Voice actresses of Onipan’s central trio! give their insights about the original anime. Photo credit: WIT Studio

Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions released a promotional teaser of the spring 2022 anime, Onipan!

Onipan!, as the name implies, will air in April 2022 and will follow three young Oni – usually depicted as trolls or demons in Japanese folklore – as they attempt to restore the tarnished image of their kin with a matching set of pantsu as their auspices .

Produced by Wit Studio – best known for the first three seasons of Attack on Titan, Vinland Saga, and the currently airing Ousama Ranking – Onipan! may be a long way from bloodthirsty Titans and Vikings, but that’s not to say its cute exterior can’t be deceiving. Being an original work, anyone can guess what progression the series can take.

According to the voice cast, their expectations may be exceeded with those who immediately turn down the sugary trailer.

The Onipan! trailer.

Anime Onipan Spring 2022! promises to exceed expectations

As voice actress Yume Nozaki explains, “Oni is generally considered a villain, but if you look at things from the demonic side, you will find new discoveries and everyone will be willing to accept each other.”

In 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 doesn’t stop her from giving the part everything she’s got.

An excerpt from the Onipan!  website where Yume Nozaki shares her thoughts on Onipan!  and voice acting in general.
“I am new to voice acting and I have a lot of fears, but I would like to improve my skills with Tsutsuji.” Photo credit: onipaan! Production commission

And Yume isn’t alone in thinking the spring 2022 animation will turn out to carry a broader message behind its bright colors. Voice actress Mika Negishi has stated, “I think the theme of the coexistence of demons and humans can be applied to modern society…”

Mika’s character, Himawari – whose bold disposition and blonde hair go perfectly with her English name, Sunflower – would certainly agree. Despite being the most temperamental of the bunch, Himawari is described as having a dedicated work ethic that she uses to promote a healthy lifestyle for Oni.

An excerpt from the Onipan!  website where Mika Negishi discusses her thoughts on Onipan!  and voice acting in general.
“I’d like to keep absorbing different things and get stronger as the sunflowers grow.” Photo credit: onipaan! Production commission

Those who are still not sold on the idea that high school students are saving the image of the Oni people need not remain skeptical. Voice actress Nonaka Kokona reminds viewers that there’s more to the Onipan! universe, “There will be many characters other than these three, so I hope you look forward to each broadcast. It’s one of those works that is loved by people of all ages.”

The aloof genius Tsuyukusa – the blue-haired brain of the trio – may be confident in her goals, but Nonaka takes a more humble approach.

An excerpt from the Onipan!  website where Nonaka Kokona discusses her thoughts on Onipan!  and voice acting in general.
“I’m nervous because I’m doing voice work for the first time, but I’m playing around while understanding a character that is full of life.” Photo credit: onipaan! Production commission

The future of Wit Studio has yet to be determined

Given Wit Studio’s track record, it wouldn’t be strange to assume that this seemingly cute and carefree story of Oni high school students is more than meets the eye. If it’s anything like the 2017 anime A Centaur’s Life, Onipan! can explore more than “cute girls doing fun things” in favor of a story that explores dark themes alongside light-hearted day-to-day adventures.

The studio may have moved away from the action-heavy titles they’re known for, though that doesn’t mean they’ve been declaimed.

At the moment there is no information about the plot of Onipan! and the direction it will take. But instead of writing it off entirely as “just another tired show,” the voice cast posts might be something to take to heart.

Narrative, the three Oni girls may be trying to improve the image of demons to the world at large, but Onipan! It just might change the mind of those who believe that a show with cute characters cannot have depth.

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