The Legend of the Dog Warriors: The Hakkenden

Alt title: The Hakkenden

OVA (6 eps x 30 min)
1990 - 1991
3.114 out of 5 from 495 votes
Rank #14,099

The Awa clan is facing its extinction. The princess (Fuse) is wed to the family dog (Yatsufasa) when a promise is made for whoever kills the leader of the opposing clan will marry the princess. Yatsufasa is who accomplishes this. However, Yatsufasa and Fuse are killed, leaving the eight unborn pups to be reincarnated as the eight Dog Warriors: The Hakkenden.

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This OVA is good? Yes, but... Unfortunately things are not so straighforward. Let's unravel this OVA. The story is based on a novel written in XIX century that took 98 chapters and 28 years to finish. What is the importance of this you ask? Well, the whole OVA (this and the sequel) is comprised of only 13 chapters... needless to say things are heavily abridged here. Add to this the fact that right of the bat the story floods you with many dates and names and (atleast for me) things only start to make a little sense by episode 4. What is more, the plot is rarely told in a sequential manner, there are many flashbacks that start and finish before you even realise what happened. That being said, the overall plot is laid out heavily in the first episode and the subsequent ones use that as background with most of the episode focusing in one of the heroes in a more or less episodic fashion until the last three. The animation is definitely the high point of the OVA. The character design is also very good and every character stands out (weird to say that but it will make sense later on). Throughout the OVA the quality is very high and at some points getting even better, being on par with Akira's. The fight scenes are fluid, gory, tense and very well animated, some even on the edge of the experimental zone. The normal scenes are lively and it is clear that a lot of though was put into every detail by the animators. The characters in this OVA (the first part) are likeable and fleshed out, you can really understand their fears, worries and feelings overall. The sound is on point and the music is always present to make every scene even better. Overall, I would definitely recommend this one, but bear in mind everything I said about the story. It will be difficult to understand and I think that even with a second watch things won't get much clear. On the other hand, if you are familiarized with the novel I think the enjoyment will be much, much higher.

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