I wrote a post about Hakuouki and the reverse harem genre in general a little while ago and I have to say that a lot of my feelings toward this series have not changed since then. Reverse harem shows seem to be intelligently written for the most part and Hakuouki is yet another decent example of this. There is some decent character stuff, a solid plot, and drama that feels real. There are some harem tropes that are still in play here, but that’s the name of the game here. Compared to normal harem series stuff, the tropes were played down to a much lower level. Let’s dig into this a little better.
Hakuouki’s plot set up is incredibly interesting. It takes place around Japan’s meiji era. Sixteen-year-old Chizuru Yukimura lives in Edo, Japan and is the daughter of a doctor. Her father’s work took him to the capital of Japan at that time, Kyoto, but he sends letters to her every day. When her father’s letters eventually stopped, she dressed up as a man and headed to Kyoto herself to find him. On her journey, she gets attacked by samurai and a super natural creature beyond her understanding. That situation is resolved when she gets saved/captured by the Shinsengumi. This is where the story starts. I am not going to spoil anything else for people who are interested in reading more.
Chizuru Yukimura is the main female that is surrounded by a lot of strong and attractive male characters. It is a reverse harem after all. She is more than that though because she is a decent character and a plot device as well. All of that is surprisingly because this is an anime based on a video/otome game. Usually the main character of a series like that is bland because they are self-insert characters. Over the course of the series, Chizuru becomes the heart of the show and the glue that holds the Shinsemgumi together. She is a very kind individual that suffers from choices she sticks with and a backstory that she had no idea about. There is also the shinsengumi to talk about, but there is too many of them to talk about in this short “review” thing. They are decent characters all around, but know that the show spends more time with a very specific set of characters for reasons that you can probably can guess. Still, they are well rounded bunch and their interactions with each other are pretty fun.
This season of Hakuouki was produced by Studio Deen and you can tell. While there were some awesome fights here and there, but most of them were still frames. From what I’ve seen of Studio Deen recently, the studio’s specialties revolve around well directed shots, good color usage, and solid character designs. All that can be seen here as well. Some horrifying shots use great atmosphere to give off some of the necessary horror vibes. Without looking at animation, which you can’t do because this is an anime or a visual medium, this is a solid production.
The major flaw that I have with this anime is its calendar or event dating. I wish this show wouldn’t do that, because time never feels like it flows by. Character models never change to give them a sense of time passing. Hakuouki really doesn’t need those because it made the show feel incredibly clunky to me. Still, there are a lot of good things that made me continue going back to watch it. If you want to watch a reverse harem series just to see how it goes, this isn’t a bad one to give a watch. Okay, now I am off to watch season two at some point in the future. Have fun!