Posted on 29 September 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Every Anime season we the viewers are shown a number of adaptations, often made after Light or Visual Novels. It’s an already written story with an established base, a smart business decision. In recent years studios have also begun pulling from the Video Game market for their shows. Pieces like the Idolmaster series, Kantai Collection and Akibas Trip. I bring this up not because this is a new event, but because the anime I want to talk about today, Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, is one such anime.

Ranbu is based off of the online video game Touken Ranbu, along the same lines as Kantai Collection. It focuses on a group of warriors who are the human personification of famous weapons, sent back in time. Their task? To protect history from the forces of the Time Retrograde Army, who seek to change history for an unknown reason. Ranbu focuses in on the 2nd Unit, newly minted and formed from a group who have never worked together before. Together they will face the hordes of the Retrograde Army and defend the past from the future!

Let’s jump in.

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Posted on 25 September 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Welcome to the final week of Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, where the plot is rushed and the art is at its best. Lets jump in.

Ranbu opens this week with the title card, skipping the OP. Looks like they want all the time they can get. Picking up where they left off, Ranbu has Horikawa go and get the young Tetsunoske at Hijikata’s request. Reenacting the flashback we saw in earlier episodes, Hijikata tasks him to take his sword back to his family. During this, Horikawa walks out and meets Kane in an empty part of the fort. The direction here is good, with shots mostly showing them together but with objects such as a cannon between them. The two talk for awhile and we learn that for the past 3 years Horikawa has been fighting the Retrograde while working for Hijikata. During that time, apparently he still has not made a decision about whether or not to save Hijikata. Had their breakup lasted longer than an hour for Kane, it would almost be touching.

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Posted on 18 September 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Welcome to the penultimate episode of Ranbu! Unable to end with a small, personal story, Ranbu prepares for the largest battle yet! Lets jump in.

Ranbu opens up right were last week left off. Kane’s sword falling, to strike Horikawa. Instead, it cuts into the dirt at his feet, moved aside at the final moments. I mentioned last week that I would be disappointed if this ended with Horikawa surviving. If some magical power of friendship caused him to return to the Citadel. However, I failed to consider another option, where it was Kane who faltered. Unable to kill his partner, he fails his duty and lets Horikawa walk away, and I can accept that. For Horikawa to survive, one of the two had to fail/betray their beliefs. Horikawa would have had to leave Hijikata to his fate and Kane had to let a clear threat to history leave unchallenged. All in all, a good way to open the episode.

With the arrival of their Master Saniwa however, everything starts to go down hill. Saniwa teleports in right next to them and starts one of the dullest scenes in the series. In this scene, Kane and Mutsunokami explain what has happened and Saniwa simply… accepts it. He says, why not do both? Why not protect the innocents and history, as if it was that simple. Does this mean he just didn’t care before? The only thing I gathered from this conversation is what I suspected weeks ago. That Saniwa has no personality and is purely a springboard for plot/explanation.

As it is, that is exactly what Saniwa does. After their chat he teleports them to the battle of Hakodate, 3 years in the future-past. This isn’t made clear however, as they simply teleport and the battle is suddenly underway, without any indication that time had passed. What this means however is that Horikawa has been here, waiting for time to pass normally, for 3 years. Whether or not this has had an effect on him, I cant wait to see. This also means though that Tonbokiri, Tsurumaru and Yagen were left to watch-over Ryoma, so our 2nd Unit must fight without them.

After a quick explanation of what is going at the Battle of Hakodate, Saniwa deduces that the Retrograde will no doubt be here. As he finishes, supposedly 50 Retrograde solders are teleporting in, causing Mutsunokami to question if they are trying to change the course of the whole battle. I doubt 50 soldiers could accomplish that in a battle of thousands, but we will leave that alone for now. Kane and Mutsunokami quickly cut down some stragglers before meeting the full force. Knowing they cant do it alone however, Saniwa summons in some reinforcements. In a pretty, sakura flower effect, the 1st Unit arrive and they make short work of the group of 50.

During this whole segment, the character moments aren’t worth mentioning, but the combat itself is quite good. We get a number of quick blade exchanges with actual choreography. Clearly they were saving it all for this grand finale, as we soon learn that the Retrograde are sending in a staggering 1000 soldiers. What confuses me about this, is that the Retrograde has never done this before. Do they have limitless soldiers? If so, why not over run any other time period instead of sending groups of 10-20? This inconsistency in tactics and numbers makes this whole event feel like the typical Shounen bump in the stakes of the fight. Like most, Ranbu fails to realize that the best Shounen arcs tend to be those with the more personal stakes. The ones that don’t require ridiculously strong or large number of enemies. But I am getting sidetracked here.

After leaving the First Unit, Kane splits up with Mutsunokami so that he can track down Horikawa. He runs through the fields towards the Shinsengumi encampment and manages to sneak inside. Curious what their guard situation is like for him to do this, but once again we will ignore it. Kane arrives at Hijikata’s personal room, the room we saw in the flashback. He examines the map with the armies laid out, the sword that both sits on the desk and at his waist. While doing so, Kane hears a voice and footsteps approaching. He quickly hides out of sight, seeing Hijikata enter the room. No doubt this is the scene we saw before, where Hijikata gives the sword to the young man, to return to his family.

However, instead of the young entering the room, its Horikawa! During his 3 years stuck in this time, it would appear that Horikawa has taken the young soldiers place. Its  clever reveal, as I had not considered Horikawa taking his place, yet when the flashback was first showed I thought they looked similar. Now the only question is, what is Horikawa’s endgame? Does he plan to return to the battlefield, giving Hijikata the sword, so that Kane can participate in the battle? Will he try to kidnap Hijikata and remove him from the field? Perhaps he spent the last 3 years attempting to talk to him, get him to change his mind. What about the ridiculous, 1000 Retrograde soldiers?

