• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

The Summer 2022 Preview Guide
Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth

How would you rate episode 1 of
Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth ?
Community score: 3.9

What is this?

Chaos has taken hold of the land in Mask of Truth as a conniving general has unlawfully seized the throne of the mighty Yamato Empire. The only ones that stand in his way are a couple of familiar faces who must rally different kingdoms together and fight against the powerful Imperial army. (from the game)

Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth is based on the last game in the Utawarerumono trilogy and streams on Crunchyroll on Sundays.

How was the first episode?

Richard Eisenbeis

In a perfect world, I would have rewatched 2015's Utawarerumono: The False Faces before watching this one. In the years between then and now I have admittedly forgotten much of what happened—namely how Haku met each one of his various companions and many of their behind-the-scenes exploits to protect Yamato from the traitors seeking to usurp it. That said, the one thing I've never forgotten is the show's climax: namely Oshutoru's final, fatal battle and how, in order to prevent the loss of everything they both held dear, Haku picked up his fallen friend's mask and took his place. Of course, the tragedy of this ending is the fact that no one can know that the switch has occurred. Everyone must believe that it was Haku, not Oshutoru, who died on the battlefield that day—including his closest and dearest friends. It's a fantastic setup—and one of the reasons I've been hoping for a sequel for the better part of a decade.

This episode picks up around where the last season left off. We get to see the first days of Haku living someone else's life; from the princess to Oshutoru's own sister, he has to keep up the façade. Only the oni girls know the truth, but their enigmatic nature makes it hard for Haku to connect with them. His support system is almost completely gone, yet, at the same time, it's still there—it's just not his anymore.

Haku's deeply aware of how important Oshutoru is to everyone—after all, he himself looked up to the man. But what he doesn't expect is how much his former allies are affected by his own supposed death. Even when one of them breaks down in the face of his apparent stoicism (he isn't sad for his own death as he is still alive, after all), all he can do is talk about how much he valued the man who actually died. Still, in the end, his friends all choose the path he would have: to stand with Oshutoru for the sake of all of Yamato.

In a lot of ways, this feels far more like an epilogue episode to the last season than the beginning of a new one. Granted, all that we see in this episode is both needed and important to the personal story at the heart of Utawarerumono—but it's hardly the most exciting season premiere out there. I can't imagine anyone coming into this series fresh and wanting to stay around after this episode. Hell, I can't even imagine them being able to figure out the basics of what is actually going on. It's all just way too complex—especially when the episode opens with a lore dump that provides more obfuscation than clarity thanks to the poetic way it imparts its information. Still, as a lapsed fan, I enjoyed this episode. Though, if I do end up reviewing this one weekly, I'm going to have to make sure to go back to watch The False Faces again before I do so.

James Beckett

Normally for Preview Guide, I wouldn't cover a sequel season to a series I wasn't intimately familiar with beforehand, but sometimes I actually find it valuable to dive headfirst into the deep end of a new season, just to see if it's friendly to newcomers. In the case of Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth, I'm not a complete newb, either; I have seen a little bit of both the original 2006 anime and its 2015 follow-up, Utawarerumono: The False Faces, though I never finished either. Plus, it's been nearly seven years since that last season came out, so I thought Mask of Truth might be the kind of follow-up that also works as a jumping on point for new fans, too.

Was I right? Not at all, no, but that isn't really the show's fault, and to its credit, the premiere of Mask of Truth does do a decent job of re-establishing the setting and characters, and getting the audience caught up on what everyone's current goals are. I recognized some characters, like Oshtor and Nosuri, and the recap at the top of the episode kind of explains what's going on with our main man Haku (though I was admittedly still very confused about his and Oshtor's deal until partway through the episode, which tells you just how much of the last season I missed out on). Point being, while the plot of this story is perfectly comprehensible so far even if you haven't recently binged every episode of the previous seasons, there's so much context and character detail that is understandably left as assumed knowledge. All of this is to say that under no circumstances should you watch Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth if you're trying to decide whether this franchise is for you. This isn't a beginner-friendly jumping-on point; this is the second half of a sequel to a decades-old fantasy anime that is getting ready to bring its story to a close.

That said, none of this makes Mask of Truth a bad anime; far from it, actually. I actually appreciate how much stuff I've missed out on, and how evident it was that our main hero is in a completely different place than where we met him at the beginning of False Faces. So many modern fantasy anime are shameless power fantasies that are content to simply riff on tired video-game cliches and add members to their formless heroes' harems, but Utawarerumono is a capital-E Epic Fantasy. This is a tale that spans generations and encompasses an entire world of interesting characters and intriguing politics. There's not a stats menu or cheat code in sight, and I couldn't be happier.

I actually don't mind ex post facto spoilers, and seeing where Haku and the gang are now makes me more interested in going back and giving the first two seasons a second go. The show's production values are solid, too. Though the passage of time and the switch-up in the creative team means that Mask of Truth still feels noticeably different compared to its predecessor, White Fox is clearly working hard to preserve the overall aesthetic and vibe of the franchise. I can't speak to how well the anime is adapting the games themselves, but I feel like fans of the older seasons will be right at home, here. And if you're curious about Utawarerumono, and maybe looking for a new long fantasy story to sink your teeth into, I'd recommend giving this franchise a shot. Just make sure you don't start with this season.

discuss this in the forum (216 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

back to The Summer 2022 Preview Guide
Season Preview Guide homepage / archives