Episode 16

「誠心は永遠に」 (Seishin wa Towa ni)
“Devotion is Eternal”

Following the revelation of Koudou’s demon revival plans and the departure of Nagakura and Harada, the situation only gets worse for the Shinsengumi. Amagiri explains to Saitou that Rasetsu destroy themselves by expending all their life energy over a short period of time, prompting Hijikata to forbid the further use of Ochimizu to expand their secret unit. To make matters worse, the eventual stopover at Nagareyama was the most ominous turn of events, as it resulted in Kondou’s surrender to the New Government forces. That may not have seemed so bad given how it bought Hijikata and the rest of the men time to escape, but I couldn’t help but get a little emotional over seeing Hijikata completely torn over complying with Kondou’s orders to do so. The flashback to their earlier days and Hijikata’s words about wanting to see how far he could make it with a farmer turned master of a small dojo really made the scene at the end, along with the ending theme playing in the background. What really hit me though was knowing that this was truly going to be a sacrifice on Kondou’s part, as he was executed about three weeks after he was captured (historically). It was no secret that everyone knew his chances of survival were slim to none for staying behind, and Hijikata understood best of all being his long-time friend and co-founder of the Shinsengumi. Because of that, even watching him use his Rasetsu powers to single-handedly take out all the enemy forces in their way was more depressing than anything else. I can’t speak for everyone, but that was one powerful scene in my eyes, which was right up there with Yamazaki’s death at the end of season one.

 

Episode 17

「玉響の夢」 (Tamayura no Yume)
“Fleeting Dream”

During the ongoing struggle in a losing war, the dire state of the shogunate only saw former members of the Bakufu army (i.e. Kyuu Bakufu Gun 「舊幕府軍」) continuing their fight against Imperial forces without the support from their shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. This detached army carrying on the ideals of their wavering leader is led by military strategist Ootori Keisuke, who incorporated the remaining Shinsengumi into their ranks and made Hijikata the leader of the front line unit. Their first campaign together was the Battle of Utsunomiya Castle, which Hijikata’s warrior resolve manages to turn the tides of a stalemate when he shows the former Bakufu army exactly what he’s capable of. Amidst all that, the fictional side of the story becomes a lot more prominent, starting with how Shiranui reveals to Harada that Koudou is starting all these wars to help spill blood for fueling his Rasetsu army. What I find particularly interesting about that revelation is how it doesn’t change the course of history as we know it, meaning that there could have very well been pure-blooded demons roaming about Japan and pulling the strings in the background during the Edo period. Naturally, I don’t believe that’s the case, but from a fiction on top of non-fiction perspective, it sure makes for one heck of a story.

In addition to the Hijikata x Chizuru bit of fan-service from the latter offering her blood to calm the former’s Rasetsu urges, the other thing that caught my attention was Kazama’s grudge against Hijikata. After all his talk about demon pride, it looks like his vendetta for the cut to the face he took at the end of the Battle of Toba-Fushimi (i.e. end of season one) is enough for him to put all of that aside and want to crush the Shinsengumi altogether. Even in the face of the legendary “monster cutter” katana in Kazama’s possession, Dojigiri Yasutsuna, it was pretty cool to see Hijikata overcome it with pure determination alone when his Rasetsu powers faded. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that Kazama possesses a weapon that recklessly using one’s life force can’t even regenerate from, which makes an eventual showdown between the two of them seem inevitable. At this point, I’m rather curious as to how things will unfold, since Amagiri’s informed Hijikata that the demons will be withdrawing their help in overthrowing the shogunate and decided to leave Kazama up to Hijikata’s own discretion. However, the depressing ambiance surrounding how the Shinsengumi will eventually go down fighting remains prevalent throughout, as the abolishment of the shogunate is inevitable. Amazingly enough, the characters were still shown in relatively good spirits, despite capturing Utsunomiya Castle only to lose it to Imperial forces again a few days later, forcing them to retreat to Aizu.

The one plus side is that Nagakura’s newly formed Seikyotai division is helping with their efforts, but history doesn’t bode too well for them even with his help. The story has reached the final year of the Boshin War, and for the key members of the Shinsengumi, it’s more or less all downhill from here on. The preview next time looks like it’ll focus on Okita, whose tuberculosis should be taking its complete toll on his body by now. The only thing that has me hoping onto some hope that this will end somewhat favorably is if the fictional aspect comes into play more. Sannan and Heisuke are two examples of Shinsengumi captains who should have been killed already, so perhaps there’s some hope that Kondou will escape his upcoming fate as well. While part of me wants to see them all survive, there’s something really captivating about showing the Shinsengumi in their final days as they hold their heads up high to the bitter end.

 

Preview

28 Comments

      1. ow sorry for that… white hair, red eyes and fangs are common to vamps… so i thought they are + they bite… or wait probably they are a shiki? 😀

        on post the art is good though… but i cant get myself pleased due to the overused ideas of samurai and vamps…

        StiylMagnus
    1. Yeah, “technically” they’re not vampires but they lack any aspect of originality and I cant help but related them to vampires almost 99% of the time. Like you just said, red eyes, bloodsucking, hates the sun 😛

      I cant help but see so much vampire themed shows ever since Twilight….followed by vampire diaries, vampire knight, dance in the vampire bund, Shiki (they suck blood and they hate the sun), and if you were filipino you would know that they have a new soap about vampires and werewolves lol.

      But I watch it anyway 😛 (except the filipino one, I dont watch my moms soaps :P)
      However, I really liked Blood+, one of the really good vampire animes….for me at least 🙂

      unknown2
  1. Why isn’t Heisuke dead? Another glance at the linked image will explain why. Who would anybody want to see that face gone sooner than necessary, especially since ‘already’ has been passed thanks to historical license.

    Meerypooh
  2. There may not be too much action, but when there is, it’s always so dramatic – and the story wonderfully makes up for it too. I like your take on it, Divine! I’m hoping for a good, not necessarily ‘happy’ ending, but one which gives a lot of impact 🙂

    bleu
  3. Im just guessing here, but I think it is possible it could be implemented that ever since Sannan and Heisuke turned Rasetsu, they were considered dead. Well at least it was true for Sannan, they pretended he was dead and kept his existace hidden from Itou. But then he comes out later…and not too sure for heisuke coz he’s also running around when they’re existance as a rasetsu was supposed to be secret

    unknown2
  4. People, please use the spoiler tags if you’re going to talk about people dying in upcoming episodes. I watched the most recent episode this week and well, let’s just say the anime’s probably going to Show Spoiler ▼

    ciaossu
  5. @ciaossu: Show Spoiler ▼

    halad
  6. glad that divine is covering this show even though it’s bi-weekly. hakuouki really becomes more and more exciting as shinsengumi nearly reach their end. just watched the latest episode Show Spoiler ▼

    desudesu
  7. DX its so fucking sad all of the characters are dying, i haved seen the last two episodes of hekketsuroku,raw its so sad saito nearly reach his end, and the most sad its that in the last episode reveals that sanan-san isnt a inocent killer he was the good one he kills all the new rasetsu that koudo creates and kill in night, sanan-san dies with heisuke-kun after reach their rasetsu limits was too sad DX

    Ren

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