To find out some exciting news, make sure to read the section 'Fun Facts & Exciting News'!
As predicted in my previously mentioned article, Hanamaru is decidedly a #bishounen anime which, by definition, is about beautiful men. It was mostly a feel good refreshing type of anime. It had little drama. And the little we had gave us some important insight as to why the jobs of these swords is so important. Through that, and the more peaceful episodes, we got to know a little bit about most of the characters. This was an aesthetically pleasing anime that was both fun and sentimental, leaving you feeling good about life by the end of it.
Since then, the popularity of the franchise has grown tremendously, and Doga Kobo announced a second season in Japan February 2017 which is due to air January 2018. Those who are fans of Touken Ranbu and Hanamaru are sure to be excited to have some more good looking anime men to spend half an hour a week with. But after seeing the premier of episode two of #Katsugeki and the first episode before that at #animeexpo2017, we can tell that the type of anime producers #Ufotable have planned is something entirely different.
The bishounen factor of this franchise will never get left behind. Part of its popularity is due to this very factor, and it would be unwise of any recreation to alter this important piece of its aesthetic puzzle. But as far as the first two episodes are concerned, this is a completely different anime than Hanamaru.
Full of action right from the start, Katsugeki proves to be a much more exciting version of these character's lives. As described by the producer at the panel, these two anime are not related. Katsugeki is what happens at one citadel where Hanamaru is a different citadel, and the two don't touch.
Unlike Hanamaru, which explored several characters throughout the season, Katsugeki is centered around one unit created by Saniwa. The saniwa is the role the player takes on, which is to have the ability to summon the human manifestation of swords. In Hanamaru, the role of the saniwa is kept gender neutral. They are to be a person who is never seen or heard. Katsugeki decides to not follow this rule, however, and has given the player an actual role.
Despite there being several fan arts that depict Saniwa as a young woman, supporting the idea of a reverse harem, the creators of this spinoff chose to make it a young man, keeping with the idea of a bishounen universe. And when he showed up, the #fangirls screamed with delight.
Saniwa - is a young man who is master of the several swords of Touken Ranbu and has the power to summon them. He proves to be a much more exciting character in Katsugeki by having an epic appearance in the second episode during which he displays his awesome power. Not only is his entrance dramatic, but he has an impressive set of skills including multiple summonings, discernment, and management. But most importantly, he displays great love and trust in his servants.
Izuminokami Kanesada - appointed the leader of this unit, #Kanesada stays true to character by being an incredible martial artist and swordsman who can keep his cool in any situation. Confident and reliable, he has yet to show any hesitation in his decisions and actions and is an obvious leader only fools wouldn't follow. As one of the two swords of #Hijikata Toshizō, vice-commander of the #Shinsengumi, he does not get along well with the sword #Yoshiyuki, the sword of #Sakamoto Ryōma who was a part of the movement that intended to overthrow the shogunate which Hijikata was to protect.
Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki - is the sword of Sakamoto Ryōma whom he boasts of and shows a great display of love for. Like the other swords of Touken Ranbu, he is loyal to the memory of the man who wielded him as a sword. He especially has taken on many of the desires that his wielder had, including to travel the world. Despite being an object, he wants to experience human life and is excited about it. And though he is a sword, he has a great respect for firearms and uses them alongside his own blade. Disliking Kanesada for the same reason Kanesada does not care for him, he declares to Kanesada that he is only following him because Saniwa has commanded it, not because he sees him as his leader. If this isn't foreshadowing, I don't know what is.
Tsurumaru Kuninaga - Though yet to be given the spotlight, Touken Ranbu lovers are anticipating #Kuninaga's arrival. Dressed in all white, he's often said to resemble the #crane. But during battle, he often jokes that his all white clothes will be stained with blood. There's not much known of how he'll be handled yet in this spinoff, but his appearance in the opening of the anime stimulates a lot of excitement for what's to come.
Horikawa Kunihiro - the brother sword of Kanesada. #Kunihiro was Hijikata's second sword and was summoned much later than his older brother. The newest and most inexperienced sword, he's worried about being of use and keeping up with the others. His relationship with Kanesada is that of a younger brother looking up to his mentor and will no doubt have to prove himself as the story progresses. With a strong sense of justice, it takes him some time to understand that his job isn't to change history. Saving others and stopping bad things that happened in the past isn't an option, and that is something he struggles with before accepting that his purpose is to preserve history--not change it with good deeds.
Tonbokiri - is actually a spear. Listed as a supporting character, there's not much to know about #Tonbokiri yet. Though large and powerful, he's as kind as any of the other swords and gets along with them well. And like Yoshiyuki, he has a desire to learn about the human world and is very interested in the innovations that came after his time. Intimidating at first glance for his power and size, he comes across as a good natured and curious character that many already love.
Yagen Toushirou - is quiet and shown as rather unsociable in the first episodes of the anime. His instincts are proven incredible, and he comes across as an assassin type with the way he is able to detect his prey and strike them down with his short blade and lightning movements. Uninterested in making friends with the others, #Toushirou acts alone but is also respectful of his team.
Mikazuki Munechika - is an absolute favorite of many fans. Depicted as a "wise old man" in Hanamaru, #Munechika is a most beloved character any version of Touken Ranbu would suffer without. He is one of the great five swords of Japan and said to be the most beautiful. With only a brief appearance in the opening, one must wonder why he's listed as a main character. But if his part in the anime is more than that of a support, fans are going to be ecstatic to have more of him than they did in Hanamaru.
Fun Facts & Exciting News
Getting to attend the panel, we got to hear some incredible information from the Q&A. When asked how the creators managed to stay true to the Touken Ranbu idea and merge it with actual history, we learned that the writers paid incredible detailed attention to that very factor.
Though Touken Ranbu itself doesn't have much story, which gives the anime creators creative liberty, they were meticulous when it came to being accurate with the history they chose to include in their plot. Even going so far as to hire an actual writer who specializes in Japanese history, they went into everything from events to the way people were served food depending on the time period they were in.
We also learned that each main character was given their own creator. Instead of having a group who would correlate and work together on character concepts, artists were given their very own to develop. This, we were told, is not common. And though it has been an incredible process, it has also made it difficult in that there are several creators to work with in getting a single character just right when they are passed into production.
One question we all wanted to know was, how did they decide which swords to make the main characters of this anime? The answer was fairly simple. They wanted a balanced team, using as many different sword types as they could that also resonated with those who would be developing them.
The most exciting news of all? The producer present was asked if there was a chance of the Touken Ranbu game coming to America. The answer? This is something that has been discussed. The game creators even asked to know what kind of reception Touken Ranbu was receiving to help them decide what to consider in this regard. And after seeing the love and excitement the fans participating at the panel had for the anime and game, we were promised that an email would be sent to them the next day saying that they should, "maybe bring Touken Ranbu to the states." The excitement was palpable, and we're all hoping that the announcement of an English version of the game is imminent.
Fans are excited for more Touken Ranbu and in a more story driven setting than their previous exposure. With a dramatic first two episodes, the bar has been set high for epic action, beautiful aesthetics, and great story with a lot of character building. We'll see if they deliver.