Posted by psgels on 6 April 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews, Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto


Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto takes place in the Meiji-era, where supernatural events can occur. It follows Akizuki Youjiro, a very talented swordsman who has been tasked to seal an item called “the Lord’s Head”. This item is able to fully control others, and has to be sealed no matter what. A theatre-troupe, meanwhile is out on revenge.

One thing that immediately strikes with this series: its awesome production-values. Seriously, this series showcases some of the highest-quality art and animation for a tv-series. Characters move extremely fluid, the CG is terrific, and especially the background art is extremely detailed. The graphics just ooze with realism like no other series has managed to do before. And if that wasn’t good enough, this anime comes with an absolutely smashing soundtrack, which doesn’t lose focus for even an episode.

On top of that, it comes with a very detailed storyline, featuring both historical as fictional characters, based around Enomoto Takeaki’s mission to found the republic of Ezo, on what is now known as Hokkaido. Be warned, though, as the storyline does require some afford in order to actually understand it. A lot of references are made to the Meiji-period of Japan, and without sufficient knowledge, you’ll need to look up things a lot in order to get all the references.

Still, as the anime moves on, the story will become clearer and clearer, and it results in one of the more solid storylines I’ve seen in anime. Still, with that, perhaps one of the few problems with this anime lies. Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto may be a really solid story, it also lacks plot-twists. Most of the series is pretty straightforward, and only episodes 13 and 18 provide a number of very juicy plot twists (which, in the end, turned out to be the best episodes of the anime).

Overall, though, it may be a bit too straightforward, but it’s one hell of an entertaining series. The solid plot and great production-values more than make up for this flaw, and Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto has been one great watch.

9 Responses

  1. Hopeless says:

    Despite a few weak episodes and a plot that proved, as you say, straightforward until the end, Iroha almost drove me to the point of obsession during its run. While I do not think the insertation of history into an anime plot was as succesfull as it has been in the recent past (e.g Chevalier, which really did manage to intergrate an original story with actual history as well as one could expect), I believe the show to have created one of the most atmospheric historical settings around, one which allows the viewer to enjoy even the episodes that did not feature huge events. I do wish the Chess Piece Soldiers, particularly Queen, had gained some development beyond their one scene in episode 23, but I truly enjoyed the series as a whole and in particular the characters of Sousetsu, Hijikata and Enomoto.

    While I also greatly enjoyed the pure theatrical nature of the final four episodes, I would agree that 13 and 18 are series high points. The moment when the harbour was revealed behind the play to show Sousetsu, Kanna and Nakaiya was one of the most exciting I have ever encounted in anime, and truly closed Nakaiya’s story off in the best way possible, even if for a moment I expected him to return from the dead once more.

  2. Christine says:

    I’ve enjoyed watching Iroha, even though I started watching late. I would recommend this anime to other people!!

  3. Zato-Sama says:

    As Psgels says, this anime has awesome art throughout the whole anime and its a really entertaining anime you dont want to miss //Mira-Ju

  4. Ayu says:

    In love with the main charas (Akizuki & Kakunojou) especially Akizuki-kun… the best episode is the 1st and the last episode… great! The story seems very classic, yet the charas has far more way of thinking exceeds their era (bakumatsu). Like future and past time-combined together = that’s Iroha.

  5. GPrieto says:

    I must agree with Psgels: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto has awesome animation throughout the whole anime and it’s really entertaining. Although Planetes, another Sunrise production, is much better in every aspect, especially the plot and the ending. I recommend both, but if you are looking one of the best series of the last decade you must see Planetes. I have no doubt about this.

  6. Croaker says:

    You should mention that half-naked men in this series have no nipples.
    I am astounded that in this day and age, people are still hypocrite enough they don’t want to show man nipples!!

    I won’t be checking out this series simply because of this fact. You gotta stick to your principles, that’s my motto :D

  7. VyseLegend says:

    Probably the most confusing/multitasking/obscure references, 1000-details a minute show since Gasaraki. Gotta love my Ryousuke Takahashi. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Sadly there is no good quality transfer of this show, however. There is a DVD rip and a Russian dub and Spanish subs, but English speakers are stuck with some crap web version.

  8. marktheknife says:

    I’m going to have to offer a different view of this anime: great first half, really disappointing second half.

    The first half is actually tightly focused and quite coherent. The stories of all the characters tie together really well. Seeing the play/real worlds run into each other was cool. Also, you’re being introduced to characters with great design, and some wonderful music. The action scenes, while never all-time great, are solid.

    Then something terrible happens. The pacing of the show gets trashed…not because nothing’s happening, but because it all feels so pointless and random. Some examples:
    -The British characters/assassin squad. Only two of their background stories (or personalities) are (poorly) developed, and otherwise they FAIL AT EVERYTHING. Seriously, that’s all they do, besides train and kill a few mooks.
    -Mr. Eye Patch’s character arc is awful – building up his past and sympathetic qualities, just to suddenly give him a ridiculous psychopathic mommy complex? That didn’t feel earned at all.
    -Main girl’s character arc is similarly bad – revenge, to finding love, to brief confusion about being possessed, then 10 episodes of being possessed. Actually, on that note…
    -Everyone gets possessed! This sorta takes out all the dramatic tension in people backstabbing each other. Also, a lot of the political maneuvering is dumb when it ends with “And then he got possessed.” Similarly…
    -The political/war intrigue is a complete side spectacle, barely interacting with the story in a way that justifies the time spent on it. I appreciate world-building, but not in ways that irrelevant. It just kills pacing.
    -What was the purpose of the foreigners in act 2? They only seemed related to the Yokohama arc, and even then tangentially.
    -What’s the deal with Hita…(I forget his name) having that helper who falls for the main girl? That went nowhere.
    -What was the point of the theater troupe and Tayu in the second half? We already have a billion spectator characters commenting on what’s actually happening (like Akidziku’s master and everyone in Tokyo).
    -The romance is awful and totally undeveloped. And clearly the anime thinks we’re supposed to care about it.
    -Some of the magic aspects get bizarre…it is magic so there’s some excuse, but you never really get a handle on what’s “allowed” or why the hell there’s ancient relatives in a pentagram room with upside down bells casting magic.
    -At the same time, the story’s so straightforward that every minor development just feels like a hurdle to overcome. You KNOW what will happen.

    This is far more words than I usually put into complaining, which I think goes to show how much I liked act 1, and how little I liked act 2. This is an even worse Sunrise animation than Big O (which also had a similar quality curve).

  1. DE-duce says:

    Anime Season 2007

    I miss Jean’s Anime columns, but try to keep up with what’s going on via other means. This past season, I found myself enjoying the very decent Ergo Proxy and…

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:24 AM)
    I also find it easier to get an emotional response from a honest drama, live action film, largely due to the real people doing the acting. Sometimes you get an actor whose just that good too…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    I’ve gotten my odd emotional reaction here from anime and manga but a lot of the time it feels like the jump scare in a generic horror movie, I got shocked but I felt minipulated afterwards it wasn’t genuine, the same goes for some anime/manga drama when it takes a melodramatic turn instead of a bleak, honest one.

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