Legend of the Eight Dog Warriors
The Hakkenden
The Hakkenden: Legend of the Dog Warriors
THE 八犬伝
Keywords: , , , , , , ,
Notables: HISAKAWA Aya
OOKI Tamio
R1 License - Pioneer (Defunct)
SEKI Toshihiko
The Eight Dog Warriors: Eight [samurai] warriors of differing pasts and common tragedy must unite and restore the honor of their spiritual mother's clan.

[OVA, 1990-91, 6 episodes, 24 min; see also the sequel "The Hakkenden: Shin Shou"]
Episode Details 
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Unevaluated Devil Doll [series:130#752]
I watched "The Hakkenden" in an Anime Night on German TV (VOX), most likely in 2003 (albeit the German Dub was released in 2004) and in several blocks of two hours each with a week of time in between.

The only memory of this show that remained for me was the excessive violence, which kept me from trying to get a copy and watch the story with more time to think it over. Thus I never wrote a review about it here, as I wouldn't be the target group and my rating would be meaningless for fans of the genre. And I may well not have watched the final episodes at all.

Last updated Tuesday, May 28 2013. Created Tuesday, May 28 2013.
Buy 6 6 6 9 9 8 Ggultra2764 [series:130#1552]
This is quite the underrated gem as I haven't seen many reviews of it mentioned online. Before I cover the highlights to Hakkenden, I might as well cover the obvious issue with the series in the form of its animation. The series is notable for having gone through various animation teams throughout its run and it shows with the differing animation quality and styles that get employed in the title's different scenes. In the better animated parts of the series, characters looks quite lifelike and well detailed in their designs as they look exactly as they would in 15th century Japan, which sticks out from conventionally drawn titles of the early to mid 1990s. At its worst, the characters look quite deformed and cartoon-ish in their designs as they move about and are more simpler in detail. Animated scenes are also a mixed bag here as you get occasions where you see nicely animated and brutal battle scenes or nice imagery coming from the various demons that the eight warriors encounter and instances where either you get enough still shots or choppy-looking movement coming from the title's varying animation styles that were being employed. I'm not too harsh with judging an anime purely on its animation, but there's no denying the inconsistency of it throughout Hakkenden may be a big turnoff for folks and is still a glaring issue with the series.

If you can look past the visuals though, you'll find a rather engaging title mixing traditional samurai story with elements of Japanese supernatural folklore. The series is a tale depicting the eight reincarnated offspring of a demonic-possessed dog and princess Fuse of the weakened Satomi clan who slowly reunite to come together to restore their old clan to power. In terms of plot, Hakkenden is mostly focused on the slow reunification of the eight Dog Warriors as they learn more of their origins and have frequent encounters with demons and corrupt feudal lords, events that are usually instigated by the main antagonist of the series in the form of the demon Aboshi, with the first episode covering how the union between Fuse and the dog came about. The final episodes then focus on the eight reuniting with the Satomi clan to reclaim control over the land and having their final confrontation with Aboshi. While the plot seems simple in setup, the title's focus on its characters and time period add quite a bit of depth to Hakkenden.

Many of the major characters in the series are fleshed out and you come to learn that the eight dog warriors share a connection through having tragic and violent pasts attributed to their unique upbringing and the time period in which they are brought up. This offers up a fresh approach to a historical title like Hakkenden where rather than the series glorify and romanticize the Sengoku era, the series focuses on the cruel reality of the era with political instability and violent warfare about. You have feudal lords caring more for their selfish needs than the well-being of others, families willing to give away their children to political figures for arranged marriage to either gain money or status, corrupt feudal lords willing to kill off anyone to save face for situations that cause the slightest of imperfections for their image and absolute loyalty/ devotion to feudal lords having its moral downfalls. To my knowledge, this was one of the first anime titles that offered such a focus for its historical setting and Hakkenden explores the problems of the early Sengoku era very well.

Another notable element to Hakkenden is its music. Consisting mostly of light and traditional musical pieces, the various musical tracks are pleasant on the ears, flow nicely with the title's major scenes and offers one of the more beautiful sounding OP tracks I've heard in an anime.

