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Anime / Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood

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The year is 1931, the 64th year of the Meiji era. In a world where Tokugawa Yoshinobu did not hand power over to the prime minister, Japan's technology is developing rapidly, especially in light of the recent discovery of a unique energy source known as the "Dragon Vein." Despite this unexpected prosperity, the government is threatened by an insurgent group known as "Kuchinawa," which hates the isolationist policies of Tokugawa and aims to overthrow the Shogunate. In response, the Tokugawa government has created "Nue," a secret police organization dedicated to rooting out Kuchinawa.

Seemingly unrelated to all of this, a quiet bookstore is run by a young woman named Sawa Yukimura. Beautiful yet aloof, Sawa is actually the lone survivor of the Karasumori clan, who were wiped out by a man seeking the secret of their mysterious abilities. Sawa is now an executioner for Nue, taking out targets and changelings all the while working to find the man who killed her family in order to take her revenge.


Loosely inspired by Lady Snowblood, Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood is an original Anime series animated by Bakken Record and produced by Bushiroad and Tatsunoko Production that aired in the Spring 2021 season. It is directed by Susumu Kudō and written by Rika Nezu and Kunihiko Okada. Crunchyroll streams the series outside of Japan.

Joran provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sawa, Elena Tsukishiro and Rinko Takemichi.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Sawa is a typical Raven Hair, Ivory Skin beauty (to the point she has at least one admirer) but she's extremely cold and detached... or at the very least, she tries to be.
  • Alternate History: Joran takes place in a world where Tokugawa Yoshinobu did not hand power over to the prime minister and the Shogunate continued into the Meiji era. Also, there is a fictional power source called Dragon Vein that allowed Tokugawa Japan to dramatically advance its technological progress through the Edo period.
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  • Anyone Can Die: A number of people end up dying in this series that by the end, the only survivors of the original cast are Elena and Asahi.
  • Animal Motif: The various people with changeling powers are associated with different types of animals. To name a few examples:
    • White Crow: Sawa, her mother and Asahi.
    • Snakes: Janome.
    • Cat: Tsukishiro.
    • Black Crows: Jin Kuzuhara.
  • The Atoner: Jin Kuzuhara, the man who killed Asahi's family under the Tokugawa's orders. He took her in and trained her to fight as a way of atoning for his sins on that day.
  • The Alcoholic: Rinko Takemichi, a new executioner of Nue, is a heavy drinker but is still able to fight effectively. She wonders whether she's a functional alcoholic or she can fight better when drunk.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Tokugawa Shogunate has fallen and Sawa is finally free from her vengeance and life of fighting. However, a lot of people died, and Sawa was fatally stabbed on the way back to the bookstore and dies in Asahi's arms. The epilogue is set years later where a 17-year-old Asahi has taken up Sawa's mantle, including her changeling power, while accompanied by Elena's daughter Satsuki, hinting that History Repeats itself.
  • Creepy Crows: The mysterious white crow that follows Sawa is creepy, but it's actually the catalyst that allows her to transform.
    • After consuming Janome's drug, Jin is able to transform into a crow-human hybrid and is accompanied by a murder of crows when he transforms.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Janome gets taken out by Sawa in the middle of the series, clearly hinting that there is more to come.
  • Faking the Dead: Happens to Elena and Sawa. The former because she got pregnant and decides to retire from Nue while the latter was perpetrated by Tsukishiro to get her out of Tokyo.
  • Femme Fatale: Elena works as a sex worker and often gets information from her clients, and she's not above killing them to do her job. Once she gets pregnant, she leaves this profession to settle down but not without coming back for one last job.
  • Hitodama Light: The blue flames that consume Sawa's face in her changeling form seem to be evocative of Hitodama, particularly since her body is partially skeletal in this state.
  • Morality Pet: The presence of Sawa's "little sister" Asahi is one of the few things that betrays Sawa's deeply hidden compassionate side.
  • Parasol of Pain: Both Sawa and Elena have weapons that are concealed in umbrellas: Sawa's is a hidden sword while Elena's can work as a crossbow.
  • Parental Substitute: While Sawa is Asahi's "big sister" she's really closer to a maternal figure for her since she killed Asahi's parents.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Elena is the red to Sawa's blue: Elena is outwardly flirty, outgoing, and lascivious but cold-hearted to an almost inhuman level while Sawa is outwardly distant, quiet, and aloof while secretly harboring doubt and guilt over the many horrible things she's done on her quest for revenge. The third episode hammers the point home when the two women have a brief conversation about coffins: Elena wants a red coffin, Sawa wants a blue one.
  • Shout-Out: In Episode 4 Janome quotes a passage from the The Waste Land, which itself contains a Shout-Out to Tristan and Iseult.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Asahi at the end of the series.
  • Surprisingly Good English: The man who talks to Elena about "her" book during the party in Episode 1 speaks with unusually accurate English.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Tsukishiro.
  • Visual Pun: A quick series of cuts in the OP shows the three main executioners in settings that fit their surnames:
    • Sawa Yukimura (yuki meaning "snow")" is shown walking in a snowy landscape.
    • Makoto Tsukishiro (tsuki meaning "moon") is shown standing in the light of a full moon.
    • Elena Hanakaze (hana meaning "flower") is shown applying her lipstick with some flowers prominently in the foreground.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 9 has a major one. For a long time, Sawa thought that the man who killed her family was Janome. However, a hint left by Tsukishiro at her bookstore before his passing reveals that the true murderer was her boss, Jin Kuzuhara and Episode 10 confirms it.
  • Whip Sword: Rinko Takemichi's main weapon, except said Whip Sword is one of 40 bands of oronium metal inserted her body that she can extend and retract from her hands like Wolverine Claws as well as reshape them like they were extensions of her own body. She can even extend the blades from her feet and back.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Episode 10 is almost one whole flashback to Jin's past as an orphan, how he joined Nue and that he killed Sawa's family and spared her so he could train her to survive as a way of atonement.