This post was made after watching episode 11 of Itsuwari no Kamen and any comments on InK made at this point may change in the future. Some spoilers for both shows will be included.
Pacing is frequently discussed in anime circles, and rightfully so. It plays a vital role in the way a story is shown to the audience. However all too often these circles fall into the trap of associating fast pacing with good pacing and slow pacing with bad pacing. This is likely due to the fact that many slow-paced shows are considered boring by most viewers. I’d like to show that this certainly is not always the case however, and I’d like to do so by looking at the 2006 anime Utawarerumo and its currently airing sequel, Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen a show for which the pacing is frequently criticized.
The original Utawarerumono, from here on referred to as UWM, is known to some extent for having incredibly awkward pacing. The show moves at a breakneck pace from the very beginning, before slowing down near the midpoint in order to introduce new characters. The show accelerates near the end in order to finish the show in the 26 episodes it has. Dips in hype are a commonly used tactic for keeping viewers invested in a series, but in UWM it is used poorly and comes across more as stilted than as naturally changing in pace. The result of this type of pacing is a lack of time to fully develop the characters or to focus heavily on any of the individual conflicts. Even those parts which were given more time, such as the initial rebellion arc feel rushed and fit for another few episodes. The biggest flaw of this pacing can be seen in the ending of the show, which all takes place in two episodes. For some shows this would be acceptable, but UWM contains multiple major twists and plot revelations within those two episodes. Little time is given to the viewer to process this new information, and the ending feels notably rushed because of it. Every episode to the show certainly feels important, but its at the cost of leaving out most things which could develop the characters but not the plot.
Itsuwari no Kamen, from here on referred to as InK, is incredibly slow when compared to its precursor. Plot developments occur sporadically as opposed to multiple major events happening each episode, and most of the show so far has been character introduction and interaction. While agitating some viewers hoping for the fast-paced, action-filled show of the original UWM, InK is much better paced due to these changes.
Many of the main characters in InK feel more developed at this point than the main characters in UWM outside of Hakuoro and Eruruu felt at the end of the show. Nearly episode is character interaction, so more time has been given to develop the characters with the absence of the action which was so prevalent in the first series. Because the show so far has been paced as a slice of life series, those major events that do and will happen feel that much more meaningful and out of the ordinary. This is a direct result of the fact that the nation of Yamato is in peacetime, unlike the constant war which Tusukuru was put through during the original series. An action-packed and plot-filled series wouldn’t fit tonally within the world for this show. When the action does come, it will be obvious how wrong everything that’s happening is.
That’s not to say InK has perfect pacing. While the slice of life style episodes fit the show’s current atmosphere, there have been a few too many episodes which seemed like filler content. Some of these episodes fail to even develop the characters, and these are the ones to the real detriment of the pacing. Despite the existence of these episodes the show still feels much more naturally paced than the original UWM, and I can feel safe in that there’s no clearly apparent missing content in this show.
What do you think? If you’ve watched UWM and are watching InK, which one do you prefer the pacing for? Whether you agree or disagree with my thesis here I’d like to hear your thoughts.