Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Review
Warning: The following review may/will contain spoilers of the series Katsugeki Touken Ranbu. If you wish to stay clear of what happens in the show's story, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched said show. Or, you know, you can take that warning with a grain of salt, and still read on anyway. Whatever floats your boat.
Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:
Now I'm going to reiterate points made when I briefly discussed this show in my update post back in August. I've only really talked about Touken Ranbu with the same online friend who pushed me towards Haikyuu in the Facebook group I've been in for a while now. Favorite characters, fanart, and just plain freaking out: that's what typically goes on. And while I was curious to see this anime while it was airing, I was too focused on Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai finishing in order to get to it at the first possible second. Plus, I was still unsure if I wanted to start with Hanamaru, the slice-of-life comedy based adaptation.
Well, here comes AnimeIowa with the promise that this is screening on Saturday. Shall we do it, Dazz? We shall. I was able to catch the ends of Episodes 1 and 4, plus the entire Episode 2. Enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, I decided to give it a chance right after the convention ended. I need sword boys in my life, I need something to fanboy about in my life, and I need to see if clothes get damaged or torn on male characters once in a while in my life.
What? I've seen Awakening stuff in in-game art. It's pretty hot, if you ask me.
So after a college visit one day with just me and my dad, I sat down to give this anime the full treatment it deserved. I then followed up with the rest that had aired that week, which led into Episode 6 airing that Saturday, and me having to watch it weekly. What did I find?
A fanboy's wet dream, that's what.
Oh, wait, they did that, didn't they? Whoops.
Regardless, I liked learning about more boys I hadn't heard about yet, saying hi to familiar faces I've seen around the internet, how the story progressed, the unit shifts (even though I'm more into The Second Unit), the glorious animation, the cinematic OST, the voice acting. I could go on and on and on and on about this show and it'll probably never get old.
IT'S BEAUTIFUL AND SHOULD HOPEFULLY GET ANOTHER SEASON BECAUSE GODDAMN DO I WANT TO SEE MORE IN ACTION! I'M NOT SURE WHAT THE MOVIE PROJECT ENTAILS, BUT I'D LIKE TO SEE MORE HUNKS IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN, OKAY?
Time to move on to the show's story before I accidentally excite myself into shock:
In the game world, you, the player, take on the role of Saniwa (translated to sage), who is able to travel to the past and animate legendary swords, who take on the form of beautiful young men (who, again, come in many different styles and flavors, from cute to STEAMING HOT). While Saniwa's gender can be up to the user (from what I've seen of Hanamaru, Saniwa's addressed by gender neutral pronouns), this version's Saniwa is a young boy (voiced by Junko Minagawa, no less). Though he does have projection prowess of his own, he is able to send Touken Danshi (Sword Warriors) into the past to fight the Time Retrograde Army, who plan to alter the course of history no matter the cost. These sword boys are in charge of protecting it, as expected.
As I liked to joke throughout this show's run, that's history for ya!
As there are a buttload of sword boys and it would be too much of a hassle to include them all, the production team decided to pick 12 men (six to a unit, as there's Unit 1 and Unit 2) to focus on. Mainly, we get to see the second unit and how they work together. Horikawa Kunihiro, who has recently manifested into a human form, reunites with his friend and comrade, Izuminokami Kanesada, who served under the same master as him (Hijikata Toshizo for anyone curious). Transported to 1863, the two work together on the latest threat before Unit 2 is officially BERN.
With Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki, Yagen Toshiro, Tonbokiri, and Tsurumaru Kuninaga (whose, to the surprise of no one, the last to join), it's time to buckle up and kick the Time Retrograde Army's ass! And with Kanesada in the lead, surely nothing can go wrong, right?
When a mission nearly goes awry and the Second Unit, backed to a wall, is forced to retreat, Kanesada begins thinking: Is protecting history worth the cost when more innocent lives are put on the line? And when the swords are transported to a time where Sakamoto Ryoma and Hijikata Toshizo once thrived, how does one react upon being face to face with their former master? Would they want to continue sending them to their doom? Or would they want to save them?
