Touken Ranbu (literally means “Wild Dance of Swords”) is a free-to-play online training simulation card browser video game developed by Nitroplus and DMM Games, available only in Japan since January 2015. It is being adapted as two anime series. Players assume the role of a sage called “saniwa” who travels into the past to defeat evil forces, and has the ability to animate legendary swords, which are depicted as attractive young men. Your duty is to bring these blades to life, create an army, and defeat the enemies. Touken Ranbu is mostly a gender-swapped clone of the game Kantai Collection (kankore) also by DMM, which anthropomorphizes historical warships as young girls. Combat is largely automated, with progress mainly dependent on resource management and grinding.
Touken Ranbu quickly became very popular in Japan, particularly with young women, and had over a million registered players as of June 2015. The game has been credited with accelerating the Japanese cultural trend of “katana women” (katana joshi) – women who are interested in, and who pose with, historical Japanese swords. That trend had been started a few years previously with the Sengoku Basara video games, which made katana fans a distinct part of the Japanese subculture of female history aficionados (rekijou). The popularity of Touken Ranbu was such that a Japanese women’s interest magazine published an article about exercise routines based on sword fighting techniques from the game, and the 2015 Tokyo Wonder Festival’s figure exhibition was reportedly “completely dominated by hot male swordsmen”.
The game is to receive two anime adaptations. The first, Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru, is a television series produced by Doga Kobo, directed by Takashi Naoya and written by Pierre Sugiura, with character designs by Junichiro Taniguchi. The first episode debuted 3 October 2016. Funimation has licensed Hanamaru for an English language release. The second adaptation will be produced by Ufotable, and is scheduled to air in 2017.
Today at Touken Ranbu stage, come along our special guests Mitsuhiro Ichiki, seiyuu of Yamatonokami Yasusada. Mitsuhiro Ichiki is male seiyuu who comes from Kagoshima, and now working for Seiyuu Agency Mausu Promotion. He debuted in 2003 at anime HAPPY★LESSON ADVANCE and got his first main character role in 2006 as Haruo Yoshikawa in Magikano. Beside Touken Ranbu, his impressive track record includes notable cast such as: Takeyama (Angel Beats), Scarlet (OZMAFIA!!), Kazuya Aoi (Freezing), and Hibiki Kouhaku (Blazblue). But he’s not alone! Guess what? Also come to AFASG today as secret guest, CEO and Producer of Nitroplus, Digitaro (Takashiki Kousaka, written in Japanese pronounciation as “Dejitarou”) who developed Touken Ranbu Online Game. This stage will be divided into two section, first section for the game Touken Ranbu online and second section for the anime Touken Ranbu Hanamaru. So let’s greet our guests together!
Hello Digitaro and Ichiki, welcome to AFASG 2016! Please greet our enthusiastic fans who gathered today!
Digitaro: Hi Singapore! I’m Digitaro, Nitroplus’ director and producer. Nice to see you all here today! Also thanks for playing and watching Touken Ranbu as always!
Ichiki: Hi everyone! I’m Mitsuhiro Ichiki, voice actor of Yamatonokami Yasusada from Touken Ranbu Online and also Touken Ranbu Hanamaru. Nice to meet you and please enjoy the stage!
Is it your first time coming to Singapore? Or any other overseas event before this?
Digitaro: Seems like that for Singapore. LOL But we came to another country for this kind of event.
Ichiki: Yes, this is my first Singapore ever and I’m very happy finally I could see Merlion yesterday! LOL. Previously, I went to Shanghai around last summer to attend this kind of anime event. That was my first time going abroad.
Tell us your first impression for coming to today’s stage?
Digitaro: Yeah I’m so happy to know that there’s a lot of Touken Ranbu fans in south east asia, especially in Singapore, and they’re seems so enthusiast to come to this stage, thank you!
