The blade arts of the "Devil" tasked with striking down evils threatening a peaceful Edo! Heizou Hasegawa, upholding the role of chief officer protecting against crime and arson! In 1783, the heart of the Tenmei era, Hasegawa held the office of chief director of the department charged with sustaining safety in the region, suppressing the most vile of thieves and criminals, an individual largely feared, renowned as Devil Heizou...
This show is grossly underrated both popularity-wise and rating-wise. I am here to right that wrong, through a short review that will touch the more important points.
Onihei is a well written show featuring nice characters, unfortunately the story felt a bit too segmented and without a clear direction.
However, it was one hell of a watching experience that had some meaningful life lessons which I will remember for some time.
The story revolves around Heizou Hasegawa who is the chief of the Arson Theft Control division which consists of a small group of people charged with keeping the peace and stopping criminals at
night, when people sleep in their beds.
The story is episodic, too episodic I might say, and a bit repetitive, following the archetype of “describe the setting> reveal the problem > hero action > consequences> hero thoughts” but nonetheless it is very well written and enjoyable, offering many points of view through the perspectives of the different characters.
Each episode presents a life lesson through the form of a problem that will be solved, and during the solving of that problem, the main character will make observations and meaningful comments such as “Men can engage in evil while doing good”, remarks that I often found interesting.
The story is well-written because it features a serious atmosphere that is heavily inspired by history, each episode presents an interesting new character, showing their inner-thoughts, emotions and how that character is connected to the problem, with an ending presenting the character’s interpretation of the events that transpired and often a concluding comment from the protagonist.
Considering the “serious” atmosphere, the series still is successful in inserting a few comedy scenes that are not the generic type you see in every anime but scenes that are amusing on a fundamental level and often use the context of the episode to become even more entertaining, such as the father who preached “always live honestly” to his son while not being honest himself or when the chief of the Anti-Theft division bribed one of his subordinates, etc.
Also, the story is written in such a way that I often found myself feeling compassion for some of the thieves, resenting others but at the same time respecting them, all being in the shadow of the deep and dominant aura of the protagonist.
The point is that Onihei has a great balance of comedy, action, emotion and great storytelling.
The character cast is large, yet well-built. Each character has an unique personality and past that explains their actions and holds a lesson to be learned but since this is a show divided in small, one-episode arcs, there wasn’t much character development involved.
Heizou Hasegawa is the protagonist of the show, he is well known for his sharp mind and good instincts as well as his swordplay. Heizou is a deep character with a dominant yet elegant personality that I found very intriguing although he is hardly relatable to. As the story unfolds, his past is revealed in more and more detail and it is explained how he met with different characters that ended up being either victims or perpetrators in his current Arson Theft cases.
Each episode introduces a new character that will be described throughout the episode so it would be difficult to discuss about each of them.
In a nutshell, each one of these “episodic” characters are somehow related to both Heizou and the case he is investigating, throughout the episode their personality and past is presented and shortly analyzed.
The character design is elegant and realistic, the art is beautiful being accompanied by a color palette formed mostly of “serious” tones that perfectly fit the atmosphere of the show, and the animation is fluid with few flaws.
The opening theme and ending theme are fine but what I loved was the unusual OST that somehow managed to work in harmony with the show. The voice actors did a great job as well, especially Kenyuu Horiuchi who perfectly interpreted Heizou’s character.
Onihei was a bit too episodic for my taste, but I may be too harsh because I attempted to watch the show in one sitting, which was not the best idea.
I liked the protagonist as well as the rest of the cast and I never felt that the show didn’t have enough action.
Onihei is a very good series with a well-written plot accompanied by an excellent character cast, coming in a package with very good animation and sound.
If you like samurai-themed shows or well-written shows in general, I suggest watching Onihei.
On one side of a brittle, canvas Shoji, lies a group of bandits—found in all shapes and sizes, though all donning the same, uniform black garments. Whispering to themselves in memorization the code of a true thief: to never kill, to never rape, and to never, ever steal from the poor whose earnings come from good work. More meaningless muttering occurs throughout the mob as they neatly organize their arsenal of tools; small daggers, picks for a lock, and of course their sharpened Katana—they don’t dare be spotted without one. On the other side of that same, brittle, canvas Shoji, lies a concealed troop of
Samurais, all taking one deep, collective breath, in preparation for the Chief of the Arson Control, the “Onihei” himself, to swiftly kick down this same, brittle, canvas Shoji.
“This is Heizo Hasegawa of Arson Theft Control!” the chief bellows, with his two hands now grasped tightly around his own Katana in position to fight, with that brittle, canvas Shoji now in pieces beneath his foot, over the soft tatami mat.
With a uniquely gorgeous artstyle, an electric jazz accompaniment and a historical setting rich with character, “Onihei” traverses the Edo period through a series of episodic, Law & Order-esque stories that are stylish, exciting, and occasionally quite meaningful.
I mentioned Law & Order—that’s what this show really is. Law & Order with Samurais. Maybe with a little emphasis on the “Order” side, but not entirely neglecting the morally grey situations and ethical dilemmas that go without saying when dealing with detective work. The story follows the Chief of the Arson Theft Control, Heizo Hasegawa (otherwise known by his demonic moniker “Onihei”) and the unique crimes, circumstances and people that he inevitably has to deal with being in a position of responsibility.
The advantage of setting this type of episodic “cop/detective’ show of sorts in the Edo period is that it’s able to offer more unique versions of stories that you’d typically find in a regular detective show. Episodes about past comrades of Heizo, episodes about Heizo befriending good-hearted criminals he’s supposed to be after, etc. are all disguised as wholly unique and original stories that you’ve never seen before, but in reality if you swapped out the Samurais for cops and Heizo for a detective they may seem more familiar again. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, in fact it’s a credit to the show’s writers for coming up with a concept like that; but it doesn’t make the stories any more special than they seem.
This isn’t to say Onihei is full of uninspired stories, that’s not even close to the reality of it. Even when you spot some pretty blatant cop/detective show tropes they’re still executed in more than satisfactory ways. And this is where Onihei excels as a show, its execution is usually very impressive. The maturity of the characters and by extension their dialogue allows the interactions and plot developments to bloom organically, without feeling too contrived or repetitive. This is crucial in a detective show such as Onihei, as the whole premise of solving mysteries in storytelling is to be believable, you can’t have inexplicably genius characters solve everything with some inhuman foresight, but you can have intelligent characters who solve mysteries with experience and simple attention to detail. And Onihei does a fantastic job of highlighting this.
The show may falter at times with regards to this, and the first episode is a perfect example of that. It’s clear they were trying very hard to not only introduce the context of the show within the first episode, but also get one episodic story out of the way. This of course resulted in the first episode being jampacked with content and action that just made the whole thing feel very heavy-handed, with inexcusably rapid character developments that did leave a lot to be desired.
Onihei also differentiates itself from that whole cop/detective dynamic by not being so exclusive to one side of the dichotomy. It’s not just a “who did it?” crime story every episode, sometimes it’s just a story about the life of a thief, sometimes there is no crime involved at all and it’s about Heizo’s family, etc. The show isn’t dedicated to only presenting stories about criminals and thieves, it’s dedicated to presenting stories that Heizo Hasegawa would have experienced. The show is about him and everything around him, it just happens that he’s the Chief of Arson Theft Control.
The content of Onihei’s individual stories also deserves recognition; the show could easily get away with embedding moderately complicated mysteries in each episode that Heizo solves with his wit and experience, but that would be playing it far too safe for a show with the kind of flare that Onihei has. During the Edo period, where laws are obviously more lax and authority less omnipotent, the number of “unique” crimes that are committed are at a tremendous volume—so with all the ethical dilemmas that naturally spawn from these situations, it would be a dumb oversight not to turn some of it into serviceable food for thought. With poetic lines of dialogue such as:
“At times we do evil things when intending to do good; And at time we do good things when intending to do evil—such is life.”
You can’t not think about that for a while. Is it really that profound? Probably not, but to find genuinely meaningful gems like this in a seemingly cheap detective show like Onihei, that’s operating on a shoestring budget, speaks volumes to the quality of writing the show possesses.
With that being said, consistency is an issue the show has. While it has its fair share of meaningful moments like that, often delving even into deeper territory with surprisingly accurate representations of heady topics like Stockholm syndrome and the long lasting effects of child abuse, it sometimes falls flat on its face. There are occassionally times where I feel like the show is trying to send a message to me, but often I just sit there thinking to myself what is the show trying to say? What’s the point of this episode? Is there even a point? It’s occasionally a bit aimless at times. For a show that peaks with realistic representations of potent psychological conditions, it sure can fall flat when it just serves up a filler-esque standalone story about a child Heizo used to know now being a thief.
The animation is straight up dreadful. If you were observant enough to notice me dropping the phrase “shoestring budget” earlier, this wouldn’t be that big of a surprise. It’s awful, and especially evident in the beginning episodes. CGI background characters that look creepily out of place, poorly drawn animations of running with limited frames, etc. the reality of the situation is that this is the first major TV show ever produced by studio “M2” and nobody gives enough fucks to sponsor this. Though, honestly, I’m not sure if either I got used to the dreadful animation or what, but I genuinely believe that the animators did a great job of covering up the bad animation. Without any second thoughts I have sat through entire episodes of Onihei, fully immersed, not noticing any wildly jarring animation errors that snap my immersion at all. And that’s a credit not only to the creativity of the staff for coming up with ways to disguise it it all, but also a credit to the uniquely gorgeous artstyle and the brilliant jazz orchestra composed of melodic flutes, brisk piano notes, smooth saxophones, classy trumpets and deep, humming drums. While the animation itself is subpar due to the clear low budget the studio received, the artstyle itself and the excellent soundtrack do a wonderful job of immersing you into the already enchanting, historical setting of the show, making you quickly ignore any minor animation funks that may otherwise break your immersion in a show absent of these two other great features.
