Hanasakeru Seishōnen Anime Review

Hanasakeru Seishōnen

Harems stand as a classic genre in animation, but this time, I wish to delve into a less explored and more versatile subgenre: the Reverse Harem. For this exploration, I'd like to delve into a narrative endeavor that strives to transcend the generic label. To embark on this journey, we must rewind eleven years to April 2009, when the anime "Hanasakeru Seishōnen" made its debut on the NHK network. Directed by Chiaki Kon and produced by Pierrot Studios, this anime is an adaptation of Natsumi Itsuki's manga of the same name. Although officially categorized as Shōjo and Drama, the storyline's evolution unmistakably reveals its true nature as a Reverse Harem.

As mentioned earlier, this narrative seeks to break free from the confines of a generic label. Consequently, viewers can anticipate moments deeply entwined with political drama without sidelining the intricate relationships between our characters. With a substantial episode count of 39, this series enjoys the freedom to thoroughly explore its plot and characters. Moreover, it skillfully allows for glimpses into the past, providing insights into the current circumstances of the story and how they shape the protagonist's journey.


What is "Hanasakeru Seishōnen" about?

"Hanasakeru Seishōnen" narrates the story of Kajika, a 14-year-old girl who has lived in seclusion from society. As she reaches maturity, it becomes time for her to reintegrate into society, marking a reunion with her father. This reunion brings significant news – her father has decided that it's time for her to be engaged. However, to facilitate this decision, they establish a series of conditions. The primary agreement stipulates that Kajika must independently discover the candidates chosen by her father, empowering her to be the one to shape her destiny.

The candidates Kajika uncovers include Eugene Alexandre De Volkan, who, due to his remarkable resemblance to her Bengal tiger, she affectionately nicknames Mustafá; the second candidate is Prince Rumaty Ivan of Raginei; and finally, the third candidate is Carl Rosenthal, the son of Kajika's father's business rival. Yet, these are not the only individuals in the young girl's life. By her side stands a reliable man who has always wished the best for her – her childhood friend, Lee-Leng Huang. However, for personal reasons, he is not considered a candidate by Kajika's father.

After introducing our cast, the narrative shifts, plunging everyone into a significant political conflict within the kingdom of Raginei. Amidst this turmoil, the story reaches its climax, and Kajika ultimately clarifies her heart, discovering the man of her life, all while Rumaty works to restore the overthrown government of Raginei.

The Highlights: Genre Deconstruction

"Hanasakeru Seishōnen" stands out due to its well-crafted script. While the initial premise might appear cliché for the genre, the anime takes a wholly original approach. Going beyond the typical romantic choices for the protagonist, it fearlessly delves into exploring not just the relationships between characters but also a political conflict rooted in a past that ties them together yet remains unknown. Emotional complexity and a nuanced temporal narrative distinguish this script, making optimal use of the thirty-nine episodes to tell a story that transcends a mere romantic game involving a fourteen-year-old girl.

A second noteworthy aspect is the character development, signifying a departure from the genre stereotype. Unlike other Reverse Harems, this anime features a protagonist with a distinct personality. Kajika is a resilient girl who can navigate her challenges and make independent decisions, defying the typical damsel-in-distress trope. The four boys each have unique qualities, and while all harbor strong feelings for Kajika, their emotions are justified. They didn't fall for her simply because she's the protagonist; each character boasts a background and undergoes development, making it difficult to favor only one.

Beyond its character-driven narrative, the anime offers much worth watching, and my third positive point is the ending. Kajika's choice for her lifelong companion not only breaks the cliché of typical open-ended conclusions in reverse harems but also aligns with my personal preference. Additionally, the ending is precisely what one would anticipate from a protagonist like Kajika. It's important to reiterate that she is not a damsel in distress; on the contrary, she can play the role of a shining knight for her partner if needed. Undoubtedly, the greatest allure of this story lies in its ability to break free from genre stereotypes.

Hanasakeru Seishōnen Traler

The Downsides: Plot Details

While the series excels in many aspects, it's not without its flaws; there are areas that could have been improved. The primary critique revolves around the age of the protagonist, Kajika. Despite being introduced as fourteen years old at the story's onset, the situations she faces are not in line with typical adolescent experiences. Engaging in matrimony at fourteen raises eyebrows, and even if one were to accept the premature engagement, the involvement in complex political dramas seems incongruous, especially considering she doesn't reach the age of majority even with temporal jumps. This incongruity is compounded by significant age differences with potential suitors and the potential for incestuous elements. These aspects make for questionable narrative choices.

The second concern is the lack of mystery surrounding Kajika's final choice of a life partner. It becomes apparent early on with whom she will form a bond, potentially making him an immediate favorite for most viewers. While there are moments that might introduce doubt, they are fleeting and lack the strength to leave a lasting impression. Despite the series showcasing excellent character development, it doesn't obscure the obviousness of the preferred candidate for our protagonist.

As a final critique, the series suffers from a subpar selection of villains, each emanating a somewhat pathetic aura. To clarify, this doesn't imply that the villains in the story are inherently terrible; rather, they lack the robust characteristics that would make them truly memorable. While each villain may have shone for their reasons at specific moments, they ultimately faded into history without a significant impact. In essence, they seemed more like conduits for drama and the growth of other characters than genuine obstacles to the plans and ideals of the protagonists.

Final Thoughts

Hanasakeru Seishōnen stands as a series that was innovative in its time, and even now, it remains a compelling example of breaking stereotypes. The narrative is captivating, and its characters possess enough charisma to win over viewers. However, given its nature as a drama series, it may be a bit weighty for some, differing significantly from the more lighthearted romantic comedies and modern romantic dramas. This anime opts for a deliberate and precise development, taking its time across its 39 episodes without unnecessary haste.

Considering the sentiments expressed here, I can only assign it a personal rating. In my opinion, the series merits a score of 92/100. While this rating might appear relatively high for some, it's essential to note that my primary criterion for evaluating an anime is its script. As previously highlighted, Hanasakeru Seishōnen boasts a script that, despite its plot flaws, elevates it to a level deserving of such recognition.

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