Also, let's see Unit 1 kick ass, because that's where it's at!
Like I mentioned in the introduction, this anime's story isn't 100% A+ perfect. Aside from the clarity issues, the pacing is a bit slow in the beginning and it takes a bit for the Second Unit to finish their first mission as a whole.
Also, for those wanting to see more of the sword boys, you'll only get 15 on screen outside of cameos. And when we get a look at this version's Citadel, there's plenty of boys running around.
OH LOOK I RECOGNIZE AT LEAST HALF OF THEM! JOLLY DAY!
But even with the story's obvious faults, THE ATTACHMENT FACTOR MAKES UP FOR IT IN TENFOLD! BOI!
I DIDN'T EXPECT TO HAVE AN EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT TO THIS ANIME! LIKE WITH HAIKYUU AND SERAPH OF THE END, IT COMPLETELY SNUCK UP ON ME AND LEFT ME DEFEATED IN ITS WAKE! HOW? WHY?
LIKE, THIS ANIME SENT ME INTO CARDIAC ARREST AT LEAST FIVE TIMES! I'M NOT KIDDING! THE ACTION, THE CHARACTER INTERACTIONS, THE HIGH STAKES, EPISODE 10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LET'S NOT FORGET THAT I FOUND THIS SHOW FUNNY! I DIED OF INTERNAL LAUGHTER VARIOUS TIMES THROUGHOUT THIS SHOW'S RUN! LIKE, HOW DID I GET SOMETHING SO PERFECT? I NEVER KNEW THAT I NEEDED THIS TO FILL MY VOLLEYBALL BOY-SIZED HOLE IN MY HEART THIS YEAR! I THOUGHT IT'D BE WELCOME TO THE BALLROOM, BUT APPARENTLY THAT SHOW'S REALLY SEXIST OR SOMETHING? THAT'S IRRELEVANT! JUST KNOW I HAD A LOT OF FUN WITH THESE BOYS AND EVERYTHING THEY OFFERED!
ANOTHER RANDOM FACT, BUT ...READY FOR IT CAME OUT THE DAY I SAW THE TENTH EPISODE! SO I WAS SLAYED TO HEAVEN AND BACK TWICE THAT DAY! TRUE STORY!
WATCHING THIS ENTIRE ANIME WAS LIKE ME BEING EXCITED TSURUMARU FROM HANAMARU TIMES TEN BECAUSE I WAS SO HYPED FOR EVERY EPISODE AND EACH ONE DELIVERED BEYOND MY EXPECTATIONS (episode 8 was the weakest, but it was still really good)! LIKE WHY? WHY WAS THIS ANIME THE ONE THAT BLESSED MY CROPS, CURED MY ACNE, MADE ME FORGIVE MY ROWDY GEOMETRY CLASS OF LAST YEAR, AND GAVE ME THE THOUGHT TO SPREAD THE FEELINGS OF HAPPINESS AND RAINBOWS TO EVERYONE I KNOW?
MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHY IS THIS SHOW OVER? I NEED MORE SWORD BOYS IN MY LIFE AND IN ANIMATED FORM LIKE THIS IS SERIOUS! WHERE ARE MY PRECIOUS ANIME MEN WHEN I NEED THEM MOST?
I UNDERSTAND THERE'S HANAMARU, BUT STILL! THIS IS THE SHOW I CRAVE MORE! SECOND SEASON WHEN? MORE CUTE VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS AND SEXY AF SWORD BOYS WHEN? I DON'T WANT TO GO THROUGH WITHDRAWAL!
I don't need to rekindle my thoughts, do I? Basically, I loved this show and want to take it home with me once the US sets come out no matter the cost and I want to cradle them in my arms and I want to whisper, "You are well-loved, you hear me? You changed my life and made me want to explore more of the sword and GODDAMN IT DO I WANT TO BE BURIED WITH YOU! LIKE GURL YAS MORE ANIME MEN PLEASE! I'D LIKE TO SEE A LITTLE MORE SKIN NEXT TIME, BUT YOU'RE AMAZING BEYOND THAT! YOU'RE THE PERFECT DATE MATERIAL! YOU'RE-"
*breathes slowly until perfectly calm*
Let's move on to the characters then.
