Written by: Nahoko Hasegawa, based upon the manga by Nanae Chrono
Directed by: Tomohiro Hirata
- Clean opening and closing animation
- Production sketches
- Text on DVD insert
- Original Japanese TV spots
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Blood and guts
- Blood spattering
- Blood pooling and congealing
- Innocence lost
Released by: ADV
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Oh, buy it and sing it a love song.
In this first disc, we meet Tetsu and his brother Tatsunosuke, and watch as Tetsu has a scrappy battle with Souji Okita. Tetsu gets accepted, but to Tatsu’s relief, he’s only the page to Okita and does more serving of tea than sword-fighting. Soon, as the episodes progress, we learn more about the brutal Choshu and about the boys themselves, especially their father and why the leader of the Shinsengumi knows their name. Of course, we get something of a clichÃ© as the brat starts to make friends and influence people with his willingness to give up the body for revenge. One after another, he makes friends with powerful allies, but not everything is as it seems, and there are enough signs even in this early disc that Tatsu has a ways to go to find his truth. Watch for comic relief in Tetsu versus the pig.
There’s a lot of talk about humans and demons, and how the boundaries between these groups are very frail. Is it really necessary to give up your humanity to exact revenge? If so, what else can there be for a child who has lost everything, even his innocence? Okita’s wisdom in seeing a lot of Hajimi in Tetsu is quite revealing early in the show, and any clash between political groups willing to kill and/or die for their beliefs, it’s likely to be more grey than black or white.
The features list is rather nice. We get another cool menu, first of all, and the offerings are good as well. There’s the usual, but welcome, clean opening and closing animations, which is particularly nice in this case, as any Gonzo offering is going to have unassailable graphic quality and interest. We also get a nice passel of production sketches, some very cool original Japanese TV spots, and the DVD credits. The disc case insert has additional goodies, however: a reversible cover, brief Q&A text interviews with the director and story editor/scriptwriter, a couple of character profiles, and a couple of little behind-the-scenes essays by writer Nahoko Hasegawa.
If you’re looking for historical accuracy, then you’re better off looking elsewhere. There are some interesting tidbits, but anime, like any Hollywood “historical” creation, is really better off inspiring research on your own than giving you any real insight into the characters of Toshizo Hijikata and the rest. As with any anime title, you get a bit more insight into the modern minds that created the anime than into the history itself. The Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration is worthy of much study, and here’s to hoping that anime such as this one inspires such interest in many a viewer.
The animation is a bit simpler and less about the details than many contemporary series. The result is more dreamlike in the early stages and even more brutal in some places, when the eye has nowhere to rest but on oceans of blood, or the face of a betrayer. The CGI animation is blended nicely with the cell animation, as when Tetsu sits against a backdrop of cherry blossoms or a rainy street. The audio is great; the opening song will have you ready for the action to start, and the look of the opening has a very cool collage-style look.
I can recommend this series to anyone interested in Japanese history, especially the history of the samurai era when Kyoto was the capital and swords ran the world. It’s a relatively short series, only seven discs, and so the action gets going pretty quickly, as do the characterizations. Highly recommended for anyone who likes shows like Rurouni Kenshin, Inuyasha, and Berserk. If you’re after action, intrigue, and depth of character, then look no further than Peacemaker.