Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions has dropped a promotional teaser of the Spring 2022 anime, Onipan!
Set to air in April 2022, Onipan!, as its name implies, follows three young Oni — typically depicted as trolls or demons in Japanese folklore — in their attempt to repair the tarnished image of their kin using a matching set of pantsu as their aegis.
Produced by Wit Studio — known best for the first three seasons of Attack on Titan, Vinland Saga, and the currently airing, Ousama Ranking — Onipan! may be a far cry from bloodthirsty titans and Vikings, but that’s not to say its cute exterior can’t be deceiving. As an original work, it’s anyone’s guess what progression the series may take.
According to the voice cast, those immediately dismissive of the sugary trailer may have their expectations exceeded.
Spring 2022 anime Onipan! promises to defy expectations
As voice actress Yume Nozaki explains it, “Oni are generally regarded as a bad guy, but when you look at things from the demon side, you will find new discoveries, and everyone will be willing to accept each other.”
Playing the role of Tsutsuji — a cheerful 14-year-old with bright-red twintails and a burning curiosity about the world around her — Yume’s experience is mainly as an idol while part of Sakura Gakuin where she first met her castmates. That hasn’t stopped her from giving the role everything she’s got.
And Yume isn’t alone in thinking that the spring 2022 anime will prove to carry a broader message behind its bright colors. Voice actress Mika Negishi has stated, “I think that the theme of coexistence between demons and humans can be applied to modern society…”
Mika’s character, Himawari — whose bold nature and blonde hair fits perfectly with her English name, Sunflower — would surely agree. Despite being the most temperamental of the bunch, Himawari has been described as having a dedicated work ethic which she uses to promote healthy lifestyles for Oni.
Those still not sold on the idea of middle schoolers saving the image of the Oni populace needn’t remain skeptical. Voice actress Nonaka Kokona reminds viewers that there is more at play in the Onipan! universe, “Many characters other than these three will appear, so I hope you look forward to each broadcast. It is such a work that is loved by people of all ages.”
Aloof genius Tsuyukusa — the blue-haired brains of the trio — may be self-assured in her goals, but Nonaka takes a more modest approach.
The future of Wit Studio has yet to be determined
Given Wit Studio’s track record, it wouldn’t be out of line to assume this seemingly cute and carefree tale of Oni middle schoolers is more than meets the eye. If it’s anything like the 2017 anime A Centaur’s Life, Onipan! may explore more than ‘cute girls doing cute things’ in favor of a narrative that explores darker themes alongside light-hearted daily adventures.
The studio may have stepped away from the action-heavy titles they’re known for, although that’s not to say they’ve been declawed.
As of now, information about Onipan!’s plot and the direction it will take is unknown. But rather than writing it off entirely as ‘just another moe show’, perhaps the voice cast’s messages are ones to take to heart.
Narratively, the three Oni girls may be trying to improve the image of demons to the world at large, but Onipan! just might change the mind of those believing that a show with cutesy characters can’t have depth.