Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan (Demon Cherry Shinsengumi Group)
Plot: "The protagonist, Yukimura Chizuru, is the daughter of a doctor who works in Edo. The father leaves Edo to work as a volunteer doctor and moves to Kyoto without his daughter. As time passes by, Chizuru starts worrying about losing contact with her father, so she decides to go to Kyoto in search of him. On the way, Chizuru is attacked by few criminals and witnesses a fight between an oni and the Shinsengumi. Taking her into custody and saving her, the Shinsengumi debate on what to do with Chizuru when they discover that she is the daughter of the doctor they are also looking for. So they decide to become Chizuru's protectors and help her look for her father(the doctor). Lots of events happen while she stays with the Shinsengumi, as they discover mysterious secrets and also fight against the Bakumatsu group. The story is overall romantic with a historical and political background." (Synopsis taken from MAL)
Story: I try to recall how the heck i got to watch this show and when i think about the time when i was watching Senkou no Night Raid i came across a recommendation to watch this show mainly because they were linked by historical references. As a side note, Night Raid depicted the begining of the Manchurian war, a crucial moment when the Japanese imperial army conquered the northern provence of China in 1931 and the predictions regarding a new global conflict much more bloody than the first one. In the Japanese historiography this moment played an important role in the first half of the 20th century. Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan on the other hand depicts probably the most important moment in the Japanese history that completely changed the country in all main aspects (political, economical, social, cultural, administrative, etc) and that is the fall of the last Shogun, the fall of the Shogunate Era and the begining of the Meiji Era. From this point of the Emperor will play a more important role in the country organization while the Shogun at first has more restraint priorities while later on they will become none. Due to the arrival of the western powers, which came with different conceptions, mentalities, technology (fire weapons especially) they started to provoque turmoil amongst the japanese clans and military organizations. The story of Hakuouki revolves around a girl named Yukimura Chizuru. One night while being chased by some criminals she witnesses a battle between an oni and warriors from the Shinsengumi, a notorious group of ronin warriors. Because she witnessed the fight, she is taken to the Shinsengumi headquarters and after a short interrogation they decide to keep an eye on her. It is not long when she confesses to the main leaders of the organization, Kondou Isami, Hijikata Toushizou, Hajime Saitou, Keisuke Sannan, Toudou Heisuke, Harada Sanosuke, Nagakura Shinpachi and Okita Souji that she is actualy the daughter of a doctor named Koudou Yukimura, a person that interracted with the Shinsengumi in some mysterious affairs in the past. Hearing Chizuru's motive that made her come all the way to Kyoto from Edo, the Shinsengumi offer their help in searching for the missing Koudou while also keeping Chizuru in their headquarters. A funny moment was when Hijikata and Sannan realized that she is actualy a girl, despite the fact that she is dressed like a boy, i really enjoyed seeing the faces of the other leaders. However, unsolved issues remained and the questioned that bothered Hijikata the most is why the oni attacked Chizuru from all the people. As the story develops, Chizuru comes to play a more important role in the Shinsengumi. Even though she does not possess any special combat skills she always managed to raise the morale of the leaders. As the time went by, Hijikata and the other leaders started to put faith in her and decided to make her a part of the Shinsengumi, acting as a messenger in case the others are fighting. But what happens when three mysterious warriros which happen to call themselves "oni" atack Chizuru and do all possible to get ahold of her? Surely many questions need answers but its impossible to answer without spoiling whats good out of this show. Hakuouki while adapting a historical moment they also combine with a fantasy story in a perfect harmony. The story is kinda slow-paced, it advances slowly but surely, the plot line is occuring during a bigger number of years. This isn't the typical comedy show but rather a more melodramatic show, expect alot of heart-wrentching moments while watching it.
Animation and Sound: The animation quality, design and directing are the work of a genius. The sceneries, the background design are well made and fit the theme and the environment of the show, while the character designs are also very eye-candy~ish, this anime featuring many bishoujo/bishounen typs of characters. The soundtracks are also very listenable, especially the opening song of this show Izayoi Namida by Aika Yoshioka which i couldn't resist and i really had to acquire it. The ending was so-so as well, but it didn't impress me the same way like the opening did.
Characters: Even though at first the characters seemed to be weakly developed with mostly no background information, as you pass through episodes more background information about certain characters is revealed. The appearences of new antagonists and also of new allies will play a vital role in this show.
Overall: Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan proved to be an oasis of hope in a desert filled with mediocre works. The good news is that the second season of this show is also over, and also it managed to put an end to this almost excelent work. Somehow i feel bad that this finished since this year i could barely find a handful of shows that would keep me so excited and so worked up for more episodes. Hakuouki will be a delight for fans of historical themed anime and also for those that can put aside the sci-fi aspect and walk into a feudal setting. Die hard romanitcs might want to keep an eye on this one since its inspired from a dating sim visual novel (yeah it has a romantic subplot in it as well). This gem somehow managed to pass unobserved this year.
Continuation Review : Hakuouki Hekketsuroku
~Enjoy and Cya Around~