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

Posted on with categories: Hyouge Mono

And so it has ended. I originally thought that Sasuke would arrive to do something crazy, but this also was the perfect way to end this series with: an entire episode dedicated to the ceremony of Sennou Rikyuu, committing harakiri. It gave a beautiful closure to this series and definitely set the standards for the endings of the rest of the year. As usual, Bee-Train definitely did not disappoint.

The build-up in particular was wonderful here, and I especially loved the last moments between Rikyuu and Sasuke, who was the one who ended up killing him. The final scene of the series really made an impact here: it was just Sasuke carrying Rikyuu’s head. No aftermath, nothing. It was entirely about the ending of a visionary.

Overall, the last third of this series turned out to be completely different from what I imagined. The reason for this was that suddenly the main character role shifted to Rikyuu, and this series started to explore exactly why he ended up committing harakiri here. It was completely different from the first third, which was centered around Oda Nobunaga’s conquests, and the second third, which was about Sasuke building up his influence. The fromer were crazy, while this was far more dark and brooding. The picture they all paint together however is wonderful.

I can only hope. Hope that there will be more series like this that don’t care one single bit about being moe or delivering bishies. Series that just have a completely unique vision and aren’t afraid to fully go with it. It perhaps didn’t end up as an utter classic due to a bit of a slow pacing here and there, but it once again reminded me why Koichi Mashimo is one of my favorite directors. I am really, really looking forward to his next work.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 20 January 2012 with categories: Hyouge Mono

And so it has finally happened: the beginning of the end. I’m still quite surprised that it completely revolves around Sennou Rikyuu, rather than Sasuke. Still, Rikyuu having to perform Harakiri: it makes for a great ending. The end of this episode also showed that it will be Sasuke’s turn to try and stop things, which is actually something that will put him into the spotlights again one final time. I know Koichi Mashimo. He really finds a good ending important. Even the mother of all incomplete shows, Blade of the Immortal, still tried to leave with a good feeling. This build-up really can leads to some excellent finale that will be really hard to beat by the rest of the year.

This episode finally finished the thing that this series has been building up for months now: Sennou’s death. Bit by bit, ever since that bald priest got executed, things have slowly been building up to this point. There was the statue, the many scenes of high tension between the two, and last episode showing Rikyuu destroying one of those three legendary pots. This time with the assassination, it was the final straw, and I especially liked how Hashiba made the conscious decision, yet was partly pressured to do it.

I mean if you read it in a history book, things like Harakiri and Seppuku seem so incredibly distant. Were these people really so crazy to just order people to kill themselves? It’s really hard to imagine the state of mind that these people were in when they made these decisions, and especially reading about them quickly makes them feel like they were made on a whim or something. With that in mind, I really have to congratulate this series for deliver so many solid performances. Despite the over the top moments, the acting of this show is really top-notch and believable. With such an in-depth look at the mindsets of these people at these times, I really can say that this show gave me new insights about the history of Japan.

And really: it’s been a while since a series taught me something. Especially as extensive as how this series has been doing.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 13 January 2012 with categories: Hyouge Mono

Date Masamune, the one eyed dragon.. playing Jesus with a golden cross. I have no idea how they came up with that. Still, it’s interesting that this show touched a bit upon the Christian issues of that time. It’s not a major theme, but it’s still interesting to see.

In any case, we’re two weeks away from the ending, and this really shows in the catfight between Rikyuu and Hideyoshi, of all things. Surprisingly, Sasuke is not the main drive of the conflict in this series. He’s important, but more like a bystander. When looked at the actual story the finale will be centred on Rikyuu. Although, I know Bee-Train for having really good endings, and Koichi Mashimo very likely wants to keep up this tradition with this show.

