Okamikakushi: Masque of the Wolf is the peculiar tale of a village that holds many secrets. The townsfolk walk around with masks hunting at night, make mention of orange festivals (the fruit), and believe in legends of giant two-legged werewolf humanoids — my favorite kind of werewolves. Hiroshi is the main man or young adult who has just arrived in Jouga, with his family, and is now attending the local school. Everyone around town and at school seems rather flaky and just plain sketchy, with exception to Nemuru, who welcomes him.
In this rather odd town and school people disappear for no reason or are just never heard from again. Oh, and there’s a girl who wields a giant scythe with scary precision. These are just some of the happenings that populate the world of Masque of the Wolf. I would have no problem with a series like this due to me being a fan of werewolves and girls with giant scythes dealing out death and destruction. The problem lies with the show not knowing what it wants to be. It’s a pretty tame show aimed, from what I gather, to the YA (young adult) crowd due to the most of the violence being bloodless. With that said, there’s plenty of fan service, but the fact that the girls in the series are still in high school makes it a bit creepy. (Editor’s Note: Much of the fan service material involves high school aged girls and boys. See The Qwaser of the Stigmata for a particularly hentai example).
I know that the anime show was originally a series of video games that had a much harder edge than what the show brought to the table and that may have something to do with why it’s not as dark as some of the press materials lead you to believe. The animation itself is standard and you can tell that it’s hand drawn for the most part — the CGI added is only added here and there, which makes the traditional line work shine through.
As far as pacing goes – that’s another factor that brings the series to somewhat of halt. It takes FOREVER for the show to kick into high gear. I’m talking about we don’t get the party started until the end of the first disc and this only a 2-disc Blu-ray set! If you want the show to breathe a bit then extend it to 24-episodes or just have it kick into high gear much sooner. I will say that if younger anime fan then this is right up your alley due to the “relative” safe nature of the show. Yes, the show is action packed, which is why it gets a TV-14 rating but that’s pretty much it. It’s not necessarily a bloody or profane series. If you were curious about a blind-buy I’d recommend a rental or streaming option first. Try before you buy is definitely encouraged here.
Masque of the Wolf is presented in 1.78:1, 1080p. From what I could tell the 1080p presentation is correctly sourced from an actual 1080p master as opposed to an up-scaled master. Now if I find information to the contrary then I will correct it. The video presentation is peculiar, especially in the first episodes. They are extremely hazy and quite blurry at times. The color palette is nice and bold but also very subdued in those early episodes. The CGI used the in the series is kept to a minimum letting the line work sine. Edge enhancement does pop in every once in a while but is fine overall. Pixelization and banding also rear their ugly heads here and there but they’re not a deal breaker in terms of presentation. The show does have an average to above average presentation on the Blu-ray format.
Masque of the Wolf is presented in Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0. The show features English subtitles and the Japanese audio is the only way to experience the show. This 2.0 track really pushes the boundaries of what 2.0 tracks can do. Dialogue is clean and clear and all of the action elements really push through the limited soundscape and envelop the viewer quite nicely. Considering it’s the original language track and not some after market dubbing – the original sound elements in all their 2.0 glory really shine through on this release.
Masque of the Wolf is a pretty barebones Blu-ray release. We get a set of clean animation opening credits and clean animation closing credits.
- Clean Opening Animation
- Clean Closing Animation
The Definitive Word
As much as I wanted to get into Masque of the Wolf it just didn’t happen. It’s a very convoluted show that probably plays better in video game or graphic novel form as opposed to an anime series. The Blu-ray set looks and sounds good to above average, but the special features are pretty much non-existent. Masque of the Wolf is strictly for diehard anime fans.
Additional Screen Captures