Ichiki: I saw a lot of Touken Ranbu cosplay! OMG! How great! You must be made those costume by yourself right? Since in Japan there’s not so many cosplay shop exist, so it must be very rare to find shop like that outside Japan. Really nice! I’m so happy to see you all with that touken danshi’s costume! Thank you!
Anyway we heard there a difference term for calling “Touken Ranbu” in Japan. How do you explain it?
Digitaro: That’s true, the older people like to say it right to the whole title, and the youngsters usually cut it into fashionable or hip terms LOL
Ichiki: Yes, the normal people would say the common “Touken Ranbu” for Touken Ranbu as usual. But I’ve heard Japanese Girls like to give it short name like “Tou-Rabu” or in Japanese pronounciation means “Tou-Love”
Let’s proceed to the first corner for Touken Ranbu Online! So first of all, where this game come from?
Digitaro: Humm.. First of all, there a lot of online game developer in Japan, most of them are big well-known company, one of them is DMM games. It’s like around more than 1000 companies registered for DMM online game’s website. Among those game, there’s mostly games for boys, fantasy, RPG, and no otome games yet, weird enough isn’t it? So when DMM representative, Katagi-san came and asked Nitroplus about idea to create new game for girls, I just talked about this Touken Ranbu. It was launched on January last year, almost 2 years, right!
Ichiki: So the game was introduced to us around 2013, we started recording on summer 2013 and the dubbing session was done in 2014. Touken Ranbu Online game released on January 2015, anime version came up this year 2016 and will continue in 2017.
Following question will go to Digitaro! This game became a mega-hit in Japan and developed further here and there with some spin-off, so what other development will appear in anime?
Digitaro: In the original game, there no clear plot for the aim. Each player supposed to have their own imagination as Saniwa, about the Honmaru (citadel) where they’re living together with touken danshi. So we made the anime version with one clear concept, a story which not told in the game, and so on. I hope you all will like Touken Ranbu Hanamaru. Another thing, we also have musical and stage play for Touken Ranbu which held this year too. Musical and stage play has different story with anime version. At least you won’t see touken danshi singing and dancing in anime, right? LOL I hope I could create as many honmaru as possible to match or get closer to your own imagination. In addition, you know that recently a lot of doujinshi appeared. I cannot argue for any doujinshi made based on this game, I think those doujinshi contain of each fans’ imagination. Furthermore, I hope doujinshi may be a good gateway for anyone who want to enter anime or game industry.
Ichiki: I want to add a few words. You better see Touken Ranbu in all development. I mean, online games, musical, stage play, and anime itself has a big differences which you must see them all. I also didn’t imagine that Touken Ranbu will become a very big fandom like this.
Next question to Ichiki. When you were introduced to Touken Ranbu, what was your first thought of the game itself and what kind of character is Yamatonokami Yasusada you were voicing?
Ichiki: First time I got the offer to cast Yamatonokami Yasusada, the game wasn’t completing yet. I just saw the visual book and it showed design of Yasusada and a lot of Japanese swords. Actually I didn’t have any idea what will this game be, is it related to Tsukumogami concept (spirit from the exist things, for example: sword) or what? And for the character of Yasusada itself, I think he has a gentle face, nice smile, and seems cute enough for me LOL. In my opinion, he didn’t look like a character who could fight aggressively by using sword. From the visualization image, I saw that Yasusada is kinda similar to Souji Okita (from shinsengumi) at the first sight. But actually, he has contrast personality, both gentle and soft in daily life, but become aggressive with strong sword-skill in battlefield.
Digitaro: Yeah, at first I want to make Yasusada become a strong bishounen character. You know, I really inspired by Souji Okita and of course his swords LOL. He was a good looking guy with the best sword-skill among shinsengumi. So I represent him in his sword Yamatonokami Yasusada.
Is there any fave words in Touken Ranbu?
Ichiki: Yeah even though the recording session was ended long time ago but indeed I remember some good words from Yasusada. Between kawaii and kowai (cute but scary) Yasusada, here it is “KUBI OCHITE SHI NE!!” or what do you say it in English? I can try in katakana English! “katto yuaa heddo ofu!!” I can’t say cut your head off properly, sorry LOL..
