Anime / Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu

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The year is 1863. As the tumultuous samurai era is coming to an end, Japan is split between the pro-shogunate and anti-shogunate factions. The fate of the world is threatened as an army of historical revisionists are sent from the future to alter the course of history. In order to bring these forces down and protect the real history, two sword warriors, spirits who are swords brought to life by a Saniwa, rush to Edo. The polite and thoughtful Horikawa Kunihiro and the short tempered yet skillful Izuminokami Kanesada, who served the same master, confront the invading army along with a lively gang of other warriors including Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki, Yagen Toushirou, Tonbokiri, and Tsurumaru Kuninaga.

As the fate of history lies in these heroes' hands, what meets the blade is yet to be uncovered...

Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu (活撃/刀剣乱舞, lit. "Action Picture/Touken Ranbu") is ufotable's action-packed take on the wildly popular browser game Touken Ranbu. It serves as the second half of the dual anime project announced in 2015, the first half being 2016's Touken Ranbu - Hanamaru. The series premiered on July 1st, 2017 as part of the Summer 2017 lineup.

As of September 23, 2016, ufotable announced the series will receive a film adaptation and is currently in process after the anime's conclusion.

Tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The manga omits some of the scenes from the anime's episodes.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Horikawa has a conversation with the Saniwa in the citadel before he sets out on his first mission with Izuminokami in the manga version of "To the Frontlines".
    • Mutsunokami and Izuminokami have a brief argument before they set out to find the remaining Revisionists in the manga version of "Commander".
    • While Yagen rushes to meet up with Mutsunokami and Tonbokiri after the steamship explodes, Izuminokami and Horikawa go after two suspicious ronins who appear to be responsible for placing the bomb on the steamship in the manga version of "Master's Order".
  • Aloof Dark Haired Boy: Yagen acts as this to the Second Squadron.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The anime ends with the Second Unit assigned to another mission, landing in their next time period and resolving to keep protecting history.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Lampshaded in quite a few episodes. The fact that their clothes look vaguely western or non-specifically Japanese means that the people in the eras they visit constantly question where they're from, or where they got the outfits.
  • Badass Crew: The squadrons fit under this trope, but none so much as the First Squadron (Yamanbagiri, Mikazuki, Higekiri, Hizamaru, Oodenta, and Honebami), being the elite unit of the citadel and proving in episode 7 why they're referred to as such.
  • Badass Grandpa: Mikazuki Munechika, the oldest sword in the Citadel and one of the strongest.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Towards the end of the first episode, just when Izuminokami and Horikawa are outnumbered by the Revisionists, the Saniwa drops in and brings Tonbokiri, Yagen and Mutsunokami to turn the fight in their favor.
    • Tsurumaru at the end of episode 4, arriving in the past just in time to save Yagen from being overwhelmed by the retrograde army aboard the Shogunate Pro-war faction's ship.
  • Blade Spam: How Mikazuki executes his attacks at the merged Retrograde Army type Oodachi in episode 7.
  • Breather Episode: The episode " Citadel " was this for the series after the events that occurred in Episode 5. It also acts as a transitional episode, so that the story could shift focus over to the first unit's mission that would begin in episode 7.
    • Episode 8 also acts as this, acting as a vehicle to finish up the mission for Unit 1 and their development as a team while also giving focus to Unit 2 before they embark on their final mission before the series ends.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Izuminokami drills this mindset into Horikawa when he notices they've been sent to the exact day a fire breaks out in a castle town. Of course, this doesn't stop him from saving a little girl from dying, but even then he mentions that he might have to kill her later on if her survival changed the timeline significantly.
    • The second episode, however, has Konnosuke reveal that there is something called the Time Restraining Force that prevents small alterations from changing history drastically enough to affect things long term, so it's partially averted (The fire from the first episode spread further and killed more people than it was supposed to, but the town will still be rebuilt and little will have changed in a 100 years from then). Even so, he cautions that small deviations like that can be taken advantage of by the Time Retrograde Army to cause bigger problems, so it's still something to be avoided where possible.
  • The Cameo: Several Touken Danshi from the game that don't play a vital role in the story appeared as cameos here and there in episode 6 with Kogitsunemaru being the only voiced cameo out of all them.
    • Ookurikara and Shokudaikiri received voiced cameos in episode 8.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Like in the game, all the characters are good-looking men or cute boys.
