Video Game / Touken Ranbu

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Touken Ranbu, starting!note 
Touken Ranbu (刀剣乱舞, literally "Wild Swords Dance") is a free-to-play browser Card Battle Game developed by DMM and Nitro+, featuring an RNG-controlled turn-based game revolving around the Anthropomorphic Personification of historical Japanese objects. Wait, this is sounding suspiciously familiar...

Players assume the role of a sage, referred to as Saniwa, who travels back to the past to destroy an evil that wants to change the course of history. Being a sage, you have the ability to bring inanimate objects to life—in this case, historically famous Japanese swords, all of which take on the forms of handsome young men called Touken Danshi (刀剣男士, literally "Sword Warriors"). The object of the game is to bring the swords to life, create an army of them, and defeat the enemies. Battles are largely automated and manual actions by the player include smithing, repairing and creating troops.

The game officially launched on January 14, 2015 and is hosted on DMM (the same home of said above-mentioned suspiciously similar game). While being nearly identical to its predecessor save for a few key mechanics (something both fanbases quickly embraced, to the point where this game is considered KanColle's Spear Counterpart), the playerbase exploded to the point where a full-on doujinshi event opened for it only two months after the game's initial opening.

As of 2017, the franchise boosts several manga adaptations (including an official High School A.U. manga), three Musical adaptations with a new one announced for the current year, two stage play adaptations (with a new one announced for 2017) and two anime adaptations; one called Touken Ranbu - Hanamaru by Dogakobo which aired as part of the Fall 2016 Anime season and already has a second season in the works, and Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu made by ufotable which aired as part of the Summer 2017 Anime season.

Touken Ranbu had its first official mixed media exhibit called " Touken Ranbu - Honmaruhaku - " where visitors could explore the world of Touken Ranbu first held in Sunshine City, Ikebukuro in January 2017.

A mobile version of the game, Touken Ranbu Pocket, was released on March 1, 2016.

Visit the character page for specific character-related tropes.