Regardless, it all comes to a head in next weeks final episode of Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu. Talk to you then folks!

Posted on 11 September 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

This week in Ranbu, we are treated to a pleasant surprise. Not some great, flashy final combat arc but a continuation of the smaller character focused pieces. Lets talk about it.

Ranbu opens up the episode by letting us know the consequences of what has happened last week. It appears that after his argument with Kane, Horikawa has disappeared! Clearly this is in relation to Ryoma, Mutsunokami’s master, and Hijikata, Kane and Horikawa’s master. This is a good choice of final arc, as it makes use of the last few character focused episodes and side-steps the need for a final villain. Its not often in a shounen anime like Ranbu that we get character focused finales. Assuming they stick with it, Ranbu is looking to close strong.

Unable to decide what to do about Horikawa, Kane gathers the team and informs them of his disappearance. Multiple ideas are thrown out, from Horikawa falling to the Retrograde, to maybe an attack on Ryoma to save Hijikata in the future. As it turns out, history has changed with Ryoma leaving the Satsuma residence early for some reason. Lucky stroke for him, as we will learn later. Eventually though the group splits up, 3 guarding Ryoma and 3 heading off to find Horikawa. It removes characters that we didn’t need, focusing in on Kane, Horikawa and Mutsunokami. Its good that we are getting time with the most developed of our leads.

Once away from the others, Mutsunokami decides to have a heart to heart with Kane. He states that Hijikata, even if he survived the battle he died in, wouldn’t have a good life. That Hijikata was a warrior, whose time was ending. That there can be no good life for Kane’s old master and he has a point. During this conversation we are shown a flashback of Hijikata before he died. He sends Kane, as a sword, away to his brother-in-law, turning Kane into a memento. This explains why Horikawa is much more focused on their old master, because he was with Hijikata until his death. Meanwhile Kane’s time with him ended when he got sent away. It does the job of reinforcing the difference in mindset between Kane and Horikawa, no doubt for the upcoming finale.

Their conversation is interrupted however when another fire breaks out, this time at the Satsuma residence, where Ryoma was staying. Its a very pretty sequence, though the sword fights are more flash than substance at this point. The fire, the collapsing buildings, everything is rendered beautifully. While standing amidst this inferno however, Kane is approached by non other than Horikawa, a child in his arms. Didnt think he would appear until next episode, but lets see where this goes.

Horikawa starts with some small talk, how he could only save a single child and how he knew Kane would be here. He uses that though to jump into his main shpeal. That were they really protecting history? All these people dead, the child in his arms barely alive, yet they protected history? Does nothing change, do these people even matter? So begins a long discussion of ideals and what it means to protect. Seeing it going nowhere, Horikawa finally poses the question, asking if Kane will join him in his quest to save Hijikata. Kane, loving his old master but being the loyal man he his, of course refuses, placing them at an impasse.

Its interesting to see the two bring their differing experiences with Hijikata to bear. Each interpreted his actions differently and each was there for moments the other wasn’t. Yet at the end of the day, they are two different people. Now Horikawa must decide, will he fight Kane and escape, or submit and forgo his desire to save Hijikata? Choosing a sort of in between, Horikawa cites how Hijikata used to ‘break’ his soldiers during punishment. Kane knows what he means, and clearly doesn’t like it, but knows something must be done. Horikawa approaches, asking one last time if Kane will join him. In silent response, as Mutsunokami runs to try and stop him, the blade falls and we cut to the ED.

All in all, a pretty good episode. For those that like action they got some quick Retrograde fights and burning buildings. For those that prefer story and character writing, they got an interesting final arc, and everyone got to enjoy the art. So long as the final episode doesn’t negate everything that happened this week, Ranbu can finish the season strong. However if Horikawa comes out of this unscathed and with no repercussions, there will be a reckoning.

See you next week for the exciting conclusion of Ranbu!

Posted on 4 September 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

This week Ranbu treats us to another character focused episode, with quiet moments but little lasting material. Lets jump in.

Ranbu starts the episode off right where the last episode ended. The sun is rising and our party has just said goodbye to Ryoma. Very quickly we see who the focus this week is, as Horikawa begins to question some of their orders. Turns out, meeting Mutsunokami’s old master has raised some flags for him. He tries to work this out by talking to Mutsunokami, but he doesnt have any good answers for Horikawa. It looks like he might have to talk to the Commander about this, but as it turns out they cant leave just yet. They must stay in this time, for an as of yet undisclosed reason. As a fire that never occurred in history breaks out, we cut to the OP.

Returning from the OP, it looks like quite alot is happening. People are dieing and fires are starting that never should have. History is off. Apparently, some Retrograde are laying low after the last mission, still intent on capturing Ryoma. Kane quickly decides that watching over Ryoma should be their first priority. During this time, Horikawa continues to ask questions. If Ryoma is successful, will that not harm their old master Hijikata, of the Shinsengumi? Are they working against their old master? Kane, as the captain, is alot more stoic about this, but I would wager hes simply trying not to think about it.

As it turns out, Kane and Horikawa’s old master Hijikata is also in this city. All this does is rile Horikawa up, as he argues against why he cant meet Hijikata. Its rather ham fisted at times, but its a contast to last episode with Mutsunokami. During this, Ryoma slipped out of the Satsuma residence to go look at plum trees. Can you guess whats going to happen? Hijikata also happens to be in that area, and this turns into a game of keep away, even if neither side really knows it. While watching over Ryoma however, Horikawa begins to have some pretty dark thoughts. If he killed Ryoma, would it not make his old masters life better? Does he still have a duty to Hijikata?

