DVD Review: Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – Season 2
09/09/2016 Leave a comment
We continue to look for the Eight Dogs of the East in this second season of the anime; but will we ever find them? Who knows; but what can you expect to receive from this DVD release of Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – Season 2? Well let’s find out!
Forced to choose between death and an unnatural life bound to the living sword Murasame, Shino Inuzuka chose the sword. Now, however, in the bloody aftermath of his transformation and Kohaku’s death, Shino’s awareness of the true scope of his bond with Murasame has expanded. Is he truly a curse to all who meet him?
In the end, the focus must return to the mysterious beads which started everything. What exactly are their origin and powers? Who and where are the holders who have not yet been located? And what are Rio Saotome and the Imperial Church’s real roles in all of this? Does the woman who is “She,” hold the answers?
The seemingly never-ending-adventure continues in Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – Season 2 and while a spiritual-styled action adventure storyline is promised it’s nothing more than a ridiculous hunt for majestic beads that just doesn’t want to end. Of course I could be harsh, as Hakkenden isn’t to my personal tastes, but with a series this slow-paced and unentertaining then it’s not too difficult to see why it’s hard to get excited about this show. Truth be told some interesting revelations take place within this second season of the show but by time they do take place it’s all too late.
Despite being classed as a ‘second season’ Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – Season 2 is nothing more than a continuation of the storyline seen within the first season and as such there is no recap of prior events, nor is there a new goal in sight; it’s pretty much the same as before. What exactly was that? Well it was a story that sees Shiro and Sosuke, at the command of Church Priest Satomi, attempt to track down mysterious beads in order to prevent princess Tama-Azusa from resurrecting. How these beads are used once collected are unknown; but in turns out that eight beads exist and each bead is tied to a particular person with unique abilities and these eight individuals come together to form the ‘Eight Dogs of the East’ which, from my understanding, are used to protect the land if princess Tama-Azusa does end up becoming resurrected. It’s a relatively interesting premise, and one that would suggest several episodes of searching and self-exploration, but in actuality these bead holders just appear on screen when needed or when it’s relevant to the storyline at hand.
For example an early episode sees Shiro and Sosuke on an errand for a higher member of the church to which upon arriving (and after two episodes worth of events) they discover the person making the item they have come to collect is actually a bead holder. A similar event happens when someone (Dousetsu) from Shiro and Hamaji’s past arrives within the city looking for his missing sister by which at the end of the episode he is revealed to be a bead holder. What’s even more disappointing is that upon discovery of these characters, and their beads, they will not appear within the series until it’s absolutely relevant to the story at hand. Some would suggest that this isn’t a problem, as it is classed as good storytelling or pacing from the director, but in my eyes if you’ve spent a decent amount of time investing in the characters backstory then it should be worth including them at any given chance; especially when they are supposedly considered an important part of the overall story.
In my eyes the events of some of these episodes become redundant and act nothing more than filler content to the real story that’s unfolding; a story which doesn’t actually start until the twenty-fourth episode of this twenty-six episode long series. The past twenty-four episodes may have seen Shiro and Sosuke collecting beads, and preventing Sosuke’s shadow, known as Ao, from stealing them, but by the time the twenty-fifth episode comes around you’ll see a different story unfolding; one that sees Ao stealing Sosuke’s life-force and humanity in order to use it for his own purposes while another ‘mysterious character’ lurks in the background plotting her own desires. For me Hakkenden is just one big utter piece of disappointment that never wants to stop; it has interesting elements, such as the spiritual powers of the characters and Sataomi’s checkered past with Shiro and his village, but everything seems to be quickly overlooked to focus on a storyline that just isn’t as important.
Disappointing elements of the series aside the bonus features included with Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – Season 2 are pretty much what you would expect to receive and remain consistent with the previous Season 1 release. For starters the bonus materials, which consists of Textless Songs and Trailers, are separated across the numbers DVD Discs; namely Disc 1 with a selection of trailers by Sentai Filmworks and Disc 2 with the textless songs.
As mentioned the first DVD disc contains the numerous trailers produced by Sentai Filmworks; each of which mostly consist of the opening song in textless form. Although a wide-range of trailers are included only two are currently available within the UK, namely Fate Stay Night and Hakuoki.
The second DVD disc on the other hand contains the textless opening and closing songs; both of which are ‘to be expected’ in releases such as this. Of course once again it’s not a ‘large’ selection of bonus features but when it comes to a Sentai Filmworks originally produced show such as this then it is pretty much the norm.
Media: DVD 9 x3
Running Time: 1:40:44 (Disc 1 & Disc 2), 2:06:40 (Disc 3)
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 480 (480p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 30 fps
Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – Season 2 is a release which continues the story laid out in the first season, whereby Shiro and Sosuke join forces with Satomi in order to track down eight beads which will lead them to their owners and stop the evil princess from resurrecting. Of course that is the ‘hook-line’ into this series; but the real story is the relationship between Shiro, Sosuke, Satomi and the mysterious sosuke look-a-like known as Ao. It’s an interesting premise but by the time to events of this ‘interesting premise’ unfold it’s all but too late as interest has been lost.
Just like with the previous season Hakkenden keeps its viewers waiting and while some interesting storylines do present themselves, such as the story which sees children ‘spirited away’ or Ao’s true motives, they do nothing to make the series enjoyable or entertaining to watch. Fortunately however this series is more ‘bearable’ than the previous season but thats mostly because we have now become familiar with the characters on screen and what to expect from the series itself.
In regards to this DVD release by MVM Entertainment, with the disc masters originally authored by Sentai Filmworks, then it’s business as usual; but with some positive notes. For starters the thirteen episode series is spread across three DVD discs, so a consistent picture quality is to be expected; additionally issues I had with the first season, such as the poor choice of words during localisation, seem to be fixed. Sure enough the English Dub continues to be a rather distraught experience but if this is your preferred viewing method then at least you have the option in watching it like this. Personally the Japanese audio was best, and as such audio levels – both vocals and sound effects – were at clear and presented levels; so no issues there.
In short Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – Season 2 follows on from the previous series in both content and disappointment; and as such this release is only destined for those that enjoyed the first season and want to continue the series.
Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – Season 2 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray within the UK.