It's obvious I don't know about half of the swords in this franchise. After watching this series, I can say that I at least know 20 of them. Knowing a few of the sword boys or being familiar with Touken Ranbu in itself is probably the best way to go into both Hanamaru and Katsugeki. In fact, maybe just doing a read-up on the franchise and on some Japanese history would do you good.
Then again, from someone who didn't do that, I came out just fine. I did go to a TR themed panel at San Japan and find out more background stuff (I even found a mini Iwatooshi plush that Luke ended up buying for me), plus watched Bakumatsu Rock a few years back, and having those connections did help in the back half of the series.
But I'm going off topic here. We're here for one thing only and that's to talk about some of the lovely sword boys that I didn't know about, had seen only briefly on the internet via fanart varying from oh look so cute to EROTIC, or had known for a while and already loved.
We'll get to you, Tsurumaru. I'm sorry to spoil the surprise, but we have others before you.
Unit 2's captain Izuminokami Kanesada is up first:
Kanesada is probably the only man thus far out of any anime I've seen who has made long hair look absolutely fabulous. Though I haven't seen a lot of them with long hair, yeah, this guy's going to hold the podium for a long time.
Crafted by a member from the eleventh generation of the Kanesada family, Kane was used prominently in the Ashikaga era, running from 1337 to 1573. Used by Hijikata Toshizo (his counterpart, despite appearing less in this anime, is actually more interesting than the one we got in Bakumatsu Rock. He's not a complete bore), the vice-commander of the Shinsegumi, he looked for a Kanesada to craft this sword to make it similar to his wakizashi (who's Horikawa Kunihiro, so no wonder they both have black hair and care for each other).
The saying goes that Kane holds some regret because he wasn't used in Hijikata's last battle in Hakodate. Instead, the vice-commander had him shipped back to his hometown along with a recent photo of himself. It's really heartbreaking to not be present when a master dies (I feel for these boys), but I do think Hijikata wanted to keep the sword preserved because he felt he was going to perish. Regardless, most of Kane's mannerisms are based off of his former master.
This was a character that made me go "Who's this?" before I even watched the anime. I then found out that he was voiced by Ryohei Kimura in Japanese shortly after, and got behind him immediately. But seeing him in action sealed the deal. I ended up liking this appointed leader more than I expected. Kanesada goes through a good deal of moral dilemmas regarding the protection of history as well as seeing his former master, and it's interesting to see how he deals with them. Sure, there's some moping and angst, but it's better than seeing characters take charge when they're in distress. You know how that turns out.
But when these situations happen, this sword boy makes sure to dust off his shoulders and comes back better than ever. He cares for his unit members, and he's definitely one of the reasons why they work as well as they do. Go, Kane! Go, go, go, Kane!
Let's move on to Horikawa:
UGH THE LAST ARC IS SO PAINFUL! WHY MUST THESE PRECIOUS MEN GO THROUGH SO MUCH PAIN?
Another character that I didn't hear about prior to this anime, Horikawa comes from the swordsmith Horikawa Kunihiro, who made two other swords that I'm aware of (another one will be talked about in this review later on, while one won't appear here at all). He also belonged to Hijikata, plus was left behind before the Battle of Hakodate. Horikawa has a strong kinship with Kanesada, having served the same master and fought by his side, and works best when working together with him. Though it's not shown as much here, he does try to imitate or impress him, so much so that an official tweet claimed him to be akin to a wife. So some of the creators clearly do ship it.
Mystery shrouds the sword's legitimacy, as Kunihiro was believed to have only made them measuring 60 centimeters. However, Horikawa measured at least one less. That with the fact that Horikawa's model wasn't as common in the Bakumatsu period, he is considered to be a fake. He is also a sword that may not even exist today, as after World War II and following a disarmament political measure, the Japanese government gathered up about 200,000 swords and dumped them into the ocean. Some were recovered, but others weren't. Horikawa is likely one of them.
Ah, historical facts. Some may hate them, but I've always had a soft spot for social studies and the world's history.
BUT MOVING ON. Horikawa is precious. He cares a lot for Kanesada, so much so that he slips away from the Second Unit to try to save his former master's life. He's incredibly selfless and pretty strong, and it's nice to see him fight without his trusty partner by his side all of the time. Definitely not my favorite character from this series, but the fact that he cares so much for his partner, that he goes against the master's orders to try to save Hijikata's life, just to make Kanesada see that it could be possible, warms my heart. Also, he cute.
Time to talk about Mutsunokami:
I first heard about this character through Mazjojo. Not a SFW illustration, but a censored NSFW reward for his Patreon. You can find the uncensored set on the dark corners of the internet, but just be warned that it's DIRTY.
Mutsunokami was made by the swordsmith of the same name, and was most prominent in the Bakumatsu period. He was used by Ryoma Sakamoto (who y'all probably know from his adaptation in Bakumatsu Rock, though here he's voiced by Daisuke Ono). He was one of the prime members of the Meiji Restoration against the Shinsegumi during this period, and it doesn't end happily like in BR. Whereas two of the adapted boys join the main group, here they don't (the head commander still dies, though). Acting mainly on his own, Ryoma was exposed to many Western ideals thanks to working as an assistant to Katsu Kashu, the commissioner of the Tokugawa navy, who the former actually tried to assassinate at first, and was able to unite the Satsuma and Choshu clans for an alliance, even though the two clans hated each other.
Common belief is that Ryoma died with Mutsunokami in his hands after being caught off-guard when he and his close friend, Nakaoka Shintaro, were killed at Ikedaya Inn. When Ryoma tried to reach for his sword as a reflex (rather than his gun), the assassin cut though the sheath so that he couldn't use it. Something meta does come up in this series, but I'm not going to spoil it because it will blow some of your minds.
Since Ryoma was born in Tosa, Mutsunokami has an dialect, and also uses a pistol in battle occasionally outside of his sword due to Ryoma using one himself. Also, thank new ideas from the West.
MUTSUNOKAMI IS SUCH A CINNAMON BUN! He is quite cocky and very clearly does not get along with Kanesada (the exact reason is unclear, but I think it has to do with their similar personalities. They put their differences aside for a few episodes, though), and he's also a bit arrogant. Since he does have skills with a pistol (and at the time he was prominent, it was a new discovery in Japan), he's confident in using it and thinks it can be more effective in facing off enemies than a sword. He'll still use his sword, but the rifle is just more handy to him. That's understandable.
OUTSIDE OF THAT, THIS BOY IS THE PUREST THING EVER! He gets excited about EVERYTHING. From getting a chance to chow down (especially if it's on daifuku), to seeing a steamship, to getting to steer a steamship, to bond with his unit, HE'S JUST TOO SWEET! HE CARES SO MUCH AND HE HAS LAYERS AND HE'S SO BEAUTIFUL AND I WANT TO ADOPT HIM! OKAY? NO ONE GETS TO BE THIS CUTE! NO ONE!
HIS SMILE CAN CURE ANYTHING! LOOK AT IT! LOOK AT IT!
Wait, I don't need to do that. I'm just going to fanboy about the next character anyways, who is none other than Tsurumaru Kuninaga:
Ah, he's just as beautiful farther back. This boy first came to me from searching up this franchise in the first place and looking at his fanart.
WHICH IS GLORIOUS BY THE WAY I HAVE TOO MANY PICS BECAUSE HE IS #BAE AND IS MY FAVORITE SWORD LIKE WHY DOES HE HAVE TO BE SO PRETTY I CAN'T!
Wow, what trash am I, right? #humanwastebin, and don't expect that to go away because it's my new favorite thing.
ANYWAYS, Tsurumaru has a long and detailed history with many masters and rumors. I would make a Rumor Has It pun, but I doubt it's appropriate. Forged around the Heian era by the swordsmith Gojou Kuninaga, he first ended up in the hands of a 14-year old boy from the Adachi Clan named Sadayasu. After getting killed with the rest of his clan in the Shimotsuki Incident (though he ended up in that situation thanks to bad luck), Tsurumaru was dug out of the boy's grave by another young teen, this time Hojo Sadatoki, who just so happened to be the regent who gave the orders to exterminate the Adachi Clan. Awkward.
Believed to have stayed with the young boy at the time as a way to cope with the loss of his previous master, the sword stayed with the Hojo Clan until Sadatoki's son, Takatoki, was beaten in battle by Nitta Yoshisada. which overthrew the Clan's rule of the Kamakura shogunate. After they were officially annihilated, Tsurumaru was shortly presented to Oda Nobunaga, given to Akechi Mitsuhide's retainer (Mimaki Kagenori), having it taken to the battlefield by his son in 1600, getting lost before finding a resting place at the Fushimi Fujimori Shrine, before being taken away from the shrine by Koudeki from the Honami family, who was infatuated with the sword's beauty.
Perhaps this is why Tsurumaru, as a person, like surprises and mischief. He had such a turbulent life, being passed from master to master, that this is his way of coping with it. Also hating boredom, Tsurumaru tries to bring his fun personality onto the battlefield as well, which is actually pretty cool to watch. I MEAN, HE WAITS FOR THE TIME RETROGRADE ARMY WHILE SITTING AT ONE POINT!
TOTAL BABE! TOTAL BABE!
I think my previous knowledge of Tsurumaru caused me to really like seeing him in action. He's the last one to arrive for Unit 2, showing up at the end of Episode 4. I didn't really care, since I had great characters up to that point, but I WAS SO HYPED FOR TSURUMARU! Of course he made a fabulous entrance, and of course he ended up being my favorite character from this anime. Aside from being really entertaining and lovable, he's a great addition to the Second Unit. Aside from just having THE TIME OF HIS LIIIIIIFE in battle, Tsurumaru has a softer side as well, and the two do balance each other out pretty well.
He's also pretty much me in terms of energy and spirit wherever I go, because believe it or not I do have a OMG YAS MUST DO EVERYTHING side to me (like many others). It's a goal of mine to eventually cosplay as him so my state as a "dank meme" can be complete. Maybe next year?
Oh, wait, no. Definitely next year. This'll be fun after Grell, Ranmaru, and Honey.
It's now time to jump to the First Unit, starting with another iconic character I knew about before I watched this, Mikazuki:
JIJI! HELLO! HOW ARE YOU? Everyone likes to call you Jiji because you are one of the five great swords of Japan, plus you were crafted WAY earlier than the other ones mentioned, You've seen a lot, haven't you?
First seen in fanfiction (Kogitsunemaru x Mikazuki fanfic to be precise, and the former does make a cameo here), this "old man" was made in 989 by Sanjo Munechika, a well-known craftsman from the mid-Heian period. Representative of swords with the Sanjo build, he was regarded as what I mention earlier during the Muromachi era, which lasted from 1392-1573. So this guy has clearly seen the big picture. And I swear, his scars are fine. He stayed with the Tokugawa shogun starting in the 1600s until modern times
Design-wise, there are two noteworthy things about him that I just found out and think are really cool. So I'll tell them here. On his sword, Mikazuki has Uchinoke, which is crescent moon-shaped. In tune with his name (which literally means crescent moon. See it now?), it also represents his swordsmith's prowess. On his clothing, there is sayagata, a pattern of interlocking manji. Originating in India, where it was often applied to Buddhist architecture, it was introduced to Japan following imported textiles from China during the Tensho era. Associated with strength, it is known to appear most often on the clothing of strong characters, whether they are heroes or villains. And Mikazuki's pretty strong.
