10 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Hakuouki episode 1

Quite often these bondage Otome games fly straight over my head. That’s because they’re normally along the lines of Neo Angelique Abyss or Miracle Train but Hakuouki promised Shinsengumi whooping ass and plenty of violence and maybe even *gasp* a plot! Rather surprisingly, it proved to have all the exact same problems that Eroge adaptations have.

The dialogue is totally yawn-inducing. A bunch of characters staying stock lines with stock character archetypes. Probably the worst is there’s no attempt to spice up the dialogue with some imaginative directing, it’s just a bunch of beautiful talking heads. For example, compare Bakemonogatari to Katanagatari. Bakemono spices up the dialogue with bizarre facial expressions, camera angle and general Shaftism. Katana just gives you dull talking heads. Of course, there’s far more between the two of them than just Shaft being Shaft but you get my drift. These Shinsengumi are just rattling away stock lines that mean very little and are just dull to watch.

Which is exactly the same as Eroge adaptations. The moe characters say a bunch of stock lines to set up that they are a certain character archetype while saying something else equally dull to set up the plot. I can’t really say why this happens with VisNov adaptations because I’ve never played a VisNov, but I have to wonder why this is the case. Why is the dialogue so stunted? An educated guess is that people playing the games want the characters to act in this unnatural way. The reason you play these games is to look at these wonderful idealised versions of the opposite sex, who obviously won’t act like their real life counterparts. But it does leave some really terrible dialogue and characters.

Not that it was terrible or anything. I’m actually mildly interested in the plot of the story and it was impossible to actually get a feel for any of the characters in the episode when all it was was a parade of beautiful hair with a face attached, each spouting off similar lines. As it goes on I hope there might actually be some more bondage semblance of characterisation beyond the character archetypes. But meh, I’m hardly leaping up and down in my chair in excitement. If anything, I’m annoyed Deen put more effort into this then Giant Killing. Because boy do those men look pretty.

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  1. Freya
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Agreed. The dialogue was boring.I found it hard to get through the seemingly endless and uninteresting conversations, and I feel a strange dislike for some of the characters already. Might keep watching just for the hell of it, or for attractive male protagonists.

  2. Posted April 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Well VisNovs rely upon dialogue to develop the characters, the problem is not all VisNov writers can actually write funny, or witty, or symbolic dialogue, etc etc, during the early game scenes prior to opening the plot proper. So most of the time it just comes off as slice of life, not the most interesting to begin with, and you have an even bigger bone to pick with than the usual.

    Hakuouki ep1 made a nice artbook, with a decent touch of history in it.

  3. Posted April 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Wait……they were talking? o_O

    I’m only in this for the pretty – although given DEEN’s track record I doubt the pretty will stay very long :P

  4. Scamp
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Permalink


    I know, they seemed to go on forever about very little. I couldn’t work out if in that 5 minute discussion were they actually saying anything of importance

    @Aorii Nah, that problem with stunted dialogue happens the entire way through a lot of VN adaptations so that’s not the problem here. And BTW, there are some slice of life series I like! It’s slice of dull life that I don’t like.


    You might as well watch the troll subs then. They were actually funny and still had beautiful men to look at

  5. Posted April 9, 2010 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    A cross between Bakemonogatari and (some other show I haven’t seen, but apparently has dialogue more boring than Bakemonogatari)

    2 reasons for me to not see this ever.

  6. Posted April 9, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    @Scamp: “I couldn’t work out if in that 5 minute dis­cus­sion were they actu­ally say­ing any­thing of importance”

    That is, at least in part, the curse of the first episode. I’ve got my theories about various thing said that might be important, but truthfully I don’t have enough information to know whether I am right or completely wrong.

    For example it seemed that the Shinsengumi were trying not to reveal too much in front of Chizuru, but they seemed to imply that there was a rival group of Shinsengumi that were related to the “failed soldiers” seen in the beginning. They refer at one point to some sort of “medicine” that might help their leader use his sword again, so perhaps that medicine is what causes people to become “failed soldiers”. Again this is conjecture about side comments when they were actively trying to not reveal too much, so I could have been mistaken.

  7. Posted April 10, 2010 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Actually, I’ve been waiting for Hakuouki to begin with some anticipation. I just finished Peacemaker Kurogane a while back, which is another anime about the Shinsengumi. It’s interesting to compare PK with Hakuouki. PK was more comical, at the beginning anyway. It’s hard to tell yet with Hakuouki. The bishonen character designs don’t hurt. ;)

  8. Scamp
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink


    Nah, the discussions about the failed soldiers were important to the plot and was probably the only interesting part of the episode. I’m talking about the scene where they first meet her and have a long discussion about what they should do with her. That was the parade of beautiful heads that was so dull to watch

    @Jan Suzukawa

    Never watched Peace Maker Kurogane. The only shinsengumi anime I watched was Gintama, which is awesome!

  9. Ange
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    I find I’m not very critical when I watch my anime, because I rather enjoyed this series.
    …Okay, a lot of it had to do with the fact that there were a ton of really cute samurai men, and honestly, I go for character designs…because if the visual keeps me staring, I keep watching…never mind the dialogue when there is nicely made scenery and samurai XD.

    Really, though, the artwork for the show and game is amazing in my opinion, if you go look at some of it on google, I love all the colors and use of lighting.
    but this maybe me talking as an artist, and not a media critique, right? I mean really, anime IS art.

    My favourite designs were Saito’s and Hijikata’s.
    I had nothing against Chizuru for most of the series, but there were times I wish she would just run when she was told, and learn to use sword >_>….it’s nice having that female around to keep the guys in line so to speak, but she should have been more cautious, not assuming it is safe just because she’s got samurai around, they arent quite close by enough to save her ALL the time.
    (especially when doing chores outside at night with enemies around)

    I tend to get sucked into the mood of the story and characters, so my opinion speaks probably for very few, except whom made this franchise earn another game. I hope I can pick up one of the games some time…with a translated instruction guide >_>.

  10. Posted November 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I find haruoki an interesting anime, season 1 was great but season 2 has too many stories in an episode thus making the story kinda go off topic.

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