Akane Motomiya and her friends Tenma and Shimon are pulled by a demon into another world, where Akane becomes the Priestess of the Dragon God. The people of this world tell her that she is the only one who can stop the demons from taking over; meanwhile, the demons want to use her power for their own ends. Luckily, Akane has the Hachiyou, eight men with powers of their own who are sworn to protect the Dragon Priestess.
#1: "flowin' ~Ukigomo~" by Yuu Asakawa and Houko Kuwashima #2: "Tsuioku no Mori ni Sasagu" by Shinichiro Miki (ep 7) #3: "Millefeuille Dream" by Kouki Miyata (ep 15) #4: "Kazemachi Tsuki ni Fuku Kaze wa" by Shigeru Nakahara (ep 20) #5: "Kageri no Fuuin Hachiyo-Sho Version" by Akira Ishida (ep 23)
Harukanary Toki no Naka de ~Hachiyo Shou~ is a dating sim-gone-anime type story, that leads any fangirl into a world of hot men, and engaging story. This anime, though only 26 episodes, I can easily see as an instant classic.
Harukanary Toki no Naka de ~Hachiyo Shou~ is the story of a modern day girl, Akane, and her two friends Shimon and Tenma. On the way to school one day, Akane is called to the world of Kyou as the "Priestess of Ryuujin" in the country of Kyou. Shimon and Tenma attempt to stop her from being pulled in, but fail, and join her as
Akane must gather the eight hachinyou of the four gods to help her protect Kyou from Akram, an evil demon out to take control of the world.
The purpose of my rating is though as the story goes along, it gets better, the basic plot reminded me way to much of Fushigi Yuugi.
The animation style fits the series well. While it\'s not the most top notch, it does have well done colouring, and nicely done backgrounds and landscapes. While some of the colour scheming seems a bit odd in the clothing, the show is based off an game, so they did remain true to the original style.
I enjoyed the music in this series quite a bit. The opening theme is incredibly catchy, with a good ending theme that matches the opening. The in series music was well done, and I did enjoy the occasional snippets of character image themes.
Though we did not hear Akane\'s song, or for that matter, two of the four villians, it did give us a taste of the characters themselves, because they occured in their \'special\' episodes. All the characters were decent singers as well, which is always a bonus.
This is where the series truly ranks above and beyond. While the series makes me think of Fushigi Yuugi, it is above and beyond in the character developement. All the characters got an episode or two to themselves, and they did their best to keep no one from disappearing in the shadows.
While I was reminded of other anime characters (Tenma was lovingly nicknames \'Kyo\', Shimon was for awhile known as \'Shimizu\' and Akane by \'Kahoko\') each character did develope well, and had their own personality. While Tenma bugged me with how much he looked and acted like Kyo from Fruits Basket, I suppose he was a necessary character since many of the other characters had a bit more toned down personalities.
The anime also favourited Tenma, and Yasuaki, I found. Tenma was favoured as a possible love interest, while Yasuaki was favoured as a simply cool character. Even though these two were favourites, everyone else did develope still.
I at first was a bit unsure of this series because of my obvious bias towards it being a Fushigi Yuugi rip, the series, in my opinion, developed better in many aspects. The characters in this all developed, while in Fushigi Yuugi, some characters pretty well disappeared. The music in both series\' are well placed, but I feel the this series did better in their use of it\'s mood effecting power. Though I did have one fairly major issue with this series, I do feel my enjoyment was at its highest by the end of the series.
Overall / My Comments / My Feelings
Overall, it was a well thought out, and developed story. I enjoy the characters Eisen, Yasuaki, and Shimon the most, but of course I can\'t think of anyone I truly didn\'t like (other than their annoying mascot-like friend..)
My major issue with the series is the four gods. In actual history, they were known as \'The Genbu Turtle of the North\', \'The Azure Dragon of the East\', \'The Red Bird/Pheonix of the South\', and \'The White Tiger of the East\'. In Fushigi Yuugi, Yuu Watase CREATED the names Genbu, Seriyu, Suzaku, and Byakko for the Gods. This series used those names, which... I suppose is okay, but are technically the rights of Watase. Oh well, no real harm done.
The one thing that hindered my enjoyment of the series at the beginning however, was Tenma. He looks, and acts SO much like Kyo, I always referred to him as Kyo as I watched the series. I didn\'t know his real name for a while because I was calling him Kyo. Also, Shimon and Akane look similar to Keiichi Shimizu and Kahoko Hino of La Corda. Another ehhhh...
However, some of the character similarities I embraced. Such as Yasuaki being like a completely personality-less Chichiri. Or perhaps Eisen reminding me so strongly of Amiboshi at first because of his flute. Should I mention Yorihisa looking so similar to historical pretty boy Ranmaru Mori when shown in his flashbacks? (I\'m referring to the Koei interpetation of Ranmaru).
As my sister had mentioned, I greatly enjoyed the lack of \'friend gone evil rival\' in this series that most teleport to another world stories seem to have. Though Ran\'s appearance kind of turned out to be like that, she wasn\'t half as bad as some other stories (*coughYuicough*).
All in all, I reccomend this anime to anyone. I do mean that. It\'s not so overly Shojo that a guy will be scared off, and it\'s not so overly Shonen that some girls will loose their attention span. Their is a good mix of fighting along with a bit of sexual tension (though nothing comes out of this in the end). I personally think any guy will simply enjoy the coolness that is Yasuaki, he is also very appealing to us fangirls. The series brings a bit of both worlds into a good mix, and is being delivered for us to watch. So do it.
Harukanaru's plot--or rather, lack thereof--bothered me. Aside from the premise, which has to be taken with a grain of salt due to its inherent cliche nature [teenage girl is transported to magical era: see Twelve Kingdoms, Inuyasha, Fushigi Yuugi--all published before Harukanaru, firmly establishing the genre], the plot is badly constructed, forcing the story along at a jerky pace. The revelations were utterly predictable, and the only thing that was surprising was the lack of ingenuity and bewildering logic of some of the so-called "twists." I was never actually clear on the basic motivations of good and evil, because they were never actually stated. It's
clear what the characters are doing--finding the Hachiyou, finding seals, causing angst/consternation--but they never say why.
The strongest thing this series has going for it is the characters, which, as it's based on an otome game, isn't terribly surprising. The main male characters are all at least a little engaging, despite how easily they are pigeon-holed into stereotypes; I found myself having sympathy for them anyway, increasingly over the course of the series as they each got a bit of backstory to bolster them. Akane, however, inspired nothing in me. As she is supposed to be the player-character in the game, I'm supposed to identify with her and feel her pain and cheer for her success. I found myself cheering for the Hachiyou because I actually liked them. Akane is erratic and nonsensical, blushing and worrying over the Hachiyou one minute, and then obsessing over her completely unexplained, irrational love for Akuram the next. She says she wants to go home, but she never says why--she never even gives an indication that she misses her family or her classmates [...does she actually have a family? or, like. friends?], and so at the end when she claims she wants to go back "to the world with the people I care about most," that should be Kyou, where she has at least eight utterly devoted men who would die for her and live to make her happy. But no, that world is apparently her version of Earth, with Shimon, Tenma, and Ran all dragged back with her, despite the fact that they all had purposes and futures in Kyou that frankly seemed more interesting than going to high school. It would make more sense if Tenma had persevered in trying to get them all home, as he seemed determined to do for a few early episodes.
The animation isn't bad. It has its wonky moments, but the fight sequences at least are nicely executed. The character designs are also interesting, especially to someone like me who is facinated with Heian designs--Tomomasa's sokutai in particular is very lovely. The one thing that pushed it too far was how the designs made it too easy to pick out special characters. Like how if a male character has a wildly unnatural hair color--green, blue, purple, bright red--then he is a member of the Hachiyou, thus making things a bit too obvious.
The voice acting is another strong point in this series. With actors like Tomakazu Seki, Kouki Miyata, Akira Ishida, Souichirou Houshi, Shinichirou Miki, and Kazuhiko Inoue, it's wildly impressive on paper, let alone actually on-screen, and they all naturally do a bang-up job. The music, composed by Yoshihisa Hirano, is also very strong; it has Hirano's trademark drama, and its simple melodies add much to the action.
