Onihei – Preview
Original Air Dates: January 12th, 2017 – ???
Synopsis: The year: 1783. Heizou Hasegawa is the chief officer protecting Edo against crime and arson. He maintains safety in the region, suppressing horrid thieves and vile criminals. He’s renowned for his prowess and largely feared as “Devil” Heizou.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Onihei isn’t going to be the most visually impressive show this season. It suffers from poor CGI, used to depict background characters, in crowded scenes that is immediately obvious and just doesn’t blend all that well. That said, when the series ramps up in action, its fight scenes are a ton of fun and its darker color palette really sells the foreboding and overbearing atmosphere of the time period and the violence taking place.
Linny: The show title and synopsis make it seemingly clear that this is all about Heizo Hasegawa, head of the police force in charge of arson and robberies. However, this first episode focuses heavily on someone else, making it feel like the tale of a noble thief rather than the head of the police force. This might cause some confusion among newcomers to the franchise but it doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the episode’s story itself.
Tom: Indeed the first episode more so focuses on one Kumehachi, a criminal who’d idolized his former boss and mentor, but comes to find that idolization has helped distance himself from the painful reality. He’s got a fairly tragic past, although the show thankfully doesn’t stray too far into melodrama with it. Heizo Hasegawa, by comparison, almost feels like an unknown entity and the show doesn’t do a great job of defining exactly the kind of lead character he’ll be. We know he’s duty bound, noble, and trusting, but we lack a greater understanding of his character, making this feel a poor introduction to his persona.
Linny: There’s no denying that Kumehachi steals the show in Onihei’s premiere episode as the tale of this oultaw’s morality coming into question and watching him struggle with it leaves a deep impact. In comparison, Heizou almost comes off as a supporting character but since this is based off a single episode, we shall have to wait and see if the show ever makes him feel like the star other than just in title.
Tom: The show takes a bit to get going, throwing us in the deep end of the story and slowly then working in the details. It’s initial scenes make the series feel like it wants to go hard in on body torture/gross out horror, but thankfully it pulls back and wades us into a far more interesting period thriller/drama. Action isn’t really at the series forefront, but if this first episode is anything to go by we can expect occasional period samurai showdowns with gleaming blades and plenty of blood.
Linny: Onihei would make a good watch for anyone on the lookout for stories with an adult cast, particularly a story set in the feudal Japan period and involving the justice system and forces back then. The show doesn’t cut corners about including the more brutal aspects of life and justice system but at the same time isn’t a gore or torture fest for anyone worried about it being too unsettling.
Tom: Onihei is part of a much larger franchise that first began as a novel and has expanded into Films, Theater, Manga, Arcade Games and now finally its own anime. It’s a shame that Onihei is hidden behind Amazon Prime/Video’s new Anime Strike channel, which feels woefully overpriced (Essentally 15.98 per month when added with Prime’s pricing) for what little content it offers. Onihei looks to be a solid historical drama, with great atmosphere and mood. Perhaps with Amazon’s current pricing it’d be best to pay five to fifteen at the end of the season for one month and binge it all in one go. But that’s still pricey all for one show. And Amazon’s anime library just isn’t there for Anime Strike to be a truly worthwhile subscription.
Linny: Onihei’s visual issues may be a deterrent to some but it tells a complete and engaging tale within its very first episode. For those worried about entering into such a well established franchise for the first time, the good news is that we were in the same situation and we had no trouble understanding or enjoying the episode. Maybe the show will build up or explain its past more in the upcoming episode but even if it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be an issue for newcomers and thus, Onihei is a must try for anyone interested in the era or theme.
Onihei is available for streaming via Amazon.