Hello, it’s Jennifer here! Autumn is almost upon us and I’m looking forward to beautiful orange foliage. There was a lot of orange going on in this episode, but unfortunately it isn’t the autumn leaves. In this episode, we finally see something I’m pretty sure everyone has been expecting since the very beginning: a clash between Horikawa Kunihiro and his partner Izuminokami Kanesada.
I…I’m doing this for you
Japanese Episode Title: 鉄の掟
After protecting Sakamoto in an unexpected change in history, Horikawa Kunihiro wonders if he should try and change Hijikata’s fate. After going AWOL, Izuminokami Kanesada searches for Horikawa, worried about what he will do. Meanwhile, the Time Retrograde Army seem to have succeeded in changing the path of history, even if just a little.
Horikawa vs Izuminokami
Partners Horikawa Kunihiro and Izuminokami have a clash over ideals when it comes to where their loyalties lie. Is this surprising? No, not in the slightest. Way back when the 6 main characters for Katsugeki Touken Ranbu were announced, I knew that we would end up seeing a face-off between Horikawa (who I was sure would want to change history for Hijikata’s sake) and Kane-san (who I also knew would do whatever he had to in order to protect history). So you could say that this was predictable, but I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that. In fact, I’ve been waiting to finally see this happen! In the game Touken Ranbu -online-, there are very few chances to see the swords interact with each other, much less go head-to-head. Of course, I am sure that Kane-san will not actually harm Horikawa and they will make up with a hug, but that doesn’t stop my heart from racing by just thinking there is even the slightest possibility that these two close partners could end up splitting up.
Although I’ve enjoyed the camera work in every episode so far, in this episode, one of the highlights was during Horikawa and Kane-san’s talk with each other. At one point, the camera focuses on Izuminokami Kanesada (the sword) while said character is talking and then cuts to Horikawa Kunihiro (the sword). This simple shot reminds us that the two characters are, at their core, swords who existed to stay at their master’s hip. Especially prominent is the shot of Horikawa, which reflects the shot just minutes before, where Hijikata referred to the sword as ‘his other life’. In addition, I also enjoyed the final swoop up and over Kane-san as he is about to swing towards his own partner.
As well as the camera work, the shot of Kane-san and the collapsing building was almost eerily peaceful.
This is not a duel
As you will see a bit later in this review, I was all about Horikawa and his cute little face this episode. But enough about that; what I really want to focus on is his action at the very end of the episode. Although at first it seems like the uchigatana and wakizashi are about to face-off, that is not the case. Instead, Horikawa calmly approaches Kane-san and says, ‘Kane-san, if you’re going to do it, now’s your chance.’ This is not a fight. This is about two different Touken Danshi with two different ideas of loyalty. I wouldn’t worry too much though. I doubt the anime will answer the fans by having Kane-san harm Horikawa…right?
If you read my last review, you will be aware of what Hijikata did leading up to his final moments. I was pleasantly surprised to see the very scene I mentioned get animated in this episode. Some of you may wonder why we suddenly cut to a scene of Hijikata in the (relative) future, and may have been thrown off-guard. It may seem less awkward when I let you know that this particular scene is from a very famous and important part of history. As I mentioned before, the boy in this scene is Tetsunosuke Ichimura. His initial protest, claiming that he should die along with Hijikata, is also very well-known to the point that some people even mistakenly believe that Tetsunosuke is a fictional person. This tender and sad moment seems to strike a chord with many people, and I’m sure you wouldn’t have to look far to find somebody who believed that Hijikata evoked the true warrior spirit. Another nice touch I would like you to look out for is the photograph of himself that he hands to Tetsunosuke. This is in fact based on a real photograph and a quick search online will bring up the real thing. It turns out Hijikata was a very handsome man in real life! This scene was definitely a highlight for me.
Horikawa Angsty Face Watch
Kunihiro-kun has taken over Yagen Leg Watch this week with his annoyingly adorable and angsty facial expressions. I want you to look closely at the flashback around 3 minutes into the episode. You may notice that Horikawa’s mouth movements have been so well-animated, rather than the usual flap flap flap. This seems to happen mostly with Horikawa (you can see it in Episode 1 also) and his words seem to hit me much harder. If you take a look at his face around 17:50, when he talks about Hijikata’s final moments…well, I can’t even look at it for more than a split second. It just hurts too much. Oh, Horikawa, you can only get away with it because you are so cute. Like a naughty little puppy.
Until our next mission
Although there wasn’t much action in this episode, there was a lot of angst. I enjoyed the atmosphere between Kunihiro and Kane-san, but they were standing so far apart…how could they hear each other? Touken Danshi must have super-hearing to match their stunningly good looks. I do hope this issue gets solved quickly in the next episode and we can learn more about the Time Retrograde Army, but with the title of the next episode being ‘The Battle of Hakodate’, Horikawa will most likely escape and truly try to change history, No! Don’t do it! No..don’t look at me that way…no, I can’t NOT forgive you. Stop…. See you next week!