Volume: Complete Series
Distributor: FUNimation Entertainment
Genre(s):, comedy, action, historical, drama
Runtime: 600 minutes total
Release Date: 09/06/2011
There's nothing more reliable than a good ol' fashioned samurai story. Japan has no shortage of animated stories starring their famous sword-wielding warriors.
Peacemaker Kurogane is everything one can expect from one of these tales: action-packed, inspired by history, and full of angst. While this particular title has its fair share of comedy, there is nothing particularly remarkable or out of the ordinary with this 2003 release.
Peacemaker Kurogane is based on the manga of the same name; however, the anime's story mostly follows the first manga series. The narrative is centered around Ichimura Tetsunosuke, affectionately called "Tetsu," and his determination to grow stronger so he can avenge the murder of his parents. His goal is to become a full-fledged member of the Shinsengumi, a loyal band of samurai who fought for the Shogunate against the political rebels who were eventually responsible for the Meiji restoration. Tetsu believes he'll have the best chance of avenging his parents by becoming a part of the Shinsengumi.
His older brother, Tatsunosuke, works for the Shinsengumi as a bookkeeper. He does not possess the same passion for revenge as Tetsu, and prefers to take a more pacifist approach to life. Tatsunosuke would prefer to just live on in peace and is frequently frustrated with his hot-headed little brother, frequently forcing him to apologize profusely for whatever mischief or transgression he commits.
The rest of the cast is made up of a variety of distinguishable characters who are members of the Shinsengumi and of the opposing Choshu band.
After Tetsu convinces the Shinsengumi to allow him to join them, they assign him as a page to Hijikata Toshizo—the second vice commander. Cold and distant, Toshizo hides a surprising concern for Tetsu behind his stern demeanor and resists allowing the boy to become a full member with a uniform and sword. Tetsu becomes frustrated with being simply a page boy, and his misadventures in shirking his duties occupy the first several episodes of the anime series
Therein lies the problem with Peacemaker Kurogane; Tetsu spends nearly the entire first half of the series filled with angst over his parents' murders and his desire to become "stronger." Stronger to.... what? Avenge them? Make sure it never happens again?
Episodes flow into each other in a bland haze of Tetsu being angsty, vague references to the conflict with the Choshu, and the cast of samurai trying to convince Tetsu that being a samurai isn't glorious at all.
They remind Tetsu (and us, the viewer) that being a member of the Shinsengumi requires sacrifices and the surrender of your humanity—no doubt referring to the requirement of occasionally hacking people to pieces. This leads to more angst and more tears from a boy we're supposed to believe is nearly a man grown.