After their protector gods are stolen, a high school girl named Akane descends from the skies to the people of Kyou. She has within her the power of the Dragon God and is welcomed as a savior; but has she come to save Kyou, or destroy it? While she struggles to control her power, her demon summoner works behind the scenes to use her as a tool of vengeance. To make matters worse, the 8 Hachiyou who would defend her have not yet been fully gathered. Even as they come to Akane’s side, they must first fight their own demons before they can help her return Kyou’s gods…
Okay, let me level with you. This anime is trash. But it is enjoyable trash. In fact, it is my absolute favorite trash to watch. Ever. So here's the deal.If you have ever seen Fushigi Yugi, you can probably gauge how much you will enjoy this show by how much you enjoyed that, because in a lot of aspects, Hachiyou Shou is pretty much a Fushigi Yugi ripoff of epic proportions. Now, I should probably mention before we start that this show is based off a video game. Said game is much better than the show plot-wise. If you're a fan of otome games and can read Japanese, I highly recommend it. Anyways, let's get this show on the road. STORY Okay so our basic story here is that a regular schoolgirl gets sucked into a magical world where it turns out she's this hella important priestess, and she has to gather a bunch of smokin' hot guardians so she can save the capital. Sound familiar? Of course it does, because whoever made this show decided to expand upon cursory similarities between the game's plot and Fushigi Yugi and as a result the anime has gone full on Fushigi Yugi ripoff. The anime consists of two different story arcs. The first one is passable and definitely does have its moments, but overall it's poorly paced and some of the filler episodes come straight out of nowhere and really feel like they don't fit. The second story arc, however, is better paced, and that's when the show comes into its own. I think this is probably because the second story arc is actually loosely based on the plot of the game, while the first story arc was clearly just the anime's writers making up a bunch of stuff and not bothering to string it into something more than passably coherent. Still, as mangled as it is, it really does have a way of drawing you in. Like I know from my description it sounds like it would be painful to watch but it's not. Something about it just makes you feel like you can roll with it. I don't know what that something is, but its there. I just remember sitting through the first story arc and thinking to myself "yes, objectively this is trash but for some reason I cannot help but love every minute of it." Oh did I mention it's set in a fictionalized version of Heian era Japan? Because it is, and that's amazing. ANIMATION Okay, it's clear whoever animated this had a huge art boner for Fushigi Yugi, I'm just saying. Thankfully it's better drawn and animated than Fushigi Yugi, but the similarities are there. Here are a few examples of exactly what you're going to be looking at for the next 26 episodes. FY similarities aside, I absolutely love the show's aesthetic and character design. It's one of my favorite things about it. SOUND -Music- Hey, I hope you like open domain classical music, because that's about 30% of this show's soundtrack. I also hope you like their one dramatic leitmotif (I believe it's called Taihi, based on some sheet music I found of it) because 60% of the show's background music is various remixes of it. The same tune. For nearly every dramatic moment there is. The remaining 10% is the characters' image songs and instrumental mixes thereof. I admit these are actually very good (My personal favorite is Kageri no Fuuin). However, they do not play often and when they do, often your appreciation of them as actual pieces of music will be overshadowed by your relief that you don't have to listen to Taihi for the twentieth time that episode. I did like the opening theme, but then again I like pretty much anything that Tomokazu Seki sings. He has a great voice. -Voices- Oh man, does this show have a great voicecast. Like, for what it is this show sure does have a pretty star studded voice cast. This is probably because they managed to get the same voicecast as the game, which was extremely popular and made a lot of money in Japan. Now normally I wouldn't list the voice actors, but since Anime Planet's character list for this show as of the time I'm writing this doesn't show any voice actors, let me put a couple names to those characters' faces for you -- Shinichiro Miki plays Yorihisa, Kazuhiko Inoue plays Tomomasa, Kouki Miyata plays Shimon, Tomokazu Seki plays Tenma, and Akira Ishida plays Yasuaki. That's all I remember off the top of my head. Anyway, they all do a super great job. Voices are 10/10, only reason sound in general gets a lower score is because of how often the same piece of music plays over and over. Seriously, by now I can hum that tune in my SLEEP, it's ridiculous. CHARACTERS This show may kind of be trash, but the characters, oh my gosh, the characters. They are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Even the worst possible anime adaptation would not be able to mess up these characters. Now I admit the protagonist Akane is rather bland. They based her on an otome game protagonist with no set personality after all, and they didn't really do much to differentiate her from said game protagonist. But the others - oh, where do I start? Each of Akane's eight guardians is unique in their own special way, and no matter what type of character you like, at least