"At the end of an era, the men of the Shinsengumi struggle to uphold the samurai ideal. When a young girl is thrust into their midst, she finds herself irrevocably tied to to their tragic fate."
In Kyoto, Japan, near the end of the Edo period, a young boy is being chased through the streets at night by a pair of revolutionaries loyal to the Emperor. Hiding in an alley, the boy is horrified to witness his pursuers' brutal murder at the hands of demonic looking men with glowing red eyes, who laugh maniacally as they hack their victims to pieces. When the fiends turn their attention to the boy, his life is only spared by the timely appearance of two samurai belonging to a group of powerful warriors loyal to the Shogun, known as the Shinsengumi. Unsure just where the boy's loyalties lie, the Shinsengumi take him into custody and return him to their headquarters.The next day, they are "shocked" to discover that the "boy" being held prisoner is, in fact, a girl named Chizuru Yukimura. Chizuru came to Kyoto in search of her missing father, an accomplished doctor of western medicine who she suddenly lost contact with several months ago. When the Shinsengumi reveal that they too have been in search of Dr. Yukimura in relation to the strange attacks that have been plaguing the city, they allow Chizuru to remain under their care and assist with the search. Agreeing to continue living as a boy so as not to distract the men who serve her new benefactors, Chizuru quickly becomes acclimated to their lifestyle and grows to genuinely care for each of them.Her life soon becomes anything but peaceful, as the Shinsengumi's enemies seek to overthrow the Shogun and those loyal to him at any cost. At the same time, both the numbers and ferocity of the crazed men that Chizuru's protectors cryptically refer to as "failed soldiers" continue to increase. In the midst of one of the most chaotic eras in Kyoto's history, Chizuru grows determined to do everything she can to protect the lives of her new comrades.Hakuōki (often romanized as Hakuouki or Hakuoki) is a popular video game franchise developed by Otomate, Idea Factory, and originally released in Japan in 2008. The series comprises eight different games: two main titles and a fan-disc first released on the PlayStation 2, two spinoffs, and three handheld gaiden games. Most of the games have been ported to multiple platforms (namely: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS).
Hakuōki Reimeiroku (2010): The second of the main titles; a historical visual novel and the prequel to Shinsengumi Kitan.
Hakuōki Bakumatsu Musōroku (2012): A hack-and-slash game featuring the cast of Shinsengumi Kitan.
Hakuoki: Warriors of the Shinsengumi (2013) : The North American localization by Aksys Games.
Hakuōki Yūgiroku II: Matsuri Hayashi to Taishitachi (2012)
Toki no Kizuna ~Sekigahara Kitan~ (2012): A prequel Visual Novel set in the Sengoku period. Although it does not share the Hakuōki title, it takes place in the same world, focusing on the demon involvement in the Battle of Sekigahara which Sen and Amagiri mention during Shinsengumi Kitan, and featuring in its main cast ancestors of several of the original game's demon characters.
Toki no Kizuna Hanayuitsuzuri (2013): A sequel/side-story to the first Sekigahara Kitan.
Urakata Hakuōki (2013): A spinoff Visual Novel described as "an 'if' story of Hakuōki," featuring main characters from the opposing side of the original game's conflict.
Urakata Hakuōki ~Akatsuki no Shirabe~ (2014): The fandisk of Urakata Hakuōki.
Hakuouki SSL ~Sweet School Life~ (2014): Another spinoff visual novel set in an Alternate Universe, with Chizuru and the Shinsengumi attending a modern high school. Playstation Vita exclusive.
Adaptation Distillation/Adaptation Expansion: The anime mainly follows Hijikata's route in the game but adds important scenes from other routes as well as anime-original endings for Okita and Sanosuke, who simply disappear in Hijikata's game route.
Always Second Best: Okita is motivated almost entirely by his desire to be of service to Kondou and receive his approval, and thus is constantly annoyed and frustrated by the fact that Hijikata is the person who supports Kondou the most and upon whom Kondou most relies. He vents his jealousy and frustration by pushing Hijikata's buttons as much as he possibly can.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: The historical Hijikata did in fact compose the collection of haiku that Okita and the others keep making fun of - including the "ume ume ume" poem that so baffles Saito in the Drama CD - and those who have read it generally agree that it's pretty bad.
Annoying Patient: Hijikata must constantly stay on Okita's case to keep him out of battle when his health starts going downhill. However, Hijikata himself proves to be an even worse case, as not even Chizuru's best efforts can keep him from running himself ragged; it takes Saito delivering a very pointed smackdown to keep him from taking to the front lines while still badly injured from the battle of Utsunomiya Castle.
Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The Shinsengumi were an interesting enough group on their own, but in this version, they're secretly used by the shogunate as a testbed for a mysterious elixir which turns those who take it into nigh-unkillable but unstable and bloodthirsty superhumans. The water of life and transformation into furies is used as a convenient device to allow characters like Sanan, Heisuke, and Okita to remain involved in the plot well beyond the points at which their real-life counterparts died.
Big Damn Heroes: Barring a bad end, any time Chizuru is in trouble someone from the Shinsengumi can be counted on to appear out of nowhere in the nick of time to save her. Hijikata deserves special mention for doing it something like four times in his route. They occasionally pull it for one another as well, such as when Sanosuke, Shinpachi, and Heisuke all show up in Saito's route to help him take down Kazama.
Bittersweet Ending: Each of the character endings in the game. Particularly Okita's as he's still dying of tuberculosis on top of living on borrowed time as a fury. Harada's is the only route to mostly avoid the trope and have a genuinely happy ending, but even then the Shinsengumi are no more, the shogunate has fallen, the samurai class has become obsolete, and most of the main cast are dead.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: To a point. The Shinsengumi captains and most of the demons are orders of magnitude more effective in combat than any unnamed mook and are constantly shown mowing them down in droves. On the other hand, the lesser numbers on the shogunate side put the Shinsengumi at a disadvantage throughout the Boshin War, a fact that loses them no few battles. When they learn that Koufu Castle has already been occupied by the enemy, Saito delivers a very grim estimate of the kind of numbers they would need in comparison to the enemy to have any chance of successfully taking the place, and when only one of the three Ezo Republic warships manages to make it to the Battle of Miyako, it dooms the planned surprise attack to failure.
Oni: Demons in the Aksys Games translation, devils in the Sentai Filmworks translation of the anime.
Rasetsunote The Japanese term for rakshasa, which are man-eating, bloodlust-maddened humanoid creatures from Hindu lore: Furies.
Ochimizunote literally "strange youth water," the name given to the water of a fountain of youth in a story contained in the Konjaku Monogatari: Water of life.
Custom Uniform: When the Shinsengumi make the change to Western-style uniforms, the rank-and-file troops (and Shimada) wear the plain black uniforms of the period, but Hijikata and all of the captains don incredibly stylish custom outfits with little resemblance to one another aside from a general trend of Badass Longcoats and Waistcoats of Style.
Declaration of Protection: Once they've taken her in, the Shinsengumi captains are entirely committed to protecting Chizuru no matter what difficulty it causes them, and nearly to a man they respond indignantly to any suggestion that it might be better for her to leave, taking it as questioning their ability to handle the challenge.
Despair Speech: Hijikata when Kondou sacrifices himself so he may live.
Determinator: All of the Shinsengumi members, but especially Okita and Hijikata. The latter pretty much just stops sleeping entirely for a while after the retreat from Kyoto to Edo.
Diabolus ex Machina: Some of the bad endings get kind of gratuitous. A particular example would be the bad end in the last chapter of Hijikata's route: that he and Kazama kill one another is not surprising, but then Chizuru is fatally shot immediately afterwards just to cap it off.
Dirty Business: Hijikata's opinion of Itou's assassination, in nearly so many words: "This is our duty, but that doesn't mean we have to be proud of it. Sometimes the path's dirty."
Distracted from Death: In the anime, Yamazaki dies while Chizuru has turned away to prepare water and medicine for him and is cheerfully telling him that he needs to hurry up and get better.
Downer Ending: The whole of Hekketsuroku, minus the first two or three episodes, is basically one long cathartic trip. Likewise, the Normal Ending in the original game is extremely depressing.
The Dulcinea Effect: Surprisingly averted in the early stages of the story - finding out that Chizuru is a girl doesn't have a lot of influence on most of the main characters' attitudes toward her, and they're quite blunt about the possibility that they may have to kill her in order to protect the Shinsengumi. Played straight, however, by Heisuke, whose first affection gain opportunity comes from discovering that Chizuru is female and who decides as early as Chapter 3 to fight for her sake instead of either the Emperor or the shogunate.
Emergency Transformation: Heisuke is given the water of life and turned into a fury in order to keep him from dying from the mortal injuries he receives at Amagiri's hands during the Aburano Koji Incident.
End of an Age: The end of an era is one of main themes in Hakuouki.
