A young lady from a prestigious family moves out of her family’s home and into a palatial apartment complex. It is unusual, not only for its luxury, but also for how each resident has their own designated bodyguard, reminiscent of a secret service. She doesn’t want any such guard, but finds herself saddled with one who is not only dedicated to his duty, he is completely obsessed with her. Tall, handsome, skilled, and utterly devoted to her, to the point where he all but literally worships the ground she walks on, the man can, and will, do anything for her. She can’t rid herself of him, so she is forced to deal with him and try to find some kind of equilibrium between them. Little does she suspect how much he will come to mean to her, and the secret he keeps from her.
Oh, and everyone in the complex is descended from some sort of supernatural creature that bred with a human ancestor. They’re half-breeds.
That is the idea behind Inu x Boku SS, in a nutshell.
It’s partially a supernatural slice-of-life story, just showing us the daily lives of these unusual people. It has comedic elements, and a bit of drama, though the characters are developed only very slightly. The most entertaining part of the show is the characters, and they are also the most annoying part, too. There’s a very little bit of romance, but that romance is actually a bit more disquieting than endearing.
To explain all of that from the beginning:
The premise is that a number of wealthy, powerful families have a bit of supernatural blood sprinkled in their veins. Occasionally, this manifests in the form of some member of the family that is a genetic throwback to the original creature in question. They are treated like royalty… or, rather, like possessions. They are seen as belonging not to their immediate family, but to the entire extended family as a whole. To explain the damage that does… well…
I commented awhile ago, in My Angry Otaku Epiphany, about how the fans of idols and celebrities in Japan tend to put them on pedestals and isolate them. They act like they own the idol in question and are, in a way, devoted to keeping them separate from everything in the world, because that would somehow be the same as losing them, as having their idol taken from them. It makes only a very little sense to me, but there you have it.
Applying the same principle here, these atavistic throwbacks are kept isolated and idolized, treated as something other than human… but human is exactly what they are.
In the case of the lead character, a young lady named Ririchiyo Shirakiin, she never learned how to properly deal with people. Having so little experience, she overthinks everything and reacts before reaching a proper conclusion. Result: she speaks and behaves imperiously, and her tongue is far more pointed than she ever actually intends it to be, which, as she is still overthinking things, makes her feel very guilty and self-conscious immediately afterward. It is her desire to fix this habit of hers that drives her to move out of her family’s estate and into the palatial apartments that they and other families have built together, the Maison de Ayakashi. She wants to get along with people better, so she goes off to live alone.
…yeah, that plan may not have been entirely thought-through, but it works out well enough.
Upon her arrival, she meets her bodyguard, a truly handsome man named Soushi Miketsukami. Where the demon in Ririchiyo’s bloodline is unclear (some sort of oni?), he is quite clearly descended from the nine-tailed fox. He is extremely devoted to her, like a dog, or perhaps something a bit more rabid in said devotion. Serving her, looking after her, everything about her is the beginning, middle, and end of the meaning of his existence. He does not say why, at first, but he tells her that he chose to be her servant because he already knows her, and has known her for a long time, and, though she does not know it, she once saved him.
Yeah, that’s not creepy or overbearing at all… right?
Unable to rid herself of her new guard, Ririchiyo gradually comes to accept and appreciate him, even if she gets annoyed by his excessive devotion. Partially through his influence, she is able to become more at ease around others as well, forming friendships with several people who are, in varying ways, as unique, as distinct, and as misunderstood as she is. There’s a raccoon-dog boy who is so keenly aware of how weak he is that he is constantly trying to be a tough-guy delinquent, though that’s a pretty threadbare facade. There’s a quiet, sincere girl who turns into a HUGE skeleton creature. An older boy turns into a floating carpet or scroll or something (how the heck did his demon ancestor even breed with a human?). An older ice-woman who… ah, let’s just say she is obsessed with cute girls. A man who wears rabbit ears (no idea if they’re real or false) and has a wicked, scheming sense of humor and wit, which cloaks his more benevolent intentions. Oh, and a cousin of Ririchiyo, who is obsessed with sadism and masochism, and is her fiancé.
Yes, Ririchiyo is in an arranged relationship with her cousin. I’m hoping that’s a distant cousin, but it gets even weirder from here anyway.
While the story mostly follows Ririchiyo as she develops into someone who can interact with people more openly and honestly, and less formally, the final episode goes in a wildly less kosher direction at the last minute.
It comes on the heels of learning the truth of her bodyguard’s past. It seems that they have been pen pals since she was very little, and he is, in fact, that same, dear friend whose words helped her be strong at her lowest moments. Even more, after a tragic life wherein his freedom and survival depended on being able to be anything that another person wanted him to be (the first set of which involved sexual intimacy with various women of his own household), it was her words which helped him to gain an identity of his own, and she saw the genuine person he was becoming. That is why he became obsessed with her, because such absolute devotion to another person was the only way he really knew how to interact with people, and as he gained that “self” which we all take for granted, he wanted to repay her.
After that, things could have developed into a genuine friendship, which I would have very much enjoyed. But then there is a little mix-up that Ririchiyo, as per usual, overthinks and gets embarrassed about. It could be misconstrued as if she were confessing love for him, which she did not intend, and he acknowledges and even embraces that. Then, about two seconds after declaring that they don’t like each other that way, they declare that they do love each other that way. And then, as the show wraps up (and we see that he has a shrine to her in his apartment), we see that they’ve gone from not being romantically inclined to planning their future together, including children, in under two minutes of runtime.
Even setting aside the age difference between them, and even forgetting that she’s still only fifteen or maybe sixteen years old, and even setting aside how this is all sorts of weird and creepy and unsettling in ways which I do not have the psychological terms to fully describe… even without all of that, to go from Point A, mutually acknowledging that she does not actually like him that way, straight to Point X, planning their lives and their children while laying on the couch in each others’ arms… it’s all just too much, too fast!
Does the show make me laugh? Yes.
Does it make me feel for these characters? Yes.
Even if I can see why they do so, it’s still very weird, and doesn’t strike me at all as a healthy relationship. And yet, it’s probably the best that these two, whose families claim ownership of them as if they weren’t people, can possibly hope for. Which is even more disturbing to contemplate.
Outside all of this, the anime does a fair job of being entertaining. It’s not particularly extraordinary, mind you, but it’s not terrible either. It’s all right. With exception to the “romance,” it has an enjoyable “average” of quality overall.
Rating: 7 stars out of 10.