Touken Ranbu features the following tropes:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: While swords have a maximum level cap of 99, the player level can be as high as 300. The Kiwame system plays this trope straight, as it will reset your swords' level to 1, giving players a chance to further raise their swords' already maxed stats.
  • Achievement System: The missions act like this, granting you some resources when you fulfill certain objectives. There are separate sections for missions which can only be completed once, daily missions, and monthly missions.
  • Anachronism Stew: Despite being swords from varying eras of the past, some of them wear clothing that wouldn't be worn in Japan for decades or centuries.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The swords are technically this, as the player has the power to bring them to life, though they appear completely human.
  • The Anime of the Game: Both Hanamaru and Katsugeki serve as this for the franchise.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The characters are all personifications of famous Japanese swords. The younger-looking boys tend to veer into Moe Anthropomorphism.
  • April Fools' Day: Nitroplus' 2017 prank was a fake trailer for the second season of Thunderbolt Fantasy, featuring a puppetified Mikazuki Munechika fighting with Lin Xue Ya over a meat bun as well as a little voice actor fun for Kosuke Toriumi.
  • Badass Adorable: The younger-looking sword boys, like Hotarumaru and Gokotai, are definitely this. Gokotai's Kiwame form leans to the badass side, as he trades in his five tiger cubs for a large adult tiger.
  • Bishōnen: Most of the swords are this.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: You bring swords to life, and they all take the forms of good-looking men or cute boys.
  • Cast Herd: Due to the size of the cast, this was inevitable. In fandom, cast herds usually depend on sword types or who historically made them/wielded them.
  • Cast of Personifications: The aim of the game is gathering various Japanese swords and give them life and human forms - as pretty boys, that is. Specifically, they're the swords used by various historical Japanese figures, particularly the Sengoku era, such as Date Masamune or Oda Nobunaga, and brings with them characteristics and history of each swords in question (along with their former owners).
  • Character Roster Global Warming: While plenty of new swords have been added, the number of oodachi has stayed at just 4.
  • Cherry Blossoms: A very common motif in this game. The loading bar is in the shape of a cherry blossom, a sword's rarity is represented by a number of petals, and when a sword reaches toku status (level 20 or 25, depending on the sword) they'll have petals blowing in the breeze behind them.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: An odd variation. Given that the Saniwa is able to bring inanimate objects, swords in this case, to life, one would think that the corporeal swords would have to exist somewhere, even if in the present they are currently lost (such as Hotarumaru or Kogitsunemaru). However, when Imanotsurugi leaves for his Kiwame training, his letters reveal that he didn't really exist in history, implying that swords can be revived even if they just exist in legend, despite never being real in the history in-game.
  • Clothing Damage: Like in Kantai Collection, this is a visual representation of how much damage the swords take (though unlike in KanColle, Bloodless Carnage is averted, since the swords do bleed as well). Major damage will make their clothes dirty and slightly torn in places, but their Awakening modes will ruin their clothes even more, sometimes resulting in Shirtless Scenes.
  • Common Crossover:
    • The game has frequent crossovers with Kantai Collection in fanart, due to being made by the same developers and hosted on the same site, not to mention their gameplay being near-identical and Tourabu being considered KanColle's Spear Counterpart due to all these factors. Fanworks of this crossover is tagged "TouKan Love" (刀艦らぶ)
    • Shinken!!, also hosted by the same website, often gets crossed over with Tourabu as well. The crossover is done so often that it's garnered the Pixiv tag "Shinken Ranbu".
    • Oshiro Project sometimes gets folded into the mix when they want to depict the swords with the castles they historically protected.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The types of troops that can be equipped by your swords are limited by their sword types, but enemy swords can equip any troop, regardless of type.
  • Costume Porn: The swords' clothes are consistently detailed, even though the characters are drawn by multiple different artists. Some outfits reference the sword's or the sword's master's history. Taken Up to Eleven in their Kiwame forms.
  • Crossover: A few in different forms. Touken Ranbu had a collaboration with Card Fight Vanguard in 2016 ( With Touken Ranbu - Hanamaru following suit in 2017 ), some crossover art as an April Fools joke in 2017 with Thunderbolt Fantasy, and one of the Anime adaptations, Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, having crossed over with Granblue Fantasy in September of 2017.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Despite this game being extremely similar to Kantai Collection, players of both games are suspect to get thrown off by the minor differences, the most significant probably being that while in KanColle, ships can only be taken down if they're sent forward in critical damage, in this game - to the horror of some unsuspecting saniwa - swords can be destroyed at theoretically any degree of damage provided certain factors.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Most of the swords have violent and tragic background histories, which is understandable, considering that they are weapons.
  • Dem Bones: The enemies are typically accompanied by bone-like creatures.
  • Double Meaning: Tonbokiri's quote about people's misconceptions of Muramasa can be viewed as him talking about both the man who forged him and his similarly-named uchigatana contemporary.
    "Many misunderstand, but Muramasa is not a bad person."
