Action · Anime · Politics · War

Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki (anime review)

Ken En Ken: Aoki KagayakiKen En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki (Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary) has a simple story. It’s about three friends and a young Empress. Yin and Ning are two sisters, from a small village. Zhao is their childhood friend. When the Taibain empire invaded and destroyed their home, the three friends were split up.

Zhao was enslaved and find a new ability as an engineer and made friend with the Empress. Yin by causality found a legendary sword, which grants her fantastic abilities in combat for herself and her sister, Ning. As Zhao and the Fu sisters find themselves increasingly caught up in the Empire’s battle, they found themselves in opposite sides. In meanwhile, Yin will find a new family among the rebels.

 

Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki

In this sense, all the battles were between humans and machines, constructed by Taibai engineers and using slaved workforce. In my opinion, those moments guaranteed some excitement, but not enough to transform this show in a great action anime.

Resultado de imagen para Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki

For me, one of the weakest parts of this show was the sisters’ relationship. Ning always suffered because, even when she betrayed Ning, she received so much love. However, I have serious questions if, at any moment before the last episode, Ning really regretted her disloyalty. As the plot was displayed in the screen, I think that she suffered more about the consequences over herself and her separation from Zhao than for her sister’s feelings. In this same sense, the plot twisted, in episode 10, was quite illogical. [spoiler] Ning begged for and argued against her sister in order to they take part in the rebellion, but suddenly she chose Zhao and started to fight against Yin and the rebels. The only reason: she chose Zhao.

 The empress Cheng Long is a child and she inherited from her father the ambition to conquer the whole world. She followed his words as they were the only truth. Her tutors were apparently good people, who chose the wrong path. Only in episode 12, the girl will question her attitudes and decisions as ruler. However, as empress, Cheng Long was a feeble character. Her fight against the stepmother was pretty much ridiculous and meaningless. I can say the same about her little sister presence in the last episodes.

Why would a slave work as a loyal servant? Because he wants power, Zhao would answer. This was a valid choice until some point in the episodes 11 or 12. From that point, the events gave him the chance to understand that his power was a favor from the Empress and his condition would be always fragile and unstable. Nevertheless, he preferred worked than staying whit her friend, who abandoned her sister for him, with the excuse that he was constructing for all of them a brighter future. He allowed Ning to be tortured than questioning that decision. In other words, he was pretty much blinded by his own ambitions. In that sense, Zhao is more stubborn (and thoughtless) than the young empress, who questioned sooner if her decisions were right and felt her evilness behind her own actions.

Resultado de imagen para Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki

There were too many rebels to be presented if we consider the available time. 13 episodes were short to present all of them properly. If the producers had cut some flashbacks, some scenes between the sisters Fu and other useless moments, maybe we could have some more interesting plot. There was potential for it here.

In short word, it was a very average anime. There is no reason to recommend it, but it wasn’t a terrible way to spend some time, especially when I was too tired and wanted an easy entertainment to help me relax. However, after the beautiful and touching Violet Evergarden, this one became one more action anime among many of them.

My score: 6/10

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Action · Adventure · Anime · Crunchyroll · Historical (Japanese History) · Travel Time

Bakumatsu (review)

BakumatsuBakumatsu is an anime about the consequences of changing the (real) flow of time and how power can take away the best part of good people. It’s also about learning from the mistakes and don’t repeat them again. We can see it in the relationship between the disciples Katsura, Shinsaku, and the master Shouin (Mugensai).

 

 

 

Shinsaku TakasugiKogorou KatsuraShouin Yoshida

 

Note: Bakumatsu refers to the final years of the Edo period when the Tokugawa shogunate ended (from 1810 to 1867)*.

More importantly, the anime talks about a crucial moment in Japanese history. While describing in a fictional form about Meiji Restauration (1866 to 1869), the anime present some important historical characters as the protagonists.

Ryouma  Sakamoto

 

Takasugi Shinsaku and his fellow Katsura Kogoro were relevant names in this period and they fought in favor of Meiji Restauration. This period begins, at the moment a part of Japanese aristocracy realizes the need to “modernizer” their country, as Ryuyma Sakamoto explains in a flashback.

 

In the anime, the main strategy to create “an interesting world” is the assimilation of military strategy from western. This is pretty clear with Mugensai presence. However, other characters mentioned an alternative plan, it was the strengthing of Emperor authority. We can see the way in which the Emperor is all time confined in his room and his communication with the external world occurs indirectly by letters and thanks to his spies. However, the anime only suggest the secondary effect of that plan: the weakening of the samurai system. This is the disappearance of samurais, as one of the consequences of Japanese commercial opening to western culture. It occurred because the Emperor needed to concentrate real power in his hands, including military force. Another reason is the necessity of “modernizing” the strategy, weapon, and structure of the military.

