When the first episode of the new series featuring Shōtarō Ikenami’s classic hero premiered in January, many fans couldn’t wait to watch. If you weren’t one of them, here are 5 reasons it’s never too late to get on board with this awesomely dark and moody series that’s becoming an unexpected favorite for many.
By the way…
The only place to find the full season of Onihei in the US is on Anime Strike by Amazon Channels. Anime Strike is a curated collection of serious anime—ad-free and easy to find. For $4.99 a month after a free trial, Prime members can watch classics like Tokyo Godfathers and Cowboy Bebop as well as episodes direct from Japan like Atom: The Beginning and the second seasons of Saekano and Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?. There are already over 1,000 episodes and movies, and we’re adding more every week.
Here’s why you should watch Onihei if you haven’t yet.
1. It’s a classic.
Like many of the great (and personally flawed) crime-thwarting heroes of our time (from Sherlock Holmes to James Bond) Onihei came to life in a book. Though this show is brand new, this character has been around for over 50 years. Onihei (aka Heizo the demon, aka Hasegawa Heizō) first appeared in 1967 in a serialized novel by Shōtarō Ikenami. For the past 50 years, Heizo the demon has been the star of numerous manga, TV programs, films, arcade games, and theater productions.
2. Travel back in time to Edo period Japan with this historical anime.
The fictional detective Heizo the Oni heads the Arson Theft Control, a team of samurai police in Edo, Japan (present-day Tokyo) during the latter half of one of the most fascinating time periods in history. The Edo period spanned over 250 years, from 1603 to 1868, when Japan was under control of the Tokugawa shogunate. This relatively peaceful time period saw Edo grow from a small village to one of the largest cities in the world. Haiku poetry, kabuki theatre, and the prints and paintings of Hokusai are just a few examples of the Edo period’s contributions to the world.
3. Anime for grown-ups, complete with a grown-up soundtrack.
This isn’t a bright and sunny series, and a bright and sunny pop score wouldn’t have worked here. Thankfully, it has a dark and aggressive and moody jazz soundtrack that brilliantly complements the dark and aggressive and moody storylines and characters. There’s also something cool about the juxtaposition of the historical Edo-period setting and the modern(ish) jazz score that harkens back to old kung-fu movies—and Cowboy Bebop.
4. Did we mention it was definitely for grown-ups? Deep, dark, and gritty.
We’ve seen a few people describe this series as “Law & Order with samurais.” It’s honestly even darker than that—you wouldn’t find a live-action version of this on network TV. While there are plenty of well-timed moments of humor and levity in the mix, this show spends a lot of time on violent crime and tackles complicated themes like justice, dealing with family, right and wrong, and honor among thieves.
5. Shadowy and rough-around-the-edges visuals that echo the shadowy and rough-around-the-edges characters in the story.
The artwork here isn’t polished and flashy, but neither is the subject matter—we’re dealing with criminals and arsonists here. The look of Onihei reflects the at-times heavy (and gruesome and brutal) subject matter. There is something harsh and stark about it that just works.
Ready to watch? The only place to find Onihei in the US is on Anime Strike by Amazon Channels. Anime Strike is a curated collection of serious anime—ad-free and easy to find. For $4.99 a month after a free trial, Prime members can watch classics like Tokyo Godfathers and Cowboy Bebop, as well as episodes direct from Japan like Atom: The Beginning and the second seasons of Saekano and Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?.. There are already over 1,000 episodes and movies, and we’re adding more every week.