Blu-Ray Review: Hakuoki Season 3 - Dawn of the Shinsengumi (2012)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Friday, December 13, 2013 0 comments

Hakuoki: Dawn of the Shinsegumi is the third season of this samurai drama which is based on a video game series.  This season is actually a prequel series to the events that happened in the first season and goes as follows.   Ibuki Ryunosuke is in the middle of the forest left to die after being beaten half to death.  A stranger walks up to him offering him a rice ball and asks him "Do you want to live?".  Ibuki reaches for the rice ball but the stranger drops it on the ground but Ibuki goes after it anyway.  The stranger goes on about how much of a pitiful samurai he is for choosing survival over honor and then Ibuki passes out.  Ibuki wakes up in the building where the newly moved in Roshigumi (soon to be known as the Shinsengumi).  Ibuki has a bit of a rough first impression as he is very rude to them and then the Roshigumi tell him to go thank the guy that saved him before he even thinks of leaving.  He goes to him and finds out that he is a very mean man that likes to treat people like dirt.  Ibuki doesn't like his attitude but sadly he still has to repay him for getting his life saved and ends up becoming his servant.  Turns out the rest of the guys don't like him either and his attitude has even driven some of the members craving for blood lust but sadly they are going to have to let him live as without him they don't have a home.  From here on in we see all the events that lead up to season one of this show through the eyes of Ibuki.  Does he (by "he" I really mean "me") see good or does he see bad in the events that will soon follow?  Find out after the jump.  (Click "Read More" to read the full review).

Story in this season is good but fails in comparison to the first two seasons and OVA (Original video animation) series.  The problem I have with it is that it is very shallow and doesn't really add anything to the Hakuoki series as a whole.  Not to say that this series is boring as there are some interesting things that happen in the story but I really wish they beefed it up with some stronger storytelling.  I did really enjoy an origin scene they had about one of the younger members and I do wish that they had more scenes in this show like that as it would've added more depth to the show and make it less shallow.  The seeing the show through the eyes of Ibuki was a little forced and probably could've been done without it.  While I wasn't fond of that element I did like the character as I found his cowardly behavior to be charming although I can easily see people disliking him as he is defiantly a like him or hate him kind of character due to him being a stereotypical anime wimp.  The other characters in this show are good but are watered down a little for this season but not enough to where you dislike them.  The jerk that I mentioned before defiantly pulls it off very well to the point where the way he treats the other characters has got me mad and just like how they felt I wanted to see someone slice him down.  There are some action scenes in this show that I really enjoyed and those scenes were quite atmospheric too to the point where I had a very uneasy feeling.  This show was also surprisingly very bloody but nothing too hardcore but still quite a bit of blood nonetheless.

Artwork has improved in this season with very clean art that doesn't look grainy during the night scenes (like the prior seasons).  Characters also look pretty good but some of them do look a little generic.  Background sets are also good with some nice detailing on the buildings.  I have no problems with the animation as it was done well and it doesn't decrease in quality during the action scenes.  English dub is good and matched up with the characters for the most part but there were some voices that felt like that they should've been attached to other characters instead.  Soundtrack sounds good but it is also quite forgettable.

In the special features section you get text-less opening and closing sequences.  They do look pretty good art wise but they really don't interest me in the slightest.  Overall this was a decent series that is worth at least one watch but is defiantly the weakest season out of the entire series (so far).  Good but not great.

Title: Hakuoki Season 3 – Dawn of the Shinsengumi
Animation Studio: Studio DEEN
Genre: Animation/Anime, Drama, Action
Running Time: 288 Minutes (12 Episodes)
Distributor: Hanabee Entertainment (
Rating: MA15+ (Strong animated violence)
Price: $64.99
Recommended: Yes


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