Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru – 01 (First Impressions)

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What is it: The story of seventeen swords given human form living together in a citadel. They are charged with annihilating the History Retrograde Army, a group committed to changing history. Rookie Yamatonokami Yasusada is made Captain in his first operation, and his team is wounded without completing their mission.

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Why You Should Watch: TRH welcomes you in to what amounts to a big family full of individuals, each with their own quirks. The clash of personalities suggests an easy chemistry, with even some heated moments quickly defused. Congeniality rules, as all these human swords recognize they all share the same objectives: serve their master the Sage…without getting broken.

Why You Shouldn’t Watch: The episode takes some time to get going. After a dark and murky action scene that turns out to be a dream, it spends an inordinate amount of time on a snowball fight that clunkily introduces the cast one by one.

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There are also too many characters with complex names to keep track of (17 in all), and not one lady among them. Despite a lot of dialogue being given over to explaining the history-preservation concept, the execution left much to be desired, as the ultimate mission just felt like fighting evil foes in an inn. Simply labeling it as something else doesn’t go far enough to sell the concept.

The Verdict: While not a bad-looking show with a nice underlying family element, TRH just didn’t wow me, or even hook me, in any meaningful way. On paper, human swords being sent on missions to save history sounds intriguing, and future episodes may prove more exciting, but the execution in the crucial first episode was lacking. I doubt I’ll be picking up this show in the long term.

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Author: magicalchurlsukui

Hi, I'm Preston Yamazuka, I'm one of the writers for the anime blog RABUJOI. I prefer anime involving fantasy, magic, mystery, the supernatural, and/or horror. I also love seagulls, but they don't seem to share the sentiment.

2 thoughts on “Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Studio ufotable will be making its own version of Touken Ranbu, releasing next year. Preumably it’ll take a more serious, darker approach to the story compared to Studio Dogakobo’s more lighthearted version here.

  2. This felt like an excuse to have a pretty-boy idol show, without the idol story elements. Except the action/history story isn’t coherent either. I enjoyed many of the character designs and could probably grow to like some of the characters… maybe? But a cast this large just isnt effective in this format.

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