In 1863, Izuminokami Kanesada and his partner, Horikawa Kunihiro, arrive in the streets of Edo from the future to investigate their master's reports of an upcoming enemy invasion. As humanoid manifestations of the famous Toshizou Hijikata's swords, they have been tasked with protecting history from the Retrograde Army that seeks to alter it. Soon enlisting the help of other sword warriors, they continuously battle the mysterious army throughout the Bakumatsu period.
However, their journey will not be an easy one. Fraught with blood and betrayal in the chaotic era closest to their hearts, the duo will be forced to make difficult decisions with everything they care about on the line.
I have issues with Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu. I honestly have no idea how UFO Table managed to take such a fantastic premise partnered with stunning animation and make it so incredibly dry.
This is my first (and probably last) experience with the Touken Ranbu franchise. I have never played the game, nor seen the other anime adaption.
It didn’t take long to get the gist of it. The two dudes with unique designs were fighting baddies to prevent history from changing. Later on, you learn what time period they’re in and that they aren’t human, but famous weapons. And . . . that’s it.
Why are the
baddies trying to change history? I don’t know. Why is Hijikata’s sword now a pretty man. I don’t know. What are those fox things? Still don’t know. What on earth do the baddies have to do to change history, since killing people, saving people, and burning cites to the ground apparently doesn’t change anything. Will anyone ever get a personality? Answer: not really. Will this plot ever get a direction? Answer: no.
I would’ve given this anime a stupid high score if it just got rid of it’s thin excuse for a plot and bland characters and just left the stunning back drops of historical Japan and beautiful nature scenes. UFO Table has never written a character I’ve cared for, but I always keep coming back for more blandness because of flashy fight scenes and beautiful backdrops (of which Katsugeki has plenty of).
The problem isn’t the animation (though, I still think UFO Table’s characters tend to look a bit plastic and lack facial emotions), it’s (almost) everything else.
Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki was easily the standout character of the main group. His genki personality helped lighten up an anime that otherwise took itself too seriously. His connection to Sakamoto Ryoma (of which I am a major fan), also helped. The episode where he helped Sakamoto survive the assassination attempt at the Teradaya Inn was easily the highlight of the series (but it only really hits you in the gut if you know Sakamoto was assassinated about a year later). The other characters were too briefly introduced (all of Unit 1), too angsty and inconsistent (Izuminokami Kanesada), or too bland (everyone else).
Izuminokami Kanesada was an especially frustrating character. Initially, he insisted that everyone “preserve history,” even if it meant letting someone die. Such a hardline approach would’ve made an interesting character. But he breaks his own rule in episode one, saving someone, and then proceeds to continue to take action that would change history (saving other people, talking to people, etc . . .) all of the while maintaining the angst level of a character that did stick to his rule. He also doesn’t seem to know the rules, telling the viewer that people are sent out in groups of two to stay under the radar, but that’s clearly untrue as far more than two people act as a group for other than the first few minutes of the series.
If the plot or world-building or even art or tone are interesting enough, it’s easy to overlook bland characters. But Katsugeki doesn’t offer up much.
The plot has no direction. The characters are given vague orders to “preserve history,” and they follow it. No one even takes any interesting action until the last few episodes and any drama about how to go about preserving history falls flat because people live and die without having any effect on the timeline whatsoever.
There’s also never an end goal, just beat up on random baddies until (for some unexplained reason) they give up on one time period and jump to another. Why they also just keep attacking Japan instead of a country that might mess history up even more like Rome or China, is also never explained.
There is also no explanation about the historical significance of the events the main characters are trying to protect. Thankfully, I knew who Katsu Kaishu, Saigo Takamori, and the others were, but if I hadn’t, I would’ve been even more lost about why the characters are protecting these people in the first place. Also, the episode featuring Sakamoto Ryoma packs a far more serious punch knowing he died about a year after the events in the episode took place - something the show hardly alludes too and not until the end.
The lack of character depth, world building, plot, and explanation about anything makes it rather clear that Katsugeki isn’t interested in telling a good story. All anime try to make money, but I’d appreciate it if they tried to do so by telling a solid story instead of promoting a video game and pretty-boy sword figures.
I choose to watch this anime on a whim and wasn't disappointed. . At the beginning it was difficult to understand at times because it is based on a game, so the viewer is expected to have previous knowledge of the mechanics of this world. I pieced it together myself, but otherwise I recommend finding a quick summary of this universe, because it can be complicated.
The story itself was pretty good. The concept for the anime was different, and though I had read it was similar to drifters and was intrigued, it was different enough to be interesting. For the first few episodes I
found the story to be a bit slow and somewhat predictable, but if you can plough through that the story line progresses fairly well.
What I really loved was the fact that as a viewer you can see that this anime came from a game. Its great to watch the characters complain about being put on mission after mission, like you would do to characters you control in a game. And I loved the previews for each episode.
I loved the art for this anime! I honestly kept getting distracted from the plot and obvious violence by just how pretty it was. Don't get me wrong, the backgrounds at times were a bit iffy, especially compared to the character designs, but when there is blood liberally flying yet I'm still focused on a pretty face I'll say thats impressive.
