Review: Hakuouki

So there are two seasons to this show, the first being Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan, the second Hakuouki Hekketsu-Roku. As you have probably guessed, this is a show about the Shinsengumi, and it actually references some historical events.  As you might not have guessed, the Shinsengumi were apparently all hot young bishi eye candy.

In the first episode, the main character, Chizuru, is traveling to look for her missing physician-esque father and is attacked by some shinsengumi coat wearing peeps (non bishi, so you know they’re not main characters). And then saved by other Shinsengumi (bishi, you know, because only pretty people matter), only to have them capture her because she saw them do that.  It’s a mystery as to why! (I feel like half a brain can guess, but whatevs. They’ll tell you in the show after a few episodes). Then she lives with them for a few years, and the show follows that.

Now, not only does the protagonist LOOK exactly like every other crappy Pollyanna female lead…

Which offensive role am I playing today?

She is about as useful as a bag of rotting fish. And she knows it, highlights it.  Now, I can accept that for the viewer, a POV that doesn’t know what’s going on is useful for creating suspense and unfolding the plot.  And I know this show is meant for females and idiotic people seem to think that viewers only identify with characters who pee in the same position they do. But really.  It’s just offensive when female characters, especially main characters, are just walking bags of uselessness and emotions and have to constantly be taken care of by men.  It is just bigotry and stereotypes and just fills my thoughts with ways that chivalry hurts women in everyday in real life.  Being rescued is nice and all, but the idea that she’s a woman and therefore incompetent and needs rescuing all the time, is… Ass backwards and offensive.  It’s not cute, or interesting, or lovely when a woman shows up and melts the hearts of men and makes them want to protect her.  It’s trite and sickening and should make people angry. If she could just save herself a little, or it was clear she was just a bit over her head, or if they held some personal feelings for her in particular, it wouldn’t be so offensive and still get the “Thank you, o talented and attractive bishi that murders people” smexy vibe that they’re going for. But no, she can make tea and clean. BLEH. UGH. BLEH!

Moving past that, there are some interesting things going on in the show.  They have several historical tie-ins, the fact that the Shinsengumi were not a well-liked group, the issues of protecting the weakening, shifting government, the turmoil of the capital, the change from swords to guns and the differing war styles (this is a major plot point even, towards the end of the first series, and in the second).  There is a lot of supernatural interest with the oni/vampire/thingies, which I actually found the most interesting of the numerous plot hooks (most left unexplored, but that’s a criticism and I’m trying so hard to list it’s good points).  Some interesting Oni antagonists that are impressive and strong and likely to kill you all, were they to take an actual beef with you ( I love the character who never has a beef and is so polite).  There is some AMAZING fan-service shots of the bishi men, that are also funny if you’re not into the excessive smexy service.

So if these things interest you, go for it! See if you like it.

If not, keep your distance.  The show is confusing and overly complicated. It introduces a lot of interesting things possibilities and plot points, but it never really seems to explore them at all, much less fully or well. For example, its apparent I’m supposed to be pairing the main character with the vice-commander from the op/eds, but there is nothing really in the show, and her boyfriend options really just boil down to a war of attrition (once all the other potentials or the slashable boyfriends are gone, she’s the only option).   There are some totally arbitrary actions by the main characters (for example, .they have every reason to ditch the bitch really fast, but instead THEY DIE FOR HER. Very pointless and frustrating when there are bigger things going on that they care about more, but one chick they have no obligation towards or no apparent feelings other that friendly affection is a reason to lose men? No way, dammit, no way).  The main character is an annoyingly useless and halfhearted protagonist who never actually DOES anything other than serve tea and clean the house and ruin the achievements women have fought for for a century.  Also, with an ending like Hamlet that leave miss useless in worse straights than ever just knocks it down another distasteful peg. Bleh in the beginning, a bummer in the end, not much good in the middle.