Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review: Hakuouki (2010)

Hakuouki ~ The Cherry Ghost ~ (2010) is a historical supernatural action romance Japanese anime that takes place during the late Tokugawa Shogunate period (mid-19th century). There is a lot of tension between the old native ways and adoption of Western culture. It features a lot of sword-fighting scenes. There are a total of 22 episodes in both seasons. This series is also available to buy or rent on DVD.

Season 1: Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan (12 episodes)

In ancient Japan, Yukimura Chizuru has come to Kyoto looking for her father, a doctor who has gone missing. She dresses in male attire to hide her true identity. Upon her arrival, she witnesses a fight between an Oni ("demon") and the Shinsengumi soldiers. Taking her into custody, the Shinsengumi debates on what to do with Chizuru when they discover that she is the daughter of the doctor they are also looking for. The Shinsengumi takes Chizuru along on their search after the missing doctor.

Season 2: Hakuouki Hekketsu-roku (10 episodes)

After a resounding defeat and the loss of some comrades, Chizuru and the Shinsengumi head to Ezo to fight the new government's army. However, all does not go well: adoption of Western military technology and supernatural setbacks will forever change the fate of the Shinsengumi. Furthermore, Chizuru learns a dark secret about her family history. Difficult challenges await her as the battles become more complex and deadly.

I unexpectedly came across this anime when I was looking for a new Fall 2010 series to watch. I am not much of a major fan of ancient Japanese martial arts shows, but it included a supernatural twist to the plot (another example of historical fiction). I will admit that I also thought the men looked very handsome in the anime. This show is loosely based on the Shinsengumi, a Japanese special police force of the late shogunate period. The character names match the real-life Shinsengumi members. Overall, I thought the anime was excellent. There is a lot of magic, suspense, comedy and even hints of romance. I will warn that it can become a tearjerker for those who cannot handle tragedies. I highly recommend the show.

Season One Opening Theme: "Izayoi Namida" by Yoshioka Aika

Season Two Opening Theme: "Maikaze" By Yoshioka Aika

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day in Germany Witches-Style

I have never heard of this German event, but it sounds very fascinating. he Harz Mountains region is the location of many German fairy tales featuring witches and goblins. This event also occurs six months before Halloween (October 31), marking the end of winter and the beginning of summer in the region:
Berlin - Up to 150,000 self-styled witches and warlocks, New Age practitioners and the simply curious are converging for May Eve revelries on the summit of the highest peak in the Harz Mountains in northern-central Germany Saturday night.

Children in spooky costumes will participate in parades and street fairs in villages on the slopes of the Brocken, the mountain immortalised in Alexander Borodin's 'Night on Bald Mountain' orchestral suite.

Bonfires will light the nighttime skies on mountain tops in the Harz region as local communities held their own May Day Eve festivals marking the end of winter and the coming of summer.

In case you are feeling nostalgic for the song, Night on Bald Mountain (a witches' sabbath theme by Modest Mussorgsky), you can listen to the embedded YouTube video below: