Image source: アニメ『刀剣乱舞-花丸-』‏ on Twitter

Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru aired during the fall, 2016 season. Now, a year later, a new compilation movie has been released that tightens the story and prepares the viewed for the upcoming second season.

[Note: This article contains spoilers for Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru.]

Based on the browser game, Touken Ranbu, Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru is the story of various Touken Danshi—anthropomorphic Japanese swords—and their neverending battle to protect history from the forces of the Time Retrograde Army. The series mainly centered around the swords of famed Shinsengumi swordsman Okita Sōji, Yamatonokami Yasusada and Kashū Kiyomitsu and the dilemma Yamatonokami faced between his duty to protect time and his wish to protect his former owner.

Touken Ranbu Asks A Difficult Time Travel Question of Its Characters

Aside from the main story of Yamatonokami that decorated the beginning and end of Touken Ranbu, the series spent a good portion of its mid episodes with individual stories about the various Touken Danshi. Over 40 characters were introduced across the entire series.

The new movie, Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru: Makuai Kaisouroku (Interlude Memoirs), takes the time travel dilemma of Yamatonokami Yasusada and pushes it front and center making it the main focus. The entire plot of the movie is told as a retrospective in a letter that Yamatonokami leaves to Kashū before heading out to travel the world. The individual character bits from the series act as dressing that serves to create more of a connection between Yamatonokami and his new family between the first mission and the last. Numerous times throughout the movie we are shown scenes of Yamatonokami tormented by a nightmare of the Ikedaya Incident. While these scenes were in the original series, they were spaced episodes apart, diluting their impact and making the overarching plot more of background noise to the hijinks and entertainment of the other Touken Danshi.

As a result, the plot of the movie feels much more focused and solid. Yes, there are moments of lighthearted slapstick and even a couple of musical interludes, but as a viewer, you never forget the bigger issue that is still going on.

In the end, the movie doesn’t really tell a different story from the TV series, it just tells the same story differently. Each format serves its function. Where much of the TV series served to please fans of the various Touken Danshi, the movie places more emphasis on Yamatonokami and Kashū and the time travel dilemma. It’s more of a pick-and-choose situation where you have options on what kind of story you want.

Image source: アニメ『刀剣乱舞-花丸-』 on Twitter

The movie also shows an awareness for the existence of Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, the ufotable series that aired last season. There is an epilogue scene where the character of Konnosuke who served as the Touken Danshi’s guide Katsugeki makes an appearance. Also, hinting towards the upcoming second season, two Touken Danshi who didn’t originally appear in Hanamaru—Higekiri and Hizamaru—also show up. By rather casually addressing Katsugeki in the characters that appear, the scene also feels like it serves as a transition from the darker, more gritty atmosphere of Katsugeki back to the brighter, more light-hearted feel of Hanamaru. It’s a short scene but it feels inclusive and welcoming and makes for a very warm ending to the movie.

Image source: アニメ『刀剣乱舞-花丸-』 on Twitter

Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru: Makuai Kaisouroku opened in Japanese theaters on December 1. There is currently no word on an international release.

Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll. Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu can be viewed with English subtitles on Amazon Anime Strike, Crunchyroll, and Hulu.

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