Its an interesting line to go down, but simply knowing Horikawa’s character weakened it. Ranbu hasn’t done anything daring yet. Its played everything safe. That’s fine, shows can do that and still be good. It just makes them predictable. Which is why Horikawa doing nothing here came as no surprise. Continuing on, after this internal debate, the Retrograde attack! Everyone in the park hears the tree fall setting everyone into motion. Ryoma is sent away and once again Tonbokiri decides it’s smart to stand alone. The man needs to learn to work with a team.

While Tonbokiri is off fighting Retrograde, Kane and Horikawa are running after Ryoma. In the best scene of the episode though, Hijikata passes right in from of Kane, running towards the sound of combat. It happened fast, and to Kane who had been fighting against seeing Hijikata this entire time. For a moment he shuts down, before we see Kane is crying. He was afraid of what his reaction would be seeing Hijikata again, yet this short glimpse was enough for him. He steels himself to preserve the future that he knows will lead to a horrible life for his former master. Because that is his duty.

After this moment of resolution, another Ootachi appears. As if to demonstrate their growth, internal and external, Mutsunokami and Kane manage to dispatch it quickly. Still weaker than the 1st Unit, but better than their last attempt. There’s a quick ending scene with Kane and Horikawa, talking about their former master afterwords. This scene, along with the ‘non-interference’ speeches earlier, would all have hit harder had they not already been undercut by the first episode. Remember back when Kane saved that girl from a fire in Episode 1, completely ignoring the non-interference rule? As I said it would, it’s undercut all of their future scenes on the topic. We have already been shown its a non-issue. But I digress.

Ranbu only has 2 episodes left. In this remaining time, they must establish a final arc and some sort of satisfying conclusion. I don’t see how they can do it. There’s no main villain, there is nothing really at stake and the Retrograde are faceless antagonists. As it is, I am expecting a flashy final fight with a hollow plot behind it. I would love to be proven wrong but I don’t think I will be.

As always though, we will find out next week. See you then!

Posted on 28 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

This week Ranbu gives us a character-focused episode, in a self contained little story. Good, but with its problems. Lets jump in!

Ranbu starts off with the 2nd Unit teleporting in to Kyoto in style, falling from the sky as swords. The mission this time? To protect Sakamoto Ryoma during the Taradaya Incident, where he was almost caught. No doubt, the Retrograde Army plan for him to be captured, ruining his plan to bring down the Tokugawa Shogunate. As it turns out, Ryoma was Mutsunokami’s former master! Clearly, Mutsunokami is the focus of Ranbu this week.

Because of his association with Ryoma, Mutsunokami knows all about the incident and how to plan around it. This puts our 2nd Unit on even ground with the Retrograde Army, as now they know that path to defend. Strangely however, Mutsunokami wants little to do with Ryoma. He wants to avoid meeting him again, perhaps because he fears how he would act? Or maybe what he would say, affecting the future? Regardless its an interesting character point. Soon after they lay out their plan, night comes and everything starts.

Police surround the inn where Ryoma is staying, setting off the Taraday Incident. Ryoma and his guard flee, with the 2nd Unit taking out the Retrograde Army as they appear. Shockingly competent, the 2nd Unit takes care of everything quickly and quietly. However it wouldn’t be an episode with the 2nd Unit if nothing went wrong. A Retrograde slips past and attacks Ryoma, doing who knows what. We next cut to Mutsunokami fighting some simply Retrograde, before turning a corner and seeing a terrible sight.

In a very nice scene, we see Ryoma fleeing from a horde of police, alone and unable to fight. Lights behind him, as he trips and falls to the dirt, Mutsunokami debating whether or not to jump in. After a short speech from Ryoma, he does just that. Running into the fray, defeating the police and saving Ryoma. They flee together, slowly opening up, Mutsunokami fixing his hands and protecting him. During some of their scenes together you can see how alike they are and how Ryoma influenced Mutsunokami. When Mutsunokami finally talks, Ryoma even remarks on their similar accents. After these bonding scenes, Ryoma is lead back to the Satsuma Clan house, only to run into one final group of Retrograde.

In this final segment, we get some pretty scenes and a quick fight. Little occurs here story wise, but Mutsunokami has quick but well done fight in an alley way. With the fight over, Ryoma is turned over to the Satsuma clan, and the mission is over. All in all, an above average episode, but with the lack of a final arc I am concerned how Ranbu is planning to end the season. I am not sure what sort of final mission would be satisfying to end Ranbu when it had little overarching story.

Still, we have 3 episodes left, so the only thing to do is wait. See you next week for another episode of Ranbu!

 

Posted on 22 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

This was perhaps the best week yet for Ranbu. There are no flashy fights or new enemies, but there is a lot of characterization and quiet moments. Lets jump in.

Ranbu starts this week right after the 1st Units victory of the unnamed Retrograde soldier. Honebami does some fawning over the units strength, before being told there is one more job left to do. Surprisingly they don’t mean more combat, but rather a humanitarian effort. Having completed their mission, the 1st Unit wants to help those affected by it. So they go around and buy some food, to hold a little soup kitchen sort of event. This was very unexpected, but very welcome. Our first unit, even the large scary one, has a heart. Unhappy with simply protecting the future, they decided to also protect the people. It’s purely character focused and I love it. Continuing this trend, the 2nd Unit has some character scenes as well, but none as good I fear.

We cut back to the Citadel, where Saniwa and our resident fox discuss the previous mission of the 2nd Unit. Apparently, they protected history by the thinnest of margins. Saniwa, being the terrible employer he is however, states they did more than he expected. Truly? Then why give them this job? Though this is all ok, as Kane has some ‘quality’ that makes up for all this. Once again, Saniwa is a terrible employer. During this conversation another emergency occurs, meaning our 2nd Unit is going to get another arc. Kane better get ready, because he has a job to do!

