Sell Me in 20 Minutes: DD Hokuto no Ken, Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Bride, and Aku no Hana

In contrast to a Thursday featuring a pair of newer directors, Friday was all about veterans coming back to their native style. With results that, frankly, could have been way better.

DD Hokuto no Ken, a chibi Hokuto no Ken parody, was directed by Akitaro Daichi, a comedy director with a star-spangled resume. The show itself was based on a lot of scenes of Hokuto no Ken’s characters acting combinations of overly stoic and overly hot-blooded in a variety of everyday-life scenes, an angle that was fairly hit or miss. The cutesy, simple presentation style was very reminiscent of another AD show, 3-minute charmer Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki. The key difference between the two was that DD Hokuto no Ken was 20 minutes long, and that’s long enough for its repertoire of simple jokes to get old. This one’s a drop.

Hyakka Ryouran’s second season was as exact a continuation of the first one as one could reasonably hope for, given that director KOBUN remains Samurai Bride’s helm. The ink-splatter effects, think-lines on old-timey backgrounds, and selfish cast playing off each other were all basically unchanged. The plot itself was very expansion-packy; “New villains have appeared, you must train and become stronger to defeat them.” However, so long as it doesn’t fall into pure melodrama, that level of generic plot shouldn’t be a deal breaker. I expect it’ll be a fun watch, and I’ll be giving it at least 2 more episodes.

There’s no avoiding the fact that Aku no Hana was a medium-sized disappointment, and the only reason it wasn’t a large one was that I was somewhat wary of how thin Hiroshi Nagahama’s resume actually was. While the soundtrack was mostly good at building up a sense of foreboding (aside from that one scene at the end where it got all carnival-esque), the direction was extremely weak, alternatively lazy (too many fixed camera takes) and heavy-handed (the appearance of the “flower” as a cut-away in various scenes). Further, the character designs were animatronic, jerky, and really just terribly unexpressive. I feel like this show is trying really hard to be a live-action drama, and in doing so is tossing out the unique tools that anime alone has. I was expecting a lot more from this, and I had to force myself to watch past 12 minutes. Unless great, unanimous word-of-mouth starts flowing out on this one in the next several weeks, it’s a drop for me.

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