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


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

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

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

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

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

Posted on with categories: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

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Short Synopsis: This was definitely an Akizuki-episode, as he closes the story by defeating Kakunojou, Soutetsu and the Lord’s Head.
Good: Akizuki vs Kakunojou was so sweet.
Bad: What exactly was the role of the troupe in the later half of this anime again?
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10

And thus ends Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, one of the best series to hit last year’s fall-season. Again, the ending was as solid as ever. I loved the confrontation between Akizuki and Kakunojou, while Soutetsu’s fight was a bit predictable, though. The epilogue itself was nice enough, and I was surprised to hear that Kakunojou actually is using a fake name for herself. Soutetsu also reveals a final part of his background before he dies, which involves his meeting with Sakamoto Ryouma. It seems that Soutetsu told Sakamoto about the plans he had, though Sakamoto disapproved of them. I’m not sure what kind of effect this had.

Like I said, Bakumatsu has been a really solid series, but ever since Rook died, this solidness did show one disadvantage: the rather straightforward plot. Rook’s death, and Kakunojou’s cutting of Akizuki were the last major plot twists in this anime. After that, it’s been a straight race towards the finish, in which Akizuki catches up with Enomoto, all unimportant side-characters die, while the Lord’s Head and Soutetsu are taken care of in the final episode. While this does make for some very solid storytelling, it could have been more exciting. I would have loved a few major twists towards the end, like in episode 13 or 18, but alas.

Overall, I’m glad I watched and blogged this series. There’s no denying that for me, this was one of the highlights of the Fall-season. It’s not the best series of that season (that title goes to Red Garden), but it’s definitely been lots of fun watching this. Thanks w, for explaining some of the more difficult parts of the storyline.

Posted on 30 March 2007 with categories: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

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Short Synopsis: What I suspected to be a Kanna-episode turned into a plot-based episode in which the castle Enomoto has built takes off in the air.
Good: As solid as usual. I liked the direction a lot.
Bad: The deaths are getting a bit too frequent.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10

One thing that irked me during this episode: an awful lot of people have died in the past few episodes. This time, two more characters suffer this fate: Kanna and Taiyou. The creators are really trying to eliminate everyone apart from the main characters. I’d rather see them bring something in at the climax, but I’m glad to see that my favourite ones (the troupe) still remain alive for the final episode. Especially Shiranui has to have some kind of role left, after seeing Taiyou die like that.

Anyway, one thing I liked about these final episodes is how solid they’ve been. Okay, some plot events were a bit too much (the flying castle), and I’ve yet to be blown away by the events, but there haven’t really been any weaknesses so far. Bakumatsu seems to have chosen to prioritize solid storytelling, and I can appreciate that. I also really liked how this episode didn’t have a common theme. It’s a bit of everything. Kanna’s death, Taiyou’s death, Akizuki’s background (which was really appreciated, by the way), Enomoto, the Lord’s Head’s plan, Kakunojou, Akizuki’s quest and Kuroda Ryousuke all played a small part in this one.

And then, with only one episode left, the usual question to ask is: will this end right? Will this series end too abrubt? Well, it would be a huge shame if it did, as this series has been building up and up, even in this episode. I’d love to see every side-character play a role in this. The fact remains that Akizuki is the only one who can seal the lord’s head, and he’ll definitely fight Kakunojou. I’m hoping for the others to take care of Soutetsu for some reason. (Still, there has to be a reason why Soutetsu took the trouble of inviting the troupe to Hakodate, hasn’t it?)

(On a side-note: did I misunderstand this, or did Kakunojou also spend a bit of time with Shouten-sama? See the scene about the child-version of Akizuki? All of his friends get picked up by their parents, while he is the only one to remain. One of these friends looks an awful lot like a young version of Kakunojou)

Posted on 23 March 2007 with categories: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

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Short Synopsis: A Hijikata-episode. Last episode, we saw him finally realizing that Soutetsu’s up to no good. This gets continued in this episode, while Enomoto masters the power of the Lord’s Head even more.
Good: The past few episodes have been building up quite nicely for the climax of the series…
Bad: …now let’s hope that the next two episodes won’t mess up.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10

And there goes Hijikata. Ever since episode 18, Akizuki has been kept away from the main events of this episode, and he’s been in the shadows, walking around a bit while the side-characters finish their stories. This episode, it was Hijikata’s turn. Next episde will be a great one, as it’ll continue Akizuki’s fight versus Kanna. I’m looking forward to the final episodes a lot. I finally realize that Bakumatsu is a good series overall, but masterful in its climaxes.