Speaking of Kane, he is having some confidence issues. We transition to him sitting by a river, contemplating their last mission. Apparently he has the same doubts I did, which is good to know. He has his doubts as to how history could possibly be saved with that fire, with all those dead. Its good that this is a reoccurring issue, rather than one off with him. As he considers this, Horikawa approaches, and the two set off. One by one they gather the members of the 2nd Unit, Kane asking them if they will fight once more with him. One by one we see the effects this loss had on the 2nd Unit, eventually reaching Tonbokiri.

There is a small scene with Mutsunokami losing his mind about being asked last, which went on for too long, but that is a minor gripe. It broke up the solemn, quiet moment, with some poor comedy, but it ends on a sweet note. Mutsunokami leaves a gift of Daifuku for Tonbokiri, his favorite food. In a much more subtle scene of sweet comedy, Tonbokiri reveals the mountain of Daifuku everyone else had left for him. It’s a good welcome back to the best character of the squad.

With the sunshine and lollipops of the gang getting back together though, the warning from Saniwa’s scene comes out. The 2nd Unit is summoned, once more into the breach! They are being sent out on another mission, running into the 1st Unit on their way out. By the 1st Units estimation, they are now prepared, but we will have to see.

All in all, a good episode. Quiet, lots of character moments, and the opening of a new arc. Disappointed we still don’t have an antagonist but I doubt we will be getting one at this point. Ranbu appears to like its villain of the week story, so let’s roll with it. So long as these character scenes continue, between the pretty combat scenes, Ranbu can end on a high note. I’m looking forward to see if that is the case.

See you next week!

Posted on 15 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Welcome back to another week of Ranbu. This week we have mystery, intrigue and a stupid amount of new characters. Lets jump into it.

Ranbu opens up the episode on a burning castle under siege, troops inside and a battle raging. We see a figure cut down in the smoke, only for his spirit to flow into an Oni mask on the wall. Cut to the OP. A good start, with the mask becoming our villain for the week and giving us some hints as to how the Retrograde army comes to be. Sadly this air of mystery quickly gives way to another action focused episode as the OP ends and we see our new group of heroes in action.

The first squad, who I will not name simply because I can only keep track of so many characters, are fighting the Retrograde army as they zap in. Already we see they are a step up from our old unit. They quickly tracked down the Retrograde Army to their point of entrance and are cutting them down with ease. Even an Ootachi goes down with one swing, even though our old unit had trouble with one. Its a good display of the power difference between the units. Next up we have some expository scenes, setting up the conflict and giving us some backstory to our characters.

As it turns out, most of them are from the same clan, Ashikaga. The first unit is, in some form or another, made up of great weapons from a renowned clan. Interspersed among the backstory and exposition, Ranbu shows us some scenes around town. Even though a war just ended, people are hiding in the town. We quickly learn a street slasher is going around, murdering people at night, and that many think it to be the deceased Shogun. The mystery element comes back in here for a bit, more so when we learn Mikazuki was wielded by the Shogun.

After our group eats their fill, they head out once more to the town. Scouting around town they find little, until Honebami is confronted by the Slasher. Turns out, the Oni mask turned into a spear wielding Retrograde Soldier. The Oni is made immediately threatening by being able to summon more Retrograde. We already know that a single Retrograde is no threat to the first unit, but what about a horde? After summoning more soldiers, the Oni quickly flees, motioning for Honebami to follow it. The Oni leads Honebami to a ruined site, the castle from Ranbu‘s opening scene.

Smarter than previous Retrograde, the Oni was leading our group into a trap! It summons a horde of Ootachis to deal with the first unit, oh what shall they do? Sadly, this isn’t even a challenge. Our new leads cut through this horde like butter, setting up the strength of the first unit. This fight goes on for a bit, with lots of individual flashes of style but little extended choreography. In particular I enjoyed Mikazuki’s attack displaying his crest. Its disappointing however, as the air of mystery has been completely dropped by this point. Ranbu has made it clear that flash is all it has at this point. Its pretty but the characters are shallow. It has lots of effects and paint, but no substance.

We never find out why the Shogun became a Retrograde soldier. There is no setup for a future arc. Every character aside from Mikazuki and Mitsunokami seem to have a single note. I want there to be more to Ranbu than just a pretty face, but the harder I look the more disappointed I am when I find nothing.

See you next folks, and lets be thankful we at least got the future fox food club.

Posted on 7 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Snap, crackle, pop, Ranbu opens this week on a bolt of lightning! We ended last episode on a low point, our heroes defeated and being teleported out at the last second. They reappear on a platform, surrounded by smoldering coals, in what we later learn is the Citadel. The base of operations for our party. Lots going on here, and we will get to it, but lets focus in on our heroes.

The damage from their respective fights appears to have carried over, as both Kane and Tonbokiri are rushed into medical treatment. Its a strange medical treatment, as they magically pad paper on a wound and heal a sword, but its pretty to look at. An explanation would be nice, as we still have no idea as to how our heroes exist as both weapon and time-cop. I understand time is an issue in anime, it has to be used effectively, but I do think it would help flesh out the narrative and characters abit. The rest of the party not in critical condition however, have a much easier and light hearted time.

The comedy this episode really works, as we get some TSA style inspections, witty banter and a time traveling fox food club. It does a good job of filling space between scenes that, even if they don’t succeed, attempt to be dramatic. For example we learn that Tonbokiri is in a comatose state from his wounds, good consequences for their loss. This is undercut when he recovers consciousness later on in the episode. We hear that, as of 2205, the time our characters are based out of, history has not changed. Edo gets a full broadside during an important meeting, goes up in flames, and there are no changes? Didn’t our heroes fail? They completed their mission, history is preserved, so all things considered they won with minimal casualties! Its a disappointing resolution after a well done end of an arc, leaving Ranbu in an akward place.

