In a very meta way, Touken Ranbu teaches the value of history and how it should be protected.
Even if Katsugeki never quite made its mark with pulling off a lesson about the importance of not altering history, I think Hanamaru 2 finally managed to nail it after Yasusada’s absence!
So why does Katsugeki fail where Hanamaru 2 succeeds, first of all? I think it’s because of the focus the anime had – because Katsugeki was focussing on the idea of not wrecking history first and foremost, it drummed it in too obviously by sticking it into dialogue and all that, and so viewers didn’t take it so well. However, after 2 seasons of Hanamaru, fans would be more receptive to taking this once-sidelined idea. This is especially great when you remember one of the core ideas of Kiwame is “getting over the past and moving on”, which works well with this idea.
What does Touken Ranbu teach fans about legacy, then? It teaches the Saniwa about the history of the swords so that their compatibility (among other factors) can be matched to get recollections and the like, regardless of whether that Saniwa is real or a fictional creation. However, Hanamaru showed us this from the swords’ perspective, literally showing Yasusada warping through time to witness the legacy of the Shinsengumi in the modern day. It showed us the hollow existence of a tsukumogami making peace with the fact he was no longer relevant in the future, aside from with his Saniwa.
In an age where ephemera, disposables and consumables are king, preserving history is a battle where a historian is destined to lose. Therefore, by having Touken Ranbu fans participate in the preservation of history by creating an engaging premise (one that creates fans that are known to have a lot of money up their sleeves), it brings back interest to ideas that could be easily lost if left alone. To paraphrase something else that’s heavy on history, Noah’s Notes, unravelling about the past means we can apply it to the future.
This was just something short and sweet since I’ve been sitting on this idea for a while but haven’t really had anything to do with it. Over to you now – do you think Touken Ranbu does a good job of promoting history?