The latest anime from Ufotable, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu, just wrapped up this past weekend, and having finished the show, I might as well give my thoughts.
Katsugeki Touken Ranbu is, like Fate/Grand Order and Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, based on a mobile game. Specifically, the game Touken Ranbu, which is written by Nitroplus, and (from what I’ve determined – considering it hasn’t received a US release) structured like Fate Grand/Order, with a premise that borrows some from Kantai Collection.
The concept is that a mysterious group called like the “Time Retrograde Army”, is trying to change history, particularly related to the Bakumatsu period and the Meiji restoration. They are able to send a variety of demonic creatures back through time to attempt to change things. In the game, the player controls a Master, who sends the anthropomorphic personifications of various historical weapons (mainly swords and spears), in the form of pretty boys, back through time.
Katsugeki Touken Ranbu fits with Ufotable’s more recent fare (as opposed to earlier series like 2*2 Shinobuden/Ninja Nonsense), by being a more straightforward action series. This leads to the series being a succession of various very well choreographed action sequences, with a side helping of exposition related to the events leading up to the Meiji restoration.
A lot of the characterization in the show relates to these characters and how they relate to the events of the Restoration – which actually leads to something of an issue for some characters in the show. While three of the leads in one of the parties – Second Squad, have direct connections to events witnessed in the show, most of the rest of the characters don’t have as strong a connection, and if they do, it’s not as explored as heavily. Because each team is made up of 5-6 characters, and because the series is only 13 episodes long, this leads to a whole bunch of characters who don’t get very much in terms of characterization behind some basic character archetypes.
What we do get instead is a show with some basic historical info dumping and some incredibly well animated fight scenes (as if Ufotable was able to animate a fight scene that didn’t look good). The series wraps up with a notice that there’s an upcoming film, but without any information on whether this is going to a new story of a compilation film.
As of this writing, the show is currently available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Anime Strike, but hasn’t been licensed for a physical release.