Speaking of arcs, lets talk about the next one. Much of this episode was focused on Mikazuki, the man in blue and usual captain of the First Squad. Everything this episode, from the music to the lighting and camera angles, leads us to think this is not a good man. Found in the Commanders office alone, ominous music and shadows cast over his face, Mikazuki might be the villain we so desperatly need. Ranbu reinforced this feeling when the Commander states that the Retrograde army usually arnt this subtle, meaning these smart tactics are new. Its laid on so thick, I could almost believe Ranbu is throwing us a red herring. I dont think Ranbu is that clever however as even Mikazuki’s laugh sounds evil.

Continuing on, theres a nice bit of video-game fan service. There is a cafeteria scene with a crazy amount of unique character designs milling about in the background. No doubt they all appear in the game series, so I am sure fans appreciated that. Some of these characters even get names and speaking lines as we are introduced to Yagens brother. A mild mannered white haired boy, he resembles Yagen alot. Curious how a weapon has a brother, but ill roll with it. Numerous scenes occur, some quite frankly pointless scenes that scream “CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT” like an air horn. Its all rather ham fisted, but I suppose its better than nothing. There does have to be consequences for how last episode ended, with defeat and a sweeping orchestra. This week atleast ends on a much less dramatic note.

This week closes out on a flash of the First Squad, which Yagens brother has just been assigned to. Apparently there is a new crisis and they have been sent out! Most likely we will follow the First Squad on this mission for a few episodes as the Second squad recovers. With this squad mostly being comrpised of villainous looking people such as Mikazuki though, I am hoping Ranbu will treat us to some First vs Second squad conflict in the future.

Its not surprising we got a breather episode to setup the next arc, but for the most part Ranbu was empty this week. Scenes could have been shorter with the same content and Tonbokiri could have spent more time out of comission. All in all a little disappointing.

Heres hoping the First Squad makes it interesting again. See you next week!

 

Posted on 1 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

A rather shallow episode of Ranbu this week, but not without its twists, both pleasant and disappointing.

Ranbu opens up the week on Tonbokiri and Horikawa on the bridge, most likely immediately after Kane and Mutsunokami left. Little happens here, some one sided conversation with posing, before we cut back to the boat. Here is where most of the meat is going to happen for this episode. We quickly learn the name of the white cloaked swordsman, Tsurumaru, and get to see him in action. Making full use of the 3D environments, we get some ambitious soaring camera angles around the ship. This lets us get a good view of Tsurumaru’s love for the fight, as we even see him egging the Retrograde troops on. This with his facial expressions make him seem like the unhinged member of the party. Its all rather well done.

During one of his taunts, Kane and Mutsunokami finally arrive on the boat, quickly putting an end to the fight. There’s some quick, meaningless, dialogue while the crew and the boat are dealt with. Then Mutsunokami gets to live his dream and pilot a boat! Alone. I am pretty sure this is more than a one person job, but hey, rule of cool right? During all this Tsurumaru finally lets Kane, and by extension us, know that the Retrograde army doesnt have to stop the meeting. Instead, they can just burn Edo to the ground! With a ghost ship full of Retrograde army zombies! Where did they get the 2nd ship? Doesn’t matter apparently, cause back we go to the bridge.

Here at the bridge we get the continuation of the fight against the Ootachi. There are some nice cuts with Tonbokiri, before the fight is interrupted by the palanquin of Katsu, one of the men from the oh so important meeting. One could almost think this was the plan, to intercept the pallanquine, but instead the Ootach goes berserk and flees into the night! A bit ridiculous since the Ootachi will attack the palanquin later on, but we will get to that. No instead the Ootachi jumps onto a tower and lights its sword on fire, Gondor calls for aid! Curious why he didn’t light it up in the fight, but it makes for a pretty reveal. Sadly there is little foreshadowing or build up to this little twist. Makes me think the Retrograde army are less, intelligent foes, and more convenient plot generators.

One interesting thing about the Retrograde army though, they actually win this round! The cannons go off, cannons not from this era supposedly, and Edo goes up in flames. History gets a full broadside! Some beautiful fire on the ship and in the town gives us a nice scene cut into the Ootachi attacking the palanquin it avoided earlier. Here we get another interesting twist where, presumably, one of our heroes goes down for the count. After a short fight Tonbokiri, one of the least developed but most likable characters, gets a slash across the chest and a sword through the gut. Its a nice scene, the weapon which represents Tonbokiri breaking as he goes down. Tonbokiri isn’t the only one with a serious wound though, as we transition to Kane on the ship. In a rage, he kills some Retrograde, and gets a sword through the stomach. Bad day.

With Kane and Tonbokiri down, it looks like we are hitting the nadir of our heroes journey. With a howl everyone gets teleported back to home base and we get a somber credits scene. Its thematic but we know so little about these characters and what they are fighting for that the episode hit like a lightweight. The only novel thing about it is that our heroes lost, which was unexpected for this series. I hope we get to see how history changed because of all this, so we get a sense of whats at stake. Instead, we get an after credits scene.

Its a scene that dismisses everything that has happened so far and introduces another new character! Well done Ranbu, well done. Mikazuchi, leader of the first unit, who will apparently replace or join our old party. We really didn’t need new characters. What Ranbu needed was an actual villain. Someone with charisma, someone who could carry this show. Instead we get more and more of the video-game roster and a video-games shallow story. At-least we get a new arc next week.

See you next time everyone!

