General Akechi's banner unfurled.

Episode 10 is not only another good episode of Hyouge Mono, it is also a critically important one, full of character study, and significant events. In other words, reading this review will expose you to spoilers. This episode concerns itself with the events surrounding Lord Nobunaga Oda’s death in Kyoto, 1582. This was an event of extraordinary importance in the real world, so the details are well known to Japanese students. Hyouge Mono manages to alter the events, in many significant ways, all while making it plausible that our received history could have become the official version. In other words Hyouge Mono doesn’t depict an alternate history, but a secret history.

In addition this episode includes the most BAD ASS tea ceremony ever, a really interesting take on Bushido ethics, and in particular a complex study of Sasuke Furuta.

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Treachery can be beautiful, too.

Things have been building up to the events of episode 9 of Hyouge Mono for a while. Lord Nobunaga Oda arrives at the Honnou-ji and a tragedy results.

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A tea pot, modestly positioned in the hearth below.

Hyouge Mono is a work that emphasizes subtlety. This may be a surprising statement as many early reviews remarked upon things like the extreme facial expressions of the main character, Sasuke Furuta. What has become clear as the series progressed (and at episodes 7 & 8, we are still not one third of the way to the end) is that Sasuke, though the main character, in terms of much of our perspective on the period, and in terms of providing a center around which the events of the story swirl, is by no means the most astute character. These two episodes provide a clear indication that, though he has an eye for detail, Sasuke does not (at least yet) possess the discernment of human nature to interpret these details correctly.

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Sasuke Furuta, aesthete, and ambitious man.

Huzzah’s recent release of a subtitled version of episode 6 of Hyouge Mono is very welcome indeed. It transports us back to 1582, and the struggle for Japanese unification under Lord Oda Nobunaga. This episode principally concerns itself with Sasuke, his realization that the window of opportunity is closing, and his desperate attempts to raise his stature.

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Ninja Attack.

Without a doubt, the greatest disappointment of 2011 is the lack of fan subbed episodes of Hyouge Mono. This historical dramatic-comedy is extremely ambitious in several senses. It is a longer, more involved story than most recent series (covering 39 episodes). It tells the story of adults doing adult things (like political treachery and collecting ceramics). It also has complex dialogue — in part a feature of its historical setting, and in part a reflection of a mature target audience.

Unfortunately, despite its uniqueness, and despite critical acclaim from those who are able to follow the anime in Japanese, Hyouge Mono has been abandoned by the fan sub community. This is a terrible shame, because this is precisely the series that needs fan sub support. Some series are so vapid that translations are not needed to follow along, but they get subbed and this one, in which the dialogue is critical to following the plot doesn’t. Some series are already slated for commercial release, so they will get official translations (in fact many are simulcast online with official translations already), but this one will likely never see release outside of Japan.

One of the best arguments for fansubs is that they provide what the market is unwilling to, and Hyouge Mono is a perfect example of a show fansubbers should be jumping on.¬†The fact that only 5 episodes¬†ever got released as fansubs (episode 22 is available raw) shows that fan subbing isn’t achieving what it should be. Every ecchi Rom-Com gets a fansub, and almost all get commercial releases. Fansubs should be supplementing the anime available to those who can’t follow the Japanese, by providing translations of series that commercial interests are too timid to provide. Instead the recent trend is for multiple groups to translate the same series that are available from a licensed commercial provider.

I just want to leave you with a comment by someone who was able to follow the show in Japanese:

The characterization was again as rock-solid as ever, far beyond all of the other stuff this season.

Psgels

General Hashiba, AKA the "bald rodent".

It has been several weeks since our last look at the world of Hyouge Mono (Tea for Universe, Tea for Life). Those readers who, as I, frequent Psgels’ Star Crossed Anime Review, know that week after week, Psgels has rated the new episode of Hyouge Mono “excellent”, and placed it amongst his featured “Top 3 Episodes of the Week”. Meanwhile, those of us who lack the ability to understand untranslated Japanese, have been waiting for a new release by the fan-subbers. Episode 5 continues to develop two issues raised in episode 4, the relationship between Master Senno and General Hashiba, and the three tea urns, possession of which confers the ability to rule all of Japan.

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The subs are out?

I was starting to despair that the cynicism and crass commercialism that is pervasive in our world had been effective in shutting down Hyouge Mono (Tea for Universe, Tea for Life). Huzzah get my gratitude for persevering in the face of indifference and lack of discernment. So, “Huzzah! to Huzzah.” Episode 4 displays many threads of the developing story. A fashion show develops characters in the context of pageantry, gift giving demonstrates egotism, and the tea ceremony is the setting for both petty ambition, and spiritual colloquy.

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