Hentatsu (2020) [REVIEW] | A Cat And Oni Walk Into A Bar

Hentatsu TV 2020.png

This late june, i was on a kick to discover/watch what else director TATSUKI made after the first season of Kemono Friends, and among them Hentatsu felt in that category of “i’ve seen some images time ago of this, but i have zero idea of what it’s about”.

And after watching the whole series, i still don’t fully know how to answer the implied question, it sure wasn’t what i expected from studio Iroiro and TATSUKI – as you can tell immediately they made it – but it isn’t the usual ensemble of weird animal people or “humans” fighting against weird misterious enemy in the backdrop of a vague post-apocalyptic setting.

Yes, it sure does try to trick you in the first episode, but even by the end of that they drop the facade, and it’s basically about two girls, one a oni, one with cat ears and glasses (never called by name in the TV series, but listed just as “Oni” and “Neko” in wikias), and they make small talk, sometimes joking on how egyptians might have coinceived the idea of the sphinx, a cute incident about escaping dogs and territory marking, or just relate of something they witnessed at a japanese anime con recently. Often going into meta-territory, like joking how the series is slotted between two way more popular shows, or commenting on the lack on intro, to reveal an opening song (which itself it both a parody of anime songs and deliberately blunt about their own show) halfway through. All in a series very short, 1 minute and half episodes.

Like Kemurikusa before, the series started as web short (back in 2018), then surfaced again in the form of this TV series, a very niche one by all accounts, as it’s basically a stream of consciouness and elaborate in-jokes from TATSUKI (the cat eared lady seems like an obvious self-insert, given the dialogue) and Iroiro’s staff, made into 1 minute anime pills, pretty much. So niche i had to do some research and for context i just found that the real-life locations used as background are from a shopping mall in Tokyo known for “Mandarake” and other dedicated shop of pop and nerdy culture.

Hentatsu 2020 TV the chamaleon toy train magik

But still, they are amusing little conversation, not just because of the randomness, but because they feel like proper conversation you could have with your friends about various topic, and the use of black and white manga style panels to enhance the story helps, it’s very cute. And even if you don’t fully get the joke, these panels themselves are funny on their own, even the meta stuff is done in a very humble way.

Aside from the usual and distinctive brand of 3D CG, the backgrounds for these short meta-conversations stick out, as they change from a rendered cafe, the inside of a train (or something else like that), to a clearly scanned in photograph of a real place, with some touch ups. Or sometimes it’s a combination of computer generated benchside and the connected flower bushes behind, and in the distance what looks like a real photo of a building.Very odd, but not bad, at all.

Don’t expect any plot or continuity, the most of the latter is them talking about a rat “attacking” them in a bar, they enter a car at the end, and the next episode they are in the car still talking about it. But then topic shifts to the difficulty of writing apocalypse scenario when self-driving cars will most likely be around still. Then for the “season finale” we get a reprise of the faux action scenario seen in the first episode, with a fight against a giant robotic monster (surprisingly well animated and fun, guess the budget went all there or something like that), ending with a vague teaser of a “NEW PRODUCTION starting” written on a cube coming out of the sky.

There is a so called “12.5” episode that really closes the series off, but it’s just a meta-recap since the show was liked enough to warrant an extra weekly slot.

Hentatsu 2020 TV the cat and the oni.png

Regardless, Hentatsu is a weird, cute, little show, and if anything, i’m looking forward to whatever this “NEW PRODUCTION” will turn out to be, definitely.

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