Ahh the Bishi Swords from the Token Japanese time period, its perfect.
So as a non-player of the games, but an owner of a Token Ranbu poster (idk why I have it. it appeared one day and I haven’t questioned it) I have little experience with this franchise. I knew from online posts the basic premise. A massive cast of swords had been humanized. For what purpose, I have no idea.
Well one of my fears about this series would be that huge cast. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by 30+ characters all at once. The (12? 15?) brothers in Brother Conflict was enough for me, and managing those personalities and names in my head was a headache. So when the disclaimer that this was specific to the Hanmaru section, and would be focusing on a small part of the Token Ranbu world, I was relieved.
How freaking big is this world if 30 people is a small part of it?? I don’t know… 100% of their names because so many characters were introduced at once, and their name plates were only shown for a second.
So to start off, its not so much on a high note. The majority of the episode is spent on this half introductions of the characters, as a group of them is running around the compound, or Citadel as one calls it. With the ‘older’ characters, who look taller and more mature, there was a bit more time spent on them before they were inconvenienced by the rambunctious little characters. How each swords appearance is decided I don’t know, whether its from the age of the sword, length of blade or by choice. One of the shorter swords claims he was here ‘since the beginning’ but he’s still a little Chibi.
After finally we see the cast, the reason for them is explained. There is an evil force known as the History Renegade Army who is attempting to alter history by changing or interfering battles in the past. These characters are the swords used in battles of the past, and are living in a timeless area? Where they are I do not know. They have the ability to travel back into time, as well as know when the Renegades will be attacking and what time period they are after. They then send 6 swords back to that time period in order to prevent the History Renegade Army form changing anything. They cannot speak to the people of the past, even if they are their Master in that time.
This moral dilemma is one that our protagonist, Yasusada (maybe for this episode only, it seems a very individualized issue) faces. He is the newest sword to be inducted into the citadel, and we open the episode in his dream or memory of the battle that they will later be protecting. A second sword already at the citadel was also at that battle, and was the sword being used, not Yasusada. This memory swap or exchange, or possible foretelling of the mission failure is confusing at first, but it becomes suspicious when you learn of the episodes mission.
The missions are dolled out and the swords are chosen by their Master at the citadel.
The new guy, Yasusada is chosen to be the leader of the mission. Strange but okay. Send the newbie in. There is a forewarning of ‘don’t let anyone get broken’ and to immediately return if anyone is hurt. So clearly someone’s going to get hurt.
The setting, I love the setting. This time period in Japan is what I think of when I think of Japan. Yes, Tokyo and big cities as settings are good as well, but every country has a big city. Only in Japan as a setting can there be shoguns and samurai and do it well. Yes China and other countries in Asia could do samurais as well, but when you think of Japan of old, Samurais are the centre image. So this time period, mixed with bishis? Perfect. I love it. This is the culmination I’ve been waiting for, its everything I would like… not just lets get the execution done perfectly as well.
As far as the cast goes, maybe introduce a small group first, then show them introducing everyone else, or, like a lot of animes, introduce the new guy to all of them. Walk him through like you would walk us through, or do the Danganronpa , where the characters are reintroduced every episode in the OP. the cast is big enough and the names are traditional enough that we could use that re-introduction.
Character design was great though. Each of them had their own style and personality. They really like using x-ray eyes though… im trying really hard to like this show.
So overall, I liked the animation of the episode. It as clean, detailed, consistent. The outlines were not a hard black and the horse poop was censored. During a fight scene/dream, the camera was close to the action, like right in there, so we couldn’t see the whole battle. It wasn’t exactly first person, but it definitely cut into out field of vision, giving it a close, surprise element. In hindsight it could be Yasusadas perspective, being the sword in the scene, but it wasn’t exclusively from hilt-perspective either. I liked that composition.
The setting has great promise. The series has enough fans that I think, I hope, this show has enough of a budget to maintain the animation quality and keep up the interesting battle scenes. How they introduced newbies to the franchise.. Needs work. I don’t know any of the characters names, (thanks google) and because of that it hard to emotionally attach to one and become invested in their role and the show in general.
For a first episode, especially being a newbie to the franchise, it was not a very good opener. If you are a veteran of the franchise and know the historical significance of the characters, then it was probably a great episode for you. But not on my end.
I really want this show to be great, and it can improve. The animation quality is there, it just needs to acclimate to the newbies.
Thanks for reading! Im hoping to make this a weekly covering, and ill try and keep consistent on this! Goals!!