Overall: this could have been so much stronger. The series has a lot going for it, but the plot and character development get tangled up in each other and it falls on its face. I personally think it would have been a totally awesome series if Akane actually used her supposed huge amount of power, spent time learning to control it, and her useless bodyguards against demon attacks were actually redundant and they had to protect her from herself instead, despite the fact that she's more powerful than they are. It would have been much more interesting than 26 episodes of Akane alternately plastering a smile on her face and crying.
Harukanaru Toki takes place in a capital called Kyou - it is of another dimension and 3 teenagers from the present are summoned there. One of them is a girl named Akane who is the dragon priestess and basically the storyline focuses on her fighting the demons with the aid of the Hachiyou - 8 sworn protectors of the priestess - to save the world.
I have to admit, I started watching this because I loved Saiunkoku Monogatari and someone said that this one was similar. At first, the story wasn\'t that engaging and seemed to be a hodgepodge of different anime stories, characters
and plots. However, the music is absolutely amazing so I kept on watching and AM I GLAD THAT I DID.
As the story progresses and characters are discovered, it becomes absolutely engaging. The initial efforts to discover the Hachiyou was good but the development of the Hachiyou - heaven and earth of the four divinations - is super fantastic. The anime slowly and surely builds up momentum. If you can hold yourself through the first couple episodes, it will definitely be worth it!!
The very first time I encountered the world of HaruToki was when I saw the live performance of one of Akuram's character songs (Nisshoku no Kagiana), performed by his seiyuu Okiayu Ryôtarô. I became curious and researched Akuram, but sadly could not find any pictures of him without the mask. After many days of searching, I finally found a scan that showed his face, and was awed to say the least. That eventually led me to become even more interested in the anime, and even though I only heard rather bad things about it, I will never regret that I watched it and I'll make
sure to watch it again.
"No matter how beautiful or kind, you must never let a demon into your heart."
This is definitely not the most original plotline. A normal high school girl gets pulled into a different world, and has to fight the evil while being surrounded by a male harem... at first, sounds very familiar to many other plots. The reason is that HaruToki is based on a dating game, and this fact cannot be disregarded when judging the anime. Personally, I don't think I can name more than a couple romantic simulators with a strong plot. In fact, a romantic simulator has no need for a deep plot. Because its true strength lies in a different category -- the characters.
Romantic simulators (and anything based on them) are all about characters; if it doesn't get full marks in this category, it immediately fails in this genre. However, HaruToki does not fail, in fact it passes with flying colors. It is a collection of many unique individuals, each with their own inner troubles, dreams, reasons, and weaknesses. Each of the Hachiyou get an episode or two to themselves, to let the viewer look a little deeper into their past and their hearts, to understand them better. Not only the eight guardians. The Oni leader Akuram with his eternal hatred toward humans, as well as his loyal subordinates; the seemingly strong yet vulnerable princess Fuji; the proud little Tengu of the North Mountains... There is not a single dull personality in this anime; if there is anything I enjoyed the most while watching it, then it definitely is the variety of characters.
The original characters designs are amazing, all of them. You might have expected the creators to focus mostly on the eight guardiands, HaruToki being a dating game for girls and all, but this is not the case. Each design is unique and beautiful, for both main and minor characters. The clothes designs are especially lovely.
The transition into anime was good too, but somehow did not deliver that same feeling of being completely in awe before something truly beautiful. It's understandable that the anime version had to be modified and maybe simplified to an extent, but I still believe that there is room for improvement. However, that does not change the fact that the anime adaptation was nontheless great, and some of the scenes were truly stunning.
My personal opinion is that HaruToki has one of the best soundtracks ever. There is probably not a single scene in this series that is not accompanied by music. Not just any music, but beautiful music that greatly increases the emotional level of the overall situation. Even while listening to the soundtrack separately, it's impossible not to recall the events that went with it.
Aside from the instrumental pieces, there are also many character songs -- songs performed from the characters' point of view by their respective seiyuu. Usually, these are released outside of the anime as separate singles or albums. In the case of HaruToki, however, those songs were a moderate part of the story. They appeared during the most crucial moments of the anime to intensify the atmosphere, and most of them talked about the characters' inner thoughts and feelings that would have been left unspoken otherwise.
This is the kind of anime that you must really judge as something individual. If you plan to compare and contrast HaruToki with other reverse harem series, then I suggest you walk away from it right now -- chances are, you simply won't enjoy it.