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)

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 03:39 PM)
    @Kero, try watching the 90′s english dub of Sailor moon. Then you will know true annoyance.
    Usagi is an annoying character anyway so it doesn’t matter how nice the voice actress sounds.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 03:28 PM)
    *released
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 03:28 PM)
    Jak, and anyone else who read it and was annoyed that the scans stopped coming out, I’m glad to report 3-gatsu no lion if being translated again. A new chapter was release yesterday!
  • kero
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 03:17 PM)
    dear gods Usagi’s voice in Sailor Moon Crystal is so annoying!
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 01:06 PM)
    You know, we need a new banner. One that says “WE DON’T F*CKING KNOW IF HE’S DEAD OR NOT” to stop these people coming in trying to reanimate his corpse by shouting “Hey are you dead. Maybe If I start poking and kicking you might come back alive. HEY! FEED ME!”
  • hjakz
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 12:42 PM)
    Is Psgels dead?
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 06:02 AM)
    @Emma @K-Off Ty.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:45 AM)
    I will ask my brother about this also who is into drawing.
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:45 AM)
    @K-Off I’ve discussed this ad nauseum with my friends and professors during art school, so It’d be great to get opinions from the other side of the world.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:43 AM)
    @Friend Let me discuss that with some of the artists I know IRL, I want to get their opinions of that. Maybe in a few days.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Clipboard03

Mushishi – 07

Now this was such a beautiful episode. We often see Mushi portrayed as parasites. In fact, they are pretty much based on the insects and viruses of their world. There probably are enough real viruses and insects living in the Mushishi world, but they just aren’t the focus of the series. Anyway, what they did […]

Clipboard04

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders – 06 & 07

This is where this arc gets weird. We’re still in adventure modus, however in these two episodes Jotaro not only meets some of the most bizarre Stand users, it’s also done in the most camp way possible. You can see a clear difference with the first two seasons of Jojo: there it was all about […]

Clipboard01

Ping Pong – 05 & 06

Episodes 05 and 06 are dedicated to character-development. It’s here where Ping Pong shows that it also knows its stuff in terms of storytelling; the develoment doesn’t start too early or too late, and these two episodes really added depth to all of the different characters, despite that there were no big matches. I’m currently […]

Clipboard01

Mushishi – 03 – 06

I have not forgotten about this show. Not at all. I just finished marathoning these four episodes, and holy cheeseballs on a stick! this is the best anime in years! This was everything I could have hoped for and blows just about everything else out of the water. Talk about raw, powerful storytelling. I now […]

Clipboard03

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – 03 – 05

Jojo really is not kind to its females. Every time a hint is even dropped to a girl kicking ass here, it comes with this weird plot-twist that undermines any fighting potential of them. In this arc, it’s the rule that says that your stand will kill you if youaren’t strong enough. And so, Joseph’s […]

Clipboard01

Ping Pong – 03 & 04

The opening of Ping Pong wasn’t done in time, so the first two episodes showed a sortof montage as a placeholder. Now we know why, with episode 03 and 04. The creators actually got the single best animator currently in the business to oversee it: Shinya Ohira. This guy understands animation like no other. The […]

Clipboard07

Ping Pong – 02

Yes, I know that more people here were involved in making this series beyond Masaaki Yuasa. It’s written by the creator of Tekkon Kinkreet, Taiyo Mashimoto. That guy is awesome. And the combination between those two makes this series even better. Because here’s the thing: anime is significantly different from manga or light novels. Beyond […]

Clipboard02

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders – 02

We can never quite get rid of magic fights at a school, now can we, Jojo. Ah well, I forgive it this time, just due to how hilarious it looks seeing these ridiculously bulky men walk around pretending to be high school students. It’s just so over the top, and yet Jojo sets itself apart […]

Clipboard01

Mushishi Season 2 – 02

Oh yes. This is it. This is what storytelling should be about: telling real stories about real people, all with their own problems that need to be overcome. And this show does that time and time again in just one episode. I still can’t believe how authentic this series is. The thing is, when I […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]

Clipboard01

Yahari Ore no Seishun no Love Come wa Machigatteiru Review – 82,5/100

I like surprises, like when a series comes that just turns out to be good against my expectations. Yahari Blahblah from the outside had all the signs to turn into yet another one of those high school comedies: snarky male lead, pointlessly long title that fails at being witty, various other cliched side-characters. And they […]