So far, we’ve got ourselves quite a formidable foe in Enomoto. In this episode it becomes clear that he actually brainwashes people. Judging by the fact that Kakunojou and Kanna have been affected, while Soutetsu and Hijikata have not, then it must mean that he can only do this with weak-hearted people. Hijikata, meanwhile, meets his end in the episode. With the end so near, I’m actually wondering whether the troupe is going to play a major role in the final episode. It would be awesome if they were, but somehow I’m feeling that they will just be spectators.

Still, a formidable foe Enomoto may be, the fact does remain that Akizuki is an excellent swordsman. He already showed that he’s capable of cutting the lord’s head more than anyone else has, and he probably also has some kind of trick up his sleeve to take care of Kakunojou. Soutetsu also is a good swordsman, but his skills will probably never match those of Akizuki’s, which means that the next episode is going to be very exciting. Speaking of Soutetsu, I’m still wondering why he needs Akizuki. Do his and Kakunojou’s sword have to meet under special circumstances or something?

And silly me. For episodes and episodes, I kept wondering what this strange “Hasha no Kubi” was. Some kind of kingdom, or something with a fog? In the end, it appears that it’s been the Lord’s Head all along. Things make much more sense now.

Posted on 16 March 2007 with categories: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

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Short Synopsis: An Englishmen episode. Under the lead of Kanna, they launch another surprise attack at Enomoto
Good: Whoa, I never expected that the creators would go that far; great fights as well.
Bad: Dammit, I was beginning to like the three Englishmen.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10

At the end of the previous episode, we finally saw the Englishmen again, after having been absent for episodes. Surprisingly, they immediately launch their attack. I remember how I speculated how Queen would end up doing something stupid, but seeing all of them to get slaughtered like that was certainly something I didn’t expect at this point. The deaths could have been a bit more dramatic, but the fights definitely were impressive. Especially Hijikata vs Knight was interesting: English versus Japanese swordsmanship. The creators were brilliant in showing the differences.

And regarding Kakunojou, things are worse than I thought concerning her. When Soutetsu said that she had to “guide” Akizuki, I didn’t think too much behind it, but he actually meant for her to join their side, and convert Akizuki as well. The previous episode makes perfect sense now, but I can imagine that Kakunojou is in some heavy identity struggles. Because of her sword, it’s her destiny to protect the lord’s head from Akizuki, while she actually is in love with him. To make things even better, she even converted Kanna to cooperate with her. She’s becoming like a revolutionary icon in this new suit of hers.

This episode also revealed a bit more information about Soutetsu and the lord’s head’s goal. I obviously didn’t understand everything, but could it be that the lord’s head’s former subordinated went down in some war, and they’re trying to resurrect them? Apparently, they must hold some great values, as Soutetsu’s gestured that he’s planning to conquer the world with them. Well, that indeed is a goal worth of going through so much trouble.

Hijikata, meanwhile, makes an interesting move. With Kakunojou gone, Akizuki stands all alone at the moment, apart from his allies back in Yokohama. Hijikata actually doubted Enomoto this episode, and he returned to Akizuki. It’s no confirmation yet that he’ll definitely join him, but it does show potential. I also liked how Akizuki stayed in the shadows for this episode, by the way. Not only am I very curious to see him action again, it also made sure that the attention was where it belonged: the Englishmen and especially Kanna.

On a final note, Queen did show a potential weakness of the lord’s head before she died. Note where Kanna tries to shoot Enomoto, and discovers that all his bullets are reflected by some shield. Queen takes advantage of this by firing an arrow without Enomoto noticing, but she misses by about half a centimetre. The arrow, however, was not reflected. Does this mean that if you ambush Enomoto, you can get past that pesky barrier he keeps using?

Posted on 9 March 2007 with categories: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

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Short Synopsis: Kakunojou finally performs in a play again. Akizuki meanwhile catches up with Enomoto and Soutetsu carries on with his own plans.
Good: Great climax, excellent episode.
Bad: The episode started a bit slow, perhaps.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10

Ah, you could call this episode the beginning of the ending. First of all, Akizuki manages to return, in an attempt to cut down the head once again, instead of sealing it. Soutetsu brings Kakunojou to the scene of fighting, and she once again protects Enomoto from being harmed by Akizuki. With this, Soutetsu hoped that he could show her that she needs to guide Akizuki, in order for his mission to succeed. After Akizuki retreated, he tells her this in person. I’m still not sure what he’s after. Apparently, he wants something to happen between Akizuki’s sword and the lord’s head. but what woould be worth going through so much trouble, just for that?

The supporters of the new government (at least, I assume it was them) also arrived in Hakodate during this episode. Their first attack failed, due to the clash between Akizuki and Kakunojou, but they’ll probably be back for a second attempts. I wonder what they’ve still got to add to the storyline. The Englishmen, by the way, also returned at the end of the episode. They’re probably assigned to stop the Lord’s Head at all costs, but I suspect that there’s also a great desire of revenge in them, for what happened with Rook. Especially Queen should have quite a grudge.