CHANGE USERNAME
Kaiser-Eoghan
Btfo Alexander of Russia OMO.
Kaiser-Eoghan
hahaha YES The peoples will has been mentioned in golden kamuy, excellent.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: She's a coin toss with me .
AidanAK47
Made some changes. Try joining again.
SuperWooper
The Discord button works for me, Anon. I'll bring it up with Aidan to see if there's anything we can do on our end.
KTravlos
Ok LOGH episodes 10 and 11 were quite good, and it hit me harder than the original on how much talent the alliance lost at Armistar. That said episode 10 at the end showed a major problem with rendition which is long filling shots (in this case the imperial fleets taking flight).
Anonymous2254364
The Discord "Join Server" button leads me to an "Invite Invalid" page, and from there to: https://support.discordapp.com/hc/en-us/articles/360001556852
SuperMario
I'm thinking of catching Maquia in theater as well. I'm not too hot on Mari Okada but every anime releases in global cinema should be a cause for celebration
Kaiser-Eoghan
Part of me is considering seeing Maquia , anime films don't get shown over here often, I feel I should support the cinema releases.
Kaiser-Eoghan
That was essentially my concern, that the writers would muck up Yuri's decision and create some hole in the story. Though they definitely need to commit to killing him off now.
Lenlo
I had a suspicion it would happen Amagi. I figured it would be a question of Yuri's character which way he went, even if I suspected this would be his choice
Amagi
@Lenlo & Kaiser: I expected this to happen. I was only unsure because I didn't know how deeply integrated Yuri's gear was. It's the only good way to conclude his character arc and the series as a whole. Kinda hope that all those "die"-death-hints are actually just a metaphor for the death of gears and the commercialised power-augmentation in sports.
Amagi
@Aidan: yeah and they're overinterpreting stuff. When you really love a series and watch it 10+ times you'll notice things nobody else will ever see and things that are most likely not even there or at least not planned. Then they see a sequel or somethign for the first time and of course they won't see the same 100 hints and deepnesses they believe to see in the original
Lenlo
Alright. Personally, I am pumped for Megalo Box's finale. I am so glad I was right in what Yuri did. It was great at building it up. Heres hoping it doesnt throw it away next week
AidanAK47
Like that's what really annoys me about Evangelion fans. The way they talk about the show, they assume that Anno was completely aware of the impact the series would have from the start and planned every intricate detail to perfection regardless of importance. But that's not just untrue by opinion, but is objectively proven untrue.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, There are some legitimate complaints like the audio Muxing not being great. But I hear stuff like the original character in the first season being SO much deeper and think "What?". If it's one thing that really annoys me, it's when people start talking about a show like it's a planned masterpiece.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Risky move there by Yuri in megalobox ep12.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sometimes the voice acting isn't good in both versions, Elfen lied and the original flcl didn't have great voice acting either in English or Japanese.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I got into the habit some years ago of watching most anime with dual audio because I used to do short reviews once upon a time and switching back and forth between subs and dub while marathoning a show gave me best of both and I could talk about both the English and Japanese versions when reviewing.
Amagi
I usually don't even watch dubs but considering that there is no other option here (yet) I did it and think it's pretty good, especially Haruko.
Amagi
@Aidan: Was thinking the exact same thing about FLCL. I fail to see how the original is much different than the sequel. For me it's pretty much the same thing - they tried to keep the style but change the frame to avoid copying it 100%. I enjoy the new series and love the characters.
AidanAK47
Dubs pretty good. Watched it dubbed myself.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Probably a good thing then that I haven't seen the original in a long time then, which I thought was alright but got better as it went along. How is the dub? Only the dub is out as far as I looked on Nyaatorrents.
AidanAK47
Alright, finished the 3 episodes out. I enjoyed it. It was a fun watch. But I gotta say that the reaction online is rather annoying. I see the original series getting placed on a higher and higher pedestal. Part of the reason I may be enjoying this series is because I didn't examine the previous series under a mircoscope and pretty much acknowledge that it was just a animators showcase.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Probably not as GREAT as Onizuka though.
AidanAK47
So I started watching the new FLCL and let me say that this new teacher is the greatest teacher I have ever seen.
AidanAK47
Don't think it's on Netflix. Though I think that Stardust crusaders is airing dubbed.
Amagi
Is this series on Netflix? It was always one of the few anime that were very popular in the West while still airing weekly and with subs (and despite the fact that we didn't even have the manga in the West)
Amagi
Man that's awesome. Also I have to admit that part 6 is probably my favorite so it's great to know that they'll most likely animate everything.
Amagi
What the hell
AidanAK47
JoJo's part 5 anime announced and it's about goddamn time.
Lenlo
Id agree to that. Im mostly interested in where it goes after what looked like a pretty final ending. Im guessing timeskip of some kind, or World Line switch
Kaiser-Eoghan
I didn't think any of the drama in this episode rung false.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Pretty satisfied with steins;gate this week, kept things moving and the stilted style of the show didn't get in as much the way of the setpiece that was in this episode.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm quite surprised by how I've gotten over a 100 chapters in and Asirpa hasn't been fanserviced explicitly.
Kaiser-Eoghan
HH Holmes had a death hotel actually.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually I think one of the criminals was based on a real person.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The author really likes referencing real people to, Bonnie and Clyde , Ed Gein, some American agriculturist and the inventor of some refile .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its very true that golden kamuy does get goofier and thats true for the manga also, though theres a prisoner weirder than the one in episode 11 he does advance the plot further. One of the soldiers gets some backstory too. Sometimes the goofiness works but at others doesn't.
SuperMario
I'm watching the new FLCL and planning to review it once it's done. Maybe.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In my quest and love of historical manga I wound up running into this, these guys are translating it over at their site: https://blog.manga.club/blog/mangaclub-blog-vol-10-jose-rizal-serialization/