A Fate Worse Than Death: The game's bad endings, when they don't involve Chizuru's death, sometimes turn in this direction; for example, one bad ending of Sanosuke's route has Kazama catching Chizuru alone, followed by Chizuru's narration saying only that she has no desire to tell what happened after that or how she spent the rest of her days.
Foreshadowing: In episode 3 of the anime, Harada and Nagakura take Chizuru to a festival and Nagakura recites a poem that says no matter how great you are, eventually you will lose everything because nothing lasts forever.
Friendly Enemy: Despite facing off on several different occasions, Harada Sanosuke and Shiranui Kyo rarely seem to bear one another much real ill will. Almost every time they fight, Chizuru observes that their banter and broad smiles make it seem like they're having a wonderful time. In Harada's route and in the anime, they unsurprisingly end up as allies of sorts.
Hello, Insert Name Here: Since all the games starring Chizuru allow players to change her first name, her name is never mentioned in voiced dialogue. This is averted by Reimeiroku and Bakumatsu Musouroku which don't give the player the option at all. Ryuunosuke and Chizuru's names are spoken quite frequently in them.
Help Mistaken for Attack: The average citizens often see no distinction between the Shinsengumi and the unruly ronin who the group are attempting to police, viewing them all as brawling thugs and equally dangerous. This is especially true in the early days depicted in Reimeiroku, thanks in large part to Serizawa and his men, who really are no better.
High School AU: The fan disc contains an unlockable sequence of illustrations called "Hakuouki SSL" (Sweet School Life): a short parody of set in a modern day high school. An animated version was included at the end of the special episodes that were offered to fans who bought Hekketsuroku on DVD, and the concept was later developed into a spinoff Visual Novel for the Playstation Vita.
I Am a Monster: Several characters, especially Heisuke in his route and also including Sanan and Okita, feel this way about their transformation into furies . Contrast with Saito and Hijikata; Saito in particular tells Chizuru ahead of time in his route that if duty led him to become a furies he would not consider it any different from anything else he's done in the service of the Shinsengumi up to that point, and true to his word never looks back once the deed is done.
Japanese Spirit: Referenced by name when Shiranui quotes Takasugi Shinsaku, and of great importance to the Shinsengumi, Hijikata especially... albeit cast in a more bittersweet light than usual. Resolve and persistence are presented as great virtues of the Shinsengumi, but at the same time it's clear that "fighting spirit" is not enough to make up for the disadvantages they face in the Boshin War.
Know When to Fold 'Em: Shinpachi and Sanosuke, in contrast to Kondou and the other captains, leave the Shinsengumi when they see the writing on the wall after Koufu, which is one of the reasons that Sanosuke's route has the happiest ending in the game.
No Body Left Behind: Furies crumble into dust when their lifeforce is used up. This happens to Heisuke and Sanan and is heavily implied to have happened to Okita.
Not What It Looks Like: In his route in Zuisoroku and his OVA, Hijikata runs into a snag when he tries to extricate Chizuru from her brief stint spying at Sumiya - onlookers take her for the geisha she's dressed as and assume he's either kidnapping her or trying to elope with her without clearing her debt. Trying to explain that she's not actually a geisha fails to convince anyone, and it apparently takes Hijikata a while afterwards to live down the rumors.
In the normal ending of the game Shinsengumi Kitan, Chizuru finds herself gazing up at the sky where she sees the backs of her friends in their pale blue haori, the bright summer day a stark contrast to their fate.
Hekketsuroku's ending is heavily based on the normal ending. Chizuru sees a vision of the Shinsengumi's banner, "Makoto" (sincerity), fluttering overhead and then, one by one, the men who fought under it.
Ibuki's portion of of Hijikata's route in Reimeiroku ends with Ibuki staring at the horizon over the Tama River. The final scene features a cloudy sunset.
Reimeiroku, the anime, ends with a view of the sky.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Hijikata, Saito, and Okita recognize Chizuru as a girl the moment she speaks, and Harada and Sanan at least suspect. Only Kondou, Heisuke and Nagakura are actually surprised to learn of her sex.
Post-Victory Collapse: The anime ends with Hijikata finally defeating Kazama and then collapsing into Chizuru's arms.
The Power of Friendship: Ultimately, Chizuru becomes one of the strongest things holding the Shinsengumi captains together. Pretty much everyone who leaves or dies has to part with her in particular.
Prequel: Hakuouki Reimeiroku; and Toki no Kizuna, the distant prequel of Hakuouki series.
Blood Lust: Most furies are useless as soldiers because they go berserk at the first sight or scent of blood. Even the major characters who become furies suffer from crippling bouts of increasingly painful craving for blood, so severe that if their condition is not carefully managed even Determinators like Saito can lose their sanity.
