Even though it is offically the third season, this was the first Hakuouki I watched. WHen the two first season came along I was unable to past by the vampire in Edo Japan storyline and decided against watching the series. As it is the prequel, the role of the demons and vampire is less present (and completely absent of the summary I read before starting), so I started watching it. I am quite happy that it was the case because for the most part is it an enjoyable historical anime. In this prequel, you can meet all the interesting characters and learn their back stories without needing the first two seasons. On top of it, the annoying main character of the other seasons is not yet in the picture. Instead, there is a brand new main character (a guy this time) who is interacting with the Shisengumi before they became the Shinsengumi and evolved throughout the season. I love the main character (I call him my favourite baka) and I find him funny. I reccomand this anime.
The other two reviews of Reimeiroku have been written by people who were watching it as their first Hakuoki anime, so here's the opinion of someone who's more acquainted with the series.
Reimeiroku introduces many aspects that are relevant to later installments of the series, but I feel that it does it in such a way that you don't need to have previous knowledge to understand them. The characters are seeing these things for the first time too, and you discover them as they do. Nothing is "taken for granted" like it could happen in later installments. The pace is really good too, the story doesn't feel rushed, and I feel that they take enough time to explain things. Yes, of course there are some things left "unexplained" (like certain blonde guy who meets Serizawa), but that's because the person watching and the characters are not supposed to meet this person yet.
The script is well-written and so are the characters, they really feel the way they should and I can't think of anything they did or said that felt out of place. At least in my case, it made me empathise with the characters, their feelings conveyed by what they say, their expressions, and the overall mood.
Something that many people dabbing into otome adaptations for the first time may appreciate is that the protagonist is not a girl that finds herself surrounded by guys, but a guy name Ryunosuke Ibuki that ends up mixed in the problems of the Roshigumi by chance. In my opinion, Chizuru has a really strong personality and stands out from other otome protagonists, but I know not everyone thinks the same, so here you have Ibuki who is definitely not a substitute for the person reading/watching.
The animation is really good compared to the first Hakuoki anime, and so much effort has been put into it that even the stances the guys take before attacking are the ones you see in the games.
To sum up, I do recommend this anime to every fan of the Hakuoki series, not only because the game hasn't been localised, but because it's a really good adaptation. I knew what was going to happen at the end before watching it and I even watched the Reimeiroku musical before watching the anime, but the ending still left me in shock and speechless.<div id="__GAKUMEI__ROOT__POPUP__"> </div> <div id="__GAKUMEI__ROOT__MODAL__"> </div> <div id="__GAKUMEI__ROOT__ALERT__"> </div>
I'll start with the things I loved about it.
The visuals impressed me. The background and characters are very well shaped and the colours are very warm during social time but soon turn to cold when the plot thickens. I liked how the characters were drawn and some hair styles and face shapes really stood out.
I liked the backstory of each character and the fact that they are portrayed as having both good and bad within them so you're constantly changing your mind whether you like a character or not.
There is a little bit of swordplay involved, but not too much. I have to say I was expecting more action, but the few scenes of swordplay I saw weren't bad. The series has a slower pace and at times I enjoyed it but other times I just wanted for anything to happen. There isn't much suspense so each episode is not dragged on into the other.
Now the things that could have gone better:
What bothered me the most is the lack of justice sense. Characters get corrupted and while I started taking a side at the beginning I was on no one's side at the end. While this type of situation is more fitted for reality, it makes an unwatchable series but thankfully you don't know it until the end.
In the process of corruption of innocent minds, there is really no strong enough factor that contributes to it. There is a little bit of internal turmoil from some characters but nothing that would indicate they are going off the rails.
There is no hero and no bad guy to fight against. It's great to have characters with both good and bad, but ultimately there needs to be epic fights driven by clashing morals. Instead you get 'cardboard' characters fighting because that's what they do. No supreme jutice or protecting the weak or even protecting their honour. It's a mess.
I talked about cardboard characters. Although there are hints here and there that characters are developing, the changes in them can't be seen. They remain cold and unpenetrable so you can't empathyse with them. Actually you start empathysizing at first but as it goes they just remain plain and any liking towards any of them vanishes.
May contain some very vague spoilers.
So this is the only one of the 'Hakuouki' series that I have (and intend) to watch. I came for the bishounen and they were literally the only reason I forced myself to stay until the end.
The story was possibly one of the slowest I have ever watched. It sort of seemed like every day was spent watching Ryunosuke get sake for Serizawa, and watching the others roam the streets on 'patrols' which usually just left them frustrated at being ostrasised by the townspeople. I feel that there was a lot of potential within the plot, for the characters to develop and grow, but I can only assume that this development was being saved for the later seasons...?
The whole plot felt like it was just floating along, not really going anywhere, and that was exacally what happened. It just sort of teetered off with an opening for the later seasons. It was disappointing that this season felt like it was treated as an accompanyment for fans that would actually want to watch more.
The characters were fairly diverse, though they did fit into some tiring tropes that I have seen before in other animes. They were all distinct though, so I will give points for that. But overall, Hijikata's hair is what is earning the animation most of its points.
I never know what to say about the sound. It was fine, not particularly memorable.
The characters, like the story, didn't go anywhere. They were completely two-dimensional. Again, I must assume that they want the heroine of the following seasons to unlock their backstories and watch them grow (because of course they can't grow without a love interest present!).
Serizawa was the only character who had some interest to him, but he was actually quite an inconsistant character, which was portrayed very sloppily.
Our protagonist, Ryunosuke didn't really go anywhere,except for the last ten minutes of the final episode where he looked somewhat promising. His motivations were never made clear (at least in this season). Especially in the last episode. If you make it that far, I assume you will understand what I mean. He is a completely incomprehensable character, and not in a mysterious way, I promise you.
There are plenty of more satisfying animes out there, and this was more or less a waste of time.