Genre: Fantasy / Jidai Geki / Martial Arts
Parental Guidance Recommended
© 1990 AIC · Pioneer LDC, Inc. Yukio Okamoto (director)
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Everything The Hakkenden
During the war-torn feudal wars in Japan, the Awa clan faced certain extinction from a rival clan backed by demonic forces.
However, a careless promise by their lord leads to both salvation and disgrace when their family dog brings back the head of the enemy warlord and insists on marrying the lord?s daughter. Their unnatural union bears fruit but when both are killed, the eight unborn pups are reincarnated as the eight Dog Warriors - The Hakkenden.
As they slowly find each other and come together as a group, these eight warriors, who represent the eight separate aspects of Bushido, engage in bloody battles with demonic entities and evil samurai in a final attempt to redeem their clan!
A little beyond omoshiroi (interesting). >>> by firesenshi
If you're fond of jidai geki (samurai films such as those of Japanese national artist and film legend Akiro Kurosawa), you'll probably like The Hakkenden. The characters are working in the rich setting of the shogunate before the Tokugawa. It was a time when swords and fighting skills separated the weak and the domineering class. The story even came up from the usual events of that time -- there were two warring clans. The difference is that fantasy and the supernatural was injected into it. The meeting of the eight fated dog warriors called the Hakkenden were by that reason. Dog warrior? Yes, the eight warriors are said to be descendants of a noblewoman, Fuse-hime and the dog Yatsufusa. Strike you as 'weird'? The first episode will tell you how the myth all made sense.
The good part about this is that each warrior is given their own separate episode on how they realized they were actually a dog warrior. There isn't really any main overrated character here. Each character is given enough exposure so that you can get to know each of them from their stories to the weapons they mastered. You will also be touched by each of their stories. I am even very happy to see that there was a actually a woman who was part of the Hakkenden. Her story is even very interesting and unusual. Her weapons are like ninja blades similar to Misao, leader of the Oniwabanshuu of Rurouni Kenshin. And she executes her moves with such grace.
After watching some jidai geki though, I think I'm used to heads that roll, spurting blood and bodies slashed in half. They all exist in this kind of animation as well. I have realized though that battles between samurai are very messy compared to the battle between the knights in Europe. I mean, the katana (Japanese sword) is not good unless it cleanly cuts three bodies in half and with that in mind, you can't expect a really clean aftermath. Besides, even Akiro Kurosawa, who in black and white showed how much blood there is can literally spurt after having a katana cleanly slash half of your body, did not glamorize samurai wars. It's not a glorious sight. So I really can't tell you whether watching it for the first time is 'shocking' because I feel these scenes are already to be expected. Either that or I'm just numb to the violence. Like many of them though, this one is fond of a lot of metaphors where there are too many cut scenes and flashbacks on the past.
One weird thing though is that the artwork varies in some episodes. The crucial episode showing the abduction of Hamaji-hime lacked a lot of detail, it was as if the artists got lazy drawing it, they forgot humans have five digits instead of two.
Individual Rating: Art/Animation 7; Story 8; Characters 8; Sounds 6