Otherwise nonchalant and chill when not fighting off the Time Retrograde Army, Mikazuki seems like the older sibling who wants to know what the youngsters are up to these days. I respect that. At times witty and breezy, Mikazuki also has a secret punch to him since he is so highly regarded and one of the older swords. Seeing him in action is awesome, everyone in the fandom adores him, and he's just so relaxed that I can't help but be drawn to this sword boy. He may say things some won't understand, because again, he's older, but his beauty and personality are so nice you just want them to show up in other areas of your life.
You know, the ones where you don't feel like stress is going to come knocking on your door on a weekend night. Just relax, take some deep breaths, and Mikazuki doth appear in your body.
Not psychically, of course. Like...spiritually. Ah, you get my point.
Last but certainly not least, it's time to talk about the captain of Unit 1, Yamanbagiri:
This is the other Kunihiro sword I hinted at (I couldn't call one Kunihiro because then confusion would exist), and another sword in their entirety I found out about through Mazjojo NSFW art. WOOT WOOT!
Wait, is that a good thing?
Yamanbagiri was crafted by Horikawa Kunihiro during the Azuchi Momoyama period. A replica of another nihontou, also called Yamanbagiri, this sword typically likes to wear a white cloak to hide himself, stating that he is no good only because he is a copy. The funny thing is, his swordsmith was asked to make a replica of the Yamanbagiri nihontou by Nagao Akinaga, who was then the lord of Ashikaga Castle. The latter wanted a nihontou that was just as spectacular as the original Yamanbagiri, because according to legend, the first was able to kill a mountain witch named Yamanba. And since giri is one way to say to cut in Japanese, that's where the name comes from.
Despite being a replica, the sword is said to be very beautiful. Measuring 70.6 centimeters and privately owned, it it Horikawa's best work. Some argue that since it's so pretty and a work of art, Yamanbagiri's status as a duplicate should be revoked. Time will tell whether this happens, though.
It's clear that Yamanbagiri's thoughts on being a "replica" will be on prime display in Hanamaru, but we do get a glimpse of it here when someone from Nitroplus penned Episode 7 and everyone went ballistic. Except me, who was just like, "Okay. The tone's slightly different. I've never played the game, but is this episode written by someone who has more knowledge of these characters than the main staff of writers do?"
Regardless, I liked Yamanbagiri. He's pretty cool and pretty (though he doesn't like being called pretty), and I do like his approach at being captain compared to Kanesada. It is strong leadership, but drawn back a bit, which makes sense given his personality (no one look at me I'm nothing I'm worthless I'm just a duplicate). Also, since Unit 1 has been together longer than Unit 2 has (aside from the addition of Honebami Toshiro), that plays into it too. They're comrades, nakama, whatever you want to call it, and since they've been fighting together for a while, they have a better bond.
LIKE, WATCH EPISODE 7 AND SEE HOW THEY FIGHT AGAINST THE TRA COMPARED TO UNIT 2 AT FIRST! BOI! THEY'RE SO COOL!
Other characters include the rest of Unit 2, where we have Tonbokiri (BARA DADDY), and Yagan Toshiro (who everyone loves except me. He's still cool, though), the rest of Unit 1, where we have Honebami Toshiro (precious snow child), Higekri and Hizamaru (amigas, cheetahs, bros for life), and Oodenta Mitsuyo (I am thunder HEAR ME RAWR), cameos of Kogisunemaru, Mitsutada, and Ookurikara, the master of all the boys, Saniwa (though the master in general can also be referred to as the Saniwa), Konnosuke and the First Unit's Konnosuke, and the representations of Ryoma Sakamoto and Hijikata Toshizo.
The animation for this series was produced by Ufotable, who are also known for their work on Fate/Zero, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (or otherwise known as Unlimited Budget Works thanks to the fans), and the Tales of Zestiria the X franchise.
Everyone ADORES Ufotable. Praised for their godly production values and just general prettiness, they've become a household name. This was my first experience with them, and I was looking forward to see what would come out of this production. After all, we have so many beautiful sword boys and action to get rolling out the runway.
