taking place in the early 1920s, this story truly did feel like a period piece. If nothing else, it reinforced the idea that many aspects of daily life between now and then were fantastically different. Granted, things like escalators, record players, and ice cream in Japan were still novelties, but overall, Tamahiko and Yuzuki’s tale could have easily occurred in our own time.
But since this narrative took place when it did, it could pull from the actual historical record and use certain events to solidify the growth of our protagonists. I won’t say more than that (although any of you history buffs out there might be able to piece it together), but the ending of Taishou Otome was when this series hit its peak.
In many ways, this show had qualities that have allowed other anime to become quite memorable. The problem is, there is a huge difference between having and NEEDING those said qualities.
Taishou Otome wanted to be so many things. This series tried to be:
- A quirky comedy
- A heartfelt romance
- A meaningful dramatic piece
On their own, those types of story elements worked here. And I am not about to claim that they should exist within the same narrative. However, Taishou Otome, the anime version at least, struggled to keep everything in balance. The result was a show that was occasional jarring with its sudden shifts in atmosphere.
For example, there was a moment in this series when Yuzuki wasn’t feeling well. And since it would be useless to act as though they didn’t occur around the same time, this scene was directly linked to the doctor unfairly berating Tamahiko. In fact, Tamahiko was in a pretty bad spiral going into this next bit.
The point is, Yuzuki was sick and Tamahiko was worried he could do nothing to comfort her, even though she would have found a way to comfort him. Tamahiko went to check on Yuzuki and found her struggling to breathe. It turns out Yuzuki has been tightly wrapping up her chest. And why was she doing that? Well, despite her small stature, Yuzuki was actually quite stacked.
I am using such a description because that was how this show treated this reveal. In the middle of this rather tense scene, Taishou Otome decided this would be an excellent time to play up how big Yuzuki’s breasts were. Along with this came the usual bumbling about you would find in a slapstick comedy.
The issue, though, was that Yuzuki was in clear distress. So the lightheartedness of this encounter felt incredibly inappropriate.
Incidents like that were quite common throughout Taishou Otome. There were narrative extremes that did not fit well together. The consequence of this was a story that would sometimes come off as out of sync.
When these moments came up, it brought the whole series down. That is why I think Taishou Otome will struggle to be anything more than an in-the-moment type of show.
That is a shame since this show could have been so much more.
A few misplaced moments can prevent a good show from becoming a great show. Still, when you miss after aiming at the Moon, you’re at least going to hit the stars.
This series was a pleasant little surprise, especially if you’re a romance junkie. With two lead characters you want to see together, this is a story that will scratch that itch.
Taishou Otome Fairy Tale has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Taishou Otome Fairy Tale? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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