I admit that I love Touken Ranbu anime. But for some reason, I feel like something seems off with the anime version.
“What’s been missing?” I ask myself as I read the comments in the ANN forum.
Is it the storyline? Sure, the storyline may seem dry for some people. But I doubt that it’s the storyline.
In case you’re wondering, I’m not the sort of person who likes to comment on ANN forum. Heck, I don’t even comment much on other people’s blog, Facebook page, and the Facebook group even if I disagree with what most of them said.
Most people who have watched the first few episodes of the anime seemed disappointed with the anime.
Was the anime that bad?
Personally, I don’t find anything bad about the anime.
After all, the anime is produced by ufotable. It’s the same animation studio who produced anime like Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, God Eater, and Tales of Zestiria.
Knowing ufotable quality, I don’t doubt their ability to produce the anime.
Still, what’s missing from the Touken Ranbu anime?
The missing piece in Touken Ranbu anime
During the final few episodes of the Touken Ranbu anime, I finally began to realize the missing piece that I’ve been searching for.
After watching it for almost close to the end, I realize that the anime doesn’t even have a prominent villain.
In other words, there’s no absolute final boss in the anime where the rest of the disturbance will be over once the boss is defeated.
Think of it like Tales of Zestiria. Sorey already knows who he has to defeat in order to put an end to everything. And the world is able to live in peace and harmony once he did that.
But in Touken Ranbu anime, we only know that Time Retrogade Army is the enemy that they have to defeat.
Sure, we already know the enemy. But we still have no idea who’s controlling these shadow-looking creatures and why they want to alter the history so badly.
I can’t say for sure if the game itself already revealed the actual villain. But it looks to me that the game, which is the source material doesn’t seem to have one.
Do you even need to have one?
Depending on the storyline, it’s not necessary for you to assign a villain in your story. Just take a look at my book, The Diary of Modern Cinderella.
Sure, Risa’s stepmother is doing a lot of nasty things to her. But do you consider her stepmother to be the villain in the story?
Well, some would argue that she can be classified as a villain. But not in the sense that she’s doing something that is deemed to be pure evil.
But for the most part, we don’t see her as a villain in a typical fashion.
But in Touken Ranbu anime, it looks odd to me that there’s no prominent villain in the anime. Sure, the anime takes an unexpected turn since ufotable doesn’t want the anime version to differ that much.
So, I understand why they’re doing it.
It’s not the exact video game adaptation
In case you’re not familiar with Touken Ranbu, Touken Ranbu is a browser-based mobile game. The game is also available on Android and iOS.
What makes Touken Ranbu anime adaptation is different than any other video game adaptation is that it’s not a direct adaptation.
Instead of having one of the starting swords as the main character for the anime, we have Izuminokami Kanesada as the main character.
If you want to play the game in the hope of playing as Izuminokami Kanesada, then it’s unfortunate that you won’t get him until later in the game.
Not only that, the storyline for the anime isn’t the same as the game. The only thing that remains the same is Time Retrogade Army. And it’s not clear who’s the actual person behind Time Retrogade Army and why they want to alter the history so badly.
With no clear actual figure behind Time Retrogade Army in the game, it makes sense why the anime itself doesn’t even have one.
Will the anime become much better with a clear villain
If we follow the storytelling formula, then yes. The story will become a lot more interesting because of the added stake on their line.
After all, the Ootachi that Tonbokiri fought so hard is only just the beginning. There are something far more sinister awaits them, which is far worse than the Ootachi that gets in their way back then.
And it will also make Horikawa wanting to save Hijikata becomes even more concrete since someone else is tempting him to betray the second unit and alter the history.
Of course, with the existence of the actual figure behind the Time Retrogade Army is no longer just the second unit’s concern. I bet that the Saniwa will also assign the first unit to come and after this actual figure as well.
But the hardcore fans won’t allow that
If you’re a fan of the game, you probably don’t even want anyone to alter the storyline beyond the recognizable.
Sure, they can accept that Saniwa is a young man in Katsugeki Touken Ranbu instead of making it genderless. Other than that, I don’t think they will allow any more modification to the franchise.
So, it’s understandable why they don’t just add another new character to justify the actual figure behind Time Retrogade Army. After all, the game itself doesn’t even have one.
I’m not sure whether they consider having another character behind the Time Retrogade Army. Even if they do, they may have to scrap the idea since it may get a backlash from the Touken Ranbu fans.
But then again, not having one will only make the anime feels like it’s missing something.
Now I understand how hard it is to adapt something and try to keep both sides of the fanbase to be happy. So, kudos to ufotable for taking a leap of faith to adapt Touken Ranbu.