Every so often you watch an anime where a mere few seconds into the first episode you just know that this is going to something good. This season, that honour goes out to Urara Meirochou, a slice-of-life comedy about a group of teenage girls seeking to become village fortune tellers. It’s the first anime of 2017 that I can say is truly great and an indication that maybe the next three months of anime won’t be as dull or dreadful as they looked.
The main characters is a girl named Chiya who’ve grown up in the mountains among various wildlife. Being sort of the anime equivalent to Mowgli from The Jungle Book, she acts more animal-like than your average fifteen year old girl by sleeping in tree tops and showing her belly like a cat when she surrenders or apologizes. She comes to the town of Meirochou after having received an invitation to become an Urara, a village fortune-teller, something that is open for certain girls when they turn fifteen years old.
Once in Meirochou she meet up with the other girls who’ll be studying alongside her, kicking off their days together as they learn the secrets of fortune-telling. Alongside Chiya there’s the kind and cunning Kon, the shy and quiet Nono and the self-confident Koume. Every character either have their own way of fortune-telling or are currently trying to find out what method works best for them, leading them to try out various things. There’s other characters too, like Saku, the dashing lady captain of the village watch and Nina, the village Urara who will be teaching the young girls.
The first episode gives us a good introduction to the main cast and even manages to sneak in some extra fun bits with the side-characters at the end. It’s a very personality driven series overall, so I could see it being somewhat hard to get into if you don’t take a liking to Chiya or the other girls. Thankfully I ended up enjoying all of them to great degree, with Chiya’s cluelessness ending up more charming than annoying, which can be a fine line not to cross.
Being adapted from a Manga Time Kirara magazine, it’s no surprise that the series has its fair share of Girls’ Love subtext either. In fact, it might even be wrong to call it subtext considering a few girls directly expresses romantic attraction towards another girl in the first episode. Even so, the main interactions between the cast for the first episode is light cuddling and hugs, alongside the occasional stripping to show their bellies. If you were looking for something to hold you over until Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid premieres next week, there’s no better option than Urara Meirochou.
It’s quite a beautiful series too, with vibrant colours and interesting scenery being a constant. The character designs are all memorable and the anime even manages to do a strong contrast between cute and dark for when the girls interact with the mystic powers beyond our world to perform their fortune-telling. Harada Sayaka, who have previously only starred in last season’s Getsuyoubi no Tawawa, do a tremendous job as Chiya as well. Delivering a particularly strong performance for a newcomer in her first full-length series. She also performs the opening theme song together with the rest of the cast as the group Labyrinth.
With that said, I did have some criticisms as well. Mainly that it’s a little too reliant on repeating gags. This might not be an issue in the long run if they keep it to single episodes, but assuming the same gags will be recurring throughout the season, they might have overdone them a bit in episode one. I also don’t think I can hear a character exclaim “I’ll never get married now” without rolling my eyes any more, be it in Urara Meirochou or any other series. It’s an overplayed and tired cliché that didn’t have decent foundation for a joke to begin with.
In closing, and I realize this is a slightly shorter impressions post, Urara Meirochou is a delight and easily my favourite series of the season so far. I highly recommend it as it’s funny, pretty and full of that special charm that Manga Time Kirara adaptations always manage to deliver upon somehow.
Urara Meirochou is licensed by Sentai Filmworks and is currently being streamed on The Anime Network.
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