Onihei

Title:Onihei
鬼平
Overall:Rent
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: HORIUCHI Kenyuu
In the late Tokugawa period, Hasegawa Heizou Nobutame leads the Edo prefecture Anti-Arson and Theft Squad in a fierce crackdown on crime, which earns him the nickname among criminals of 'Heizou the Demon', or 'Onihei'.

13 episodes
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent Stretch [series:3315#628]
(All episodes watched):

The story in episode one was balanced and intriguing, rather than the simplistic and predictable stuff that we often get from anime. I wouldn't be surprised if the episodic subplots were sometimes based on true stories. I remained interested throughout the episode, even though my initial feeling had been that Samurai era shows were as common as dirt and this one probably wouldn't be any better than the rest. In fact, I was impressed by the professionalism behind it. The fact that Hasegawa's son and daughter are both introduced to us suggests that they too will play parts in the ongoing story; it's encouraging to see characters being prepared in a disciplined way for roles later on.

I got the impression from episode one that this show was going to be about Kumehachi, a thief turned police spy who was the main character in the episode, but in fact the one continuing character is Heizou Hasegawa, the leader of the arson and theft squad. Most episodes introduce a new character who usually acts as the main character while the likeable, laid-back Heizou provides continuity. The criminals are sometimes people you can sympathize with; not just 'good guys versus bad ones'. The stories are well balanced; they grab your attention without wasting time, and are sophisticated enough to be rewarding to watch. Some sort of surprise/irony is typically in store in regards to the way they work out--like the professional assassin who was also on a quest to find the man who killed his father. He seemed so good as to be almost invulnerable, yet got his comeuppance in a startling way. There was a moral to the story. You get the feeling that some definite effort was put into writing these stories, rather than them being cranked out as part of the mass production of mediocre anime. The sexuality can sometimes get pretty explicit, like in the episode in which a prostitute plays a major part, and around every other episode includes a savage swordfight with plenty of blood getting spilt. The general effect is of a show which was definitely meant for adults rather than children or teenagers.

Some episodes, however, are better than others. The morals behind episodes six and seven seemed weaker and less moving than previous ones. The revelation that Heizou's daughter is adopted and is actually the daughter of a thief seemed to me like a major plot element that ought to be slowly and carefully developed over numerous episodes--or at least all of one. Instead, it seemed to be hastily trotted out for a quick shock as a subplot of an unremarkable episode. Then the whole thing is quickly forgotten as we are told that what might have been a major problem is in fact no problem at all. That seemed discordant when compared to the quality of previous episodes. The fact that we haven't even learned much of anything about the girl since she was introduced in episode one is indicative of what a waste of potential this was. Episode eight was better. It had a plot which had obviously required at least a little talent to write, and it didn't include the usual bloody swordfight. In fact, there was no violence at all. An entertaining episode without any action can only have gotten it's entertainment value from good writing. Episode nine was interesting as it tells of how in his youth Heizou himself almost wounds up a criminal rather than a law enforcement officer. he's not perfect, which gives him character and makes him more likeable. He has mercy on offenders because there but for the grace of God goes he. Episode ten was tragic and disturbing--again, not children's fare.

There's really no ongoing plot which reaches a climax at the end, just a number of episodic but enjoyable ones. The final episode ended well. I think this was my favorite anime of the Winter 2017 season, and I certainly wouldn't mind another season.


Last updated Thursday, April 27 2017. Created Friday, January 27 2017.

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