Well, I'm happy to say that this delivered. All of the Unit 2 boys were designed by different characters designers, but there isn't any difference. They all look like they're from the same anime rather than scattered throughout multiple shows, which is nice. Each episode has money poured into every inch of it, from gorgeous looking fight scene choreography, beautiful CGI that should not exist, the most realistic looking backgrounds I have ever seen from an anime series, and THE GODDAMN LIGHTING! YAS SLAY ME UFOTABLE WITH YOUR PILES AND PILES OF CASH AND DEDICATION! YAS!
But I expected nothing less from you in the end, Ufotable. Some may complain that your stories don't turn out well, but they lose their s**t when your animation appears on the screen. Me, liking both, collectively lost my s**t everywhere. Well done, you.
The score for this series was composed by Hideyuki Fukasawa, who is also known for working on video games such as Chaos Legion, the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 games, and Street Fighter X Tekken, as well as scores for shows like Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Flowers of Evil, and Vividred Operation.
Looking up Fukasawa, I was immediately appealed to his resume. I have seen and played a bit of the two fighting games mentioned above (my library used to have the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 version, and that was my shite), so I was familiar with him and his work, just not in anime. He has impressed me in the past, and he impressed me here. I didn't even need to worry.
The best part about the score for this show is how immersive it is. It's filled with subtle instrumental textures that call back the eras of time the swords come from/travel to, epic swells when the fighting swords come out, fun electronic numbers, and beautiful orchestration. It plops you right into the setting and makes you feel like you're there with the boys. It's cool and made me feel like I was in a video game, which didn't surprise me when I found out what the composer had for his works.
Voice acting wise, there was also much to love. There's a good mix of seiyuus that I've heard of, along with others that were new to me. It provided a good balance of favorites and ones on their way to becoming them. Kento Hama made an adorable Mutsunokami, Junko Minagawa made a bomb AF Saniwa, Soma Saito voiced a character that I liked upon first sight (Yamaguchi took a few episodes to grow on me in Haikyuu), and all of the cameos made me smile despite not knowing as much about their characters (the historical figures count in that equation too). All around, it seemed like everyone was having fun, and so did I.
I'm not exactly sure what Aniplex is planning for the official release over here in terms of a dub, since FUNimation has the rights to Hanamaru and gave it a Broadcast Dub, but we'll just have to wait and see. It'll be interesting to see the talents from LA putting their spin on the characters that have already gotten life in Texas, though Vic Mignogna will come back as Mikazuki if he's in LA at the time of recording.
Highlights are Ryohei Kimura, Junya Enoki, Kento Hama, Soma Saito, Tooru Sakurai, Seiichiro Yamashita, Junko Minagawa, Takuma Nagatsuka, Tomoaki Maeno, Kosuke Toriumi, Yuto Suzuki, Daisuke Namikawa, Natsuki Hanae, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Noriaki Sugiyama, Daisuke Ono, Tetsu Inada, Takashi Kondo, Takuya Sato, and Makoto Furukawa.
This is probably the most unprofessional and fanboy-filled review I have ever written, but yet, I have no regrets. Katsugeki Touken Ranbu gave me something fun and eventful every week, causing me to experience all of the emotions possible in 13 episodes. It's a fanboy/girl paradise, and despite having a few problems, I can easily overlook them because ERRRMAAAAHHHGAWWWWWD THIS WAS AMAZING AND EVERYTHING I NEVER KNEW I NEEDED THIS YEAR!
I was helped by the friend mentioned in the introduction with writing the Characters section, as she supplied me with a great Tumblr page detailing the sword boys' backstories in one convenient place. Since it turned out to be pretty interesting, take a look if this franchise compels you.
Anyways, this is recommended to fans of the game or the guys, and if you're new to Touken Ranbu in general, I'd say start with this instead of Hanamaru. You won't be overwhelmed by as many swords.
OMG ALL THE PRETTY SWORD BOYS I'M-
Good voice acting.
FLAIL FLAIL FLAIL FLAIL!
Weaknesses of the series are canceled out by all of the positives.