Yoshinobu TokugawaIn this context, Yoshinobu Tokugawa also was a real person. He was the last lead of shogunate to resist and, at the end of some conflicts, he transferred his military power to the emperor. This fact we don’t see in the anime since it ends in the middle of the process of dismantling of the samurai system. Hijikata, a member of el Shinsengumi (a paramilitary-police force located in Kyoto), will fight against those changes in the second season, as the last minutes suggested.

As for anime, Bakumatsu is weak. This is why the series got 5.82/10 in myanimelist and 2.157/10 from animeplanet.

The animation wasn’t anything remarkable. The soundtrack hasn’t anything to highlight.

Toshizou Hijikata

 

About the construction of characters, I think there was any significant development. All of them started and finished the series on the same page. The exception is Hijikata, who realized the unhappy future of shogunate and, possibly, will take the place of Mugensai as the villain of the next season in order to save his own perspective of future.

 

For a hero, Shinsaku is really stupid. However, I really liked the last episodes when he faced the truth about his master and had to decide on his own what was the best decision to create his “interesting world”. Katsura provided all good ideas for all plans in this anime. All the other characters had – more or less – only figurative presence. The Shinsengumi, Emperor, Seimei were there because they were part of the history (in a historical sense) but not because they really changed the facts. So, it was quite frustrating. The fights could have been more explored. They could have shown more about the suffering of Kyoto people under a despotic power. There were ideas, but none of them were displayed and, this is why the anime had a very plain plot. However, most of the questions reached a conclusion, so it wasn’t an illogical show.

For those reasons, my score is: 7/10

Anime · Friendship · Netflix · Romance · Slice of Life

Review: Shiki Oriori [or Flavors of Youth]

Shiki Oriori [or Flavors of Youth] is a Netflix original movie. This movie has 3 stories with different young protagonists. Also, the plot happens in different cities of China, as Shangai and Beijing. However, the audio is Japanese originally.

The first story is about a young guy, who remembers his past through the flavor of San Xian [is a type of rice noodle from the Yunnan Province, China]. So, makes that this story is the only one with some relation based on food. However, from the title, I expected that the food was a more important topic.

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Xiao Ming remembers the food, his school, the mornings he spent with his grandmother and his first love.

Now, living in a big city and alone, he comes to the conclusion that the machine made noodles are expensive and don’t taste as in his memories.

I think that everyone can be related to that. It is very common that one has a food from their childhood, which has a nostalgic flavor and brings lots of good (or bad) memories. For example, for my mom, it is eggs Until today she hates eggs because my grandmother determined that she should eat a lot of eggs during her childhood.

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The second story is about Yi Lin, a model who is struggling with her future while she carries the burden of taking care of her younger sister.

Here the main problem is “how does one should keep doing what is dear to them?” and “how is it to face the difficulties of making a dream come true?

Yi Lin will face the aging process difficulties. She realizes that she is not so young anymore and her future options are narrowing each day. What are our regrets and, most important than that, what are your motivation to keep enduring the difficulties of the path?

Additionally, this is a story is about Yi Lin and her sister, Lu Lu. Those who have siblings can tell how difficult it is to conciliate their dreams and, at the same time, to continue to support each other over the years.

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The last story is the most similar to “Your Name”. It is about Li Mo, Xiao Yu, and Pan, who are childhood friends. The focus is on the romantic relationship between Li Mo and Xiao Yu and how they have been separated for many years.

What I appreciated most wasn’t exactly the premise of the plot, but a minor part of it. Li Mo is an architect, who graduated from a good university. However, he is having trouble to find his vocation in his profession. After he went through his self-knowledge journey and the movie finishes, we can see that he is working with Pan in a small hotel. We can see that he started this business where he lived during his childhood with his friends. He rescued not only his families but friendship bounds. From that, we can observe that he looked happier and satisfied. Sometimes, restarting and recognizing our mistakes are not an easy decision, but our protagonist could make it. Can you make it too?

Conclusion:

In general, I had an entertaining moment watching this movie. As I commented, Flavors of Youth has some connections with “Your Name” style, mostly in the last story. Both movies had the same producer: Noritaka Kawaguchi. We can feel more similarities in the visual and in the use of the background sounds. However, I can see how they are different and Flavors of Youth has its own appeal to the public.

Score: 8.5/10

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