Tetsunosuke (that was his name, wasn’t it), meanwhile, start to develop feelings for Kakunojou. I’m not sure why the creators suddenly decided to introduce another love rival for her at this point of the anime. I mean, they’ve already got a huge story, why introduce yet another love-triangle which will probably end up either useless or forced?

Anyway, I really liked Kakunojou’s play. I’m not yet sure what it was meant to symbolize, but it definitely made her think about her mission.

Posted on 3 March 2007 with categories: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

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Short Synopsis: Most of the episode is centred around Akizuki getting to Ezo. Kakunojou meanwhile realizes that the Temari Uta actually has some strange lyrics for a children’s song.
Good: Excellent episode, period.
Bad: Nothing that hasn’t been said before.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10

You know, I’ve become a bit tired about complaining about this series and about how hard it is to understand. Heck, it’s excellent, it’s got a deep plot, it’s got great production values, what more could you want? Despite my bickering over the past few episodes, this actually remains one of my favourite series at the moment. I’m looking forward to watching and blogging it every week. So, from now on, I’m going to drop my whining about the difficulty oft he language, and I’m just going to enjoy the final episodes of this excellent series. :)

The reason why the troupe didn’t appear during the previous episode was probably because their role has yet to come. Taiyou has left with Soutetsu, while Kakunojou still remains at the hospital. Benimari and Kobako spend their time at the beach, and they suddenly find a number of bullets. It’s interesting, as they behave like these bullets are the coolest things ever. That just shows how you must not let children play with dangerous items.

Lots of new characters were introduced in this episode. The most important one was Kuroda Ryousuke. In this episode, Shouten-sama comes to visit Katsu and Saigo, to request help from Ryousuke in order to escort Akizuki to Ezo as fast and safe as possible. The guy, however, seems to have a grudge against either Hijikata or Enomoto, so he prepares some plans of his own: an ambush.

Enomoto apparently isn’t interested in politics, as he seems to be absent at the meeting, discussing about what to do with Ryousuke and his ship. In the end, Hijikata volunteers to go to him, in order to check him out. He takes a few ships, and he is invited on board of Ryousuke’s ship. Ryousuke then releases some fireworks from his backs, revealing an entire fleet, out there to annihilate Hijikata.

I’m not sure why Kakunojou still remained at the hospital. It’s probably because she’s waiting for Akizuki to return, or she just doesn’t want to get involved with things anymore. In any case, we see her singing the Temari Uta again, when she suddenly realizes that the lyrics are actually quite morbid for a children’s song. For more information about the song: go here. This reminds her of Akizuki again.

Hijikata and Ryousuke meanwhile end up with a bloodbath on both parties. Ryousuke’s surprise attack caused quite a few fatalities for Hijikata’s men, but when he’s about to be shot himself, Akizuki comes in action, and actually saves the guy. Ryousuke can’t fire on Akizuki, because he had to promise Shouten to deliver him to Ezo at all costs. It’s interesting, I thought that when Hijikata joined Enomoto, he also made an enemy of Akizuki, but now it seems that the two are still on friendly terms. Anyway, because of this, Hijikata’s troops on their turn deliver quite some damage to Ryousuke’s.

Posted on 23 February 2007 with categories: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

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Short Synopsis: Akizuki recovers, while Hijikata and Enomoto conquer Hakodate.
Good: Nice battles, I liked how focused the episode was.
Bad: The timing of that husband was a bit too convenient. Akizuki acted really predictable.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 7.5/10

Dammit, no online-summaries have appeared for this episode yet. Ah well, luckily, it wasn’t as hard to understand as usual. We’ve got a pretty focused episode this time, featuring only a select amount of characters. Heck, Soutetsu, the troupe and the Englishmen didn’t even appear, while Kakunojou only appeared for one minute or something.

I had one major problem with this episode. It was great as usual, but Akizuki was just way to predictable. Heck, how many anime have we seen up till now where a main character gets mortally wounded, separated from everyone else, saved by a bunch of random people, get involved with some of their problems and then becoming a better character? Probably too many to count. It’s not really bad or anything, but when anime keep and keep using this, things become a bit predictable.

Still, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the kid nearly drowning. Akizuki gets saved by a mother and her daughter. The father left to be a soldier a long time ago. Akizuki obviously doesn’t speak much, and he keeps having visions of an evil (and rather funny) Kakunojou. Then, during a rather nasty storm, the child went playing outside, and fell into the ocean. This scene really was meant for Akizuki to realize one of his major flaws: the fact that he always tries to do everything on his own, and that he keeps blaming himself for things that happened. But seriously, Akizuki is about to leave, and the husband suddenly shows up again? I thought the creators knew better than this.

The second focus of the episode featured Hijikata, attacking Hakodate with his army. After the last episode, I said that this episode would probably feature another climax, due to the pattern of this series. It’s surprising to see that this was the first climax in Bakumatsu to not feature Akizuki. Hakodate seems to be a major city in terms of trade with Russia, it even has a European design. I can imagine that it would be heavily guarded, and that it would hold a great strategic value to Enomoto.

Posted on 17 February 2007 with categories: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

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Short Synopsis: The aftermath of the huge events of the previous episode. Surprisingly, no Akizuki or Kanna. Instead, the episode is focused at Kakunojou.
Good: The Troupe returns! Great atmosphere; the reunion-scenes were excellent.
Bad: As expected, Akizuki is alive.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10

While Bakumatsu’s story is everything but predictable, the same can’t be said for it’s pacing. Most episodes have been very faithfully following the general pattern of introduction/aftermath – climax – introduction/aftermath – climax – introduction/aftermath – climax – et cetera. It therefore is unexpected that we’re dealing with another aftermath here. Kakunojou collapsed after the end of the previous episode, and she wakes up at the medical area in the ship. While she has been sleeping, Enomoto and his crew managed to reach the northern island of Japan. The winter arrived, which makes sure of a nice change in scenery. (If I’m not mistaken, everyone ended up in a city called Hakodate).

Inside Hakodate, Kakunojou gets moved to the local hospital, where she obviously is quite shocked. she was quite touching to see. This episode also featured a small sub-plot, though I couldn’t quite follow that. Still, the definite best part of the episode was seeing the troupe return. Shiranui has been coming on his own, searching for Taiyuu (what was she doing there, by the way?). The others came by request of Soutetsu. He really likes to manipulate people doesn’t he? Same with Kakunojou? She was about to throw her sword away, which is something he couldn’t have happening so he decided to do something about it. His plan still remains a mystery. He’s obviously using everyone around him, even Enomoto. What could he be after?

I’m not sure about Hijikata’s role in this episode. We see him go from one place to the other, investigating, but exactly what is unknown. We also saw the introduction of another character, who seems to work right next to him: Tetsunosuke. His exact role isn’t clear, but he seems like a young genius who likes to act impulsive. What can a new character such as his add to the anime at this point?

Posted on 10 February 2007 with categories: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

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Short Synopsis: The English launch their attack once more, Akizuki also makes his move. At least, that’s their plan. ;)
Good: Amazing plot twists, awesome climax. :D
Bad: As usual, Shouten-sama provides some nice background information, but again, I didn’t quite catch that.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10

Boy, that was awesome. There definitely were some twists in this that shouldn’t be missed at all, both for the English and for Akizuki. I really wonder what this anime has in store for us for its final episodes. In the first part of the episode, the Lord’s Head shows what kind of power it has towards others when the English try to take him out. Rook tries to kill him, but Enomoto just reflects his attacks, and starts playing with his mind. This makes you suspect that only people like Akizuki can really get rid of the Lord’s Head. The English retreat for now, as things aren’t looking good.

We then see a small aftermath, in which Akizuki agrees to let Kakunojou accompany him, and Rook starts to notice the effects of his encounter with Enomoto, as he keeps getting more and more doubts. The rest of the episode focuses on the English’s second attack, though both parties decided to handle things a bit bigger than with the first one. With the English, Kanna also participates in the attack, and they arrive in their own warship. Enomoto, meanwhile, called all his men to deck, while Soutetsu returned to the ship with Hijikata. Akizuki, meanwhile, also heads towards Enomoto, accompanied by Kakunojou.

And this is where the goodness begins. First of all, Rook dies! This can do some great things for the rest of his team, especially his sister. He has been so confused by Enomoto that he just rushed in, even though he knew that Enomoto could do the same to him again. This indeed happened, and he got stabbed by Enomoto’s henchmen. With this, the Englishmen have definitely turned interesting, as right now, their mission has started to get personal. I can imagine that at least some of them will want to take revenge of what happened to Rook.

The English and Kanna then decide to retreat. Akizuki, meanwhile, has had enough time to sneak up on Enomoto, starting the second part of the climax of the episode. Akizuki’s about to strike, though before he gets the chance, Kakunojou once again gets possessed by her sword. This time, Enomoto makes her cut Akizuki in the leg! Both of them were really great to see after that. ^^

The reasons for Kakunojou’s behaviour also were explained this episode, though as mentioned above, they were a bit vague to me. It has something to do with some kind of fog, though that’s all I could understand of it.

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