That’s the end of Online Game Talk. Then we continue to anime Touken Ranbu Hanamaru. For opening, there’s a scroll look-a-like for the beginning of every episodes, which usually one of touken danshi will say the words. So this time Ichiki just said the words just like in the anime’s opening scene! Let’s proceed then! “Kono anime wa to aru honmaru no to aru touken dashi tachi ni yoru hanamaru na hibi no monogatari desu.” >> “This anime is about the hanamaru days of a certain group of touken danshi in a certain honmaru”.
What’s the major differences of Touken Ranbu Online Game and anime Touken Ranbu Hanamaru?
Digitaro: First of all, the shujinkou (main role), in the game shujinkou is the player, saniwa. You all become shujinkou right? You fight against another saniwa, so that means saniwa vs saniwa is a player vs player or shujinkou vs shujinkou. You also cannot see each other face, you just battle in your own honmaru together with your touken danshi, am I right? So please make comparison by yourself the similarity and diferences of Touken Ranbu and Anime. In anime, main character are Kashuu Kiyomitsu and Yamatonokami Yasusada.
How about the character. Is there any significant differences between Yamatonokami Yasusada in game and anime?
Ichiki: The biggest difference when I first time read the original scenario is, Yasusada in anime version just arrived in honmaru for the first time as the new member. So he looks more quite than Yasusada in the game version . He kinda has no confidence but Kashuu who always stands by him aside, really helped a lot. And I think Yasusada in anime is much more kawaii LOL.
Digitaro: Yes, that true LOL
Tell us your impression about characteristic of Yasusada in one word!
Ichiki: Straight! Basically, he is a straight, pure hearted person. He obedient to his original master, Souji Okita. Rather than involving around with another master in Honmaru, he always continues waiting for Souji Okita, his master. He just like creating troubles in honmaru.
What do you think about relationship between Yamatonokami Yasusada and Kashuu Kiyomitsu?
Ichiki: Since Yasusada and Kashuu are a battle mates which share the same master, actually they have good relationship. The complicated and sophisticated problem is just only Souji Okita never bring them out together to any battle or any fight, because they are the same type of sword, uchigatana. When he uses Yasusada, he will not bring Kashuu and vice versa, so they only can wait each other. Anyway, their relationship is just a friends. Yeah they’re a good friends indeed, but I think there must be something beyond that friendship, guess by yourself! LOL.
There’s still a lot we’d like to talk about, but the time is over. Lastly, please give your final message to all audience!
Digitaro: What a amusing stage we have today! Thanks a lot for coming and talk with us. We’re very grateful and happy that you all actually play Touken Ranbu in Japan server and of course watch Touken Ranbu Hanamaru also. Please wait for more touken danshi to come to the anime version! You don’t wanna miss it, right? LOL Not only game, anime, musical, and play stage, I hope you could enjoy further development of Touken Ranbu in the future!
Ichiki: I’m very happy to attend today’s stage and talk a lot about Touken Ranbu. Even though here”s not Japan but a lot of fans come today and they know well about Touken Ranbu details, I’m so touched. You know these swords do exist and if you have time to come to Japan again, kindly visit the museum to take a look of the real swords! Frankly speaking, I feel a bit lonely to become the only sword here, I hope I could come again next time with Toshiki Masuda (cast of Kashuu Kiyomitsu) and meet overseas saniwatachi all again! Thank you so much and please keep supporting Touken Ranbu! See you later!
For closing, one question from fans popped out. “So where’s Ookanehira? Will he appear in Touken Ranbu soon?” and Digitaro answered “Just wait for it, I can’t tell about it now. Maybe he will come before 2016 is ended LOL”. Ookanehira is a sword which not appear yet in both game and anime, but the dialogue already passed several times. So let’s wait for Ookanehira appearance in Touken Ranbu together!
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