Posted on 27 January 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Hyouge Mono



Nowadays, there are few series that you could really call unique. Nearly all shows base their ideas and concepts off of some other work that came before them, or build further upon concept introduced anywhere else. Once in a while though, an anime appears that just can’t be compared to anything. Hyouge Mono is one of those series.

I mean, seriously, I’ve got nothing. At first sight this might be lumped with the other historical series, but there are just a ton of elements in this series that no other historical anime has. Here we have a series of 39 episodes that is solely about a bunch of old guys talking about aesthetics, while making the most bizarre faces in the process. Beyond my wildest expectation, this series ignores just about every convention that has been established over the past ten years and just goes into its own direction. It has really been years since I last saw a show do that.

Being unique is of course one thing, but you still need to be interesting. A show can be unique, but a chicken riding a unicycle while singing the Estonain National Anthem is too, but that perhaps isn’t the most interesting to watch. Thankfully though, Hyouge Mono is a delight to watch for those who are looking for something slow, yet substantial. There are a lot things that this show does right.

The acting in particular is just sublime. This series managed to deliver the most accurate version of the Sengoku era we’ve seen so far (which admittely isn’t that hard with shows as Sengoku Basara), and put down very believable portrayals of characters like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the tea master Sennou Rikyuu. And on the other hand it’s also chockfull of the most bizarre facial expressions that are almost glorified throughtout the entire series. And strangely enough, these two extremes blend in really well. The performances of the main characters in particular is stunning, but also the side characters (and that cast is HUGE) shines with very diverse and true to life characters.

By far the biggest mystery of this show is how on earth it managed to land itself a whopping 39 episodes. In a time when all experimantal series can consider themselves lucky if they can get 13 episodes, and here this show comes from out of nowhere with a length three times of that. Because of that, it can get really in-depth into its subject material. This both is a really good look into history, but it’s in particular the detail into aesthetics, and the teachings of “wabi sabi” that really stand out in this series.

In terms of flaws, I’d say that this series is a little too slow for its own good at times. It’s not exactly dragged out or anything, but when you look at each individual episodes, there is relatively little that actually happens, for the sake of detail, and that balance at times was skewed a bit too much to the slow side. The visuas in this series are limited, but most of the times they try to make very good use of their budget. There are some exceptions here, resulting in badly drawn faces on what are actually key moments.

Also, this series can be quite misleading in its actual subject matter. At first it might seem like there will be quite a bit of attention into medieval warfare, and the first half of the series has some very interesting battles (including what could possibly be one of the best death scenes of the most recent years). There really is signfiicantly less action and even more talking in the second half. The action that’s there however is incredibly stylish. This is a series that really evolves and changes over time, amd the conclusion they went with really fits the series perfectly.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Excellent direction. A bit slow at times, but the use of camera angles and the dialogue are just wonderfully written.
Characters: 9/10 – The acting for these characters is just sublime. Rock-solid performances from the main cast in particular.
Production-Values: 8/10 – The animation is simple. but very effecitvely used with very detailed character designs. Soundtrack also is excellent, but doesn’t get many chances to really stand out due to its restricted nature.
Setting: 10/10 – Spends a huge amount of time fleshing out the teachings of wabi sabi, japanese tea ceremonies, and is an amazing look at the days of the Sengoku Era.

Suggestions:
Not gonna even attempt to find similar series for this one

8 Responses

  1. q says:

    subs f-g where?

  2. Starry says:

    It really is kind of a shame that this series has only about a third subbed currently and trite series like Highschool DxD has about five sub groups ready on hand.

  3. cody says:

    so what type of show is it? Something akin to Oh! Edo Rocket yet not focused on comedy (well, I guess you would classify OER as a dramady…)

  4. mr. mopery says:

    How do you get 100 points from four categories totalling 40 points? And why have 100 points anyway if everything falls into the 77-93 interval?

    Don’t mean to sound overly (unconstructively) critical, but I’m honestly curious and the XX/100 grading system leaves something to be desired. This series got some serious love in the episode reviews, but it’s got an average score in comparison with most of the other finished series reviewed here.

    • psgels says:

      This is a rating system that I came up with quite a while ago, when I was in college. The idea is that it’s based on the school system: 60/100 (or 6/10) is the bare minimum to pass. The thing is: would you want to watch these series who barely qualify? I personally disagree that rating systems should be evenly spread.

      And also, don’t get me wrong: I do not easly hand out ratings of 87,5/100 and above. Series for that need to be really amazing. However, it does fall a bit short when I compare it to the series that I rated 90/100. This mostly is due to the desceptively slow pacing that it has at times.

      • mr. mopery says:

        I wouldn’t advocate a system that puts undue emphasis on spreading the scores either. It just seems that the variance of scores is awfully low, given the xx/100 system.

        This can be partly explained by the fact that you choose which series to blog, weeding out series which might otherwise get low scores. But a system which comprises 100 points in theory but only 30-40 in practice seems senselessly complicated. That’s my humble opinion, of course, and I do thank you for the explanation.

        And anyway, it’s the descriptions and impressions that matter, not the numbers.

  5. Oroboros says:

    Just finished this series – thanks to Doremi subs.

    Sasuke Furuta is just as hilarious and as unique as Okabe from Steins; Gate, and the series composition is strong and utterly confident. The expressions never failed to deliver, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that other characters besides Sasuke got to crack their social masks more often towards the end.

    Easily one of the very greatest series ever, and far better than anything released in 2013 so far.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 12:29 PM)
    I just read the book. Never saw the films.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:18 AM)
    Lolita is one of my favourite films of all time.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:17 AM)
    It is easy to see however how people would wander to seeing lolita herself as a victim as people traditionally see the child as the victim in that situation.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:15 AM)
    @Aidan: My opinion of lolita matches yours. However I would like to ask of the film adaptations which one worked better for you, the one with James mason or the one with Jeremy Irons?
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:47 AM)
    I didn’t like how people tended to degrade the characters just to match their view and forcefully paint black and white over it. It ain’t that simple.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:47 AM)
    For example I read Lolita recently. In my opinion it was about two remarkable flawed indivuals. Horrible in there own ways. However when I looked at reviews of it I couldn’t help but notice that people tended to take sides. Either Humbert was the naive man taken in by a succubus or Lolita was the poor stupid girl abused by a monster.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:40 AM)
    One of the reason I feel we hear about world war 2 far more than world war 1 is that it can be so easily be portrayed as good vs evil. Hitler was a perfect supervillain. Maybe even birthed the supervillain in fiction. It wasn’t like world war 1 which was not just one countries fault and was mainly boring trench fights. Moral complexity isn’t really what the masses like. They have a tendency to paint things black and white.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:27 AM)
    @Friend, heard of it. No real interest in playing it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:27 AM)
    @Mikey, I know apocalypse now was based on heart of darkness. It’s just that the man who made spec ops said it was based on Heart of darkness but he took way more from apocalypse now than he did from Heart of darkness.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:25 AM)
    @Ninjarealist, I had a peak at the congo free state. Damn. You gotta wonder how someone pulls shit like this off and look in the mirrior and not think “Man, I am such an asshole.” Surprising that you hear bitching about 9/11 all the time and yet barely anything about this.
    It’s surprising the kind of unbelievable stuff that went down in history. For one I never knew Columbus was such a monster.

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