one of them probably fits. While each of them may just seem like a stereotype at first, they all have this great hidden depth. These are the kind of characters that make you FEEL. The villains are pretty great too. Especially Iktidarl. Iktidarl is great. I'll give you a quick rundown of the eight guardians, but I can't do more than a cursory summary because I'm trying not to touch on any spoilers here. First off we've got Tenma and Shimon. Tenma is the tall redhead and Shimon is the short blonde kid. They're Akane's two best friends who end up getting sucked back in time with her, and they become two of her guardians. Tenma is the impulsive, overprotective type while Shimon is an adorable sweet little cinnamon roll who is pretty much just too nice for this world. Yorihisa is a broody samurai who is always super proper and way too serious.He's very critical of himself and he's even more overprotective than Tenma. Inori is a hotheaded blacksmith's apprentice. He's loud and energetic. He dislikes Shimon initially due to reasons I can't discuss here without spoilers. They become good friends later on though, it's really heartwarming. Every series needs the intellectual nerd with glasses. That's Takamichi. He's a government official and a complete workaholic. He's a nice guy but he has a huge stick up his ass. Then there's Takamichi's polar opposite, Tomomasa. He is a sarcastic, lazy, flirtatious sack of garbage and he doesn't give two shits about anything. Tomomasa is great he is such a loveable piece of trash. Eisen is a shy, soft spoken monk with some SERIOUS self confidence issues. He's a total sweetheart and is pretty much the biggest woobie in the series. Lastly, there's Yasuaki. He's really the hardest to summarize because a even a basic accurate summary for him risks revealing what is probably the second biggest spoiler in the series. Let's see, what can I tell you? Um. He's an onmyouji. He's very calm and collected, and he can often come off as rather cold. That description doesn't really do him justice but you're going to have to live with it. He's my personal favorite and I wish I could tell you more about him without spoiling stuff. Anyways, there's your brief summary. I'm going to stop there because if I allowed myself any more I'd up and write a freakin' novel about these guys, spoiling the entire show for you in the process. OVERALL I'm aware that with my complaints about the series, I'm really not doing a very good job of convincing anyone to watch it. But please note that in my watched list I have rated it five stars. Please note my avatar and profile both contain fanart of this series. There is a reason for that. And I really, really wish I could tell you this is a super high quality anime through and through. But I can't lie. This anime is trash. But it is GOOD trash. It is the kind of trash a dumpster diver would pick out and keep instead of just throwing it back. It just has some quality about it that makes it really really hard to not love, even if from an objective standpoint it's probably more mediocre. And I wish I could tell you exactly what that quality is, but it's one of those things that is really hard to pinpoint. So here is my recommendation: Please, please watch this trash and join me here in the trash bin. You won't regret it.
The plot was, well, if you're a fan of Fushigi Yuugi then chances are you'll love this anime because there are so many similarities between these two series. Harukanaru still had it's own unique twists though. Much like Fushigi Yuugi, Harukanaru is about a young girl who is transported to another world, or time (not really sure which, that confused me a bit...) and she is given the role of priestess to save their people. As priestess she begins to collect a group of bishounen Guardians (yay for bishies! xD) and they work together to do just that (save the people). Of course, there is an evil trying to stop them and take over, causing them all kinds of problems (when isn't there evil? -_-'). The art in this anime is actually very nice. Much better than Fushigi Yuugi but considering this anime was made almost a decade after FY, it was to be expected. The soundtrack was lovely and the VA's did quite a nice job. The characters were, well, Akane kind of annoyed me at times and so did the princess and a couple of other characters, but, I still really enjoyed the characters personalities and seriously loved Eisen, Yasuaki, Yorihisa, Tenma, Takamichi, and Shimon ... and Tomomasa (I really liked to look at him as he and Yasuaki were just ... WOW!) But Tomomasa kinda irritated me a bit so not really my fave character, but I still loved looking at him! xD (Tomomasa is the guy with the long teal hair and the flower Kimono while Yasuaki, my personal fave eye candy, is the guy with the green hair with the bun on the side of his head with the two tone eyes and beaded necklace ... yum! xD) Anyway, getting off topic here lol. I did enjoy this anime, but the ending left me a little lost... despite that, if you enjoyed Fushigi Yuugi then you should give this anime a go! ^ this is Yasuaki ... look and drool ... watch the anime for him, if nothing else! xD
Had I not already seen Fushigi Yugi, or Saiyunkoko Monogatari, I would have probably given this a higher rating. Probably. Only because this storyline followed through on the mystical aspects where Saiyunkoku wanted to go but struggled to. The characters were stereotypical of the reverse-harem trope, they could have been developed more and the main female lead could have chosen to not string along her childhood friend :/
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