Disguised as a man, Chizuru Yukimura has come to Kyoto searching for her missing father, a doctor who developed a magical elixir that increases the drinker's speed, strength and healing abilities. Instead of her father, however, she stumbles across a battle between the Shinsengumi and the Furies, evil vampire-like creatures of their own making.
Hakuouki is an anime made by Studio DEEN, who have, in recent years, gained infamy for putting their names to a variety of very poor shows in recent years, as well as making a horribly butchered adaptation of Umineko. So, does Hakuouki enter the ranks of awful DEEN series, or does it redeem the studio? Well, put simply, it is terrible. It is a perfect example of why DEEN are a bad studio. There isn't a single good thing about it. But before I get into the details about why Hakuouki is horrible, let's just sum up what Hakuouki is about for those not familiar with the series. The series is introduced with a young "boy" trying to escape from a strange vampire-like demon. At the last minute, "he" is saved by a group of samurai, who then take "him" hostage. As it turns out, the "boy" has seen more than he should have done, and is now being held captive by a large group of suspiciously attractive men. As it also turns out, the boy is named Chizuru and is not a boy, and is a girl disguising as one. If this sounds cliché to you then that's probably because it is. As it turns out, Chizuru is looking for her father, a doctor who went missing in Kyoto. Later on, it turns out that her father is involved with the medicine that turns men into the aforementioned vampires that are never once called vampires in spite of being nocturnal creatures once human but now superhuman who lust after human blood. Now, the biggest problem with Hakuouki is, rather simply, that it is boring. Throughout the entire 12 episodes, the show held my interest for maybe 5 seconds at most. Despite being a show about swordsmen and demons, there is very little action. While a similar statement can be made of Saraiya Goyou, a similarly themed show that aired at the same time, the fact is that while the latter keeps the viewer's interest with a quirky style, fascinating dialogue, and originality, Hakuouki does nothing of the sort. Hakuouki is rather bland, having no real selling point other than the cast of bishonens. Stylistically, the themes that run through Hakuouki have been done before many times, and better. And the worst complaint that can be said of it is the dialogue. Hakuouki is an adaptation of a visual novel, but it doesn't seem to understand the "adaptation" part of that. Everything in this show is just talking. The action is almost never focused on, and is completely weightless when it is. The plot has no intrigue or suspense. It is just talking. This could have been forgiveable, but even worse is that the dialogue isn't even good. It's just boring and lifeless, and it begs the question of why this was taken from a VN at all when it simply acts exactly like one. Now, I said before that the selling point of the show is the bishonens, but there's a problem with that too. As a heterosexual male, I know that I am not the target audience, but there are still some clear problems even taking that into account. For a start, there isn't a single character in this show with a likeable or memorable character trait. Every single one of them is completely one-dimensional. None of them are developed on, very few of them go through any kind of personal struggle, and at the end of it almost every character is simply forgettable. To make things worse, the character design in Hakuouki is extremely weak. It is often completely impossible to tell one character apart from another, with them all being uniformed, alongside many of them sharing various features with other characters, and combined with my previous complaint it can often make the show confusing out of a lack of basic knowledge for which character is which. The only character who is actually worth mentioning here is Chizuru, the shoddily disguised centre of our reverse-harem. But don't mistake my meaning, she is by no means a good character. For the most part, she is only memorable simply for being the only girl. But due to her being in focus, unlike 90% of the cast, she becomes memorable, and her faults become noticeable. For one, she does not help the plot at all for most of the series, except towards the end, in which her only role is to become a living MacGuffin that the enemy forces want. When thrown into combat, she is completely useless, and seems to have no self-defence instinct whatsoever, leading other characters to become injured in her stead while she just stands there. The ending is one of the few moments where the show is actually interesting, but it may also be the worst for the complete contradictions we are shown. Now, I don't want to spoil anybody, but it's going to be hard to discuss the ending without doing so, so if you are particularly spoiler-sensitive and want to watch this series for whatever reason, I would advise you to skip the rest of this paragraph. Basically, one of the samurai is killed in front of Chizuru, and a member of the enemy force is nearby at the time, though he was not the one responsible. Another member of the samurai sees this, blames the demon, and drinks the potion that turns people into the not-vampire creatures so he will have the strength to kill him. Now, there are several problems with this. For a start, a very curious question is raised... where did he get the potion? The potion is not supposed to be easily accessible, for obvious reasons. He had no reason to plan for an event like this, so he would not have prepared it. There is no foreshadowing or reason that suggests he was already considering the change. It simply doesn't make sense. But on top of that, after the battle, he reveals that he knew that the man wasn't responsible for his death. Which now means that the drinker just sentenced himself to a life as an undead monster to get revenge on a man he knew wasn't even responsible. Sadly, Hakuouki repeatedly proves itself to be a terrible show without a single redeeming feature, but just to put the cherry on top, DEEN are giving it a sequel in the fall. Yes, you heard that right... somehow, this mess of an anime has gathered enough of a fanbase to warrant a sequel. So sadly, we haven't even seen the end of this series. I'm sure I've made this clear by now, but my verdict on this anime is simply a no. It does not deserve to be watched by anybody, and if there is any justice in the world it will have been completely forgotten by the end of the year... at least if DEEN don't end up making a third series. Final Words: I'd have more fun watching paint dry. Animation/Graphics: 3/10 Story/Plot: 1/10 Music/Background: 6/10 Overall: 1/10
