Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru is the story of anthropomorphic Japanese swords and–hey, where are you going? Get back here! There’s some cool time travel stuff, too!
Note: This article contains spoilers for Touken Ranbu – Hanamrau.
In Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru, it is the year 2205 and a group of anthropomorphic historical Japanese swords, called Touken Danshi, are tasked with preserving the natural flow of time from a mysterious army of creatures bent on changing history.
The Touken Danshi are all real swords from history given consciousness and human bodies. They think, breathe, speak, bathe, do chores, and maintain their dwelling while they await the call from their master to prevent the changing of history.
But, given consciousness and the means to travel through time, the swords face the interesting dilemma of having to preserve history–even if bad things come as a result.
History lesson time! One of the Shinsengumi’s famous exploits is the Ikedaya Incident, where the Shinsengumi thwarted an alleged plot to set fire to the city of Kyoto and kidnap an individual of importance.
During the incident, it is said that Okita headed to the second floor of the Ikedaya inn on his own. There, he encountered four enemies. Okita dispatched one of them, but, overcome by his tuberculosis, coughed up blood and collapsed. The remaining three enemies, seeing the speed at which Okita had killed one of their own, despite Okita’s obvious moment of weakness, fled. Okita had not taken his sword, Yamatonokami Yasusada, to the incident.
In the first episode of Touken Ranbu, we are shown that Yamatonokami Yasusada feels guilt that he wasn’t at Okita’s side during the Ikedaya Incident. Okita did not die, but the potential danger he faced is enough to haunt the sword. Yamatonokami Yasusada is also tortured by nightmares of a much more grim outcome that might have happened had he been there.
Then, fate calls upon him. The Touken Danshi are informed that their enemy is attempting to change the outcome of the Ikedaya Incident and are sent to intervene. Among the team sent is Yamatonokami Yasusada.
It’s an interesting quandary that the Touken Danshi face. They have a strong desire to do good, but their duty prevents them from changing anything, even if they know the outcome will be bad. Yamatonokami Yasusada is faced with the conundrum of his duty to preserve history and his wish to prevent harm to his former master.
Fortunately for Yamatonokami Yasusada, the issue is taken out of his hands before he actually is put in a position to weigh his sense of duty against his devotion to his former master, but even by the end of the mission, it is clear the conflict is still within him.
The enemy is not the only one with the ability to change time. The Touken Danshi have it too. The only thing keeping them from abusing it is their sense of duty to their master. The question is if the sense of duty to their current master is greater than their sense of duty to their former ones. It’s going to be interesting to see how Yamatonokami Yasusada and the other Touken Danshi deal with this elephant in the room throughout the series.