Ragtag Band of Misfits: The Shinsengumi captains. Kondou and Hijikata are the sons of farmers who wouldn't even be allowed to carry swords if the Shinsengumi had not received special permission to do so; Saito is a left-handed swordsman and an exile from his home domain; Heisuke is the bastard son of the Lord of Tsu; Okita is an orphan. By Shinsengumi Kitan the group has achieved some legitimacy, but Reimeiroku shows more clearly how unlikely a bunch they are.
Schr÷dinger's Gun: The characterizations of Kazama, Sanan, and to a lesser extent Kodo vary in the game depending on which route you end up on. In addition, Kaoru is only relevant to the plot in Okita's route and disappears completely from all others.
Shipper on Deck: Sen just generally wants Chizuru to be happy, but in Hijikata's route of the game she's actively encouraging of Chizuru's feelings for him, even before Chizuru is sure of her feelings herself.
Silver Bullet: Silver counteracts the fury Healing Factor, something that the Shinsengumi learn unpleasantly when their enemies start using silver bullets. In Okita's route, taking several of these puts him out of commission until after the Koufu debacle.
Single-Stroke Battle: Hijikata versus Kazama at the end of Hijikata's route of the game. In his good ending, Hijikata avoids Kazama's blade; in the bad ending it's a Mutual Kill.
Spoiler Opening: The opening sequence of the first season shows Hijikata's transformation into a fury, which only occurs in the last episode of the season. The end sequence of the same season more or less spoils Kaoru's status as a villain.
Stock Superpowers: Demons and, to a lesser degree, furies possess all of the following powers:
The Stoic: Saito and, to a lesser extent, Hijikata. Also Amagiri Kyuuju, who always fights rather grudgingly, and has several extremely polite and understated confrontations with Saito.
Submissive Badass: Everyone in the Shinsengumi under Kondou. Special mention goes to Saito, who does virtually everything Hijikata asks him to do.
Suddenly Voiced: Chizuru isn't voiced in any of the games that feature her as the protagonist, but she is in Reimeiroku and Bakumatsu Musouroku.
Supernatural Gold Eyes: When a demon activates their full power, their eyes turn bright gold. The trope is subverted, on the other hand, by Sanosuke, who has golden eyes but is completely human and is the only potential love interest in the game who never drinks the Water of Life in any route.
Sweet Polly Oliver: Chizuru dresses as a boy when she travels alone to Kyoto because openly traveling alone as a woman would be much more difficult and more dangerous. When she enters the protection of the Shinsengumi, she keeps up the facade at Hijikata's insistence to avoid causing problems with the group's rank-and-file soldiers.
Taking the Bullet: Okita for Chizuru in his route, just as intended by Kaoru. Chizuru for Sanosuke in his route. Examples which involve swords instead of actual bullets include Yamazaki for Hijikata, Kodo for Chizuru in several routes, Okita for Chizuru again in one of his bad endings, and Chizuru for Hijikata in one of his bad endings.
Theme Naming: Demon names tend to have the character "千" ("a thousand") incorporated into them, either directly or as a component of another kanji. Characters whose names sport this character include Chizuru, Sen, Kazama (in his given name of Chikage), and Kaoru, as well as Kazama Chitose, Yukimura Kazuya, Amagiri Kazutake, and Shiranui Shin in Hakuoki's distant prequel game Toki no Kizuna.
This Is Unforgivable: There are a number of examples in the game, the most emphatic being Chizuru and then Hijikata's furious declarations to Kazama after the latter kills Inoue, and the Shinsengumi's reactions to Kondou's beheading.
Title Drop: "Hakuoki" is dropped in the final episode; it means, roughly, "pale cherry-blossom demon," as per the game's localized title. It's a name given to Hijikata by Kazama as acknowledgement that he is worthy of being called a demon.
Traumatic Haircut: In Reimeiroku, Serizawa gets angry at a pair of geisha who refuse to dance naked for him, and demands their hair be cut off - a very big deal, since they won't be able to keep working as geisha with short hair. Hijikata and either Ibuki or Saito end up forced to do the deed.
Worth Living For: In each of their respective routes, Hijikata, Okita, and Heisuke all end up finding a new reason to live in Chizuru after everything else they've valued has been destroyed or lost all meaning.
You Shall Not Pass: Inoue in Hijikata's route and in the anime, although it doesn't accomplish much. Saito in episode 19 of the anime as well. None of them ever worknote although historically, Saito survived his final battle and was taken prisoner under a fake name.