What They Say:
The battle at Koufu Castle has been lost, the Furies are no longer restrained by daylight, and while the individual members of the Shinsengumi still survive, the links that bound them together have been torn and shattered. As Harada, Shinpachi, and Saito try to fight their way out of Koufu, Chizuru holds true to her oath to Hijikata, standing guard over Kondou, while he and Okita fight to recover from their gunshot wounds. And Hijikata faces the greatest test of all. Having partaken of the Water Of Life, he must now balance his humanity against a need for blood and the deeds the Fury’s power makes possible. Is saving the lives of those he cares about worth the ultimate sacrifice? Because no matter how skilled they are, no matter how brave, not everyone will survive the epic conclusion of the Hakuoki saga. Swords flash, heroes die and the fires of war ignite in the thrilling second motion picture of HAKUOKI: WARRIOR SPIRIT OF THE BLUE SKY
The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounded wonderful in my surround sound. It definitely makes it feel like you are watching a feature film with the quality audio instead of watching a single episode of the anime. Also, as this had a lot of action, the sounds such as sword clashing was distinct or feet clattering of floorboards added to the overall presentation. In addition, the soundtrack was very good, both the instrumental score and theme songs.
Studio Deen is the animation producer and always does well when it comes to bishounen oriented anime. The color and light usage is superb to create breathtaking scenes both during the day and at night. They did a good job with the transition to the post samurai era in Japan. As always, they created detailed backgrounds and meticulous attention to costuming of the era. I would have liked to see how sharper the images were on Blu-ray versus the DVD release.
For this DVD version, it’s fairly simple. The images chosen are well representative of the film both on the case and the disc. When looking at the back of the case, it does display much like a featured film would with screenshots tiled towards the bottom. The screenshots are very action oriented and thankfully this time it is not focused mostly on Chizuru. There is a bigger emphasis on the environment and action.
The menu cover is the same as the case cover with easy to navigate selections of movie, language, scene select and special features. The theme song plays on repeat during the menu screen. The colors and design from the packaging carries over into the menu.
Extras: Japanese and Sentai trailers. A one-page glossary is included in case.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second Hakuoki compilation film starts a few months after the last film ends. It’s March 29, 1968 and war continues, but this time with cannons and guns. Chizuru continues to be with what remains of the Shinsengumi. Hijikata orders Chizura to stay by Kondou’s side as his bodyguard until he comes back with reinforcements. He makes her promise to stay alive.
They group is surrounded with quick healing furies attacking them. Kondou struggles with what to do regarding his orders from the Bakufu. He knows he should order a retreat to save lives, but is conflicted by his deeply ingrained samurai code, which he has always lived with. Meanwhile, Kazama and company decide to break things off with the Satsuma and hide their people from humans.
The concern about the furies that move around during the day is a major issue for the Shinsengumi. There are those in the Shinsengumi that decide to leave and fight the war in their own way and not become furies. Hijikata continues to work day and night and there is much tension and worry amongst the Shinsengumi.
Hijikata, worn out and strained, struggles with his control of his fury side. Chizuru offers her blood to him, but he refuses to the point he pushes her out of his room. By sheer willpower alone, he fights this new side of him with Chizuru not being able to do anything, but worry.
Both the Shinsengumi and the demons hunt the out of control furies. New information is given to them that the furies have a very limited lifespan in exchange for their power. They are warned to not overuse their power or they will face the consequences. Chizuru feels guilty about the situation and Hijikata tries to reassure her.
The Shinsengumi find themselves suddenly surrounded by 200-300 soldiers. Kondou decides to take the lead in handling the situation despite Hijikata’s insistence that he go and provide the diversion. Kondou orders them to go which cause Hijikata to feel rejected, but Hijikata only wants to protect his friend and commander.
They try to escape, but are still confronted with soldiers. Hijikata takes care of the first wave, but the next wave has guns. Hijikata utilizes his fury powers to save the remainder of his men and Chizuru. Hijikata is mourning the loss of Kondou and orders Chizuru away, but she refuses. She tries to reassure him by staying by his side.
April 30, 1868, Chizuru and Hijikata are on their own. They decide to go to Aizu, but first Hijikata asks Chizuru to wait at a teahouse for him. She waits all day for him, but is instead left behind to stay safe as he continues to go forward for war. Saddened and no place to go, she stays put and overhears a conversation that Kondou will be beheaded.
She leaves to attend the execution and sees Okita trying to make the trek as well. His tuberculosis is worsening, but decides he wants to use what’s left of his life to save Kondou. They both miss the beheading due to Okita’s worsening condition. Okita is angry at Hijikata for leaving Kondou and wants to speak to him directly.
Okita goes off on his own and Chizuru meets again with the young man that delivered Hijikata’s letter to her. She goes with him and meets with Harada again. She’s told again to leave the Shinsengumi and tells Harada she only wants to be with Hijikata again. He decides to support her in this and helps her get a start on finding Hijikata.
