We are finally at Episode 4 of Katsugeki Touken Ranbu, and hold on guys, this is going to be a wild ride. I’m not one for nitpicking when it comes to anime, but along with my episode highlights, I’ll try to give you some simple explanations and trivia to help you enjoy the show even more.
Japanese Title: 守りたかったもの
March 1868. The Meiji Emperor has ascended the throne and the Tokugawa Government will soon come to an end. The Second Unit are entrusted with the mission to stop the Time Retrograde Army from interfering with negotiations between Saigo Takamori and Katsu Kaishu. These negotiations will lead to the surrender of Edo Castle to the anti-government forces and lead to the restoration of power to the Meiji Emperor. But the Time Retrograde Army has come up with a surprising plan to stop the negotiations.
Konnosuke the Pipe Fox: When Konnosuke presents the pocket watch to the guys, he refers to himself as a ‘pipe fox’. As I mentioned in last week’s review, Konnosuke is a mythological spirit fox. A pipe fox (or kudagitsune) is a spirit fox so small it can be summoned into a bamboo pipe. They are not as mischievous as other kinds of fox spirits, and will follow their master’s will to the letter.
Satcho: Kane-san mentioned that people have fled from Edo due to rumors of a Satcho attack. This refers to the Satcho Alliance, an alliance between Satsuma Domain and Choshu Domain. That was at a VERY important time of Japanese history, and the meeting our boys were assigned to protect (between Katsu Kaishu and Saigo Takamori) was a very important event. Check my glossary below for more details.
Yagen is a Freaking Badass: You may remember in my last review about how I hoped we could see more of Yagen this episode, and I wasn’t disappointed! From his speech for Kane-san to his amazing fighting, Yagen was badass. You may remember that Yagen was surrounded by members of the Time Retrograde Army at the port. Just when I thought we were going to get some Yagen fighting action, Konnosuke later turned up with a casual ‘after defeating the Retrograde army…’ Despite being a little disappointed, I knew this meant we were going to see something even more badass. Luckily, I was right! If I had to describe Yagen’s fighting style in one word, it would be ‘efficient.’ He goes straight for the cannon, and the way he snatches the katana from the enemy was a thing of beauty. Every one of his moves is carefully calculated to do the most damage with the least effort. I just hope his injury doesn’t hinder him too much from now.
They Say Pets Resemble Their Owners: In this episode (and episodes before), it’s clear how Izuminokami Kanesada and Horikawa Kunihiro hold great respect for their former master, Toshiro Hijikata. Although they know that they are to serve their current master, the Saniwa, I thought it was really cute how Kane-san was trying to copy how Hijikata sits.
Konnosuke…Again: Again, Konnosuke is one of my highlights. The way he puffed his chest in pride after bringing the pocket watch, only to get burned by Horikawa and Mutsu was very cute. I also liked when he couldn’t find information in the records of the missing Kashu attendant and screamed and puffed his tail, only to get scolded for shouting so loud. I find it quite adorable how his emotions are so easy to read.
Tsurumaru is here~! Fangirls rejoice. Just as Yagen gets injured, a beautiful Touken Danshi clad in white jumps in to save the day. He is Tsurumaru Kuninaga, and you may recognize him from the opening. He is a tantou from the Heian Period and is voiced by Soma Saito, who also sings the opening theme of the anime! I actually learned something interesting as I watched this, thanks to my Japanese friend who was watching the episode with me. Watching Tsurumaru defeat the enemies and stand so perfectly on the railing of the ship, he piped up with ‘that’s fairytale-like fighting for Japanese.’ When I asked him what he meant, he said the it reminded him of the famous stories of the fight between Benkei and Ushiwakamaru (Yoshitsune no Minamoto) on Gojo Bridge. In artworks, Ushiwakamaru is usually depicted as standing on the railing of the bridge, and it seems to be an image that is close to Japanese hearts.
Yagen Leg Watch
Hooo, boy. It’s a festival here at Yagen Leg Watch. There were quite a few scenes where all we saw of Yagen were his legs! We also got to see his signature leaning-against-the-wall pose, which I have to say suits him very well. I don’t have the word space to mention all the great leg shots, but let”s just say there were many scenes where I just kept saying ‘legs..’ However… he got cut! Nooo…! (although the shot of smudged blood all over his white skin is beautiful in a strange way). Ufotable are highly conscious of the eroticism of Yagen”s legs and are not even trying to hide it.
Until Our Next Mission
This may have been my favorite episode so far, but I admit that’s highly influenced by my position as a Yagen fangirl. The pacing this episode was brilliant, and we didn’t have to wait too long for the action to start. Although the fight choreography wasn’t quite what we saw in Episodes 1 and 3, it was beautifully fluid and I am REALLY looking forward to seeing Tombokiri hold off the ootachi.
Although it seems a little late to introduce a main character such as Tsurumaru, I am now pretty hyped to see how he will interact with the other swords, who, I must add, are MUCH younger than him ( ´∀｀).
The Meiji Restoration: The period when power was taken away from the military government and restored to the Meiji Emperor. The emperor was also moved to the new capital of Edo, which was renamed Tokyo. The events of this episode take place a few months after the Meiji Emperor took to the throne, but a few months before the abolition of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Satcho Alliance: An alliance between Satsuma Province (modern-day Kagoshima prefecture) and Choshu Province (modern-day Yamaguchi Prefecture). Although the two provinces were often at loggerheads with each other, they made the alliance in 1866 to reach their common goal of overthrowing the Tokugawa Shogunate and restoring Imperial rule to Japan. Interestingly enough, this alliance was made possible thanks to the negotiator of Mutsunokami’s master, Ryoma Sakamoto.
Katsu Kaishu: The man who would go on to found Japan’s imperial navy, Katsu Kaishu was employed as a negotiator by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Although he is said to have sympathized with the Satcho cause, he was loyal to the Tokugawa Government. He would surrender Edo Castle to Saigo Takamori in the negotiations mentioned in the episode.
Saigo Takamori: A highly-respected samurai from Satsuma province. He played a key role in the end of Tokugawa Shogunate. After Saigo surrounded Edo Castle, Katsu Kaishu would go on to surrender Edo Castle to Saigo thanks to the negotiations mentioned in the episode.