Chizuru's story starts off in quite a common manner ( minus the rounin who are chasing her for reasons unknown ). Her father goes missing and she decides that it's been far too long since she heard from him so armed with a sword and a boy's attire, she sets out. Only to attract the attention of rounin who have nothing better do than chase a "boy" who did nothing to them ( I still have no idea why they were chasing her but well, rounin are rounin and we need something to start off with ). Much to Chizuru's horror, the rounin are cut down by demon-like men, their hair gleaming white in the dark of the night. And they're about to cut her down too, when three men suddenly appear and save the day. But no, these men are not your conventional heroes. They are part of the Shinsengumi, a group of "police officers" whom the general population share no feelings of camaraderie for, at that time, a rebellion was slowly stirring. Chizuru is handled none-too-gently for witnessing what happened and the Vice-Commander, Hijikata Toushizou is convinced that "he" must be killed. The gentle Commander, Kondou Isami is hesitant and we are slowly introduced to the other characters at this point. Okita Souji, Saitou Hajime, Harada Sanosuke, Toudou Heisuke, Nagakura Shinpachi and Sannan Keisuke. Chizuru is saved by the fact that the Shinsengumi too, is searching for her father and they they agree to keep her with them until he is found. Hakuouki is a historical anime and still surprisingly, all the main male characters are models of the real-life people, apart from Sannan-san. One thing that you'll love about the anime is the male characters. All of them, while fiercely protective of Chizuru, do not display what typical reverse harem boys do. They don't constantly try to grab her attention or sweep her off her feet, only trying to cheer her up and sharing their true feelings with her. If there are any special feelings, the boys give way to the canon couple because there is no time to fight over love when everything they've been fighting for is falling apart. Chizuru, while spending time with the group, discovers quite accidentally exactly why the Shinsengumi are searching for her father and is shocked. A not-so-chance meeting with a mysterious blond who is after her reveals much about herself that even she had no idea about. Most people describe Chizuru as a spineless character who is of absolutely no use but I think that's exactly what she exists for - to bring out the best of the male characters. It's true that she's mostly unable to fight for herself, having to constantly depend on others but it's not exactly her fault. She has the ability to move on and tries her best to help others. The anime managed to capture my attention with the events that were going on. Slowly but surely, the cogs of fate began to turn and started breaking down the protective shield that made the Shinsengumi what it was. Hakuouki is not at all the sparkles and rainbows it appears to be. The events of the anime faithfully follow what happened in real life and then you begin to realise that victory doesn't come as easily as it appears to. Even so, Hakuouki is intriguing exactly because of that. Enemies and evil are not black and white. It's a blend of colours, never singular and that's exactly what the inevitable war that the Shinsengumi are about to face is. The end of this first season points towards more bloodshed, tragedy and unfortunate events. At this point of time, can they keep holding on? The characters are not one-sided. They have flaws, their own personalities and they make decisions that might not always be the right thing. Their lives, quite refreshingly, do not centre around the female lead and the choices they make might, at times, be surprising. If you're someone like me who has a strong interest in historical events, then Hakuouki is the anime for you. It explores what happened in a truly gripping way. I fell in love with the OP and ED but the OSTs are quite mediocre. The voice acting, however, was superb and the characters were really expressed well, especially Okita's voice, which I really fell in love with and Chikage, whom Tsuda Kenjirou-san voiced ( I absolutely loved him as Spanner ). The animation was one of the strong points, in my opinion, Hakuouki is rightfully not tagged reverse harem but the bishounen quality is still there and the colours are kind of dark-themed, there aren't really any bright colours. Hakuouki, as the first part of the series, did a wonderful job of introducing the characters to us and I will explore the second season in my review for it. It's not just fans of historical anime, I honestly don't think action fans will be disappointed by this either and if you're a huge fan of romance, then Hakuouki will definitely fulfill your thirst for it. Masochistic people ( like me ) who just can't stop watching tragedies, then, this, surprisingly might just be your cup of tea.
I really enjoyed this anime. I was not really sure what to expect when I started it, but was drawn in quickly. It is hard to give a specific genre to this anime other than historical. It seems realistic in conparison to other animes, even though it has fantisical elements. It is a romance, but not like your typical shojo romance. It is very heartfelt, but not overly dramatic. It is bloody and contains lots of sword fights, but there is more to it than war (even though war is what takes place in the anime). Somehow, aside from all "action", my girly side was still apeased. Beautiful animation and music. The only reason I don't give it full points, is because there were still a few questions I had after the second season was over (but not enough to make me unhappy with the ending). In the end if you like swordfights and historical elements, you will like this anime. If you like lots of handsome men protecting one girl, you will like ths anime.
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