Hakkenden's historical focus, violence (plenty of dismemberment, blood and onscreen deaths are present here) and inconsistent animation make this a series that won't be for everyone. But if you have interest in historical anime and can look past the mentioned issues with the series, Hakkenden is an engaging experience with its rich cast of characters, supernatural elements and believable approach to exploring the early decades of Japan's Sengoku era.

Last updated Tuesday, May 28 2013. Created Tuesday, May 28 2013.
Watch 7 5 6 0 8 0 KBanger1 [series:130#1694]
I've completed a series without falling asleep in one day. What kept me awake was the interesting plot. In the first episode I thought I was gonna see some bestiality but gratefully I was wrong. The story though is based on eight men who were born (or really reborn) as the Hakkenden or Dog Warriors. This came about during the time of two feuding clans. One clan was asking for help from the other. The other clan took this as a sign of weakness and tried to overthrow them. The plot basically boils down to those warriors. These men were born from a princess and a demon dog. It's kinda weird for me to say that but it's the truth. I can't divulge anything else because it would give away the entire plot. By far, although it was a bit complex, the story in itself was very good. It had love, betrayal, and all that other stuff. What the main idea of the story IMHO is a question. Is destiny what you make of it? Like in the movie, "The Matrix".

What disappointed me was the animation. It looked like I was watching 2-3 different things. At first, it looked like any old school type of animation. Then, after the first few mins it was like watching a toddler with a pencil. After that, it looked like present day japanese animation. It was just confusing on how I should take it. It's either the animators were drunk, the director, or all of them. I choose the latter of the three. The animation wasn't consistent and to me that's what made me not take it as serious as I would a good anime. It's a real disappointment when you have a very good story in your hands and then turn it into a mound of dog crap (pardon the pun). Had it been consistent and the staff were all on the same page, this would have easily been a 'buy'. If you know someone who has it, just watch it. If you're going to rent it, I suggest you have an open mind of inconsistency because there is a lot of that in this series. I like to keep with my 3 rules of reviewing. One of which is the animation. Bad animation + good story = mediocre anime.

Last updated Sunday, February 24 2008. Created Sunday, February 24 2008.
Rent 4 5 8 9 10 10 poneru [series:130#638]
I basically agree with everything said by the previouse reviewer.crappy animation. good plot. I would reccomend you watch this series, but i had to watch it a few times before i realized just how good the plot was, so you whould probably rent this.

Last updated Thursday, June 05 2003. Created Thursday, June 05 2003.
Rent 5 10 10 10 10 Kaitou Juliet [series:130#137]

Wow. This is a masterpiece, even flawed as it is. And sadly, it is deeply flawed.

First, the bad news: The artwork is wildly inconsistent. My grade of 5 for the artwork reflects an average for the whole series, but there are at least three different art styles. The first, which covers about one-third to one-half the series, is some of the most beautiful stuff I've ever seen. The second, which covers all of episode 4 and some other sequences toward the middle of the series, is a much simpler, cartoony style which takes some getting used to but is not too unpleasant. And then there's the third style, which I found absolutely horrifying: greyish, blobby faces with oversized teeth. I couldn't even recognize the characters except by their clothes and voices. Fortunately, it is only seen for one episode toward the end, and the original style returns for the climax.

Now the good news: the plot and characters are riveting. Based on a classic Japanese novel, this is the grandfather of all "assemble x number of warriors to accomplish task y" plots. I watched the last 6 episodes in one sitting because I just couldn't tear myself away. The story has a strong Japanese fairy-tale feel and the visuals include many symbolic, atmospheric images: the bridge, the flower petals, the red pinwheels, etc. The music is also very beautiful and effective.

I watched a mix of subtitled and dubbed episodes. The acting on the dub is pretty good, although the characters do sound a bit surfer-ish.

Bottom line: A fascinating and powerful experience in spite of the uneven artwork.

Last updated Monday, February 04 2002. Created Monday, May 14 2001.
Rent 10 10 10 9 10 9 o [series:130#15]
Despite the high grades I give the first three episodes of this 13 ep OAV, "Hakkenden" is crippled by the problem of differing production. What begins as exceptional detail and realism in both art and animation falls to utterly painful levels on the 4th episode because of change in crew. I have yet to watch beyond the 4th, just because I find the change in art too painful. ^_^ However, the less visually sensitive should give this a chance with its epic story.

Last updated Monday, September 13 1999. Created Monday, September 13 1999.

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