Onihei is a show I personally enjoyed on multiple levels. It was not only very entertaining, often leaving me at the edge of my seat in anticipation and suspense, but its resolutions sometimes left me with some stimulative food for thought. And despite the mingy budget and poor animation, the art style itself and the soundtrack were well above amazing.
To see a show like Onihei in modern anime is inspiring. It’s not a stretch to say that most people would describe modern anime as generic and unoriginal, tropey, excessively pandering and all the other usual suspects. And is it really so wrong to say so? Just look at MAL’s “Seasonal Anime” tab up on the top—how many shows each season aren’t derivative off of something else, something better and more popular? How many shows each season are even remotely unique?
So when a show like Onihei—shoestring budget and all, with poor marketing outreach and poor distribution as well—is able to deliver something not only legitimately entertaining and meaningful, but fairly unique and creative as well, it gives me hope that there are some studios, however new and underfunded, that are willing to break away from the seemingly inescapable mold of anime that remorselessly copies and copies from within its own medium without any detectable iota of creative desire—creative desire to produce something truly unique and original.
Onihei tells the story of Arson Theft Control's chief, Heizo "The Oni" Hasegawa on how he captures and deals with the thieves.
I'm declaring that this anime is the best hidden gem of Winter 2017.
Everything about this anime is enjoyable to watch. The story's great because you learn the underlying reasons and secrets of every thief. Every episode you will learn a new thing.
The art's good as well. It was set on traditional Japan so every bit was great especially the soundtracks. It's like I've been to Japan after listening to that opening song. It was damn great.
The character development in each episode
was also outstanding. You can view yourselves in their shoes after you finish an episode. You will feel their story. Just the narration in each episode was damn excellent.
Overall, it was great anime to me though I really wanted more than 13 episodes. It is highly recommended to those who don't have an anime to watch yet.
Onihei is a series of japanese hitorical novels that have been adapted into many forms such as live-action TV, Movie, Manga, and even a theater play. Now the story has been adapted into Anime format, and not only that, but is also the first anime that the new studio M2 has created.
The story of Onihei is set during the Edo period in Edo(tokyo) , and revolves around Heizou Hasegawa the chief officer protecting against crime and arson. him and everyone else in the department hold a duty with keeping peace and safety with in region, and bring down any criminal or thieves.
the entire anime itself is episodic which sometimes focuses on Heizo, our main character, or other people who work for him. each episode also focuses on a moral message or life lesson for the viewers based on what has transpired during the episode. any semblance of plot or progression in the story comes from new characters that are added into the roster who are usually involved in an episode later down the road. even then the story just boils down to a cop story with a criminal-of-the week formula. some of the episodes follow the same beats to the point that it becomes repetitive and annoying, and makes watching the show a drag to watch at times. i can't say much for pacing since it's an episodic show, but each episode does a good job at filling out their time. however in terms of writing, the show fluctuates from being good to being rather dumb , questionable, and sometimes uninteresting
the show has a somewhat big cast of characters which split of into two categories. the main cast that stays through out the whole show, and the episodic cast that just stays for one episode and are never to be seen again. nonetheless it doesn't really matter when none of the characters really do stand out from the rest other than Heizo. Heizo is a rather interesting character who is fleshed out decently throughout the story either by flashbacks, or by the interactions he has with people and environment around him which shows off a multi-faceted personality. other characters also get time to be fleshed out with their given screen-time and backstory, but it's usually for one episode and is used only for the story of that episode. there are no character arcs , and no one really develops as a character. in the end there is no point to get invested in the characters other than the main character.
the art style is good even when considering that this is the studios first show. the character designs are decent for the most part with some looking rather nice and detailed while others...they look like they needed a lot more work. the background art is good as well capturing the look of edo period japan, but i can't say it brought a lot of atmosphere to it. there's noticeable use of cgi when it comes to the background characters with how the city crowd contrasts itself with the background and foreground characters. there's also the lighting with a noticeable amount of minute flickering which i guess comes from the candle flames, but become annoying to the eyes, but the rest is good. the animation is done pretty well to say the least, but a large chunk of this show is just walking, sitting , and talking. the action scenes are decent if it's two people fighting, but becomes confusing when it's large police raids and the "camera" is moving all about.
the voice acting for the show was decent enough with everyone sounding there part. the soundtrack is pretty much absent or at least it goes in one ear and comes out the other with the only thing worth noting is the jazz that plays during the action scene, but that's about it
honestly i felt like dropping this show more than once. some episodes were a bore to watch even more so than a slice-of-life series. nothing got me invested. however there's nothing quite like this show in anime, but that still doesn't it make it good. overall for a first time show the production value is fine with slight hiccups, the stories had their ups and downs, and the characters filled their purpose.