I was a fan of the opening and closing themes, they gave the anime a good vibe. As someone who always watches both, regardless of whether I'm binging the anime (as I did) or am watching it episode by episode, these themes were decent.
As for the sound during the anime, the effects were good and the 'battle' music was well chosen, adding to the suspense.
As I already said, I am in love with this character design. As for the characters themselves, they were well varied and interesting. As someone who hasn't played the game (although I really want to now) or watched the other adaption, I didn't really know what to expect.
The mix of personalties, while at first a bit cliche, grew on me and I loved the inclusion of a range of other characters, rather than just the main 6.
Character development was pretty good too. As I've said, at the beginning this anime is rather cliche, with the two characters (Izuminokami and Mutsunokami in this case) who constantly butt heads etc. But as the story progresses so do the characters, and their backstories, while pretty sad, were also interesting to learn as you could see how their 'owners' (that will make sense) shaped the characters.
I really enjoyed watching this anime! Although it was a bit predictable at times, I was drawn to the characters and their story and had to keep watching (as seen by the binge that ended at 6am). All of the elements worked well together and by the end I was very wrapped up by the characters and their emotional turmoil.
I really want to play the game now, and will find a way... eventually :)
Overall, I really enjoyed this anime. For something I chose to watch offhandedly, it was a surprising success, and I can't wait for the apparent movie adaption in the future(!). While you should probably know some of the backstory behind the story, especially the mechanics of it, if you want a challenge just do what I did and wing it.
If there's one thing I'm grateful, it's that the game got adapted into the anime. I've literally enjoyed this series a lot, and now let's get on with it.
I would say that the theme is basic, preventing time traveling alternating the history in terms of major events. Simple, right?, right. I gave this a 7 because of the characters influencing the plot throughout the series, and their "background". Sadly not a lot was the other characters got covered but that's somewhat expected for a 1 cour series if you ask me.
Honestly, usually for any series, I'd give a 7 in terms of
animations and whatnot because it's decent and I sure as hell can't draw. This time, however, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu was crisp and sharp, heck, frame-by-frame was good too. And the characters' art was very pretty, along with smooth animation throughout the entire time [I know what some of you are thinking about with the animation part especially "ufotable", lol].
Sound? OST? Oh yes, definitely. I think the soundtracks were really suitable to the series, especially the "strings" and the flute part, befitting for a historical series. The action soundtracks were pretty awesome, fast paced and heavy. [Kept replaying the entire OST, lol] Also the ending song was pretty great done by Kalafina.
Although there's quite the characters that appears in the series, the main focus is our Second Unit for the entire time.
As briefly mentioned, only a couple of selected characters' 'past' were covered, but regardless, they stuck to what the story was focused on, which I really thought was a good thing. You could see some of the characters kind of developing (second unit) in the series, or at least towards the ending, somewhat. These pretty much got my 7.
Personal enjoyment is definitely a 9 for me, I haven't played the game yet I kept seeing a lot of the gorgeous characters fanart without knowing anything, so I was always irked. I want to clarify it, the game is still somewhat targeted for the female fanbase so yes, there's some personal attachment to this series.
As with this factor, being able to watch the anime during the entire time and getting to see the characters and their tidbits made me happy, I felt a bit closer to the franchise(?) now instead of not knowing anything before.
I think it's a series that's good for anyone to start, with or without playing the game. Now unfortunately, although a lot of the factors were pretty great, I do think the plot lowered it down slightly. But hey, it's still a decent series to watch if you ask me.
Recently, Ufotable's production is just not that great, having these very poor/one sided characters and somewhat very linear story making some of their modern shows very predictable. It's just the same for Katsugeki/ Touken Ranbu. I'd rather say that this show was produced just to advertise the original game. I don't blame ufotable that much on this one because they really can't control the content by themselves but I do think the studio can do better than this. Ever since Unlimited Blade Works was produced, ufotable's overall direction went downhill. Tho I highly praised them with their stellar visuals but it's not the same
like Fate/Zero and Kara no Kyoukai. Katsugeki/ Touken Ranbu's direction is quite generic I would say.
The show struggled on pacing, developing its characters and this very weird 1st episode. They just throws you right into the action without explaining anything on what's happening. The show is like forcing you to understand and feel bad for the characters without giving you any major knowledge about them. ( Minor Spoiler ) There's also this one episode where someone died but I just don't care because how plain the character was.
All I can say that the series lacks alot, noticeable flaws making this show generic and plain on the direction part. Although the show is very pretty but I don't know if people would like this show or not. Do I recommend you to watch it? Yeah sure, why not for starters or for you guys who just love action but I won't recommend this for people who takes anime as a serious subject/medium. For my perspective, the show is just an advertisement for the game. ( most likely for additional content ) Games like this often doesn't really work on this medium, the game has its own charm to it that you can't just take and put it on the adaptation.
Overall - 5/10 it's not bad, it's just that ufotable can do better than this, I know they can pull it off.