Lenlo
Not yet, no. Plannin on it this weekend
Kaiser-Eoghan
There are three episodes of the new flcl out. I haven't seen it yet and its been ages since I saw the original, has anyone watched any of the new series?
Lenlo
I can understand that. Anything less than a 3 I often dont finish/deem worthy even being talked about. In anime or movies.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its too hard to give 1/5s or 2/5s.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Despite my complaints I gave it a 3/5.
Kaiser-Eoghan
....feck sorry about that. I didn't think anyone else on here would have been interested =< Thanks for removing it.
AidanAK47
Come on Kaiser, even if I didn't get anything out of it doesn't mean that other people won't. Best not to put a big spoiler on the front page of the site.
AidanAK47
Just deleting a spoiler there.
Kaiser-Eoghan
That production company tend to do quite poor trailers that misrepresent their films.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I would probably punch someone for laughing/talking during a horror film though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Babadook did the grief horror better. Though honestly my favourite horrors this year weren't American ones.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Upgrade might end up being more fun, which is an action horror comedy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: While terribly schmalzy and lacking a proper ending, quiet place had a better idea and atmosphere.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: In the end it just felt like comparisons to Rosemary's baby and the Exorcist hurt the film. I just thought it was an awkward mix of commercial and indie horror. Like a lesser version of the conjuring.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I didn't laugh but I also couldn't really feel it/connect with it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I also disliked how it answered its questions and story rather than leaving stuff unexplained and the actual exposition in the last act was quite awkward.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I saw it on Thursday, it doesn't live up to the witch or even it comes at night. On one hand I appreciate limiting the jumpscares and gore, going more for atmosphere and character drama. Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne kind of hold it together for me. But the two kids, like in most horror films were awful.
AidanAK47
Just seen Hereditary. The so called scariest film since The Exorcist.
So scary that people in the cinema were laughing.
Vonter
I've been playing Hollow Knight on Switch. It's perhaps the longest metroidvania game I've ever played. The game has a nonlinear progression with a lot of optional areas, which add wonder to the somber and mysterious tone of the game.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also like how much Nagai overstylizes, overdesigns his characters.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Not that its abandoned its comedic elements.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Sash: The twin tailed girl got impaled and its gone in a somewhat darker direction yes.
Sash
apparently cutie honey is getting devilman vibes.. haven't watched it though so take this with a grain of salt
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Somewhere in my head is an image of Baraka from mortal combat in the same picture as Himiko Toga.
Lenlo
Hero Aca, still my favorite Shounen.
AidanAK47
Just got the Re:zero Blu-ray a whole ten days before it's officially released. Gotta be the first to see the dub.
Lenlo
Yeah. Her whole scene was terrible. As much as I loved Maho in a pando costume, it should have stopped there. We didnt need the groping.
Kaiser-Eoghan
FERRIS NYAN-NYAN OmO kill it, kill it with muh-fire, kill it with muh-fire.
Lenlo
Also, Megalobox, hot damn. I love it. I love it all. Mmmm I cant wait.
Lenlo
Partly, yeah. Im mid writeup for it. Suffice to say the fan-service was... alittle awkward to me
Kaiser-Eoghan
Filler episode of Steins; gate this week.
Lenlo
I cant wait to see it, ive heard good things
Amagi
Damn I love Megalobox so much it's my favorite series this season.
AidanAK47
I can't wear a suit to work everyday
Kaiser-Eoghan
*wotaku's
Kaiser-Eoghan
You are now aware that you un-intentionally stealth cosplay as watoki's protagonist each time you go to work.
AidanAK47
Pretty sure Psgels is paying to keep the site up but it's not a sum that one would consider significant. Site is dirt cheap.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've thought about using MPC as an extra player, while mainly using vlc, but vlc can be buggy for me sometimes in that it lags and pixelates the video often , I've used MPC on videos that vlc bugs-out on and they work better.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Out of curiosity, what videoplayer (example media player, realplayer, winamp, vlc, mediaplayer classic)do all of you use for watching anime?
Lenlo
You silly old people
Kaiser-Eoghan
lol how do you think I feel, I've been at this for 20 years =P
SuperMario
All these "confessions" just underline how old we all are; and still keep on that stupid hobby after all those years :))
SuperMario
I first visited the site around 2009, 2010 but was pretty much a lurker until I started writing for the site.
SuperMario
As far as I know, psgels gave the admin privilege for K-Off and Aidan, and it's K-Off who pays for the site now (other admins pls confirm)
Kaiser-Eoghan
Of course I have no idea how much it costs to keep the blog up, he could always end up stopping paying for it if he needed to cut costs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm actually curious in estimating how much longer the blog has left. Obviously psgels must be still paying to keep the site up, but he is, of course only mortal.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The blog began in 2005, but I started reading it in 2009, began posting on the chatbox in 2010.
Amagi
I wonder which weekly review was the first one I've read on psgels. I remember .hack//roots but not sure if it was the first one. Could very well be the case, though.
Amagi
Nevermind, despite being an old as shit reader I never actually read the whole text of the about-part.
Amagi
How old is this blog anyway? I am a regular reader since 2006 or something although it was only recently that I started talking here.
Lenlo
Oh I know all about that Kaiser. It was amazing to read about
Raggers
Wow, this is still going? Good on you guys
Kaiser-Eoghan
*wiki article
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Read the cultural impact of the original ashita no Joe on the youtube article, Japanese actually mass mourned him
Kaiser-Eoghan
Some writers just know how to get an un-explainably effective rhythm going.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I always struggle with commenting/reviewing mood pieces and slice of life mood pieces especially, even when I finish something in the genre sometimes I'll go "I don't understand why this worked so well for me, why wasn't it boring?"
Anonymous2194677
Microsot E3 Press Conference was nuts, they showed too many games.
Anonymous2189608
Hey guys, I made/edited my very first video about a show I greatly love, hope you'll give it a watch too:

https://youtu.be/PdjwePOIbQA
Anonymous2187735
Yeah, and an NES prequel to Bloodstained Ritual of the Night launched a couple of weeks ago. And while easier than NES castlevanias it's quite fun. Also very cheap only $10.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Alas, I've not kept up much with the videogame scene in a number of years. I know there's a spiritual successor to castlevania being made though.
Anonymous2187735
Sorry Nightmare Creatures its what it's called.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually come to think of it, the 64 games probably had more vampires than the others I played.
Anonymous2187735
Have you played the game that inspired this Castlevania? Deadly Creatures?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Never did get round to playing as Henry though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I remember the garden stage being especially frustrating as Schneider because of how slow he moved.
Anonymous2187735
Also that game demands you to play on normal or higher to play beyond that nitro stage.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I remember having to finish the game in a day because I was saddled with constantly rubbish memory cards for my N64.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sorry, I post fast and long so some of what I say probably might get missed/skimmed over.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually I did mention it, called it the nitro stage.
Anonymous2187735
Still I think despite the flaws it's has become fun for me because I surprisingly get better each time I play it. and last time I make the game chug because of how fast I was progressing.
Anonymous2187735
Yeah. But I'm surprised you don't mention the worst part. The Nitro and Mandragora level. In which you have to go across several rooms without jumping.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I remember the game punishes you for using the item seller guy too much aswell.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I remember the mansion level being creepy back then.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But the werewolf thing was pretty rad.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And then there was that crumbling labyrinth stage. I remember on hard mode you have to fight the chainsaw gardener too.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The art tower stage is also annoying if you run out of day/night cards.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Also it wouldn't let you finish it properly if you took too long.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: The N64 castlevanias have so many flaws, weird controls , bad camera , the day and night feature is kind of cool but it also puts a timer on things and certain parts become a pain because of it. They had frustrating bits too like the ice castle part with the weird jump sections and the nitro carrying stage.
Anonymous2187417
Lords of Shadow was another IP the developer had to accomodate into a known IP kinda like Star Fox Adventures.
Anonymous2187417
The other Castlevanias I haven't played are Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness. LoS was ok but very long. and it's interquel Mirror of Fate put me off playing LoS2.
Anonymous2187417
I haven't played that one. Seems like a mixed bag. Like Zelda 2 or Metroid 2.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've seen playthroughs of simon's quest, but we all know why thats a notorious mess.
Anonymous2187417
Castlevania 64 and Legacy of Darkness are also my guilty pleasures. I think if Konami still made Castlevanias it would have tried aping the Souls type of gameplay.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I remember some very very silly voice acting and dialogue in symphony of the night.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I preferred when they were just platform games. Later ones incoperated level up elements if I recall.
Anonymous2187417
After SOTN I think the game coming closer to that greatness is Order of Ecclesia if anything it keeps the difficulty of the classic Castlevanias and puts it in the Metroidvania formula. It has a platforming challenge level that's very satisfying to play.
Anonymous2187417
I've played most of them. Castlevania 3 is a very tough game, but that also makes the journey feel long and rewarding. Rondo of Blood feels like the cornerstone of the series since it's the Castlevania that got most of it's sprite reused in later games.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Reminds me, the game, clocktower is vaguely inspired by an old Italian horror film.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And symphony of the night.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I actually feel I should have played more castlevania back in the day, I've played bloodlines, castlevania 4, Dracula X, legacy of darkness, admittedly the last one isn't a good game and is more of a guilty pleasure.
Anonymous2186526
They could still meet Grant in the Clocktower.
Anonymous2186526
I wonder if the second season will be the journey to the castle like in the game. And the third season is entirely in the castle.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Already a season 3 announced.
Lenlo
Oh god yes. I cant wait
Kaiser-Eoghan
New netflix castlevania episodes out next month.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Was going to mention that. Wish more shows would do o.
Lenlo
Yeah, a lot of plot threads are converging and I like it. My favorite part though was Iglesias and their commitment to non-japanese languages. They were good!
Kaiser-Eoghan
*his bit
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Glad that sachio gets hit bit of backstory and that its well connected to the rest of the overall plot.
Lenlo
Alright Megalo Box was pretty good this week. So much to say
KTravlos
Indeed the Alliance system is atypical of mass democracy. There seem to be no organised parties and lists. Instead administrations seem to be formed on a personalist basis(me and my chums). And the Assembly seems to have very weak powers of oversight. A very flawed institutionally system. But I digress . It is still anime and even from Tanaka I do not expect deep discussion of democratic politics
KTravlos
I mean if two of 9 ministers in an administration resigned in any current representative/competitive election system it would be a big news and embarrassment to the goverment. My guess is that they were blackmailed to stay on, or were too afraid of the war party.
KTravlos
busy weeks (finals and deadlines). Watched the latest LOGH:NT episode. It was ok. A bit dry, but so are many of the episodes of NT or the Original on their own. One think it led me to think is that neither the books , nor the OVA, nor NT explain why Rebelo/Lebello and Huang Rui (the two politicians opposed to the Invasion of the Empire) did not resign in opposition. (Turnhit also opposed but..)
Lenlo
I think its cause of Daru's voice. Hes so overt about it and his voice makes it so clear hes not really being serious about any of that, cause it completely changes when hes talking serious subjects
Amagi
@Kaiser: Yeah I am watching CCS but funny enough I fell behind too, so it might be someone else you're thinking of
Kaiser-Eoghan
Always felt that Daru strikes a hit when it comes to pervy/otaku characters. Most of them tend to be incredibly annoying.
Lenlo
This episode was nice and chill while still moving stuff forward. I enjoyed it. It does seem like we are hitting the main conflict though, with Amadeus and Maho
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I feel with this episode the plot is really moving along now.
Lenlo
@Kaiser, Thats the question aint it? How to savem both? We know he does, cause of the original, but alot happens along the way. Its a great ride
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Featured Posts

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Megalo Box – 11 [A Deadmarch]

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