Hyouge Mono 1 – the art of tea

April 17, 2011

Sasuke retrieving the skin of a roasting chestnut.

Can a man kill another man, in front of countless witnesses, for no good reason, and expect that there will be no repercussions? In modern society, this is not usually the case. Modern society, or as we like to think of it, “civilized society”, normally means that people must obey society’s laws. Sure, the wealthy and powerful will still find ways to skirt around the laws, but as they do, they acknowledge the power of those laws, by hiding their actions from those that will punish them.

Hyouge Mono brings us back to 16th Century Japan, the period of the Warring States. This is a time when the ability to kill makes it right. “The Law of the Jungle” … “a life that’s nasty brutish and short” … call it what you will, it is a condition that doesn’t lend itself to calm reflection, or principled action. Our hero, Sasuke Furuta finds himself surrounded by docile servants of the warlord Nobunaga Oda with naught on their minds, except proving that they too are bloodthirsty warriors. All the while, Sasuke thinks that there is something more. Beyond the violence, and raw show of force, Sasuke believes in the power of beautiful things.

Are ya feeling lucky? Are ya?

Some have commented that Hyouge Mono lacks the essential component of a hit anime: moe. What’s more the show features adults. There isn’t even a single junior high student piloting a giant robot. The main character is in his thirties, he’s already married, and isn’t likely to be forming a harem any time soon. Instead, he is obsessed with the finer things in life, like Nobunaga Oda’s awesome incense burner. His appreciation for the arts sets him apart from his peers — in fact, it makes him a laughing stock. However, his commitment to his pursuit of aesthetics is profound, even heroic, in an age where death comes quicker than the next morning’s sunrise, and touches everyone like a torrential rain.

This is as close to a bisshie as you are gonna get.

With 39 episodes planned, it is a bit difficult to judge how this show will proceed. I would expect that the main idea for the first episode was merely to introduce Sasuke. Probably the next few episodes will introduce more characters. In the meantime we can say that the show takes a fresh look at the Sengoku Jidai, or Warring States Period that preceded the Tokugawa shogunate. There is a lot of physical comedy — especially with faces. So far the central tension that has been created involves Sasuke’s respect for great works of art, and the contempt that just about everybody around him has for anything beyond grubbing for power.

Matsunaga Hisahide in unusual moment of calm.

Unfortunately it is already apparent that Hyouge Mono will not be as quickly subbed as most series this season. One problem it is facing is that it apparently uses some unusual language or complex grammar that will slow down the subbers. Another, of course is the aforementioned lack of common anime tropes. Some point to the over-abundance of geezers. I, for one, will continue to keep an eye out for future episodes, because I dig beautiful things.

Other reactions to Hyouge Mono from around the web:

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10 Responses to “Hyouge Mono 1 – the art of tea”

  1. Ginnodangan Says:

    For some reason I always find myself attracted to historical anime and manga series (such as Historie, Vinland Saga, and Vagabond), and this wasn’t really an exception.

    First off I must agree that this was refreshing, as not only like you’ve said that it lacks common tropes in favour of badass old men doing badass things, but the focus is on something completely unexpected for a series set in the Sengoku period. For which you would usually expect it to depict Nobunaga as the big bad while our heroes rally to defeat him, but instead it looks to focus on his vassals and tea ceremonies.

    In all though it’s gotten me interested as well, and 39 episodes means that Bee Train and the producers must be putting a lot on the line for it.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Yeah, my mind is still boggled by the number of episodes this show will receive. I hope that means they have a very interesting story to tell.

      As to these historical shows, I just can’t get enough of them. In addition to the ones you mentioned, check out House of 5 Leaves. It is set in the Edo period (so a bit later than Hyouge Mono, but still in the age of samurai).

      • Ginnodangan Says:

        Already saw it and loved it, and despite hearing a few bad things about it here and there I thought it was a great show overall. The characters were well developed and it had a nice somber atmosphere to it all.

        I’m actually interested as to how far it’ll go, things like the Honnouji Incident are a given and the guy that Sasuke looks to be based on even lived into Tokugawa’s reign. That said only two chapters of manga out of the 12 volumes have been translated, so I can’t tell how far it will go into that.

      • Joojoobees Says:

        Yeah, they have a lot of interesting history they can use. I haven’t looked at the manga, so I’m just going to have to wait and see what happens.

        Glad you like 5 Leaves. Shows that do such a great job of depicting a historical period are rare. I guess it was too subtle for many people. Oh well, their loss.


  2. I was actually surprised that this even got subbed because it seemed so serious, the characters don’t looks “pretty”, and as you said, it lacks “moe”…. and other anime components that the majority is fond of.

    Interesting to point out the sociological aspects in this *referring to the “law of the jungle” part* Didn’t notice that until you mentioned about it, hehe.

    Looks like this series is deeper and more thought-provoking than it first appeared to me~

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I was a little worried that it wouldn’t get subbed either. I have to write up my reactions to episode 2, now that it has come out. It is even more interesting (and odd) than episode 1.

  3. Hana Says:

    Re: your last sentence in particular – good for you! As I think I mentioned to you elsewhere very briefly, I was impressed with this show and found it to be very polished, wonderfully detailed and Sasuke to be a witty and interesting narrator/lead. For me, I just couldn’t warm up to any of the characters at all… which might be the point, haha, and maybe I’ll give the first epi another shot…

  4. Mushyrulez Says:

    I do hope this will get subbed even quicker, because it is really nice to see anime that’s merely an animated story, not anime as in the pile of cliched crap we see so often now.

    But, eh, subbers are only human.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Yeah, and people are saying the language in it is harder than in your typical show, so… gotta give the subbers a break on this one. As long as it comes out within a couple of weeks, I’ll be content.


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