The one thing that annoys me about this show is that it’s getting harder and harder to write about this show. Not fully understanding every sentence probably isn’t helping here, but I’ve already said everything I wanted to say about this series, and am starting to suffer from writer’s block with this series. So yeah, these entries are rather short.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 7 January 2012 with categories: Hyouge Mono

It really is a shame that the only way to view this show right now is through a very crappy online stream. At the very least this needs to be watched in HD-quality, and unfortunately the probability for this show to get licensed is also really close to zero. Nevertheless, we really need more shows like this. The “screw conventions”-attitude has been getting rarer and rarer these days, and it’s great that shows like these still remind us that it’s possible.

Anyway, about this episode: Rikyuu is getting more and more menacing here. He had this wonderful presence around him in this episode, not to mention him trying to burn his own hand. It may sound strange, but I can’t wait for the finale, because it’s clear at this point that the creators are planning something awesome for him. I’ve been waiting for that moment for months now.

Speaking of the next episodes: this episode hinted that Sasuke and Date Masamune will be spending them together. Gathering the two biggest eccentrics of the show together for the finale. That just has to be awesome.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 17 December 2011 with categories: Hyouge Mono

The death scenes in this show are truly un-rivaled. No other show does them as well and as creative as this series. This episode finally had another one, and even though the one who died wasn’t one of the main characters, it still was really refined and well acted.

Still, with Toyotom Hidenaga, who once was Hideyoshi’s right hand man, another chaptr of this story is closed here. What’s so bizarre here is that we’re leading up to the finale, but this point in history is relatively short on battles. I really expected these final episodes to include some more of the battles that this show did so well, but instead it has been all about the characters lately. Sasuke in particular: he once was a messenger, but right now as a daimyou, he is getting more and more removed from the battlefield. As shown by how he’s now actually selling some of his pottery designs.

In fact, this whole series structure has been bizarre. The big reason for that is the sheer difference between Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The former was the definition of coolness, while the latter had much more strange and lame sides, while at the same time also being this capable ruler. If anything, he lacks the charisma of Oda Nobunaga, but what do you expect with that ridiculous getup he walks around in?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 15 December 2011 with categories: Hyouge Mono

If you’re wondering why this entry is so late (yes, all three of you), it seems like the raw providers have nearly completely abandoned this show, and I couldn’t find it for a long while.

In any case, this is the episode where Riyuu went nuts. The first half though, was unfortunately a part where the animators screwed up. I know that it sounds a bit strange to complain that his facial expressions looked silly with the nature of this series, but up till now, all of the silly faces in this series were really well drawn. Here though, they weren’t.

But really, Sasuke has turned into a bit of a side-character with this. He really is being guided around by Rikyuu at this point, and despite his good intentions, he does miss the point of the “Wabi Sabi”, as it seems to be called. After the badly drawn faces, this episode really grabbed itself back together as it showed Rikyuu trying to get back at Hideyoshi, especially with that large statue of his.

Also, did Date Masamune just try to poison a few people?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 3 December 2011 with categories: Hyouge Mono



The characters really were on fire for this episode. Sasuke made more bizarre faces than ever, but especially Sennou: how much can you develop this guy anyway? In any case, the acting here was absolutely wonderful and really brought some excellent stuff out of the characters.

This episode makes Sennou’s story even darker. There first was him, coming clean about helping out in the assassination of Oda Nobunaga. Only for the second half of this episode focusing on the ever growing tensions between him and Hashiba Hideyoshi. Note how Hideyoshi always takes someone with him to check it for poison. And then the episode ended with him demanding Sennou’s daughter.

Also, this show makes a terrific use of how it has a very limited budget. It has showed for a while now, but this episode really stood out in it: this series is going back to this intricate shading technique that was often used around fifteen years ago. I have no idea why it ran out of fashion, but using multiple colours of shading is something I really haven’t seen in a while, other than CG gradient lighting. This episode in particular had some very detailed shading on Sennou.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 25 November 2011 with categories: Hyouge Mono



One thing that did strike me about this show is how little I have to say about it on a weekly basis. I mean, at this point, everything that has been said about it has already been said. The pacing in this series is really slow, but not too slow: every episode features something interesting that happens, and every episode does something new with the characters. This time it was the turn for that pale guy.

