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Shirakiin Ririchiyo… and her dog. Image courtesy of TV Tropes

Inu X Boku SS (literally The Dog and I Secret Service) is an odd little show that I’m not quite sure what to make of.

The Set Up

Ririchiyo Shirakiin is a descendant of a rich and powerful family.  All such families in Japan have a supernatural heritage that manifests as throwbacks to, and possible reincarnations of, the supernatural ancestor.  Ririchiyo is essentially a classic oni, and most of the other main characters represent unique elements of Japanese mythology.

To preserve the positions of these families, the throwbacks receive special treatment to ensure that the luck they bring is remains in the families.  I would argue that this treatment is abusive in at least two cases, including Ririchiyo’s, and is heavily implied to be for most of the characters.

However there is an exclusive block of flats, Ayakashi-Kan, where the scions of these families and their assigned bodyguards, can live more or less in peace away from their families.

Ririchiyo is aware that her upbringing has, at 16 or so, left her with major problems in terms of interacting with other people be they throwbacks or humans.  Ririchiyo therefore leaves the family estate to live in Ayakashi-Kan in an attempt to get over it.

Cue the entrance of the other lead character Soushi Miketsukami, a Nine-Tailed Fox, who becomes Ririchiyo’s initially unwanted bodyguard.

The Relationship

At the core Inu X Boku SS is a slowly developing romance between Ririchiyo and Soushi, a romance that can only grow as Ririchiyo learns to interact with other people in a way that isn’t quite so broken.

This is where Inu X Boku SS shines: Ririchiyo’s acknowledgement of her own flaws, and the justification for them.  I’m not a big fan of the Defrosting Ice Queen trope but having a desire to change, and to grow, as the entire reason for the story to start made a huge difference.

This meant that most of the focus is on Ririchiyo’s growth and back story.  This was fine until the viewer suddenly needs to understand Soushi’s back story.  This is then provided via flashback in an infodump episode – it is a good example of the breed but still felt slightly forced.

It isn’t quite a May-December romance but it does need to be noted that Soushi is considerably older.  That said there’s enough balance and co-dependency for me to rate this as a mostly equal relationship [1].

The Aristocracy

Where Inu X Boku SS doesn’t shine quite so much is an unfortunate implication of the otherwise quite clever world building.

There has on occasion in anime been a tendency to celebrate the aristocracy in a modern society via high schools that exclusively cater to this level of society.  Some examples include Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket [2], Maria-Sama ga Miteru [3] and even Bodacious Space Pirates [4].

However most of these have included entry points for the commoners based on effort, or ability. The classic example is the dirt poor scholarship student Haruhi Fujioka in Ouran High Host.

As far as I can tell Inu X Boku SS doesn’t have these entry points.

The entire set up depends on blood inheritance from supernatural ancestors, and explicitly states that all of the successful Japanese families have this.  The implication is that the upper levels of Japanese society in the Inu X Boku SS universe are a closed set that can’t be entered with effort or ability.

This basically puts a hard upper limit on social mobility, and quite possibly on democracy. I was mostly able to ignore this aspect of Inu X Boku SS but I did feel uncomfortable whenever I noticed it.

The End Credits

Inu X Boku SS has a couple of quirks around the end credits that took a little time to get used to.

Several episodes had a focus character, sometimes Ririchiyo or Soushi, but most of the minor characters got a run.  Whenever this happened an image song for the focus character, complete with custom animation, was used as the ending for that episode.

The second quirk is the amount of plot that would appear between the end credits and the preview for the next episode. Sometimes what came after the end credits completely changed the meaning of the episode.

Naturally this is completely subverted in one episode where the entire plot occurs before the opening credits, and there are no ending credits.

Although amusing I don’t think that this meddling with the standard structure [5] really added much to the story overall.

The Fanservice

I was not impressed by the relatively high level of fanservice, although it never quite crossed the borderline into dropping the show.  However be warned that this may be an issue for some viewers.

The Summary

Overall Inu X Boku SS is a fascinating show, with some very nice character work, but not a great show.  I think I enjoyed it overall, and there were aspects that made me think, but it isn’t one that I’ll be rushing to rewatch.

Inu X Boku SS is above average but not quite good.

[1] Soushi has his own problems, and Ririchiyo played a major part in healing some of the important ones.

[2] Granted that the wealth and influence of the Sohmas in Fruits Basket comes with a nasty curse.

[3] I still don’t know why I like Maria-Sama ga Miteru, but the wealth aspects are somewhat less prominent in that show.

[4] The high school in Bodacious Space Pirates owns a huge solar sailer that used to be a pirate ship.

[5] The most common episode structure I’ve seen is: Tag, Opening, Act A, Eyecatch, Act B, Ending, Preview.