June Anime Challenge – Hakuouki Reimeiroku
This month’s anime challenge is the anime Hakuouki Reimeiroku. Hakuouki Reimeiroku Is the third in a series of a three season anime, but it is a prequel to the first two seasons. The whole series consists of Hakuoki, Hakuoki: Hekketsuroku (second season) anime and Hakuoki: Reimeiroku (third season and prequel). For Hakuoki Reimeiroku, the opening theme was “Reimei” by Maon Kurosaki and the ending theme was “Hana no Atosaki” by Mao.
The anime takes us to the year 1863, Japan is victim to violent waves of street clashes and murder and the Tokugawa Shogunate sends the Roshigumi, a new force of masterless samurai to aid the Aizu forces in Kyoto. This new ‘police’ force is split between two opposing factions, respectively led by Serizawa Kamo and Isami Kondo. A man named Ryunosuke Ibuki, forced to be a slave by blood debt hates the samurai and what they stand for, and hopes that there will be a chance for both himself and Japan, if Kondo can beat the rabid Serizawa.
Week 1 - 04 - 10 June
Episodes to Watch: 1 to 3
This month we submerge ourselves in the history of Japan. We will experience the struggles, politics, violence and victories of the Japanese in the 1800s. Our main protagonist of the prequel series Hakuouki Reimeiroku is Ryunosuke Ibuki, the son of a samurai. He is a boy that hates samurai. He gets picked up by the Head Commander of the Roshigumi (later Shinsengumi), Serizawa Kamo, after he was robbed and left to die of his way to Kyoto. He is forced to become Serizawa’s dog, and that is how his adventure with the Shinsegumi starts. He is not a historical character, he was an original character created for the anime and Hakuoki Reimeiroku video game. His Japanese seiyu (voice actor) is Seki Tomokazu and his English seiyu is played by Adam Gibbs.
Hakuouki Reimeiroku was directed by Osamu Yamasaki and produced by Asuka Yamazaki, Mitsutoshi Ogura, Suguru Iwasaki and Hohei Hayashi. Its original run was from July 9, 2012 – September 24, 2012.
Week 2 - 11 - 17 June
Episodes to Watch: 4 to 6
Episode 1 starts with Ryunosuke Ibuki being saved on a whim by Serizawa Kamo, after he was attacked and left for dead on his way to Kyoto, the capital city. He wakes up, his wounds tended to and he meets Heisuke Toudou, a boy that helped to nurse Ryunosuke back to health. When Ryunosuke feels up to it, he tries to leave but is stopped by members of the Roshigumi, who insists that it is ‘impolite not to thank the man who saved you’. He meets a lot of the Roshigumi during the day, including the soft-spoken Isami Kondo. We are also introduced to the inner conflict between members of the Roshigumi which will play a big role in the anime’s narrative.
The men convince Ryunosuke to stay another night, since ‘Serizawa is drunk’ and it’s better to talk to a sober Serizawa in the morning. Ryunosuke reluctantly agrees and wakes up the next morning surrounded by samurai that obviously drank them into a stupor the previous night. He mumbles about them being drunk and slips away before they wake up. He manages to find Serizawa’s quarters, and thanks him, stating that he will be leaving. Everything does not go according to plan for our hero, as Serizawa exploits Ryunosuke’s sense of honour and talks him into staying by saying that since Serizawa saved his life, Ryunosuke owes him a debt of servitude. A lot more happened in episode 1 but we will not spoil it for those that want to catch up in the anime challenge. This anime is definitely worth watching. The art and animation is just beautiful and brings the character to life. The seiyu (Voice actors) did a splendid job in both the English and Japanese versions of the anime. The first three episodes already deliver in giving us the ancient Japan experience. If you have not joined us in the challenge yet, jump in now, because we highly recommend this anime.
Week 3 - 18 - 24 June
Episodes to Watch: 7 to 9
Last week was our second week of the Hakuouki Reimeiroku challenge and the anime was quite eventful. We focus on Episode 4 ‘The Blade Drenched in Blood’. At the end of Episode 3, everyone was dining together and Souji showed an over-eagerness to kill the rogue samurai that plague Kyoto. That bloodlust caused conflict between him and some of the others, especially when it was suggested that he should return to Edo. Souji ran out of the dining hall quite upset and Kondo and a few of the men go out to search for him, joined by Ryunosuke. After a little while, Kondo urged the men to go and finish eating their dinners, since Souji would return when he cooled down.
When they leave for the dining hall, Ryunosuke sees that Kondo is not returning with them, and when he asks Kondo, Kondo replies that he knows Souji very well and he will find the young warrior. Ryunosuke decides to join Kondo in the search and as they walk Kondo starts to tell Ryunosuke about how he met Souji and the young samurai’s childhood. We learned a great deal about Souji, but we will not offer up spoilers, since some of you may want to catch up on episode 4 to 6.
Episode 4 gives us a few pointers on how politics worked. Sometimes the sword did the talking, especially if a gullible warrior were influenced to commit an act of murder, using a sword as a tool for political gain. So far the anime is very informative and each episode sets a tone for the next, brilliant tools for crafting a story. If you have not joined us in the challenge yet, jump in now. You don’t want to miss out on this!!!
Week 4 – 25 June – 01 July
Episodes to Watch: 10 to 12
Welcome all challengers. Before we start this final week of the Hakuouki Reimeiroku Challenge, let’s focus on an episode of last week’s challenge. In Episode 7, Ryunosuke and the Roshigumi find out that when Serizama visited Osaka, he and Souji fought and killed unarmed sumo wrestlers as an act of ‘honour’. Some of the Roshigumi (Especially those under Kondo), were very displeased that disarmed men were cut down but sword-yielding samurai and to add to their displeasure Souji even jest that he would commit honourable suicide if he was wrong. Hijikata confronts Serizawa about it, but Serizawa as usual just wash it off since the situation with the wrestlers was revolved in an ‘honourable and politically correct’ manner. As a comeback, Sarizawa Serizawa attacks Hijikata’s resolve which clearly leaves an impact on the young samurai.
Later as Hijikata broods at a pond, Kondo finds him and consoles him, reminding him that samurai like the two of them cannot become the type of samurai Serizawa is. They then reminisce about their good old days in Kyoto at the dojo. They remember the type of samurai they wanted to be: to protect the weak and to follow and uphold the code of the samurai. Kondo then reminds Hijikata that because they were not born into a samurai line like Serizawa, but were born from farmers, maybe they can be a different type of samurai, and be samurai by example form their own upbringing’s perspective.
A lot more happened in episode 7 to 9, like the situation with the fury, some great character building and great story telling, but in episode 7 we learned an interesting fact about samurai in that era. Samurai pride can affect a samurai deeply. Samurai born from the samurai class may look down of samurai that came from other backgrounds. Kondo being from the farmer’s caste is a perfect example. Such a difference in personal history can create a divide between samurai. If you missed out on Episode 7 – 9 we hope you will do yourself a favour and watch it, you may just learn more fascinating bits of samurai lore while having fun watching it. Enjoy the anime and have a super sugoi week!