The term “anime moe ” is often heard to indicate the existence of a certain type of anime, but it is often not clear what “anime moe ” means when the term is used. Fortunately, Thomas Lamarre ( 2013 ) has given a phrase that is quite simple to describe moe , namely as a “way to live in a warm world and a way of being in a warm world and a way of bringing a warm world. warm world into being ).” And that kind of feeling is suitable to describe the anime Touken Ranbu –Hanamaru–. The anime series that aired during the fall of 2016 every week made me entertained and comfortable with the warm atmosphere it brought.
Touken Ranbu –Hanamaru– is one of two anime adaptations of the popular browser game Touken Ranbu developed by Nitroplus and DMM. In the game , players can collect anthropomorphized Japanese swords to fight enemies who are intent on changing history. Different from the Kantai Collection , Touken Ranbu depicts swordsmen not as beautiful girls ( bishoujo ), but as handsome boys called touken danshi .
Touken Ranbu –Hanamaru– which was produced at the Dogakobo studio aired before the second adaptation of the ufotable studio which will be present in 2017. Since releasing its initial promotional material, both in the form of visuals and trailers , the Hanamaru series has featured a cheerful portrayal with bright colors. Through this material, this version of Dogakobo has promised an adaptation that is more relaxed and fun than serious, in contrast to the impression that the ufotable version of the promotional material conveys which appears darker.
And Hanamaru really lived up to that promise by presenting more of the daily lives of the touken danshi in their base than the fight against the History Revisionist Army. This is not much different from the anime adaptation of Kantai Collection , which focuses on the process of getting to know the characters better, inviting the audience to become familiar with them in their daily lives.
Director Takashi Naoya ( Luck and Logic ) and scriptwriter Pierre Sugiura ( Barakamon ) build a lot of intimacy by wittily portraying the daily lives of the touken danshi . The characters are displayed with eccentric traits and behaviors , such as the nosy Tsurumaru, Yagen who is like a crazy scientist, Kasen who is always excited to wash Yamanbagiri’s coat, and others. They also engage in activities that lead to ridiculous situations such as catching birds, shopping, or making udon in a musical style. Serious characters like Hasebe who is the assistant of the Saniwa add to the antics by becoming a tsukkomi troubled by the other characters’ odd behaviors.
The comical depiction of the characters in Hanamaru is further strengthened by various comical facial expressions. Dogakobo staff that has been working on a comedy anime like Nozaki-kun or Sansha Sanyou able to present a well-assorted advance blo’on the touken Danshi when reacting to the ridiculous situations. Even Yamanbagiri, who usually only keeps a straight face on a daily basis, can also be free to express more wildly in some situations.
The depiction of everyday life like that in the Hanamaru series is not just for meaningless fun. The antics actually build a friendly and warm environment for the character development of the danshi touken , who still have inner conflicts about the past.
Unlike the Kantai Collection, which leaves the nature of the kanmusu ambiguous (are they a ship that was turned into a human? A ship that reincarnated into a human? A human with the power of a ship?), the touken danshi is clearly described as a sword that was given a human form by the Saniwa. They are aware of this and clearly remember their past with previous owners. As a sword belonging to historical figures, the tragedies of the past are still haunting them. However, by living daily life with the touken danshiothers, they begin to adjust to their new lives, accepting their new companions under the care of the Saniwa as their new family.
Battle missions that occasionally appear are also played for this purpose. Compared to presenting cool combat action, the missions undertaken by the Touken Danshi provide more character depth by exploring the past of some characters and their feelings about events or characters in the past. These missions also provide an opportunity for touken danshi with different backgrounds to further strengthen their solidarity.
These developments, for example, are particularly evident around the character Yamatonokami Yasusada who is the focus of this series. This sword belonging to the Shinsengumi swordsman Souji Okita cannot forget Okita and harbors a desire to save Okita’s life (even though it will change history). But slowly Yamatonokami became closer and closer to the other touken danshi , so he began to shift his aspirations to inherit Okita’s spirit and life principles to protect and nurture his new family.
By building intimacy and warmth among the touken danshi , this series also builds a sense of familiarity and warmth with the audience, making the audience feel sympathetic with their growing relationship that is getting closer, and feel happy when they have fun together. That’s what makes this series feel so moe . It’s no wonder that users of the Docomo streaming service chose this anime as one of the most moe anime in the fall of 2016.
On the other hand, the depiction of the characters and their relationships in this series also involves references that may be difficult for some viewers who don’t play the game or don’t really understand the history of Japan; unless you want to add to the effort of doing inference or doing your own research. The sheer number of characters available can also make it difficult to remember their names. But without fully understanding these references, the witty and warm depiction of the characters and their interaction dynamics may still be enough for the audience to feel attached to certain characters.
Even though it emphasizes comedic animation, it doesn’t mean that there are no interesting animations at other moments. The animation of the action for the invasion of Ikedaya by the Shinsengumi troops, for example, was done very beautifully by Hirofumi Okita, who was able to capture the harsh atmosphere of fighting in a closed place. While the animation for the opening theme is another great work by Yasuomi Umetsu, who previously produced the opening animation for the anime Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru . The characteristics that Umetsu usually displays in the opening animation such as dancing scenes and framing the eyes with hands are also present in the opening animation of Hanamaru .
Finally, Touken Ranbu –Hanamaru– is a moe anime that is fun to watch. This series is able to invite viewers to be more intimate and warm with the touken danshi , especially for Touken Ranbu fans who are more familiar with the game references , of course. But even as a spectator who didn’t play the game , I still feel sad to part with Hanamaru , and actually hope that Hanamaru will get a second season than wait for the ufotable version of Touken Ranbu.