HAKYU HOSHIN ENGI – Anime Preview
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Synopsis: A once thrived kingdom, In—now governed by an evil hermit, Dakki, and her party—is in a chaotic status with its people suffering Dakki’s oppressions. Seeing this, The Hermit Band took it seriously and planned a “Hoshin Plan” which is assigned to an apprentice hermit, Daikobo, who gathered partners, captured and sealed all evil hermits, and planned to establish a new kingdom. On the other hand, the strongest and an In- royal hermit, Bunchu, stood up against Daikobo to protect the old kingdom with all his might. Thus, the death battle among invincible hermits begins… (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Brace yourselves before diving into Hakyu Hoshin Engi as the first episode runs through its content at breakneck speed easily becoming overwhelming if not flat out confusing. Everything happens so fast and people are spouting exposition every single chance they get, whether convenient or not, making for a laughably crowded premiere. Also prepare yourself for cliche cruelty and hammy violence as the episode builds to a scene where slaves are dropped into a pit filled with dangerous animals, insects and even snakes, all to help sell just how twisted the villain of the story is. It’s something that sounds sadistic but the rushed execution almost makes it feel like bad comedy.
Tom: That rushed speed breaks Engi’s tone entirely. Once the episode moves past its flash-forward to one of the series’ later epic battles, things are decently light-hearted. Like most shonen, the top flips when things get serious for our hero, but due to the balls to the wall speed that flip is sudden, jarring, and damages any dramatic build up. Part of the trouble is just how much content this anime is attempting to adapt from the original manga into just one episode. Most of the really solid shonen adaptations do a couple chapters, maybe three, at a time, allowing for a generally acceptable pace. Engi, eager to seemingly adapt the entirety of its original manga, crams a total of 8 chapters in here. Tons of content and characters are cut, making for the haphazard, near impregnable opening we have now. As example as to just how damaging this choice is, our lead Taikobo (Not Daikobo, Crunchyroll. It’s your own damn show for God’s sake.) is seen as generally jovial whenever things aren’t grim and dark. But because the grim and dark parts are so rushed, crammed between the more light-hearted content, it makes Taikobo seem really uncaring, as if all people who suffer because of his mistakes are but a blip in his otherwise care-free life. It’s clearly unintentional, but damaging all the same.
Linny: The speed of the episode negatively impacts the tone of the show really any time the mood of the story changes just as Tom just explained. The swiftness makes it feel abrupt everytime we shift to a more care free atmosphere right after a heavy, emotional one. The rapid switching between moods ends up making the story lack impact and credibility as people seem to suffer from insane mood swings, getting over tragedies at the snap of a finger or turning moody out of the blue. To make matters worse, when Taikobo then tries to throw in a ‘deep and thoughtful’ line of dialogue to instill poignancy, thanks to the rushed pace, it comes off as random and cringe inducing rather than thought provoking.
Tom: Hakyu Hoshin Engi seems meant to be a proper revival of the Engi (Soul Hunter) manga from the late 90s. It’s already had an adaptation, but one that deviated heavily from the manga in quite a few ways. As it stands though, this overly rushed approach does nothing but botch whatever good the manga contained. It doesn’t help that while the character design is unique, I find it, frankly, bizarre at best, unappealing at worst. At it stands I think anyone intrigued by the premise best try the manga (Known as Hoshin Engi) instead.
Linny: Indeed, Hakyu Hoshin Engi’s dated character designs show its age and once you discover that it’s a completed series with 26 volumes, you could perhaps understand and maybe even forgive the rushed execution that is trying to cover all of it in just a cour or two, However, they’re still factors that affect the show so much that it’s most likely dooming Hakyu Hoshin Engi to only be enjoyed by those who were already passionate fans of the series or have a serious yearning for the art and story styles of the late 90’s.
Hakyu Hoshin Engi is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.