Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru is based on the free-to-play video game, Touken Ranbu. As such, elements of the original game find their way into the anime series in various places–some of which you might not expect. The latest kind of made me feel bad about how I play such games.

Note: This article contains spoilers for episode 5 of Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru.

Touken Ranbu is a video game where players randomly summon anthropomorphic Japanese katana using resources, with the rarer, more powerful characters costing far more resources than beginner players can initially accumulate. Players will generally start out with weaker characters and, over time, amass a stronger army. However, parties have limited slots, so–with a robust roster–a lot of the weaker characters end up delegated to the reserves.

This is the way it is with a lot of collectible card/character-based games. But how does it feel for those of middling strength who spend a great deal of time as the main firepower, only to get sent to the bench once a shiny new unit is drawn?

This is the issue facing the character, Kashū Kiyomitsu, in the fifth episode of Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru. Another sword used by legendary swordsman Okita Sōji, Kashū Kiyomitsu is a sword of moderate strength and, as such, often leads missions under the orders of his master. However, things change when the legendary sword, Mikazuki Munechika, is finally summoned.

Often regarded as the most beautiful of the greatest five swords in Japan, in the video game, Mikazuki Munechika is one of the rarest characters and is prized as a must-have for every player.

In the anime, Kashū Kiyomitsu immediately feels threatened by Mikazuki Munechika’s arrival. As someone who has faithfully served his master and strived tirelessly to perform his duties, Kashū Kiyomitsu feels that he and other weaker swords will soon find themselves warming spots on the reserves’ bench now that the big guns are in the house.

As a veteran player of Kantai Collection–the game Touken Ranbu based its system on–I recognized the pattern of replacing characters when newer, more powerful characters are obtained. Watching Kashū Kiyomitsu go through mixed feelings of resentment and dismay when everyone else is rejoicing the addition of a star player made me feel pangs of guilt for all the times I’ve obtained the really rare characters, trained them up, and immediately popped them in the lead roles while dismissing the other characters who used to serve as the ace of my team.

Watching the episode, I ended up feeling pretty crummy for how I’d treated characters who had strived to bring me victory, only to be tossed aside for the latest new rookie. Yes, we’re talking about video games here, but I still wanted to go back and apologize to those I feel I had wronged.


Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru can be viewed on Daisuki and Crunchyroll.

Photo Credit: © 2016 TOUKEN RANBU HANAMARU Project All Rights Reserved.

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