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Several characters, but Midare Toushirou is the best example. This especially goes for his Kiwame form, where he looks notably girlier.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Mikazuki Munechika puppet seen in the 2017 April Fools' Day joke made a brief appearance at the Nitro+ booth in the 2016 winter Wonder Festival.
  • Every Japanese Sword Is a Katana: Averted. The game features several different kinds of Japanese swords and makes clear differences between sword types, ranging from their stats, combat mechanism, availability to equip troops, smithing time, and many more.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Most of the swords address the Saniwa as either Master (主, aruji or 主君, shukun) or General (大将, taishou).
  • Excuse Plot: The "Go back in time to prevent historical revisionists from changing the course of history" backstory is more or less an excuse to make cute boys fight for you in a Jidai Geki setting. However, the game has less of the No Plot? No Problem! aspects of its predecessor, Kantai Collection (for example, while in Kancolle the nature of the shipgirls' origins are extremely vague, to the point that various official sources have different explanations for what they are, Tourabu makes it very clear that the swordboys are swords that have been brought to life and they don't consider themselves human).
  • Gameplay Grading: After a win, you get graded on a scale (C, B, A, S) based on how much damage your swords sustained and how many enemies you defeated. Winning a duel grants you a special "Duel Victory Rank S" grade regardless of how much HP your team has left.
  • Geo Effects: Beginning in world 6, the game introduces different types of maps which give advantages and disadvantages to certain types of swords and troops.
    • Night battles: Tantou and wakizashi are buffed; tachi, oodachi, yari, and naginata are nerfed. All swords have a chance at evading long-range attacks (only Kiwame swords can do this in daytime battles).
    • Urban battles: Swords will not receive stat bonuses from equipping horses.
    • Indoor battles: Same as urban battles, with the addition of oodachi and naginata only being able to attack one enemy at a time and catapults and archers being unable to attack (however, the stat bonuses from equipping the troops still apply).
    • Rainy battles: Musketeers are unable to attack, though swords will still receive stat bonuses from equipping them.
  • High School A.U.: The official manga spinoff Touken Ranbu Gakuen is this, though technically it takes place at an Elevator School so it can accommodate all the characters.
  • Hunk: If the sword isn't a Bishōnen, then they'll be this.
  • Level Scaling: Kebiishi encounters scale based on the level of the highest-leveled sword in your party, regardless of the party's average level or the level of the stage's normal encounters. It's a very good idea to keep the swords in your party around the same level if you're doing a Kebiishi-infested map; depending on the makeup of your party, having a sword that's just one level higher than the other swordsnote  can result in massive damage for the rest of the team.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The game introduced 42 characters after its official launch...out of 70+note  planned characters.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Since the game takes place in a country and time period where long hair on men was normal, plenty of the characters are this.
  • Magikarp Power: Prior to the May 17, 2015 update, Iwatooshi. He's the (as of this writing) only naginata-type sword with the ability to hit the entire opponent party at once...at the price of an aggravatingly slow damage to level-up ratio curve (to the point where even after his rank-up at level 25, he'll still regularly be doing only one point of damage per opponent). Once he was properly leveled up and maxed, he could clear high-level maps almost by himself.
  • The Musical: Like many successful franchises in Japan, it has one.
  • Non-Entity General: Much like the Admiral from Kantai Collection, the Saniwa functions as this.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Tantou and wakizashi (though especially tantou) play this very straight on World 6, Memory of Ikedaya. While high-leveled tantou/wakizashi are not weak per se in previous worlds, they are definitely outshined by the other more powerful swords, namely oodachi and tachi, who have higher HP and more powerful blows. Then comes World 6, where all battles take place at night, giving huge advantage to tantou and wakizashi and weakening all other sword types (save for uchigatana, who in this world are So Okay, It's Average).
  • Older Than They Look: Due to being Anthropomorphic Personifications of centuries-old swords, all of the characters fall under this. Additionally, the age that a character looks has nothing to do with how old the actual sword is; it's usually determined by the type of sword they are, with short swords like tantou and wakizashi looking like children or teenagers and the larger swords usually looking like adults. The youngest sword is the adult-looking uchigatana Izuminokami Kanesada (forged in 1867), while the child-looking tantou Imanotsurugi (forged in 989) is one of the oldest.
  • Play Every Day: Encouraged with the daily missions, which are one of the primary ways of gaining resources.
  • Player Data Sharing: The Practice mode relies on this. Twice a day, the game matches you with five random players on your server (four around your level, one at a much higher level), and you can fight against their primary party with no consequences for losing. Since one of the daily missions involves winning five practice battles, some users will intentionally put weak/underleveled swords in their primary party when they're not playing in order to make it easier for others to get that mission's rewards. It can be amusing to engage in battle with a level 216 user whose primary party consists of a single level 6 tantou.
  • Piņata Enemy: The rare golden tantou (dubbed "kunai" by the Japanese community) serve this purpose in the Edo Infiltration event: they're easy to kill, give more experience than regular enemies and will always drop several keys, which are the main resource players will be hunting in this event.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Each sword gets one of these when they land a critical hit, trigger a duel, or go into Awakening mode.
  • Public Domain Artifact: Almost all of the swords in this game did actually exist, though some are myths, such as Kogitsunemaru or Shishiou. However, many of the swords are lost in Real Life due to various factors (particularly after World War II, when America confiscated many nihonto from Japan). This game is popular enough that many fans have visited museums that hold the actual swords their favourite characters are based on (if they haven't been lost).
  • A Quest Giver Is You: Expeditions, where you send out teams of swords to do tasks in real-time for resources and XP.
  • Random Number God: Much of the gameplay depends on this.
  • Rated M for Manly: While many of the larger swords resemble young, slender, and good looking adults, there are some of the larger swords that have a more muscular and manly appearance instead. Nagasone Kotetsu, Kogitsunemaru, Yamabushi Kunihiro, Tonbokiri, and Nihongou are notable examples with Badass Baritone voices.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Other than Kashuu and Yasusada that are clearly this, some other swords can be seen to have this dynamic too.
    • Namazuo (red) and Honebami (blue)
    • Shokudaikiri (red despite dark blue color theme) and Ookurikara (blue despite red color theme)
    • Aizen (red) and Hotarumaru (blue)
    • Jiroutachi (red) and Taroutachi (blue)
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: What kickstarts the plot. A group of historical revisionists go back in time to change history in their favor, and you are sent to stop them.
  • The Shinsengumi: Several of the characters are swords that belonged to members of the Shinsengumi. Izuminokami Kanesada and Yamatonokami Yasusada even wear the Shinsengumi's distinctive blue-and-white haori.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of Mikazuki Munechika's dialogue lines used to go like this (it was eventually removed and replaced with a more generic line):
    "The admiral is in the base... Hahaha, as expected, that is not quite right, is it?"
    • Both Kashuu Kiyomitsu and Yamatonokami Yasusada shout "Ora ora ora!" when attacking.
    • The designs and lines of swords of famous historical figures pay homage to their owners. Shokudagiri Mitsutaida, the sword of Date Masamune, wears an eyepatch. The crest of Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki, which was owned by Sakamoto Ryoma, has an anchor. Heshikiri Hasebe mentions temple burning and servant killing, which his owner Oda Nobunaga was infamous for, and so on.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The weaker enemies have this effect to them.
  • Slipknot Ponytail: This can result for swords with longer hair if they take enough damage.
  • Spear Counterpart: The game is essentially this to Kantai Collection, which is hosted on the same website.
  • Stepford Smiler: Most swords are quite disturbed by their past or still miss their former masters, but try to look cheerful in front of the Saniwa.
  • Submissive Badass: All of them, given that they take orders directly from the Saniwa, with some more submissive than others.
  • Super Move Portrait Attack: The Awakening mode, complete with unique art. Double attacks (randomly triggered when you have at least one wakizashi and uchigatana in your party) also have this, though with the normal battle art.
  • Team Dad: Some characters are called 'dad' by fans, but the shout-out goes to Ichigo Hitofuri.
  • The Team: In musical, each characters in a group are called from the main website. For example:
    • Team Sanjou with Kashuu Kiyomitsunote 
    • Team Shinsengumi with Hachisuka Kotetsu note 
    • Team Mihotosenote 
  • Those Two Guys: Touken Ranbu gives us a huge amount of duos, with the justification that most swords have belonged to the same owner (or belonged to two different owners who knew or worked for each other), and therefore have met or at least know of each other. For example:
    • Hirano and Maeda.
    • Taroutachi and Jiroutachi.
    • Mikazuki and Kogitsunemaru.
    • Izuminokami and Horikawa.
    • Honebami and Namazuo.
    • Imanotsurugi and Iwatooshi.
    • Kiyomitsu and Yasusada.
    • Ookurikara and Mitsutada.
    • Oodenta and Sohayanotsurugi.
    • Higekiri and Hizamaru.
  • Too Awesome to Use: You get three ema (charms to boost your luck for smithing or troop forging) for free; the rest must be either bought with real money or obtained in events, so saniwa are understandably hesitant to use them.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Kiwame training. You send off your sword on a journey to become stronger, and after 4 (real-time) days, they come back with new artwork, Character Development, and hugely improved stats.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The story takes place in the year 2205.
  • Wham Episode: The Kiwame Training segments, while very useful gameplay-wise, have this effect on some of the sheltered Touken Danshi. The notable examples are Midare and Imanotsurugi, learning that humans are frighteningly flawed and that his (Imanotsurugi's) existence is fictional, respectively.
  • Youkai: The swords are a type of youkai called Tsukumogami, spirits born from inanimate objects.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: The primary resources are charcoal, steel, coolant, and whetstone, which are required to smith and repair swords and create troops. These regenerate slowly up to a cap that increases with the player's level, but you can also get them via expeditions, daily missions, and resource nodes on maps. There's also request tokens, which are required to smith swords; help tokens, which allow you to instantly smith/repair a sword; and koban, which is usually just used to buy backgrounds for the main screen, but which can also be used for extra attempts on certain event maps.
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