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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hakuouki SSL (Sweet School Life) TV Drama - Final Episode

Hakuouki SSL (Sweet School Life) TV Drama - Episode 6, Final Episode

We're at the end already!  Aside from all the repetitive clips, I thought this drama was pretty entertaining.  I think you have to be a Hakuouki fan to appreciate the subtle nuances--like Okita disliking Hijikata no matter what day/age/lifetime; Hijikata's strict/no-nonsense character and fierce calligraphy style, Hijikata's gratuitous half naked fangirl service scene, Itou's character, Nakagura's gambling problem, the academy evolving from Kondo's dojo, the way Kazama still creep-stalks her, Kaoru's sister complex that transcends space/time, and the fact there is one girl in an entire school, the fact that the elixir exists even in the future yet all the characters reject it relying on their own power.   

The more I watch the more I want to think that this is their future.  It's a nice thought to imagine heroic/legendary comrades reborn into a peaceful era, all together again, but this time without the need to stain their hands with blood or conflict with one another.  Instead of the Shogun's lackeys, pitiable lackeys since the Shogun eventually abandoned them to save himself, it's nice to imagine that they could drop that "do honor by your lord/master in both word and deed" mentality, and that the pure essence of what the Shinsengumi stood for is unencumbered in a peaceful future:  Faith, honor, integrity, justice, excellence.

But the storyline is straightforward enough and the reverse harem characters are total bishounen.  Even if you didn't play the games, watching handsome samurai slay enemies or watching bishounen students/teachers beat the cr*p out of gangsters is pretty entertaining. 

I just wish Chizuru was a little bit more...everything.  She's a nondescript character because she's the person you play in a reverse harem so it gives her the flexibility to be the chosen romantic hero's love interest, no matter who you chose.  In a drama role though, it only makes her one of many side characters.  There is no main character in this drama. She's sweet and cute and stuff, she's smart and she's brave so I guess she's got all the basic heroine characteristics.  I just thought in the future she could be less demure, more vocal and outgoing and modern so we could understand why this girl would join a school full of guys.  But maybe we're not supposed to think too much about how this wouldn't work in RL.

Hakuouki SSL (Sweet School Life) TV Drama - Episode 6, [Smile For You] Final Episode, Runtime 25 min.

Kyoto, 1864

We're back to that fateful scene where Chizuru is stabbed by a ronin and she gasps for breath/life.  This time we see the ronin has driven the entire blade into her chest.  Everyone freezes for a moment.  Harada, who is closest, takes down her attacker with a kick and a vicious slice. Chizuru collapses to the ground, gasping for air.

"Yukimura, are you alright?" asks Saito, taking a protective stance in front of her.
"I-I'm fine," she gasps.  "I'll just sit here for a little bit, and I'll be fine."  He spares a look for her.
"Please, just hang on for a little bit longer."

He turns to take out another ronin.  "I will not let the woman I love die."

As they continue fighting, Chizuru gasps for air on the ground.  A figure in white enters the inn behind her.  Kazama sees that she's been injured and his eyes glow red as he watches the melee before him.

"Kazama!" Hijikata yells out.  Everyone in the room freezes.
"K-Kazama?!" cries a ronin.
"K-Kazama!" stammers another.  "Kazama, that demon!"
Kazama draws his blade. "Whomever it was who harmed my bride, I care not who you are, I will not forgive you.  The ronin all cower in fear.
"Get away!"  They all make a hasty retreat.

"Yukimura!" shouts Hijikata, running to her side.  She's still gasping for air as he takes her into his arms.
"Hang in there," he says gently.
"She's injured," scoffs Kazama towards the Shinsengumi.  "But it's your fate to be a demon bride of my clan, and my wife, woman."

"This is not the time for that!" exclaims Heisuke.
"That type of wound will heal quickly," Kazama dismisses.  But Chizuru seems to get worse.
"It's strange..." she gasps.  "My wound...isn't healing..."
"Tch," Kazama glares down at her with concern.  "Could it be you were stabbed in the heart?"  Hijikata looks up at him.
Kazama glares out at the exit through where the ronin escaped.  "I am going to kill them all!"  He draws his sword but Chizuru starts to cough violently.
"Yukimura," Hijikata says with concern.  Everyone watches helplessly.
"I'm so sorry!" she gasps.  "You all went through all this trouble just to save me."
"This was nothing," Hijikata responds emotionally, in a thick voice.  "But for now, save your breath and don't speak."
"That's right," Heisuke says almost in a pleading sob. "Don't worry about stuff like that, Chizuru!"
"Everyone," Chizuru says as her gasps start to slow.  "I am so happy to have been able to make your acquaintance."

Everyone looks like they're about to cry.

"Goodbye" is the last thing she says before her body goes limp.
"YUKIMURA!" Hijikata cries.  Heisuke sobs.

...we were in some other time...
...our fate...
...would it be any different?

(TN: That got dark fast....)

Modern Day, 2015

Chizuru watches in horror as a thug with a switchblade charges her.
"Look out!" calls Harada, and Heisuke, Hijikata and the others all freeze momentarily to see that she's in danger.
"Yukimura!" Saito calls after her.  The audience gets a foreboding sense of deja vu until Harada knocks the blade out of the gangster's hand with his shinai and kicks him back.

Chizuru falls weakly to the ground as her legs give out.  A gangster comes in from the outside and closes the warehouse door behind her.
"Prepare to die!" he shouts as he raises his bokken over her.  But Saito is there to defend her and whacks him painfully in the arm.
"Yukimura, are you alright?" he asks calmly, while keeping an eye on his opponent.
She nods slowly. "F-fine. I'm fine."

Saito knocks her attacker away and smiles gently down at her.  "You are commendable.  Please persevere a little longer."  He goes into the fray to fight again.

Chizuru watches her friends and her teachers fighting fiercely and bows her head, overcome by her emotions.

"How long do you all intend to be so noisy?" Kazama demands as he makes his grand entrance.  Everyone turns to glance at him.
"Whomever dares harm my bride, I don't care who he is, I will not forgive him."

More thugs in the warehouse approach the newcomer to defend their turf but Shiranui and Amagiri are immediately by his side.  They take down the first two with quick jiujitsu moves.
"What the f##k!" cries out another gang member
"Let's get out of here!"  They hastily drop their weapons and head out through the other exit.
(TN: apparently lightning fists are more impressive to gangsters than bamboo shinai.)

Everyone watches as their attackers flee, and then their gaze turns to Chizuru, who is quietly sitting on the floor, staring down at nothing.

Cutscene to a wall clock signalling it's 9 o'clock.
Chizuru is sitting quietly in the teacher's lounge, apparently still in shock by her harrowing experience when Hijikata comes to drape his coat over her shoulders.  (TN: Awwwwwww...! In the game, it was Chizuru who did that for Hijikata when he was recovering from his battle wounds....)
"Why don't you just rest here for a while?" he asks gently.  She says nothing at first.  But as he walks away she says, "I'm really sorry."  He turns to look at her.
"It's because I was taken...everyone was caught up in such a dangerous situation."
"It wasn't a big deal," he responds.  He walks out quietly and she begins to cry.

Hijikata leaves the faculty office and sees the others standing by just outside.
He turns to Kazama's group.  "Why is it that you all came as well?"
"When I was on campus I had known that Yukimura and Ibuki had left together," begins Amagiri.
"That was when Kazama told Amagiri to follow them and observe," added Shiranui.
"Kazama-senpai, you--!" begins Heisuke.
"But, when I informed Kazama that Yukimura had been taken, that was the first time I saw that kind of expression on his face."
"It's true," adds Amagiri.  "It was like a demon."
"It's because I swore that no matter what I, Kazama Chikage, would protect Chizuru," Kazama says quietly.

Behind the door they can all hear Chizuru sobbing and they all stand around helplessly.   Hijikata just clenches his jaw outside and waits.  (TN: OMG one of you go in and give the girl a hug!  Where are her girlfriends??  Guys are so useless....)

Cutscene to Itou-sensei putting up his finished poster for the school festival.  [Hakuou Festival, October 24 - 25, 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.]  A nearby sign indicates [7th Annual Hakuou Cultural Festival].
"It's finally finished," he compliments himself.  He cracks open his fan.  "Behold my strength."  He laughs as he spreads his fan and saunters off.

"It's about time," says Kaoru.  "The school cultural festival starts tomorrow."  Saito says nothing.
"Toudou!" shouts Kaoru.  "You're nearly late to school again.  And you saunter in so slowly, you sure are relaxed."
"Huh?" Heisuke looks up at him, realizing that he was talking.  "Oh, yeah."
"What's wrong?" asks Kaoru.  "You seem down today.  It isn't like you."
"It's nothing," he says.
"That's right," adds Kaoru.  "Chizuru hasn't come to school for two days.  Is she sick or something?"  Heisuke has no response for him.  Kaoru gets distracted by a student trying to run past.
"Hey! Hold on!"

Saito approaches Heisuke.  "How has Yukimura been?"
"At least she's eating," Heisuke responds.  "That's something at least.  But...she still feels responsible and sorry towards us for what happened."

In Harada-sensei's Class 1-1 he's taking role.
Silence.  Harada sensei pauses but then continues on.  Ryunosuke looks at her desk remorsefully.

In Hijikata's Class 2-1, he's also taking role.
"Okita."  No answer.  He looks up to see that Okita is absent.
"Oi, Heisuke," he asks.  "What's up with Soji?"
"Huh?  Beats me."
Hijikata sighs heavily.  "It can't be helped then."

Okita's on the roof.  Looking at the selfie on his phone of him and Chizuru.

In the Student Council room, Shiranui is doing paper work whil Kazama paces the room and Amagiri stands by.
"Chizuru still hasn't returned to school?" Kazama asks.
"That is correct," answers Amagiri.
"After experiencing that, it can't be helped," says Shiranui.  Kazama holds his emotions in check as he stares at a portrait of Chizuru smiling.

Back in the faculty office, Nakagura strikes up conversation.
"I heard Yukimura-kun was absent again today?"
Harada, who was spacing out, turns to him.
"Huh? Yeah."
"Well, what happened to her?" asks Itou.
"It should be just a cold," says Hijikata.  Harada stares at him.
"A cold?" asks Sannan.  "That's worrisome."  He pulls out a bottle of the elixir.  "I think at a time like this--"
"Tomorrow is the school festival at last," interrupts Hijikata, standing from his seat. "I'd like everyone to go over these documents."  They all follow him to the opposite end of the office.  Sannan shows the bottle to Itou and Itou nearly trips as he distances himself.

"This is the timetable of activities for this year," Hijikata shows them.  "Shinpachi, your responsibility isn't much different from last year's cultural festival."

Sannan grips his elixir in silence.  "Someone hurry up and drink this so I can gather some data...!"

Meanwhile, Class 1-1 is busy decorating the interior for their maid cafe.    In the corner, Ryunosuke is sulking because he's the one dressed as a maid.

"Hey," someone says, "Don't be so down."
"It would be weird if I didn't feel down.  Why am I the one who has to dress like this?" he whines.
 His classmates laugh.
"It can't be helped," one classmate responds.  "We're guessing Yukimura isn't going to be here tomorrow."  They all can barely contain their amusement.
(TN: there is a lot of cross dressing in Hakuouki, isn't there? ^_^)

"But guys, seriously..." he complains.
"Isn't this fine?  It really suits you!"  Harada looks mildly amused but it's apparent he's still concerned for Chizuru.
"You're the one who definitely looks the best in it," chides another classmate.

Harada notices Hijikata pass by outside and follows him down the hall.
"Hijikata-san!" he calls out after him.
"As the one responsible for the students in my class, I think I should go to Yukimura's house and see if she's alright."
"I see," Hijikata contemplates.  Harada eyes him suspiciously.
"What's wrong?" Hijikata asks.

"Just this once," Ryunosuke begs his classmates, "You guys need to let me out of this."  He opens the door and runs out of the classroom in his costume.  Hijikata pauses and watches him go.  His classmates chase after him.
"Hey! Ryu!  Come back here!"  Harada smirks after them and Hijikata looks bewildered.
"My class is deciding who will replace Yukimura in a very rowdy sort of way," he says apologetically.  "I don't think I can let them out of my sight right now."  Harada looks at Hijikata meaningfully.
"Fine, I guess it can't be helped," Hijikata sighs in exasperation.  (TN: you know you want to go, man...( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°))

"Don't give me any more troubles than I already have," Harada smiles after him.

Back in Chizuru's neighborhood, Hijikata rings the doorbell.
"Yes?" answers a despondent sounding Chizuru.
She opens the door to see Hijikata standing there.
"Hijikata-sensei," she says in surprise.  She steps outside and speaks to him but she can't seem to meet his gaze.
"How is your condition?" he asks.
"My condition..." she responds quietly.  "My physical condition is fine."
He sighs.  "You were scared back then."
She shakes her head.  "No, how could I be?  I'm fine."  He takes a good look at her, and she still can't look him in the eye.
"I will protect you!" he declares suddenly.  (TN: I think my <3 just skipped)
She looks up at him wide-eyed.  "What?"
"I mean--" he says nervously and turns around and walks to the end of the front entrance.  "I meant it's my responsibility as a member of the Academy's educational administration.  I would protect any member of Hakuo Academy's student body.  So under those circumstances of course I was ready to do my utmost, with all my ability and save you.  As for the others, all of them just really wanted to save you so that's what brought them there."  Hijikata looks up to the sky.
"So no one would ever say it was your fault."  He turns to face her.
"Yukimura," he says seriously.  "Come back."
"Hijikata-sensei."  Chizuru seems moved by his words.

That night, Heisuke and Okita are eating at the local diner when his phone rings.  He checks the screen and chuckles, "I really don't want to pick it up."
"Who is it?" asks Heisuke.  He puts his phone down and shows him the screen.
"It's Hijikata-sensei?  That's rare.  He's actually calling you.  Aren't you picking up?  If you don't he'll hang up."  He picks up the phone and hands it to Soji.  "Here.  Take it."
"What's up?" Soji answers the call.  He smiles and puts the phone down.
"What?  What's happened?"  Heisuke questions.
Soji texts something on his phone.  "I can't keep such happy news to myself."

