The year is 1863 and as Japan's long festering wounds of political discord erupt into violent waves of street clashes and murder, the Tokugawa Shogunate sends a new force of masterless samurai called the Roshigumi to the aid of the Aizu forces in Kyoto. However the new "police" are anything but a cohesive force and assassination has already split them into two opposing factions. The stronger is led by the brutal Serizawa Kamo and the lesser by the more honorable but less assertive Isami Kondo. It is into this pack of wolves that Ryunosuke Ibuki is dragged by the rabid Serizawa. Forced to be a virtual slave by blood debt, he hates the samurai and everything they stand for. But as he sees how the other half of the samurai live, he begins to believe that there may still be a chance, for both himself and Japan, if only Kondo will step up and take down the mad dog Serizawa!
You'd think after being traumatized by how bad the first two series were, I wouldn't think twice of going anywhere near this franchise again but no, apparently I'm a masochist so I decided to torture myself further by watching this. Actually I’m kidding, it's really not that bad. It has its shortcomings which I will mention in the review but I found myself genuinely curious and enjoying this. Maybe because there's no annoying Chizuru? I couldn’t stand her in the first two series so I guess without her I managed to enjoy the bishies more.
My apologies for the weird ordering, this is a slight revision
to the original I wrote on my blog and on there I the character review first before the story.
Review contains my crazy ramblings and also spoilers, so if you are easily affected by those then I don’t recommend reading.
As someone who has seen the first two series, I already had prior knowledge of the characters and this series remains fairly true to their personality. Though with that being said, it didn't always start off this way. Hijikata, Okita, Heisuke and Ryunosuke are the few who undergo a major change in this series and the 12 episodes cover quite a bit of their back story to before they joined the Roshigumi and then later becoming the Shinsengumi we know. Mind you I was pretty shocked at how naive Okita used to be, so totally unlike him.
Yes Okita. The guy who talks about killing or cutting someone down literally every single time trouble arises USED TO BE A CUTE NAIVE LITTLE BOY. OMG. LIKE WHAT. HE WAS SO ADORABLE IT'S UNBELIEVABLE. Anyway his back story was his sister left him at Kondo's dojo and he wants to repay Kondo by serving him as a useful samurai because he was apparently the only one who didn't "pity" him. So yeah lonely kid meets a kind person. The end. JK, the first half of the series was mainly dedicated to developing Okita's character. He starts off pretty content with himself since he was the top student at the dojo, until his spar with Saito and he loses. Nevermind all's cool beans. Then later when giving Serizawa the epic glare of death because he insulted Kondo, Serizawa scoffs at how lacking his stare is in intimidating his opponents and mentions how it can't possibly compare to Hijikata's glare of death which literally was a glare of death that gave him the chills. Of course, Okita manages to hold his temper in fairly well until Serizawa casually mentions how even Saito was more intimidating since he's clearly giving off vibes of someone who's killed before. Aaaand that was the last straw, Okita is now jealous of how Saito has killed people before and he hasn't. YEAH. THANKS FOR CREATING BLOODTHIRSTY OKITA, SERIZAWA. I think from here on, we know exactly where Okita's story is going.
Heisuke. Adorable little boy who's always upbeat and bubbly, blurts out the wrong things all the time but is the type that'll befriend anyone and is liked by most because of his cheerful personality. He was the first friend Ryunosuke made when he came to Edo with Serizawa. He is fairly strong in terms of skill and strength but lacks resolve to kill as he mentions to Kodo that he would be delighted if he never had to kill. His story was fairly short and mostly consisted of him strengthening his resolve for the Roshigumi by killing a runaway Fury (Rasetsu) after letting it escape the first time. Aside from that, nothing interesting happens.
Hijikata the Demon vice-commander. Would you believe this guy used to be so nice? They even called him "soft" in the anime. And dafuq I never knew he had a sister either. LOL. Well in this series he's mostly laughed at by Serizawa for lacking the resolve to become a demon to achieve his dreams despite the fact Serizawa acknowledges his ability and strength. So for most of the episodes he's usually being all angry and death-glarey at Serizawa who just smirks back.
