Saturday, 10 December 2011

Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan Anime Review

Season 1 of Hakuouki. Quite the enjoyable anime.

I'm sorry Toshi. I no likey you.
I'm keeping the synopsis short, since the anime takes place over several months and years therefore it's simpler to just give you the premise.

Contains spoilers. You have been warned.

Synopsis/Story:

Chizuru Yukimura is a young girl who heads to Kyoto in search of her missing father. While there, she witnesses a fight between two Rasetsu (fake oni) and members of the Shinsengumi (sexy samurais). The Shinsengumi take her into custody, contemplating killing her. However, once they learn that she is in fact the daughter of the doctor they are searching for, they decide to keep her close and under surveillance. The story follows Chizuru and the Shinsengumi in their battles aiding the shogunate.


Characters:

I would say that the characters are probably the best thing about the anime...however the lack of character development bothered me quite a bit. Who knows? This might change in season 2. Chizuru, most of the time, is the typical damsel in distress. Thankfully, she isn't as annoying as most. Though she did start to get on my nerves near the end. The members of the Shinsengumi...well...are stereotypical. The super mean guy who's actually soft inside, the scary guy who's actually constantly joking about killing you, the comedy trio, the suspicious looking one who you know is bound to do some effed up thing, the stoic and quiet one, and the one you just don't care about all that much.

Now then, a run down of the main Shinsengumi members, and Chizuru.

Yukimura Chizuru:  Chizuru is the heroine/damsel in distress of the series. She goes to Kyoto in search of her missing father, Koudou Yukimura. Unknown to Chizuru, her father under orders from the Shogunate develops the "ochimizu", an elixir that increases the drinker's healing abilities, speed, and strength but which also turns the drinker into a Rasetsu/a fake oni. You eventually find out that she's actually an oni of pure blood decent.

Hijikata Toshizo: Toshizo is the Vice-commander of the Shinsengumi and makes most of the Shinsengumi's decisions. He is called the Demon Vice-Commander and is both feared and respected by his men. He is the one who brought Chizuru back to the Shinsengumi headquarters the night she witnessed a Rasetsu on the loose. He is responsible for her welfare, and even though he acts as if this were to his dismay, he cares for Chizuru's safety, and is often shown protecting her during battles. Hence, the super mean guy who's actually soft inside.

Okita Souji: Souji is the First Division Captain and an exceptional swordsman. Half way through the season you find out that he has begun to suffer from tuberculosis. He is later visited by Nagumo Kaoru, who is 1) not so important, 2) psychotic, 3) Chizuru's older twin brother. He gives Souji a bottle of Ochimizu as a cure for his tuberculosis. Driven by guilt at being incapacitated by his illness, and the fact that he cannot exact revenge for Kondou, Souji drinks the elixir. Although he becomes a Rasetsu, the Shinsengumi discover that he does not benefit from accelerated healing when wounded by silver bullets/weapons, thus discovering the weakness of Rasetsu. He is the scary guy who's actually constantly joking about killing you.

Saito Hajime: Saito is the leader of the Third Division and a master of the left hand sword technique. He is silent and taciturn but also incredibly loyal, polite, and wise. He often analyzes the situation before attacking to figure out which actions are necessary to complete the mission. Saito left the Shinsengumi apparently to join Itou's group, but later we find out out that he was actually infiltrating Itou's group for information concerning the latter's plans. He's the stoic and quiet one.

Harada Sanosuke: Harada is the Tenth Division Captain and prefers the spear to the sword, but he is seen carrying both. He has a fierce rivalry with Kyō Shiranui, pitting his spear against Shiranui's pistol. Harada is one of the more cheerful  members of the Shinsengumi. He is usually making jokes with Shinpachi and loves to make others smile in rather sad and painful situations. However, he is very quick to get angry, but also very loyal and friendly. Harada serves Kondou as personal adviser. He is also a fencing master....And the sexiest of the bunch. I go into fangirl mode for him. Part of the comedy trio.

Nagakura Shinpachi: Shinpachi is the Second Division captain of the Shinsengumi. He is usually very cheerful, especially when he is with his comrades. He is especially close to Harada and together they often pick on Heisuke. He is very skilled with the sword. On the other hand, he is a borderline alcoholic, and a womanizer. Part of the comedy trio.

Toudou Heisuke : Heisuke is a young member of the Shinsengumi. He is around the same age as Chizuru. He is specially close to Shinpachi and Sanosuke. He leaves the Shinsengumi for a while, following Itou along with Saitou, but later returns. He ends up taking the ochimizu to recover from near-fatal injuries. Part of the comedy trio.

Yamanami Keisuke "Sannan" : Usually called "Sannan-san", he is Vice-commander of the Shinsengumi, along with Hijikata. He is a well known scholar and is also a ruthless tactician. However, he is kind and caring, albeit a bit reserved. After an injury which resulted in him being unable to use his left arm, he becomes cold and distant. He goes on to research and improve on the Ochimizu in secret in order to overcome its side effects and be able to wield a katana once more. He eventually consumes the Ochimizu and becomes a Rasetsu, in charge of the Shinsengumi's Rasetsu Unit. This guy is the suspicious looking one who you know is bound to do some effed up thing.

Isami Kondou: Kondou is the Commander of the Shinsengumi. He is very emotional, but despite this, he has the trust, respect, and loyalty of his men. He is close to the divison captains, and loves drinking. He is a good man, albeit, a bit reckless sometimes. He is the one you just don't care about all that much.

Damsel in Distress
"Mean but nice" guy
"I'll kill you" guy
"Stoic and quiet" guy


"Sexy comedy trio" 
"Hot comedy trio" guy


"Cute comedy trio" guy
"Suspicious" guy


"No one cares" guy



Thoughts:
Well, it's been a while since I watched a Samurai anime. Truthfully told, Hakuouki's first season is a wonderful anime to watch. It's packed with action scenes and is exciting all the way through. However, one of its clearly weak points is the lack of character development. Almost zero explanation about people's pasts, and most of them stay the same throughout the entire anime. It's not THAT big a deal, however it stands out more than Ghost in the Shell's lack of character dev. I think I'd have given it a 10/10 if the characters development a fair amount. In the end, I gave it a 9/10. 

I'll watch and review season 2 later on. Off to watch Soul Eater for now~!! I'll catch up with the blog posts for Phi Brain, Fate/Zero and the Fairy Tail manga in a bit.

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