Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru – Preview
Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru:
Original Air Dates: October 2nd, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: An army of demonic “historical revisionists” seek to change history. It’s up to the Touken Danshi, anthropomorphized versions of legendary samurai swords, to protect history and keep the flow of time safe from alterations. These quirky individuals live together in a snowy villa surrounded by farm land and hills where they can relax, joke, and play with each other until the call to battle is sounded.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Touken Ranbu tosses you into its overflowing cast, filled with a slew of oddball characters, so many that it’s hard to get a real feel on any of them, let alone having their antics leave a true lasting impression. Sitting here now less than twenty-four hours after viewing and I have a hard time remembering anyone from the cast, outside of the leader of the group and right hand to the ‘master’ Hasabe as well as the inexperienced, but born to be leader, Yasusada. Already I’m getting a formulaic feel, but one less refined than say Kantai Collection, which did a better job of introducing us, over time, to its massive cast.
Linny: While there are a LOT of characters introduced in this first episode alone, most of them barely get any decent screen time or even a proper introduction other than a quick blurb showing their age/position(?) and name. There is some basic variety in their personalities and appearances, but clearly with the aim to help viewers pick ‘favourites’ easily and quickly rather than helping them stand out. The first episode was mainly focused on Kashuu Kiyomitsu and Yamatonokami Yasusada, with more of an emphasis on the later. Given how strongly they featured in the op sequence, it seems likely that these two may be the main duo for the entire series.
Tom: To be honest Touken Ranbu only presents the most bare bones of narratives. Instead we spend most of our time watching as our plethora of characters introduce themselves through odd ball skits and jokes, although none of them leave enough of a lasting impression to draw me in. What plot there is is, in fact, quite simple: Anthropomorphized swords of famous samurai are tasked with jumping back into the past and fighting demonic creatures set on changing the timeline. The show doesn’t beat around the bush, delivering its plot not much different from the sentence above. Well, maybe with a little more nuance, just a tad.
Linny: If you want to derive more than just surface value fun, a knowledge and familiarity with classic Japanese historical figures and events and/or the game this show originates from would be helpful. While the show does fill in the gaps, it does with the least effort possible so history buffs or game fans might enjoy this show a lot more than the average viewer. Otherwise, it’s likely to end up feeling like another merchandise selling, fan baiting show with its cast of cute and quirky men.
Tom: Touken Ranbu is an adaptation of a game and boy does it show. Where as Kantai Collection managed to find the right balance when including nods to the game mechanics, Touken Ranbu feels tied to its origins, and perhaps even becomes haphazard in that depiction. It’s unable to focus on a core group of characters, potentially overwhelming the viewer with its wealth of introductions. Kantai’s mechanics were introduced over time, even subtly at points, content instead to flesh out the lives of its former game piece characters. Here Touken Ranbu is throwing out mechanics left and right out in such a way even non-fans of the game can easily tell them apart from the expanded narrative.
Linny: Shows that are meant to promote or capitalize on a game’s popularity are a common sight every season. Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru feels average at best within this category, failing to give viewers an engaging cast or story unless they already have had some familiarity with the source material. Its comedy isn’t exceptionally funny, relying far too much on the audience finding the characters endearing for gags to work. When it comes to action, we haven’t seen anything mind blowing but it is competent enough to convey the scenes without ruining it. If you’re a complete newcomer to the Touken Ranbu franchise, this show might not be the best entry point, but if you plan to watch it just because you want to watch a bunch of cute boys being cute, sometimes angsty and in battle, then there’s hope that Hanamaru will prove entertaining for you.
Tom: Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru feels messy, and perhaps lazy as I don’t see a lot of effort here in adapting and creating a world from a mere game. Everything feels bare bones or tied too closely to its origins. It has a wide cast of characters, but without some real time to develop and introduce them to us a handful at a time, it becomes an overwhelming mess likely to turn potential viewers away.
Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com