With five episodes aired, Ookami-san and her Seven Companions has, to many, shown itself to be a slickly-produced but generally vapid bit of entertainment: while its fairy-tale allusions give it a lush and full world in which to play out, little of any real significance has been done with them. However, just below the surface, Ookami-san seems about to bubble over with some truly intriguing ideas. For instance, in episode 05, Liszt’s speech detailing the workings of the Aragami Syndicate has set a perfect stage for a treatise on the conflicts of personal freedom and the importance of societal infrastructures.
But perhaps most interesting is the show’s protagonist, Ookami - that is, the fact that Ookami is the protagonist. Ookami-san clearly adheres to the moe aesthetic, and shows signs of the ever-more-popular adherence to an Azuma-esque database model of character definition, albeit played with in its grounding every character in an established cultural myth. However, in contrast to most shows in this vein, while the series is clearly marketed toward males the central character is female.
In nearly all anime of the moe aesthetic, if named male characters occur at all (in contrast to, say, K-ON! or Strike Witches), a male character is almost certainly the protagonist; that is, whether or not they are the most important element of the plot’s progression, the story unfolds from their point of view and is framed around their personal struggle. Zero no Tsukaima is about Saito; Angel Beats! is about Otonashi; even Chu-Bra!! is told largely from the perspective of Komachi seeing Nayu’s world from the outside.
This is a pattern one can observe in nearly any medium, genre and cutlure - if a work is marketed to a specific gender, its protagonist’s gender will very often reflect that. However, in recent anime marketed at an adult male audience, this has become not just a cultural custom but in many senses a defining part of the genre, largely because of its friendliness to viewer insertion. The ever-growing presence of moe fetishism and escapism in both the creative and marketing aspects of the moe aesthetic hinge upon the ability for the viewer to imagine (primarily) himself in the shoes of the protagonist.
But Ookami-san quite clearly revolves around Ookami herself, and not Ryoushi, the strongest viewer-insert candidate. The plot reflection moments are in Ookami’s room with Ringo, and narrative elements are arranged such that Ookami fills the classic action protagonist role. For example, in the school-storming scene in episode 05, the show plays the common pattern of whittling the team down to just one character from each side in the final confrontation - here, that character is Ookami-san, and Ryoushi is simply one amongst many heroic sacrifices made to help her reach her goal.
Moreover, Ryoushi’s defining character attributes are all suggestive of a supporting character: a distinctive accent, a crippling fear played for laughs, and a degree of explicit sincerity which is strikingly rare among male protagonists. He is defined and given concrete personality to a point which makes him, if not useless, then of very narrow use as a viewer-insert. He is a sympathetic character, but in the way that a real character is, rather than a character designed to be the focal point of the audience’s fantasies.
Ookami-san isn’t a show about an average high school boy trying to win over an outwardly-cold girl, but a show about a girl trying to deal with her growing feelings for a boy who confessed to her. The fantasy is not served to the viewer on a silver platter.
However, Ookami is still very clearly sexualized, and presented as an object of desire - this is, after all, a show aimed at men. Her fanservice-friendly uniform and the narrator’s regular comments on her bust size clearly mark her as a character who is being objectified for the audience’s titillation, even as she is the locus of the show’s emotional narrative. A clear parallel in this regard from the shoujo market is D.N.Angel, an ongoing manga and 2003 anime: the main character Niwa Daisuke, and his alter-ego Dark, are the point from which the story is told and the character around whom the romance revolves. However, Dark is - as a defining character trait - visually a tall and atractive bishounen of the sort shoujo manga normally use as the subject of fanservice and objectification.
In not just ignoring but actively subverting the established gender mores of their readership, both Ookami-san and D.N.Angel force the viewer to consider their relationship with the work more closely, without necessarily being aggressive or deconstructive. Rather than attempting to destroy the viewer’s fantasy altogether, they opt to explore and interrogate that fantasy, on the viewer’s own terms.