HAKKENDEN: EIGHT DOGS OF THE EAST

PrintE-mail Written by Gareth Evens

Hakkenden: Eight dogs of the east is about a boy with the spirit of a living sword inhabiting his right arm. Because of this spirit he and his friends find themselves pursued by the imperial church. In their attempt to save a friend kidnapped by the church they come across people who have interacted with spirits in a variety of ways. 

In anime the first series is often used as a way to establish the personality of the main characters, and to reveal something of the world they inhabit before the anime gets to what will be the meat of the show in terms of antagonist, situation and plot. In this regard Hakkeneden: Eight Dogs of the East is no different.  The thirteen episodes in this first series choose to focus their attention on telling us a little about the main characters, showing us how they meet and putting them through a few, largely unconnected adventures. This series does have something of a main mission for the characters but this is something that only really comes  up at the end of the series.  

The benefit of this approach is that the audience is able to feel more familiar with the main cast. It also serves as a way of ensuring that we aren't flooded with new information. Because of this when viewers get to series 2 the writers will be able to delve into the more bizarre elements of the show with confidence.  

These strange elements give Hakkenden a fairy tale like feel. Just like a fairy tale the show can be dark, and intriguing one moment, and quiet and wistful the next. This balance of tone is highlighted best by the character Shino Inuzuka. Thanks to the strange spirit in his arm he hasn't aged physically in five years and appears to be around 13 despite being an 18 year old man. He has more experience than his years shows and can be quite contemplative as a person. At the same time he is still undoubtedly a child and this aspect of his personality provides for a lot of the humour in the show.  

All of these elements are supported by a beautiful art style. The visuals are sharp and striking, with bold colours. This is especially true when Hakkenden delves into its more horror like elements.  

Hakkenden: Eight dogs of the east is an anime for people who love stories about powerful demons and mysterious spirits. If you are looking for a new fairy tale to enjoy then this will be the anime for you. It reveals information to the viewers at just the right pace to keep things interesting, and mysterious.  

Special Features: Japanese commentaries, Clean opening animation, Clean closing animation, Sentai trailers  

HAKKENDEN: EIGHT DOGS OF THE EAST/ CERT: 15/ DIRECTOR: MITSUE YAMAZAKI/ SCREENPLAY: OSAMU YAMASAKI/ STARRING: GREG AYRES, LERALOD ANZALDUA, EMILY NEVES, ANDREW LOVE/ RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
 


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