DVD Review: Hakuoki – OVA Collection

Hakuoki_OVA_DVD_Screenshot1

With the main Hakuoki storyline already come and gone what can we expect from this DVD release of the OVA Collection? Find out in our DVD Review of Hakuoki – The OVA Collection.

Synopsis:

Beauty, grace, intelligence, wit – a geisha should posses all of these and more. The coming war grows more imminent with each passing moment and Kyoto is filled with turbulence as the various factions vie for power. When rumors reach the Shinsengumi that a group of rogue warriors intend to attack their headquarters, they must investigate the situation or risk perishing before they’ve even begun to fight.

The only safe meeting place seems to be the Sumi Inn inside the red light district of Shimabara. It is up to Chizuru to disguise herself as a geisha and infiltrate the inn. But life as a geisha can be filled with hazards of many kinds, especially for one as beautiful as Chizuru.

Our View:

Whenever I hear the term ‘OVA Collection’ I automatically assume it’s a collection of episodes that feature a stand-a-lone story and differ from the series main plot, such as the episodic contained within the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Collection, however when it comes to Hakouki – A Memory of Snow Flowers things are a bit different. You see in this collection each episode follows on from each other to make its own series, with the episodes themselves taking place in the six month gap between Episode 8 and Episode 9 of the original Hakuoki Anime Series.

Hakuoki_OVA_DVD_Screenshot2

The main story aspect of this OVA series sees Chizuru once again dressing up as Geisha in order to infiltrate the Sumi Inn, as rumours suggest that a group of samurai have gathered at the inn in hopes of attacking the Shinsengumi headquarters. As you’d expect Chizuru agrees to the mission, much to the reluctance of the shinsengumi captains, and a fierce confrontation ensues. What’s interesting is that all of this is resolved within the first episode, with the remaining episodes recapping the events from a different perspective.

The real objective of this series is to fill-in the blanks left out from the previous three series as well as showcase the deeper bonds between Chizuru and the male members of the Shinsengumi clan, as each episode focuses on a single character. For instance the first episode focues on Chiruzu and the main objective, the second episode on the other hands focuses heavily on Saito and his job of protecting Chizuru during the mission. Basically each episode retells the Sumi Inn from a different perspective, some of which will showcase what happened while others will discuss what they heard, so while it may not feature scenes re-used the ending result is all too familiar. Luckily with each main shinsengumi captain getting their screentime there is some variety to be had, for instance in the fourth episode it showcases Heisuke in multiple comical scenarios, one of which involves a bit of meat landing in Toshi’s face, much to the annoyance of Toshi.

Hakuoki_OVA_DVD_Screenshot4

This OVA series tends to have a natural blend of Comedy, Action and Storyline, something which the previous series never had, however watching this OVA series without watching the previous series is not recommended, as there is no character build-up or re-caps, it just simply drops you into the current storyline. It’s not exactly a bad thing, as it means that the story can just get on with it, but it just means that newcomers won’t be able to watch it without feeling partially confused.

Extras:

Following on from the trend set by Hakuoki previous season sets we have the bare minimum of extra content, namely the inclusion of the textless opening and closing song as well as a variety of trailers, some of which have yet to be released within the UK.

Hakuoki_OVA_DVD_Extras

As you’d expect there isn’t much to look at, although the trailers do offer a ‘brief’ insight into alternate anime series, even if most of them are the just the opening song in text less form.

Specs:

Media: DVD 9
Region: 2
Running Time: 2:28:53
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

The Hakuoki OVA Collection, or more correctly known as Hakuoki – A Memory of Snow Flowers, is basically a mini-series that bridges the gap seen within the first series but unlike other OVA Collections fills it with a stand-a-lone story that showcases the bond between Chizuru and the main captain of the Shinsengumi. Despite each episode being a shinsengumis interpretation of the Sumi Inn event each captain (main character) has their own screentime in their own episode with each episode being drastically different from the next.

Hakuoki_OVA_DVD_Screenshot3

It’s a way for the main cast of characters to interact with each other, a feat which is rarely showcased in the main series. For instance Chizuru, Heisuke and a few other members get into all sorts of comical trouble with Toshi in one episode, while in another Saito explains his determination of being a Shinsengumi member. One thing is always apparent though, and that’s Chizuru’s determination in getting better acquainted with the shinsengumi as well as show that she is useful to the group, either if its just as a way to get intel.

In regards to this DVD everything remains as consistent with previous releases, both in quality and presentation. The DVD menu is simple and easy to navigate, while having free reign on the audio options makes it easy to change at will. In other words the Audio & Subtitle tracks can be changed at any time, so there is no need to access the DVD menu each time you want to change the setup (unlike some other titles). Speaking of audio the English Dub isn’t too bad, either I’ve gotten use to the characters or the performance felt much better, but none the less I found myself watching the English dub as opposed to the Japanese subtitle release, although the Japanese version still feels much more natural.

Hakuoki_OVA_DVD_Screenshot5

All in all I found Hakuoki to be more entertaining than the actual series itself, maybe because its half the length (it’s only six episodes as opposed to twelve) but I believe its because it has the right balance of drama, comedy and action – something which the previous series hardly achieved. The only downfall is that you need to have previous knowledge of the franchise (namely series 1), in order to enjoy it, otherwise you are at a loss to who the characters are.

Score: review-stars-3

Hakuoki – The Complete OVA Collection will be available on DVD from the 5th May 2014.

Advertisements

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: