Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Episode 1: Boys, Swords and Time Travel



The year is 1863, Japan is split between the pro-shogunate and anti-shogunate factions. In this chaotic time, the era of the swords is coming to a close. Horikawa Kunihiro has manifested as a Sword Warrior and is joined by Izuminokami Kanesada, a warrior who served under the same master as him. Sword Warriors are “Tsukumogami”, spirits and willpower that reside within a sword. These spirits are awakened by Saniwa to protect the world from the “Time Retrograde Army,” who were sent by historical revisionists from the future to alter history.

– From AnimeLab


My honest opinion of this is that I’m not really feeling it. Despite spending most of the episode with Kunihiro and Kanesada, I don’t actually know anything about them or care in the slightest about the conflicts they get involved in. Even the random saving of a child that apparently shouldn’t have happened but we’ll all just agree didn’t, isn’t enough to in any way make these characters anything more than shiny characters on a screen surrounded by gorgeous backgrounds that don’t really fit together at all times in a way I’ve come to expect after Tales of Zestiria the X.


That isn’t to say it looks bad. For most of the episode it looks amazing. However, there are other scenes where the characters look beautiful, the background looks beautiful, and they both look like they belong in two different shows. I won’t harp on that though given even if I watched this on my usual set up I’d be viewing it in fairly low resolution and given I snuck a watch of this while travelling I had the video quality on the lowest possible setting just to get it to play.


Outside of the visuals and characters though, we have some guys trying to change the past and other guys trying to stop them. The whole personified sword thing is neither here nor there in making this any more interesting and the sudden appearance of a whole bunch of characters at the end of episode 1 made  for a visually interesting fight sequence but not a lot else.

I’m not dropping this because it wasn’t bad, but neither am I feeling particularly compelled to stick with it after episode 1. We’ll see what happens next and whether I can start caring about the characters enough to get into the story.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


8 thoughts on “Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Episode 1: Boys, Swords and Time Travel

  1. I kinda get what you mean. The only reason I picked this up, tbh, was because it’s animated by UFOTable. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered. I’m entering this with pretty low expectations, but I was intrigued by the premier episode, nonetheless. I’m probably gonna give it 3 or so episodes before deciding what to do with it.

    On a somewhat related note, I just recently finished Tales of Zestiria the X… holy crap wtf was that?…

    1. That was… not good. Admittedly, I’ve seen worse than Tales of Zestiria the X but by the end of the second season, they kind of killed any reason I could think of to watch it.

  2. I’m learning that where Touken Ranbu is concerned is that ones enjoyment is heavily dependent on familiarity with the game series.

    I skipped Hanmaru Touken Ranbu in Winter (as did you) because that first episode was just an enormous character dump. These two sword guys were in that one as well, and seem to be the main pair that the game focuses on (could be wrong here).

    That said, keeping the focus on just these two early on in this series helped a lot, as does ufotable’s animation in getting me to at least watch a bit of it. My main draw is some good sword fights and seeing some semblance of history playing out, so maybe this will deliver. Maybe.

    1. That character dump in Hanmaru was incredibly painful and I just couldn’t bring myself to watch the show. This one works better, but even with a focus on the two characters doesn’t really make me care about either of the characters. Still, giving it a little while to sort itself and by then I’ll probably just be committed to watching it unfold.

  3. For me Katsugeki /Touken Ranbu is sitting between the spot where I feel like I should drop it due to boredom, but it gives me just enough entertainment through the action scenes and such to keep me going for a little longer. One wrong move by this series though and I’ll drop it.
    Definitely won’t recommend this to anyone as it is right now, but it’s not a bad series, it’s sitting right on the border of boredom and excitement.

    1. I have to admit, the action is kind of nice (I’ve watched the next two episodes now), but overall, I’m not entirely sold on this. Still not dropping it, but like you I wouldn’t really recommend it.

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