And really, in the meantime I’m just enjoying this show for its excellent acting and atmosphere. I really can consistently count on this series to deliver with that.

And I mean, this is how a slow pacing should be done. My big issue with series with a slow pacing is that they’re unnecessarily padding out their precious airtime. This show actually uses its time to fully bring its characters to life. The things that this show does to fill up its time are interesting and filed with historical references to all sorts of things, ranging from art to construction. Not the umpth show about random teenaged antics.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 18 November 2011 with categories: Hyouge Mono



The seemingly impossible has happened: someone actually eclipsed Sasuke in terms of eccentricity. This entire episode was dedicated to Date Masamune. And dear god. When you thought that his version of Sengoku Basara was exaggerated, you haven’t seen anything yet.

This guy was hilarious, but in particular when in the vicinity of Sasuke himself. It’s amazing how well these crazed idiots managed to play off each other. As for Sasuke, I guess that last week, his voice actor had some sort of cold or something, because here his voice was back to normal. It remains very strange to suddenly have a different voice for just one episode. That was the first time in which I actually noticed something like that.

Rikyuu meanwhile… oh my god. Just when I thought he was done with his character development, the creators put an extra notch to it.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:10 AM)
    Seeing Hoffman in before the devil knows your dead and his character being dependent on drugs, that was another thing that hit me a bit knowing the circumstances of his death. Watching most wanted man I could also see that he was wearing out physically.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:00 AM)
    This is not Anno bitching about otakus jacking off to his characters and turning around and selling Rei panties, this isn’t the idiots at Shaft throwing around meaningless camera angles and the oh-so-symbolic teeth brushing scenes, this is a human being looking you in the eye with fear and telling you that he’s dying; morbid, honest, moving and remarkable.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:55 AM)
    Given my rants regarding Birdman it should be clear that I’m a sucker for these rare instances where the line between movie and reality get blurred- when an actor looks at a camera and just bares their heart out. This is the realism that reality tv tried but could never capture. this is art in one of its most sincere forms.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:50 AM)
    Oh yeah Hoffman was a massive talent and a beloved actor, so I don’t take it lightly when I call Synecdoche his greatest role ever. Given his death and knowing the circumstances of his life at the time imbues this performance with a chilling sincerity that just breaks your heart and leaves you in awe.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:42 AM)
    Oh Andrew Niccol, oh how the mighty have fallen.
    Hoffman showed up in Capote and most wanted man, the latter which I especially love and there need to be more thrillers of that vein coming out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:37 AM)
    It’s funny how they also each have a Nicolas Cage movie. Kaufman has Adaptation and Niccol has Lord of War. Although despite the usual Cage antics neither of those movies is really that bad.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:33 AM)
    Eternal Sunshine and The Truman Show are the two roles where Jim Carrey really demonstrated his acting chops well outside of his usual comfort zone. But Kaufman moved forward from Sunshine with the superior Synecdoche, while Andrew Niccol went from doing Truman Show and Gattaca to doing young adult garbage like The Host *wretches*
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:28 AM)
    @Emma: yeah you’ll most likely enjoy it. On the surreàl scale it lies somewhere between Birdman and Holy Mountain, so although it’s peppered with symbolic imagery and thematic shots it’s still a personal story about a man’s struggle when faced with his own demise. Although a lofty statement, this is in my onion philip seymour hoffman’s best performance, and his untimely death adds another incredibly rich level of nuance to this movie.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:20 AM)
    @Bam: Adaption, Nicholas Cage =< a guilty pleasure actor to watch for the most part and little more.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:12 AM)
    @Bam: The more you mentiom Synecdoche, the more interested I get. Malcovich was a creative idea for a film and Eternal sunshine was a good spin on the romance genre which gave Jim Carrey a film worth acting in.
    Riki-oh if anything is just a heck of alot of fun.

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