Hakkenden was one of the two animes of the meager 2013 Spring season, which surprised me and I ended up to like. I was kinda skeptical at first, because of the many bishounen characters. Sorry, but most time those animes are kinda poor in my opinion. So I started the anime with low expectations.
There was a tragical plague of a whole town named Ootsuka. Mysteriously there were three survivors. Those three are living in an isolated church. One of the boys named Shino is the holder of the legendary sword Murasame, which is described as the sword of life. Now the main church is wanting to get that sword and the peaceful days of our survivors will end here.
Stop! You think that sounds like a text-book anime? Well, not at all. At least from the second epsiode on, you will enter in a anime world with questions, surprises and secrets.
Well, the setting is set between the traditional japanese world of ghosts, gods and demon and the christian church with a stronger emphasize on the japanese part. Sometimes Hakkenden gives a tiny Mononoke Hime feeling like by a certain episode, maybe because of the japanese god setting. And especially the dog Yatsufusa from Rio reminds me of the 'Moro no Kimi' from Princess Mononoke. I personally would never dream to set those settings together. But it surprisingly worked out quiete well in my opinion.
I think the strongest point of the series is definitely the story. It is not one straight line, but telling a cleverly fragmented and interweaved story with the legend of the eight dogs as background. Through the whole series you get keep feed with the righ amount of information and questions, when Shino and his friends are accomplishing their missions. Each episode exploit it's full potential. On the one hand they have the function to introduce the characters and Shino himself further and on the other they are giving out one puzzle of information each time. So you are diving deeper and deeper into this world with the time. I especially like the little last arc seriously.
People, who set great value upon stories will be well served by Hakkenden in my opinion.
The animation and backgrounds are on a good average TV series, even though you can see that the production doesn't belong to the highest-cost ones. You already can tell the animation difference between the first and second season of Hakkenden. Looks like they got more budget for the second season because of the success.
In my point of view the fighting scenes are OK, but could have been better. But if you consider the budget and orientation of the female audience (doesn't mean that the anime isn't suitable for the males), then it's well done.
The BGM fits the setting and anime pretty well and captured the feeling nicely. Most time there are medival or folklore sounding pieces, which works with the setting greatly. You always feel the presence of the soundtrack in the background.
Well, I personally love the OP. Sound or lyrical or voice-wise, I can't think of a better song for the opening of this anime.
The seiyuus did a good job like always, but I can't find any outstanding or special perfomances.
Due the few episodes and still a fairly amount of appearing (good-looking) characters, it is hard to get to know every character deeply. The protagonist Shino is a sympathetic young teenager, who also most time behave like that, but still isn't like the typical shounen hero (Luffy, Naruto,...). Because that he is seen in every episode, you get to know him the best and can make the best connection with him.
As already mentioned due the time matter, the secondary cast is still a little bit blank and some characters seems to be stereotypic and boring (Kobungo INUTA, Genpachi INUKAI) to me. But especially due that some characters not wholely seen, you want to know more about them like Murasame, Sosuke or Rio. Every char is still likeable to me, some more (like Kaname) and some less. I guess with the second season the character rating can get higher.
I assume it's still a more unknown und underrated anime. Hakkenden easily goes over my normal expectations and I think it's definitely worth watching, especially who attach importance to the story section.
To the male audience: there are two or three little scences with a shounen-ai undertone. But those are really short and light. You can consider it as a fanservice for the females. So if you can bear with it, you may give a try to watch Hakkenden. (hello, I also survived those fanservices for the males from CG 2, OK? Then you definitely should be OKwith Hakkenden. It's nothings compared to CG2 lol)
Besides of that you get a reverse harem feeling sometimes, even though it totally isn't the case by Hakkenden. It's maybe because of the many bishies. You don't have a nice and naive teenage heroine here. There's Hamaji as a female support, but I do like her and she didn't give me creeps lol. In general I'm rather bad with the reverse or normal harem genre. So I don't think you have to worry here.
All in all the studio has done the best with the budget.
DC STAMP: worth-watching lol