While running away, Chirzuru falls off a cliff and is found by Kazama. It is here she gets to talk one on one about her devil background. Patiently, he explains his actions and more about her past and family. Kazama confronts Chizuru about her plan to follow the Shinsengumi. He sees humans as weak and corrupt and feels Chizuru should leave them alone. He challenges her if she can stop Kodo, who she considered her father, and she said she could. She teams up with Kazama who will give her aid for now.
He shows Chizuru the remains of their home and bits of her memory surface. Kazama tells Chizuru more about her family and she comes to accept who she is. Kaoru shows up and asks Kazama to step aside, but he declines and vows his protection to Chizuru, the last head of the Yukimura family. Kaoru says he’s her old brother by blood and their swords are a pair. Kaoru and Kazama’s philosophy doesn’t line up and they battle showing the real power of devils. Chizuru is kidnapped during their fight. Kaoru runs away, but doesn’t let Kazama follow them.
Chizuru is brought to Kodo, which is witnessed by Heisuke and decides to investigate. Sannan is already inside speaking to Kodo. Kaoru is told by Kodo that Sannan gave them intel regarding the Bonari Pass and see him as an ally. Heisuke saves Chizuru and Kaoru is about to lead a fury unit to the wipe out the rest of Shinsengumi at Aizu. Kodo reveals he deceived the Yukimura family and will use Chizuru’s blood to turn humans into real devils. Sannan asks if he can take care of Heisuke himself, but instead takes care of the furies. Kodo who escapes shoots him. The two of them are left to take care of the remaining furies and are saved by Kazama, who also killed Kodo.
Kazama lets them both go and sends Heisuke to deliver Chizuru to Hijikata and the remainder of the Shinsengumi. They find Saito and he catches them up to speed on what has been transpiring. They send Chizuru to Sendai where Hijikata is. Saito and Heisuke stay behind in Aizu to buy time for Hijikata and his forces.
Heisuke dies in battle and Saito is left alone until Okita arrives to lend a hand while still looking for Hijikata. Okita and Saito meet up with Kaoru and his forces. Okita provokes Kaoru in attacking and cuts him down. He too meets his limit and uses up his power as a fury. Saito drinks the Water of Life and continues pushing forward to what seems like a never ending reinforcements of furies.
Kazama helps Chizuru again to look for Hijikata with the knowledge that Hijikata might be dead. Kazama vows he must kill all furies even Hijikata at some point. He begs her not to go, but when she said she must, he lets her go. She runs right into the battle and gets blown to the side and Hijikata finds her. He takes her in and mends her. She finally states she wants to be with him always and will bear his burdens with him. Hijikata admits his reason to stay alive is to protect Chizuru as he has fallen for her too.
Promoted to Vice Minister, Hijikata is not done fighting the war. On their way to the front lines, Hijikata is shot and badly wounded. Even though he is bleeding profusely, he still protects Chizuru from a fury attack. She tries to stop the bleeding, but isn’t able to do so. She won’t allow him to die and gives him some of her blood.
Kazama takes this opportunity to face Hijikata. They fight and Kazama decides Hijikata is not like the furies he is trying to get rid of. He states Hijikata is a real devil and gives him a devil name – Hakuoki. It is noted here that Hijikata’s eyes turn from red to gold. Kazama lost the fight and leaves. Hijikata and Chizuru are finally able to live their lives together with the war now completed.
The Hakuoki franchise really does an amazing job with character and costume designs. For aesthetics, Hakuoki is very pleasing to the eye. There is a variety of male character with unique personalities and appearances. This is obviously intentional to appeal to wide prominent female audience.
I still struggle with Chizuru’s character. She’s the sole surviving heir to the Yukimura family. She is a devil and her blood is unique and amazing, but the only thing she does heroic in the whole film is save Hijikata at the end with her blood. While it can be viewed that her strength comes from her devotion and love for Hijikata, it seems to fall a little flat for heroine. She even said in the film after mending something, “After all, this is about all I can do.”
Beyond that, I really have nothing I can complain about. The ending was wrapped up nicely with a flashback of all the Shinsengumi in their original uniform to honor those that have passed away. I would really like to someday compare the Blu-ray version as again the animation lacked the crispness that’d I have come to expect from a Studio Deen production.
These compilation films are a great way to see both seasons of the series in shorter time. Also, as a disclaimer, I watched the film with Japanese language and English subtitles.
Features: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, English subtitles
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: C+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Running Time: Disc 1 (95 minutes)
Video Encoding: 480i
Aspect Ratio: 16 x 9 Anamorphic
Samsung HLS5687WX/XAA 55″ 1080 DLP, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Kenwood 600 watts 5.1 surround sound.