  • Close Enough Timeline: According to Konnosuke, the "History Restraining Force" is responsible for ensuring the future they come from ends up as this should events unfold not exactly as they were written previously.
  • Combat Medic: Yagen, moreso here than in other adaptations. In addition to fighting, he's also somewhat skilled with on-field medical assistance. He gets to show off some of it during episode 3.
  • Conspicuous CGI: It's noticeable in the anime, where most of the background and Retrogade forces are made using 3D rendering.
  • Cute Machines: This version of Konnosuke is a small fox robot designed to check history, relay information to the Saniwa, and locate possible targets that the Retrograde Army might attack. There are also multiple Konnosukes in the Citadel, one for each squadron.
  • Darker and Edgier: While it matches the tone of the RPG portions of the game, the show is definitely darker than the occasionally sad Slice of Life antics of Touken Ranbu - Hanamaru. Katsugeki does have some occasional light elements to it however, with the "Citadel" episode being the most prominent example.
  • A Day in the Limelight: First Squad gets Episode 7 as their token focus episode, as it shows how they interact and fight as a team, as well as their impressive fighting skills.
  • Double Meaning: "I'm going to be acting as Sakamoto Ryoma's protective sword tonight!" exclaims Mutsunokami, who is the literal personification of Ryoma's favorite sword and his protector in this particular mission. And then gains another level when Ryoma hands Mutsunokami himself to finish off an Enemy Tantou.
  • Driving Question: What does it mean to "protect history"? What exactly are they protecting by following their missions? Even by the end of the anime, they have no clear answer.
  • Escort Mission: The Second Unit's second mission is to make sure Sakamoto Ryoma ends up taking refuge at the Satsuma residence, and provide defense so that the Retrograde Army and the police don't interfere with that particular event or with Ryouma himself.
  • Five-Man Band: The second unit starts out with five members:
    • The Leader: Izuminokami, the appointed captain and focal character of the anime.
    • The Lancer: Mutsunokami. Along with being one of the more important members of the team, he's the most openly emphatic and challenges the others to open up about themselves. He and Izuminokami frequently trade words and fight together.
    • The Big Guy: Shared between Tonbokiri and Mutsunokami.
    • The Smart Guy: Yagen, being the team medic.
    • The Chick: Horikawa is Izuminokami's closest ally and self-promoted assistant, and watches out for his captain's well-being along with challenging him. Like Mutsunokami, he wears his emotions on his sleeve, and also tries to look out for other people's feelings or solve what he considers to be major emotional problems.
    • The Sixth Ranger: Tsurumaru, who joins in episode 4. The Saniwa counts under this as well, providing additional support by summoning allies.
      • And for the first unit:
    • The Leader: Yamanbagiri, The appointed leader.
    • The Lancer: Mikazuki, due to being the previous leader of Unit 1 and also the co-leader of the group under Yamanbagiri.
    • The Chick: Higekiri
    • The Big Guy: Oodenta
    • The Smart Guy: Hizamaru
    • The Sixth Ranger: Honebami, who is new to being in a unit and recently added to their team.
  • Flower Motifs: Spider lilies (usually representing death) show up during the opening, one for each Touken Danshi in the cast.
  • Foil: Unit 1 acts as this to Unit 2. More specifically, where Unit 2 struggled with the Time Retrograde Forces and especially the Enemy Ootachi, Unit 1 could plow through a whole field of them without breaking a sweat. The "new squad member and older mentor" figures are especially different; Izuminokami and Horikawa are more like equals who fill in their strengths where the other lacks, while Mikazuki and Honebami act more like a traditional mentor/student duo.
    • The First Unit also seem to be the end result of the Character Development that Mutsunokami, Izuminokami, and Horikawa are about to undergo. They've already accepted that innocents will be caught in the crossfire of protecting important historical events (and thereby slightly changing history), so they only do what they can to help the survivors before going to the next mission, while the Second Unit is still somewhat debating on whether their actions were just.
  • Foreshadowing: At the end of '''Former Master", Horikawa is unable to accept the fate of his former master as history intended it to be. He even hints at wanting to prevent his former master, Hijikata Toshizo's death later on. Confirmed in Episode 10, where he does want to prevent his former master's demise.
