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HAKKENDEN: EIGHT DOGS OF THE EAST #1 - - Special Review

Spirits trapped in a limbo of mediocrity.

To spin around the monitor, as it were, I’ve got to confess that writing up shows that spike on either end of the Rock/Suck meter is a lot easier than writing up mediocre ones that hover somewhere in the middle of it. I’ve really been struggling to think of anything worthwhile to say about HAKKENDEN, and that’s been a little strange, since it actually does have a few things going for it.

It’s somewhat of an update of PRINCESS MONONOKE, showing us a Shinto-esque, animal spirit mythology that’s struggling against the encroachment of the modern world (except this time it’s a vaguely-defined “Church” instead of an industrial iron town, natch). There are some real surprises about orphan pariahs and wolves-in-disguise, and there are a handful of spectacularly animated magic battles...

…but it’s also rather messy. As in, it's the kind of mess you try to grab at, and it still manages to squish out through your fingers.

It really isn't the sort of train wreck you’ve seen in many a front-loaded unto-over-stuffed pilot. It just feels like a number of small, but relevant, details have been clumsily forgotten. The omissions aren’t that noticeable on their own, but they do keep adding up steadily until you get to some dramatic reveals (particularly the one with the twins?) and are suddenly confused about how exactly you got there.

The best analogy I can think of it that watching this pilot was like listening to a song where the drummer is maybe a ¼ step off-beat with the rest of the band. You can sense that something isn't in sync with the rest of the work, even if you can’t perceive what it precisely is.

Any of you lunatics feel the same way about this? Or am I just missing the brilliance here?

Watch this episode, "Borders" here and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

RoninAutomatonon Jan. 30, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.

There was a Hakkenden OVA in the 90s that I watched, but have not seen this new series. In general, the Hakkenden story is a re-imagined telling of the Suikoden. Instead of 108 warriors (stars of destiny), there are 8 samurai. Similar to the warriors of Suikoden, the eight samurai of the Hakkenden symbolize a virtue. Specifically to the Hakkenden, the virtues are intended to represent principles of Bushido.

Without going into it too much, the warriors are wrapped up in a heroic tale of destiny with metaphors to dogs, and the Big Dipper constellation.

YotaruVegetaon Jan. 30, 2013 at 3:05 p.m.

This show made me at least wonder if I should watch another episode, so there's that.

I do feel like there are so many things about this world they'd like us to know about, but cramming so much in the first episode was probably too much.

So there are dogs that are people, but then there's a bird that's very important for some reason, and he lives within this kid's arm and there's a girl who looks like a boy and there might be a boy who dresses like a girl or something?

Yes, overstuffed.

Marshal Victoryon Jan. 30, 2013 at 5:25 p.m.

Watched 3 episodes.. an while it was not 3 strikes felt like 3 bunts.Droping it at least for now. Writer suposidly did alot of boys love stuff.. so ya it gets .... odd.Not full on yaio its not.It has good animation its just shame the story is meh.

Wraithon Jan. 30, 2013 at 8:28 p.m.

Apparently the kid with the crow that lives in his arm was born in a village where there's a tradition to dress boys up like girls until a certain age to make them stronger or something

Kino88on Jan. 31, 2013 at 3:42 p.m.

you had me at Mononoke Tom,

Princess Mononoke (1997)
Princess Mononoke (1997)

you had me at Mononoke, :)

Dig Deeper into Hakkenden: The Strange Tale of Eight Dogs of the East

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