After a long wait, a new adaptation of Hakuoki anime was finally here! I’ve been waiting for this OVA! Truthfully, I was disappointed that the OVA series is not adapted from the reboot. I want to see Iba, Souma, Ryouma, and the other new characters to be animated. But…I decided to be “beggars cannot be chooser”, so I should appreciate the fact that Hakuoki getting another anime adaptation itself means that it’s still popular and won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
The OVA took place between the attack on Nijo Castle and before Itou’s faction left the Shinsengumi. Not surprised with the choice in the setting, as it was the only time where all characters were gathered together at Kyoto. Being OVA, there’s no doubt in the quality of the animation; all characters were well drawn and well colored, the movements were smooth and didn’t seem out of place. I’m giving the visual two thumbs up. Aika Yoshioka also returned to provide the opening theme. The song wasn’t as catchy as the ones in the games, but nevertheless still enjoyable to hear.
In terms of plot, the first episode focused on introducing the source of conflict happening throughout the OVA and its new exclusive character, Hyougo Sakai.
For the ones who don’t know, in Japanese history, Hyougo Sakai was a member of Shinsengumi, serving as the accountant. However, he later deserted the Shinsengumi, but there were various analyses about his reason for leaving the police force. Hakuoki portrayed Hyougo as a polite and kind young man who joined the Shinsengumi mainly to make a living for his family back home. He seemed to get along pretty fairly well with other warriors and Chizuru. Unfortunately, he fell victim into Kaoru’s plot that led him into drinking Water of Life. I couldn’t say much about Hyougo at the moment. He’s a good guy for sure, but other than that, he didn’t give much an impression as a character for me. Perhaps the next episode would give change my mind about him.
The plot of the OVA, as I mentioned above, revolved around Kaoru’s scheme together with the Tosa ronins. Recently, there were ronins who pretended to be Shinsengumi, and thus, they were dubbed Fake Shinsengumi. Furthermore, Yamazaki received an intel that the Tosa ronins were planning to assassinate the Shogun Iemochi during his visit to Kyoto. Kaoru even went as far as disguising himself as Chizuru and set free the Shinsengumi’s Furies when he sneaked into the compound and saved Sakai (as expected of twins, when he wore the same clothes and hairstyle, they were so identical, only that Kaoru’s face was clearly screaming EVIL TWIN).
I thought they were planning to sully the Shinsengumi’s name using this Fake Shinsengumi, but looks like there’s something more than that. For Kaoru, his main objective might’ve been to capture Chizuru alive, but what about the Tosa ronins he’s working with? What’s their purpose in attacking the laundry shop where the Shinsengumi haori was being kept and freed the Shinsengumi’s Furies? To weaken them?
Due to the long list of characters, only a few stood out in this episode. Each of them got a proper screen time, but very few truly caught my attention in emotional and meaningful way. You may call me being biased, but I think the ones who got involved the most in the whole plot (at least for a moment), were Hijikata and Okita.
The scene after the OP immediately showed Chizuru’s interaction with Hijikata while he’s in the middle of writing his haiku. It’s very cute how Chizuru blushed and tried her best not to sound rude about Hijikata’s hobby, and Hijikata trying to hide his love for this hobby of his, as he knew he was bad at it yet couldn’t help but continue writing because he loved it. This short but sweet moment was enough to show the kind of man Hijikata was: Cold on the outside, but warm on the inside. When Chizuru went missing, he prioritized in keeping their manpower to protect the Shogun as they were ordered to, placing the search for Chizuru and Sakai as secondary. Despite that, he didn’t stop the other captains to look for Chizuru and Sakai, and remembered his last conversation with Chizuru prior, showing how much Hijikata was actually worrying for her well-being. His position as vice-commander didn’t let him to show his worry. Honestly, I felt bad for Sakai here because the captains mainly only mentioned Chizuru and hardly mentioned him even though he also went missing.
Okita was the one who’s the most affected by Chizuru’s disappearance because she went missing immediately after he and his division dropped her and Sakai off at the laundry store during their patrol. What’s worse, Okita felt guilty for jokingly told Chizuru that he doesn’t care what will happen to her before they parted. Imagining that your possible last word to the person important to you was a rather cruel one, even if it’s just a joke, would certainly left a bad taste in your mouth. Considering what happened afterwards, it’s understandable that Okita would think it sounded like he had jinxed Chizuru. For once he cursed his tendency to spout bad jokes. He blamed himself so much that he made it his personal mission to find and save Chizuru. No need to ask for more to see how much Okita cared for Chizuru. Okita usually would do anything for the sake of the Shinsengumi that Kondou led. This time, Okita couldn’t careless about the fleeing Furies or guarding the Shogun even though it would improve the Shinsengumi’s reputation. His main priority was to save Chizuru.
Just like how Okita almost lost it when Kondou got shot in the series, Okita would’ve been overwhelmed by his emotions if not for Saito keeping him in check. Okita x Chizuru has always been my favorite ship in the entire Hakuoki routes in the game, so seeing Okita worried sick for Chizuru gave me butterflies in my stomach. (^///^)
Seeing the rest of the captains concerned and frantically looked for Chizuru was also nice. Also Chizuru actually using her sword to defend herself, even if it didn’t last for long since sadly she’s pretty weak compared to the ronins. Last but not the least is… MIKI! It’s small, but it’s definitely Miki making a cameo! Studio Deen or whatever studio willing to adapt Hakuoki into another anime, please next time make a Hakuoki anime adaptation based on the reboot showing the new characters clearly animated! I will pray that you’ll get enough budget to make one!