  • Free-Fall Fight: What the battle between Mikazuki Munechika and the merged enemy Oodachi turns into before Mikazuki executes his Finishing Move.
  • Freudian Slip: From the Episode 8 preview:
    Tonbokiri: Just like you're one to take your favorite food for last, right?
    Izuminokami: Shut up! [Mutsunokami] isn't even here right now-
    Tonbokiri: I was talking about food.
  • Friend or Idol Decision:
    • In "Former Master", due to the Retrograde's interference, Mutsunokami is given a critical choice whether to save his former master from being captured/killed or let the Fushimi Magistrate's Officer capture him. He chooses to save his master, knowing full well that interacting directly with his master could lead to serious complications. To be fair, however, their mission would have failed if his former master had died.
    • In "Iron Law", Horikawa gives Izuminokami two options to choose from: Either join him to prevent their former master's demise together or end his life before he can proceed with his plan to change history. Izuminokami chooses the latter. He hesitates at first, but prepares to strike him down. However, he couldn't bring himself to do it in "Battle of Hakodate".
  • Generation Xerox: From what we can see of Izuminokami's memories of Hijikata, the relationship between him and Ichimura Tetsunosuke was almost exactly like the one between Izuminokami and Horikawa.Horikawa later exploits this when he takes Tetsunosuke's place as Hijikata's advisor to get to Izuminokami's sword.
  • Hold the Line: Because the Retrograde Forces are aiming for a certain ship and an enemy Ootachi is still at large, Tonbokiri and Horikawa are forced to hold it hack while Izuminokami and Mutsunokami go ahead.
  • Homage:
    • In one of the opening scenes is similar to the second ending of another Ufotable anime adaption show, Tales of Zestiria the X where six main characters walking together to prepare for battle against the Revisionists.
    • The ending animation is a mixture of the first and second ending of Ufotable's Fate adaptations, Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works].
      • The first half shows the six main character's past with there former masters as swords. This is similar to the first ending of Fate/Zero.
      • The second half is similar to the second ending of Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works].
    • In "Iron Law", the scene where the Satsuma residence is burned down (caused by the Retrograde Army) is similar to the final episode of Fate/Zero in which the main protagonist only manages to rescue a young boy after the fire, while Horikawa could only save a young girl after the destruction of the Satsuma residence.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: The boys have no trouble fitting in with the time periods they're sent to. Mutsunokami in particular probably adjusted the best, given all the excitement he has for his missions.
  • Manly Tears:
    • Izuminokami sports these when he gets his first glimpse of his old master, knowing full well what will happen to him years after that moment.
    • Horikawa ends up crying in the finale after witnessing the shot that eventually kills Hijikata from afar.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • Izuminokami's questioning about protecting history despite all of the harm done in the pursuit of the mission is a direct echo of what Mutsunokami argued against him in Episode 3.
    • When Mutsunokami takes a brief look at Sakamoto Ryouma's blade, Ryouma proudly notes that the sword was considered pretty famous back in Tosa. Later on, when Mutsunokami makes his Declaration of Protection during the fight against the Revisionists, he says the line right back to Ryouma when he notices the sword Mutsunokami is pointing with.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Discussed in Episode 3 between Izuminokami and Mutsunokami. Izuminokami is of the mindset that as long as history doesn't have any major changes, the deaths of a group of people don't matter in the long run. Mutsunokami takes the opposite opinion; if all they do is wait until blood's been spilled to grab a chance to defeat the enemy, then they can't say they've really "protected" history at all.
    • This is explored further in Episode 6 through Izuminokami suffering a Heroic B.S.O.D. after the outcome of the mission in episode 5, leading him to wonder whether it really can be considered "protecting history" when so many innocent people died. When he tries to ask Mikazuki for his opinion on it, he doesn't answer other than to say he can see why the saniwa chose him to be Unit 2's captain. Episode 8 then shows that Unit 1 has faced a similar dilemma in the past and have accepted the fact that they can't save everyone, so they do what they can to help the people who lost loved ones due to the Time Retrograde Army's actions before returning to the citadel.
  • Necessary Fail: As much as it pains Horikawa and Izuminokami to do, making sure Hijikata remains struggling in the years before Ryouma is supposed to die is part of their duties as swords. Izuminokami even tells Horikawa that the turmoil in those years is just one part of the Hijikata they know and admire, and he needs to accept that.
  • On the Next: Each episode has the two primary characters of that episode relay the next episode summary as if it were a Recollection cutscene in the original game. It's a little different in Episode 10, where Horikawa relays the next summary by himself.
  • Popular History: Subverted initially, but played straight nearing the end. While some of the targets the Touken Danshi have to protect are indeed historical figures, and they do run into a couple occasionally, some of their missions involve protecting areas that have nothing to do with them, such as making sure a castle town doesn't burn down all the way or helping rescue survivors of a trade ship explosion. The last leg goes straight into this territory as it's all about making sure the Battle of Hakodate doesn't get overturned by the Retrograde Army or Horikawa.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In the manga version, Horikawa is the one that saves the little girl from the burning building instead of Izuminokami. This fits in with their personalities during the event, as Horikawa was clearly disturbed by the idea of letting people die during the mission while Izuminokami was more concerned with completing it.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Second Squadron led by Izuminokami is generally a group of Touken Danshi that liked to work alone, and Mutsunokami and Izuminokami do not seem to get along well. Nevertheless, the Saniwa puts them all together starting from the 1863 missions.
  • Rousing Speech: Mikazuki gives a brief one to Honebami who was having doubts when facing the army of enemy Oodachi in episode 7.
    Honebami: "Can we defeat them?"
    Mikazuki: "Itís not, 'Can we defeat them,' but, 'Weíre going to defeat them.' Thatís what the First Unit came here to do. And you are a member of this First Unit."
  • Running Gag: Like in the game, Higekiri has trouble remembering Hizamaru's name and messes it up. That is until the last episode, where he calls his brother by his proper name.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Tonbokiri, who is the first of the cast to get seriously injured and his weapon cracked in the process. It's subverted in the long run, as he survives the encounter and continues to fight alongside the team.
  • Sense Freak: Mutsunokami has found eating to be extremely enjoyable since his being brought to life. He even ate a fish to the bones because he didn't know he wasn't supposed to consume them.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Horikawa spends three years among the Shinsengumi as one of Hijikata's subordinates, all for an attempt to get Izuminokami a chance to be with his master in his final battle. And then come the final episode, Izuminokami himself convinces him and Hijikata to take the sword back to Tetsunosuke, making Horikawa's entire journey meaningless.
  • Shirtless Scene: Izuminokami gets two in episode 6, one when he wakes up and another while he's blowing off some steam. He's got quite the muscular figure hiding underneath his clothes.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: In the opening, five unidentified characters appear as silhouettes with Mikazuki Munechika. They are presumably the silhouettes of Yamanbagiri, Honebami, Higekiri, Hizamaru, and Oodenta Mitsuyo since their names were listed in the English subtitle trailer. Confirmed at the end of Episode 6.
    • The OP of Episode 7 lifts the silhouettes, revealing the rest of the First Unit.
  • The Stinger: Mikazuki Munechika's reveal after the end credits in episode 5.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Yagen, as the only tantou representative in his group. Invoked as well, as he's the only tantou put on a squadron in general.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In the first trailer, we see the entire town of Edo consumed in a sea of fire while Mutsunokami watches. We get to see why in episode 5, where the Revisionists besiege Edo and burn it to the ground.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The Saniwa's faction and Historical Revisionists are from the year 2205, but the show is mainly centered around the eras the Touken Danshi time travel to. Contrast Touken Ranbu - Hanamaru, where the show primarily centered around the Touken Danshi's life events in the Citadel.
  • Wormhole: Both the Revisionists and the Saniwa's faction use these to travel through time.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Said ad verbatim by Yagen as another time distortion appears over the ship he's on, while he's surrounded by enemies. Goes straight into Big Damn Heroes territory when it turns out to be Tsurumaru, arrived just in time to save Yagen.
  • Youkai: These swords are explicitly referred to as Tsukumogami. We also see that they're transported in time in their sword forms before emerging as their human forms after arrival.
  • Zerg Rush: The Retrograde Army uses a summoner to create as many swords as it takes to fulfill its goals. One instance had Yagen square off with a resurrected Field of Blades attempting to get to the Satsuma residence. Taken Up to Eleven in the late game (as well in the anime's last episode), where the Revisionists send an army of 1000 blades to prematurely end the Battle of Hakodate.
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