Ryunosuke the useless, weak protagonist of this series. You know, I've been wondering since the start, WHY EXACTLY IS HE IN THIS STORY??! He grows a lot as a character but he's more like a side character who appears all the time without any real purpose. You could cut him out the story and nothing would change, that's how much he lacks in making a difference. The others will still change regardless of whether he existed or not and he doesn't even appear after the Shinsengumi is formed in S1, DA POINT IN THAT?
So yep good character development for those 4. Shinpachi, Harada, Saito and Kondou don't really change or deviate much from their personalities in S1 so there's nothing worth mentioning about them.
I know I should have done this the other way BUT WHO CARES. The story is set before the events of Hakuouki S1 and as mentioned earlier talks about how the Shinsengumi was formed since they were originally called the Roshigumi at the time they left Edo for Kyoto. And heck, it sure wasn't easy. Getting your name out there and becoming well known takes time and a lot of money. They have no sponsors to back their funding so how are they supposed to get by while trying to build a name for themselves? Serizawa comes to the rescue and decides the best way to get money is of course....grab them off the people. How nice. And their motto was to PROTECT THE PEOPLE, so of course the Roshigumi's name ends up being dragged through the mud and hated by the people. Tough life guys. And while I do agree with the guys how Serizawa was a bit extreme in his methods, they all know somewhere that if it wasn't for him, they wouldn't have even survived to form the Shinsengumi. He was merely playing the villain they all refused to except he acts like such a bamf, that you can't help but hate him at the start. So yeah story was pretty much how they got the Roshigumi/Shinsengumi name out, found Aizu as a sponsor and how the Fury were made and yada yada yada. You get the jist. Oh the interesting thing was we actually did get to see Kodo Yukimura, Chizuru's "father" who I found pretty emotionless (actually he sorted looked a bit like a sadist) when he didn't even flinch during the first Fury experiment and they also added small bits here and there about how he wrote letters to Chizuru and this ties in with the start of Hakuouki S1 where Chizuru leaves to find him because she was no longer receiving his letters. SEE IT ALL LINKS UP SOMEHOW. WE EVEN GET A CAMEO APPEARANCE OF KAZAMA TO GIVE US A SAMPLE OF THE NEXT SERIES. Though his only lines were to tell Serizawa how he was dying. Ah well, he wasn't really meant to be significant in this story anyway.
Um..as to why I gave 7, well personally I thought the series could have been longer. I mean for a start I would have loved more back stories on the other guys, namely Harada and Saito since they're two of my favourites. And not knowing how they met with the others in the first place left me sorta gutted, especially Harada who REALLY DID feel like a side character. //le sobs. Well at least they didn't try to squash all their stories into a 12 episode series, that would be disastrous. And also, THEY NEVER SHOWED WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE MAIKO RYUNOSUKE LIKED! WHERE THE HECK DID SHE GO HUH??? Okay I lied, she left the Shimbara (or w/e the red light district was called) but that was it. No "I'MMA FIND RYUNOSUKE" OR "I'MMA MAKE A NEW LIVING DOING BLAH BLAH." Nope. Just a "thank you for looking after me" to her sisters and off she goes somewhere. Charming. So yeah story was decent but not outstanding or anything.
Adapted from the awesome art by Kazuki Yone (omg have you seen the CGs for the games she designs? they're so *&F*&$*%H gorgeous and beautiful it has me going kyaaaaaa at how good the bishies look. *__* ohmygawd, I could literally stare all day at some of the CGs *cough*) so of course it'll look good. I used to be pretty sketchy on Studio DEEN's animations since they're renowned for being bad but this was done decently. Well I guess it is a 2012 anime so the quality standard MUST have improved somehow. And bishies. Can never get enough of pretty bishies. WHAT. DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT, I CAN'T HELP IT IF I'M A FANGIRL. XD But yeah pretty art was one of the reasons I liked this show.
Eh, was pretty decent for the most part. Kinda average though. Especially during some of the scenes where it just sorta fades out along with the moon fading out to black LOL. Soundtrack didn't really stick with me that much. The OP/ED was nice though. I'll give some points for that.
I wanted to watch this for 3 reasons.
1) Didn't have Chizuru
2) Since I saw the first two series and,
3) Because I'm currently playing the psp game. (LOL)
The main off putting factor from the previous series was just how annoying and useless Chizuru was so without her, I found the series much more enjoyable even if there's no romance. Honestly speaking, despite hating the first two series I did enjoy watching this show. It didn't "WOW" or amaze me much but it's a series that I felt was worth the time. Not something I'd recommend instantly if someone asked for a good anime but it's good enough to pass time and I've always been a sucker for Jap history animes so I couldn't help but watch it out of curiosity for the setting. If you hated the first two series but love this kinda setting I’d definitely recommend trying this series out. It’s much better and actually feels more realistic.
The Hakuoki seasons were truly beautiful.
After watching the last episode today all the pieces now come together about the rasetsu and what kind of person Serizawa-san truly was.
The sword fighting, and art incorperated into a grander picture made this anime truly amazing.
The word "Pride" is an essential word in the Samurai world- and in this story we follow a "Dog" yes a long haired dog who doesn't have any resolve to even hold the sword in his belt on his journey and also someone who also has zero pride to move forward with life.
This "Banken's" name is Ryuunousuke- and after being half-beaten to death he gets saved by the Roshigumi's captain: another annoying man which i had no concern at first}into the all famous Kondo-Hijikata group also known as the "Shinsengumi"
Story:As the previous anime the main chara is a male lead this time-so no one
can criticize that it's solely intended for girls. Any fan can watch it regardless their gender-but the point is like the helpless female lead the male lead is also helpless- and a coward but with a contrasting element. The boy is of real Samurai blood- and he is actively involved with a group who are envious with the Samurai-line age but are actually farmers or doctors or what not. When Serizawa-han rescued Ruunosuke and he get accepted into the group he learns what it's to be a man with "Warrior's Spirit"- this one is filled with plot twists and sacrificial.
Art: Is admirable. Characters were drawn beautifully-all the females were considered with care- the Opening was done carefully representing the emotions of the Shinsengumi- eg: Heisuke(with high resolve)- being represented with a sunset is totally applicable. In conclusion it was well done symbolically.
Sound: Dubbing was superb- all voices match the wonderful characters. Average Opening and Ending-but they have the beat. Could have done more for the background soundtracks- so i took a point out.
Character:We tackle the pasts of the Shinsengumi members- on how they lead their childhood or how they got their resolves- but of course only a few characters were privileged enough for that. Be if there were more episodes- i could have given it a nine. The most controversial characters were Kazama and this Serizawa whom you'll meet anew in this season. It also actually shows how comrades take care of each other- you also learn how hard it's for a soldier to be a "soldier" initially. The personalities are no different- it has all the essential characters for an epic plot line, you see Chiefs pitying their subordinates and showing mercy indirectly, you need to decipher them. You have to dwell deep inside their emotions to find out.
Enjoyment: I'd say i didn't enjoy this much as the first two seasons- i dunno it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that the previous seasons were of the otome variety. I think it's because I've watched this straight on after the Sequel since this is a prequel. For me the epicness washed over during the 6/7 episodes- where the male lead learns finally how to fight and show some maturity- the outburst is at the last episode which i was like "If you do this- I'll forever loose respect of you Okita!" with tears in my eyes of course.(when you'll watch it you'll know) is so intense!
Overall: Definitely an anime to watch after a working out when you're tired lol or if you are eternally bored. It literally shows the basics of being a Samurai- and how hard it is to kill a person- it's not easy. The Shinsengumi is an honourable group who were real historical figures who fought with their utmost strength to show that status or bloodline has no respect whatsoever for being a warrior- you just need hard work and resolve.
Also this anime has totally respected the true-wikipedia-facts of the Shinsengumi which means that it had achieved total justice to the characters.
I don't really understand why they chose this to be the third season for Hakuouki, being for the fact that this should have been the first one to start the series off with. Other than that have watched two seasons of it and finishing up with the third.