DVD Review: Hakuoki – Record of the Jade Blood – The Complete Series

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The story of the mysterious Shinsengumi Clan continues in Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom – Record of the Jade Blood, but what exactly do we think of the series and this DVD Release? Find out in our DVD Review of Hakuoki – Record of the Jade Blood – The Complete Series.

Synopsis:

After tasting the humiliation of being forced to flee to Edo, the members of the Shinsengumi have become disillusioned. Not only are they disappointed by the Shogun’s behavior, but they are also facing personal problems. Kondou is still recovering from his gun wound. Okita is still bedridden due to both his illness and his bullet wounds. Heisuke must watch over Sanna, who seems to be slowly slipping into madness. And meanwhile, Hijikata is desperately fighting to keep the Shinsengumi together.

Still, no matter how dangerous the battle becomes, there is no stepping down, and the veins of the Shinsengumi are filled with the jade blood of the truly loyal. As the flames of war march up and down the length and breadth of the land, they must prepare to return to the battlefield once more or risk losing more than just their lives.

Our View:

Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom – Record of the Jade Blood, or more commonly known as Hakuoki – Season 2, aims to provide the same concepts that the first season introduced, such as dark secrets, polictics and Japanese History, however unlike the first series this ‘Record of the Jade Blood’ is shorter, contains more fights and is a slightly more entertaining experience by offering multiple enemies and multiple storylines.

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With the character and organisation backstories already introduced within the first series, this second season can automatically dive straight into the main storyline – namely the conflict with the imperial factions (Boshin War) and the evolving storyline of the Shinsengumi trying to uncover the secrets behind the Rasetsu (Furries).  While these storylines start here it quickly goes to new unexplored territories, with relationships blooming, friends leaving and people once thought enemies now friends. It also seems that the “Shinsengumi” clan may become a memory, however Hijikata (along with a few others) attempt to keep the dream alive as well as fight for their own cause as opposed to the clans previous role of protecting the shogun. Times are changing in the world of Hakuoki and everyone needs to adapt.

While the main storyline is the constant war between two factions, namely the Imperial Faction and the former Bakafu Army, there is many other storylines taking place between episodes. Some of these storylines tie-into the first series, such as Yukimura’s attempt to find her farther, while others open up new possibilities. For instance characters that engaged with the Shinsengumi as enemies are now allies trying to uncover the dark secret of the furries. Furries also play a major role in this second season, as not only has most of the Shinsengumi have this demonic power but new day-walking furries exist which Kodo plans to use to take-over the country. It’s a constant battle for survival, but interestingly not much fighting takes place.

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The second season of Hakuoki features a fair amount of fighting and violence, more so than the previous series, but don’t expect hours upon hours of brutal swordplay as the real fighting is done in words. The threat of war, discussions on how to combat it and talks of politics are the main focus – a trait carried on from the first series, but luckily when a fight does break out its violent, bloody and has some interesting conflicts. Hakuoki is another marmite type of series, most of the time I find it rather dull but it has extremely intense moments that bring life into a rather dreary series, but as a whole it’s a much better presentation than the first season.

Extras:

The only extra features included on this UK DVD Release of Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom – Record of the Jade Blood is the text less opening and closing songs, both of which are presented on the second DVD Disc.

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It’s slightly disappointing to find that only these text less songs have been included, especially seeing as the previous season 1 release included a variety of trailers for other anime releases. It’s another barebones release for another rather unenticing series.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time: 1:59:06 (Disc 1), 1:58:52 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Hakuoki – Season 2 has many storylines, some of which drift in and out of several episodes, such as the constant threat of being attacked from imperial fractions, but then each episode can have its own mini-agenda, such as the unveiling of day-walking furries, internal discussions of a characters future and Chizuru Yukimura’s real heritage, a fact which provides a few surprises for the whole group.

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The series has a few surprises in-store, both for the viewer and for the characters involved, but disappointingly these new revelations are not acted upon. For instance Yukimura’s brother is quickly re-introduced into the battle field and is immediately killed, with the information he brought with him never acted upon and long forgot by the next episode. It’s this type of non-continuative storyline that makes (some) episodes of Hakuoki a one episode story.

It’s not just the series that offers a ‘marmite’ viewing experience (especially for those who aren’t really interested in Japanese War History) but it’s the combination of a poor English dub mixed with lack of additional content. The English Dub has been produced by Sentai Filmworks and the same characters (from season 1) repraise their roles for season 2, so at least that’s a positive. Yet the voice actors don’t seem to provide any emotion into their character, thus making it a rather dreary experience. The Japanese Audio track (which has optional/removable subtitles) is far more entertaining to watch, not to mention much more realistic.

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In hindsight Hakuoki Season 2 is pretty much the same as the previous series with the only difference being that ‘talked about’ characters, such as Kodo and the Imperial Faction, finally make a continuous appearance and that it has a few interestingly bloody battles. If you are curious about Hakuoki then Record of the Jade Blood is not the place to start (though I did enjoy it more than the first season) but even then be prepared for a dreary anime experience unless you enjoy stories that revolve around the Japanese Edo war period.

Score: review-stars-2

Hakuoki- Record of the Jade Blood – The Complete Series, also known as Hakuoki – Season 2, will be available on DVD from the 3rd March 2014.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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