Lost amongst the Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon and Kuzu no Honkai hype from the anime winter season shuffle was Urara Meirochou, which quietly did a lot of things right, but is it enough to stand out in an already crowded genre?
In the town of Meirochou, everything revolves around divination. Young girls from all around the country flock to this town in order to become diviners called urara. This includes Chiya, a fifteen-year-old who comes down from the mountains in order to find her mom, who she heard is living somewhere in Meirochou. This is brand new world for someone as undomesticated as Chiya, but it’s here where she meets fellow aspiring diviners, and together, they begin their journey to become first-rate uraras.
First off, I can’t tell you how relieved I was to see that this show isn’t just another slice of life that mostly takes place in a classroom. There’s an endless list of shows like that, and even the best ones can become somewhat stale and monotonous. Monotony didn’t really apply to Urara Meirochou for me, thanks in large part to the unique story and setting. This is still very much cute girls doing cute things, but I feel like the light supernatural elements helped keep things fresh and interesting.
For all I know, all the different methods of divination seen in this anime could be portrayed in a completely inaccurate fashion, but whether that’s true or not doesn’t really matter, because I think it’s pretty fascinating stuff. This subject also lends itself well to some different and fun scenarios that the girls find themselves in over the course of the season. The promotional exam team competition was probably my favorite, and Koume’s story of why she wants to become a witch also stood out to me as well, but in a genre notorious for a lack of substance, this show provided more than I initially expected.
There was still more filler than I would have preferred, but for me, that wasn’t a huge issue, and the story moved at a brisk enough pace. Towards the end, things got a little strange and somewhat dark, and that’s an extremely welcome change from how most of these “cute girls doing cute things” series go. That said, the most compelling storyline in the entire season never sees a resolution, and I was pretty disappointed by that. Hopefully this was done in order to set things up for a potential second season, and if so, they should already have a nice overarching storyline to build around.
For being a bit more different and original in its subject matter, the story in Urara Meirochou stands out, compared to its slice of life brethren, and you can say that that in and of itself is already quite the accomplishment. It’s fairly interesting, and simply put, not every anime in the genre can say that~
Moving on to the characters, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this cast. With a main cast consisting of four characters, with about five others in supportive roles, pretty much everyone gets a chance to shine.
Chiya is the cover girl of this show, and her almost feral upbringing brings about plenty of funny moments, like her tendency to show her belly whilst apologizing. It’s incredibly cute, as is her energetic and somewhat reckless attitude. From her propensity to be overly affectionate with the other girls, to her uncanny level of animal magnetism, she’s a very charming and likable character. The same thing can also be said of Kon, Koume, and Nono.
Kon’s the serious and straightforward member of the group, yet she’s far from a bore, and together with the jokester of the group,
Nico Koume, they were probably my two favorite characters in the show. Using kokkuri as her method of fortune-telling, Kon’s prim and proper attitude seems a bit out of place compared to the others, especially Koume. Sporting a pendulum that she uses for her divination, Koume is the opposite of Kon, a fun-loving ball of sass that’s a joy to behold.
Last but not least is Nono, who makes up for her extreme shyness with her terrifying ventriloquist-like doll fortune-telling. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds, but it’s every bit as cute (and funny) as it is frightening. Nono’s whispers and squeaks make her beyond adorable, and you can’t help but want to give her a hug. If I had to pick a favorite character, I’d have to go with Koume, but all four of these girls are pretty awesome.
As for the others, Nina (Nono’s older sister) is the girls’ divination teacher, and she fits into the motherly role quite nicely. And if Nina has a motherly vibe, I guess Saku has that slightly ornery and overly strict father vibe. As an officer of Meirochou, she—along with her two underlings—keep the streets clean of indecency, or at least she tries to, as the girls tend to give her problems in this area. And now, on to the yuri aspects of this show.
As gay as Saku’s subordinates are for her, you HAVE TO ship Saku and Nina. You just have to. They’re perfect for each other, and even the others recognize this and think that Saku is Nina’s soulmate. They’re essentially like the husband and wife of the show, and since Meirochou is almost exclusively inhabited by women, it’s no wonder that pretty much everyone is drawn to Saku.
At times, this anime approaches KinMoza levels of yuri, and that makes things even more entertaining. As far as the main cast goes, I think it’s pretty easy to ship Chiya x Kon. Chiya’s wild, rambunctious nature is in stark contrast with Kon’s serious, and level-headed demeanor, yet they go extremely well together. This becomes especially true during Kon’s kokkuri-induced possession at the hands of the fox spirit, which sees Kon drawn to Chiya’s animalistic nature. Actually, you could say that there are a lot of yuri moments sprinkled throughout this anime. Of course, almost all of these moments are mostly for comedic purposes, but that didn’t make them any less entertaining for me. This series still has a ways to go before it can truly be mentioned in the same breath as Yuru Yuri or Kiniro Mosaic in terms of canonical yuri content, but if there’s more to come (like it seems there may be), officially making Saku x Nina canon—as well as further increasing the yuri subtext involving the other girls—might not seem that far-fetched.
All in all, I really enjoyed this cast of characters. I felt like they were all interesting in their own way, showed a lot of personality and charisma, and it certainly didn’t hurt that the numerous yuri moments involved many of them. Their overall chemistry was very nice, so I hope it’s not the last we see of them~
Not that it matters that much in an anime like this, but from an animation standpoint, Urara Meirochou looks like what you’d expect your standard, modern day slice of life anime to look like. Of course, that means heaping helpings of moe, and there’s also more than enough fanservice to go around. Actually, not only is there the equivalent of a “beach episode”, you also have a “hot springs episode” that injects some ecchi into the equation. The most recent slice of life review that we’ve done is for Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days, and as trivial as it may seem, I’d give the edge to this in terms of overall visual quality. But that’s not why people watch shows like these, so just be content knowing that Urara delivers the moe that fans of the genre enjoy oh so much, while also being a bit ecchier than one might think.
I don’t know if you’re aware of the saying “lipstick on a pig”, but in the slice of life genre, most of what gets said in the sound section of these reviews could be viewed as just that. There isn’t anything exceptionally noteworthy or memorable about the sound in this anime, so I really shouldn’t even give off that impression. I think that both the OP and ED are fine, but after a couple of times, I’d just skip right past them. So even though this might not sound like effusive praise, the audio is quite average, yet, like the animation, I don’t think that ultimately matters all that much.
As a bit of a sleeper pick in the winter anime season, Urara Meirochou surpassed my (admittedly pretty low) expectations and became something that I’d like to see more of. The story isn’t complete by any means, and with a nice cast of characters, surprisingly ample amounts of yuri, and a fairly compelling little world of fortune-telling, I foresee another season being quite a bit of fun~