- Genre : Comedy, Historical, Time, Action
- Episodes: 24
- Studio: Doga Kobo
Touken Ranbu is the story about a certain group of swords in a certain citadel. More precisely, it’s the story of Japan’s greatest legendary swords made human and brought together in the Citadel to protect history against the demonic forces of the retrograde army who aims to dismantle the past in order to possess the future. A sword is a weapon, existing in a sea of blood and pain but even so, they long to protect. It can be difficult watching past tragedies replay over and over again and not being allowed to stop them but these fine warriors have a sense of duty, and each other to rely on!
Touken Ranbu is a show that manages to sound completely bonkers on paper but turns out quite recognizable, a bit like Pretty Derby. And that’s fitting since they’re both really just extended commercials for mobile games. I ended up quite linking Pretty Derby for what it was so I started this series with my default brand of cautiously optimistic and slightly pervy outlook.
I know that mobile games make good money but I may be underestimating how popular these shows really are. Although not as impressive as P.A. Works’ offering last season, Touken Ranbu still offers very decent production values. As far as visuals go, it’s clear that the emphasis was put on character design (good move) with detailed and extremely varied models representing every possible fantasy out there, including several different sumptuous costumes. The tradeoff means fairly lackluster environments and completely pro forma shadow villains. Personally, I think it’s entirely worth it. The animation is pretty good as well. Very fluid and consistent. With this type of show, this is really how you want to distribute your budget.
Moreover, sound design and music was decent and voice acting surprisingly good. I wouldn’t say these were particularly powerful performances, the script doesn’t really offer much chance to flex your acting muscles. However, there’s a sense of fun that seeps out of the performances. I could easily imagine the actors goofing around with each other behind the scenes and you can hear it. A relaxed and jovial atmosphere that lends itself well to the rest of the production.
Somehow I failed to mention this earlier… Touken Ranbu is in fact a Nitroplus property and they are to some degree behind the anime. Some of you may already know this, I am in fact a fan of the company as well as its Chiral and 5pb imprints. It has misses (especially in the spinoff anime marketing – the games are pretty solid on average) but generally speaking I tend to like their writers. I went into the series not knowing this little piece of information and was delighted to find out 3 episodes in, when I finally paid attention to the credits.
I’m thinking a long history of marketing through anime series has thought Nitroplus how to go about it, because this is a great example of that utilitarian genre. You can see the grand epic storyline of the game in the background. You get just enough glimpses to make you curious. If you happen to be someone that’s played a lot of games, you will recognize mechanics here and there that may entice you to try it out. However, for the most part this is a light, easily digestible, comedic cute boys doing cute things show.The type of series you can brainlessly binge without the slightest risk of headache.
And I mean that literally. If you simply switch out the character models (and some a pretty feminine already), this is a by the book CGDCT show. I’ve been comparing it to Pretty Derby a lot because of the mobile game angle but Touken Randu is much sillier and geared towards slapstick comedy than cuteness. I would say it reminded my most of Gabriel Dropout or Yuru Yuri. So if you like the genre for something other than the cute girls part, Touken Ranbu may in fact be for you.
The series stays firmly on the silly side of things, with a few random episodes that were absolutely hilarious musical theater spoofs and other that strayed into surreal absurdity. As you would expect, characters are rather shallow and considering there are dozens, most stay completely undeveloped. Some jokes land better than others and episodes can become a bit boring if you binge too many in a row. It should be noted that I saw both seasons at once and found it a pleasant experience, but I would occasionally put it on as more of a background show.
The series is sweet, it will put a smile on your face and might even make you laugh then you’ll probably forget about it unless a new season is announced. And that’s fine. Not everything has to be deep and meaningful. Sometimes it can just be dumb fun.
Oh I guess I should mention that the tropes are geared more towards women’s fantasies here. So not much groping or grabbing and the (surprisingly limited) fanservice is presented as intentional. But aside from switching a few clichés, I think that Nitroplus could simply add breasts to the characters and repackage this entire series for easy profit.
Another genius idea. I’m on a roll lately!
Favorite character: Yager (I think it’s the voice…I’m not sure…)
What this anime taught me: I will watch pretty boys do pretty much anything
“Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.”
Suggested drink: The Way of the Sword
- Every time we see painted nails – take a sip
- Every time a new sword is summoned (forged)– take a sip
- Every time anyone gets drunk – join them
- Every time we see a cute animal – awwww
- Every time anyone says Master – get some water
- Every time a sword misses their old owner – take a sip
- if it’s Yasusada – sigh a little
- Every time anyone blushes – gush
- Every time we see a protection charm – take a sip
- Every time anyone longs for their “brothers” – dawww
- Every time we see the SA symbol – take a sip
- Every time we see the cherry tree – have a snack
- Every time anyone talks to the master directly – answer!
29 thoughts on “The S word – Touken Ranbu”
I wasn’t familiar with that show, but it does look like it has more effort than most anime based on games.
It’s no masterpiece but it is consistently mindless fun which is all I can ask for really
Sure thing. It’s totally understandable.
Really would it kill them to add a few characters…
Touken Ranbu is one of those cases where I like show more than the actual game. That said, the concept is very intriguing and I enjoyed both shows. Ookurikara, Nagasone, Mitsutada and Hasebe are my favorite characters!
If they included Kenshin’s sword, the character would be a little backwards…
You know I list track a bit. It could be in there somewhere
I remember watching the first episode and thinking it was cute. I don’t remember why I didn’t watch the rest. Usually it’s because of a packed air date, but not always.
Yay you can comment!
I have no idea what happened. I cleared my cookies and restarted the browser and it didn’t work. Next day it just worked. Did you do anything on your end?
No I contacted wp supports but they said they would get back to me….Magic
Maybe they fixed it? Maybe a virus program or windows update took care of it? Glad it was temporary.
Great reviews Irina, I really enjoyed both season on Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru and Katsugeki / Touken Ranbu.
To answer your question, they are more like brothers. They were all forge with the Awataguchi school.
From the picture you post the only one who is not part of it is the one on the right which was forged on the Sanjou school way.
The family bonds were a little murky for me. I think my brain was distracted somehow..
That’s one of the biggest flaws of the series, the lack of explanation. I know it cause I love trivia stuff so I looked for information on the Wikia page.
Basically all sword made by the same “school” are considered brother.
You also have the sword owned by a group of people, like the Shinsengumi, they also share a bond, but not like a family.
And like 6 of them were used by Nobunaga…
Oh by the way, can I follow you on anilist?
What is your username?
Great review. I just finished ouran high school host. Watch cute guys do things is fun in a weird way.
Ouran is very profound by comparaison…
Ouran is profound in general.
See, I’d be expecting a show like this to be really…