Hell is, like, the worst. If years of Catholic education have taught me anything, it’s that we have to fear the scary, red, goat man, and that if we do bad things he’ll take us to this place deep down below existence wherein which we will be tortured the rest of eternity…which is a really long time. We all know that, right?
Most, if not all, religious beliefs teach about the terrifying fire pit we’ve come to know as Hell. If it’s not called Hell, it’ll be under some other different but oddly similar name, so don’t get fooled! Chances are, no matter what belief system you subscribe to, doing BAD things will land you in that BAD place. Thus you spend your life being a good person in the hopes that you indeed steer clear of eternal damnation.
Madman Entertainment have just released a new Anime across Australia and New Zealand…well, new in terms of it has just gotten a home video release, but if we’re splitting hairs here; this series aired in Japan January of last year.
Hozuki No Reitetsu, or as it is called in English; “Hozuki’s Coolheadedness“, is a comedy series that follows the story of one of Japanese Hell’s top-ranked demons. Hozuki, the titular character, works directly under Lord Enma and basically, of the course of the series, fixes everything wrong with Hell, causing trouble for slackers and fire-starters alike along the way. Essentially, Hozuki’s Coolheadedness is a sitcom set in Hell, with every episode being disconnected, albeit not entirely, from the one that came before it, and as a fan of comedy as a whole…this was something I just couldn’t pass up.
There are hard jobs, there are jobs that seem outright impossible, but in the end, the most difficult job in all creation probably belongs to Hozuki, Hell’s hardest working bureaucrat. That’s because Hozuki is Deputy Chief to Enma, the King of Hell. Enma spends all his time sitting in judgment of the recently deceased, so it’s up to Hozuki to keep the dark half of the afterlife running smoothly. And that would be hellishly complicated even if Hell wasn’t constantly short on good help. Fortunately, Hozuki’s not the typical bureaucratic hothead you’d expect to find heading a department of infernal affairs. Fiendishly clever and determined enough to dedicate multiple lifetimes to a task (though not necessarily his OWN lifetimes), he’ll get the job done even if it means breaking a few unbreakable rules and running circles around Hell’s normal operating procedures. As for patience… well, Hell hasn’t frozen over quite yet, so the verdict’s still out on that, but he doesn’t suffer fools lightly, let alone damned fools. After all, that Highway to Hell isn’t going to get paved with just good intentions, so if someone has to suffer for all eternity, Hozuki’s damned sure that it’s not going to be himself in HOZUKI’S COOLHEADEDNESS! – Madman Entertainment
Hozuki’s Coolheadedness does this great thing; it takes a fairly known concept, Hell, and puts enough of a spin on it to have people interested in what goes on within it. To be entirely honest, I tend to steer clear of stories that take place in Hell because, essentially…they’re all the same. Thankfully Hozuki’s Coolheadedness is NOT your average action Anime about a Demon with a heart of gold, or a man sent to the pits of Hell with the express mission of escaping and, let’s say, returning to his family. Whatever the case, Hozuki’s Coolheadedness is the total opposite.
Not only is it a Comedy series, which takes away a layer between the series and the audience, it also features a main protagonist who, even by the end of the series, is still seen as a devastatingly malicious Demon who knows how to do his job, and does it well. Any other series will make an effort to show that this character is indeed a thoughtful soul, making it more than just a being of malicious intent, but not Hozuki’s Coolheadedness.
That’s not to say that the series doesn’t provide any character development either, almost every single character introduced throughout the series gets there moment in the sun to show exactly what their personality is like and exactly how they have grown in the times that they weren’t on screen.
The main point of Hozuki’s Coolheadedness and, in fact, the point that I should have started out with is that this show is genuinely funny! If you know a lot about Japanese culture, both popular and traditional, most of the jokes and references made throughout the series will have you in stitches.
The unfortunate thing about their being so many cultural call-outs is that Sentai Filmworks, who provided the subtitles for the release, felt as though they all needed to be explained in real time, making the series incredibly difficult to comprehend seeing as you’re doing your best to read dialogue subtitles but you’re then bombarded with subsequent text detailing that Satan was indeed referencing characters from Final Fantasy and not something else that may have confused you.
Luckily, the series still retains it’s humour despite the fact that the subtitles seem to be actively working to destroy any chance the audiences have at naturally coming to the comedic conclusion themselves; half the fun of a humorous reference.
Hozuki’s Coolheadedness has a great visual style that leans in heavily to the comedic side of things but still retains enough classic Anime integrity to make it seem very much unlike a comedy series. A great deal of the series’ gags come through visually, and while others are spoken in detailed character conversations, the true humour shines through with the visual jokes and it is it’s semi-normal visual style that makes those gags even funnier.
What I enjoyed the most in regards to the series’ visuals were those of the background images, all of which were designed in much the same style as ancient Japanese ink paintings which, as I’m sure you can already imagine, fit in with the series like a piece to a puzzle. Not only did it give Hozuki’s Coolheadedness a real authentic Japanese feel, it also allowed for the overly Anime visuals of the main characters to come through stronger than if it was your standard series. Not to mention it made hell look even more bleak, not that the constant images of people being tortured didn’t put that point across early on in the series.
Backing up those traditionally Japanese visuals was a soundtrack made of of traditionally Japanese instruments. Hozuki’s Coolheadedness, though a comedy story about Demons living and working in Hell, gave off a grand sense of authenticity, partially because of the visuals I mentioned not a moment ago and more so because of the amazingly fitting soundtrack which, as noted, was composed in a style relevant to the time in which this series’ Japanese Hell draws inspiration.
The voice cast also had a great deal to do with just how funny this series was. Not only did they each have voices that brought the very best out of their individual characters, they each also had impeccable comedic timing which, as any comedy fan will know, is one of the most effective tools for getting a laugh out of an audience.
Sometimes you watch Anime and you simply aren’t in the mood to see something gritty and hard-hitting, instead you want to be able to laugh and enjoy a lighthearted twenty-two minutes before moving on with your day. Sometimes you’re in a bad way, and need a nice laugh to pick up your spirits and send you off in a better mood. Some Anime simply cannot do that and while I’m not saying Hozuki’s Coolheadedness is the only one, it’s one of the very few that’ll have you smiling within a matter of minutes no matter which episode you choose to watch. It understands that life doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, and seeing as this is coming from an Anime set in Hell, the lesson is all the more prevalent.
Hozuki’s Coolheadedness doesn’t take itself seriously until taking itself seriously becomes funny. It doesn’t do anything it shouldn’t do, and every episode will do two things without fail; it will make you laugh, and it will make you love the characters on screen. No doubt about it. Hozuki’s Coolheadedness features a monstrously charming main character who’s stories will stick with you in years to come. It’s a series I found to be highly underrated, and one that I will enjoy for a long time to come. Hozuki’s Coolheadedness is exactly what you’re looking for, if what you’re looking for is a genuinely funny series about life in Hell.
Take a trip down South; purchase Hozuki’s Coolheadedness now through Madman Entertainments official online store: Click Here