On the day of the festival, the students happily make it through the gate as Saito and Kaoru monitor them.  They all greet "Good morning!" as they pass by.  Saito looks up to see Soji walking in.
"Good morning, Soji," he greets.
"Good morning," he answers, and then turns to stand with them.
 "What are you doing?" demands Kaoru.
"Nothing," Soji answers.
"Hey!" says Harada-sensei coming up behind them wearing a rather girly apron.  "Morning."
"Morning," they greet.
"Why are you also here, Harada-sensei?" asks Kaoru.  "And what's with that apron?"
Harada looks down at the pink frilly apron.  "Isn't it cute?" he asks.
"Good morning!" says Ryunosuke cheerfully as he makes it to the entrance.  He also stands by and waits with Harada.
"Not you too?" asks Kaoru.  Ryu just grins.
"What are you all up to?" Kaoru demands.

They watch as Kazama and his posse stride up the walk and join them.
"It can't be..." says Kaoru incredulously.  Kazama takes his place from the gate post.  (TN: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
"This vantage point isn't bad," says Kazama.  Amagiri bows in greeting, while Shiranui shields his eyes from the glare.
"Hey," says Kaoru.  "You're not supposed to stand up there."
"You're so noisy, little dwarf," Kazama responds.
"D-Dwarf..?" Kaoru stammers.  Before he can retort, Heisuke joins them.

"Morning y'all!" he greets.  He too stands with them and waits.
"Heisuke," says Harada.
"Eh? Toudou-senpai?" asks Kaoru.  "You came alone?"
"Soji," says Saito.  "This is different from what you told us."
"What's exactly going on here?" demands Kazama.
"You guys, I'm not even that sure myself," Soji responds.
"Just what the heck is going on here?" demands Kaoru.

"Everyone!" Heisuke interrupts and points down the road.  "Presenting in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0--!"  Yukimura Chizuru is running and panting as she turns the corner towards the entrance.
"Chizuru!" exclaims Kaoru.
"You came," says Saito.
"I knew it," says Okita.
Kazama gives her a nod.

"What's up with you, Chizuru," her brother reprimands. "Missing school for so many days, and when you do come, you run here gasping for breath.  How unladylike is that?"
"All right, all right, Nagumo," interrupts Ryunosuke.  "You'll have to forgive her this time, ok?"
"Good morning!" she beams.
"Good morning, Yukimura," smiles Harada.
"Good morning, Chizuru-chan," Soji greets.
"Chizuru, you finally came," smiles Kazama.  "We've been waiting long for you."

"Hey you bums, just how long do you intend to stand at the entrance?" demands the grumpy voice from behind them.  Hijikata spares a smile for Chizuru and she smiles back at him.
"Well, Hakuo Festival begins now," he announces.
"Right?" smirks Soji.
"All right!" says Heisuke.
"Yes," responds Saito.
"You all don't get in the way of me talking to my younger sister--" starts Kaoru.
"Ok, ok, okay...that's enough Kaoru," interrupts Ryu.

"Let's go," says Hijikata leading the way.
"Let's go then, Yukimura," says Harada.

"Um--!" Chizuru calls out after them.  They all turn.
"I'm really happy that I'm acquainted with all of you.  From here on, please continue to look after me."  She bows.

"Hey you guys, hurry up!" shouts Nakagura with Itou, Sannan and the class rep from Shinpachi's class.

"All right!  Let's go!"  Hijikata orders.
"Yes, sir!" responds Saito.
"Yes!" responds Chizuru.  As they dash off, Kazama shouts down.
"Hey, wait a moment!"
Shiranui and Amagiri look up at Kazama.
"Kazama-sama," says Amagiri.
"Hey, Kazama!" Shiranui calls out.
"I knew how to get up here, but getting down is another matter...."  Facepalm.

~Episode 6 [Final] End~

So I really did like this series.  It was hilarious like I said for Hakuouki fans.  This was more of an expose of the potential routes you could take in the game rather than any particular couple romance.  Of course, Hijikata, Saito, Soji and Heisuke, as well as Kazama carry feelings for her that seem to transcend space and time.  But the theme seems to be that in this different time, they are content to just be together again.

Unfortunately, I don't have a PS Vita, so I can't really say if the SSL game is worth playing.  I don't know why they don't port the darn thing to the PS3.  But I hear good things about it, and I hope otome fans give it a shot.  I can't wait for the movie (2/6/16)!!  Trailer below.

I know, I know... I'm such a fangirl....

Hakuouki SSL - THE MOVIE!

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