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Gifuu Doudou!!: Kanetsugu to Keiji – Review

by Miguel Douglas

@isugoi

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Japan’s ancient history, like perhaps any country’s legacy stretching back hundreds, if not thousands of years, is often a bizarre concoction of notable figures and mythology. Unlike many other countries though, even the most decorated Japanese historical figures are shown throughout a variety of mediums within pop culture i.e. in video games, live-action television series, manga, and even anime. Gifuu Doudou!!: Kanetsugu to Keiji is one such series, with its narrative being centered upon the enormous political intrigue, social restlessness, and military conflict of the Sengoku period of Japan (15th-17th century), also known as the “Warring States Period”. This period certainly provides a lot of material in which to draw from, which can also be an obstruction towards fully elaborating on who these historical figures truly were within this period and why we should care about them as the viewing audience.

Gifuu Doudou!!: Kanetsugu to Keiji eases this direction by focusing on two prominent figures – Naoe Kanetsugu and Maeda Keiji, Japanese samurai who became best friends throughout the many battles and conflicts of the period. The series certainly relies more on the mythological elements surrounding these two characters more so than actually being faithful to telling the authentic history behind them. As an enthusiast of history myself, this type of approach within any medium attempting to portray historical figures and events can often leave one simply chuckling at all of its inaccuracies and exaggerations, but Kanetsugu to Keiji remains relatively self-aware of its own eschewed telling of history, and for that it lessens the seriousness of the series as a whole.

So with that being said, do not go into viewing Kanetsugu to Keiji and expecting it to be anything remotely accurate in terms of how the two leads are portrayed, let alone the remainder of the cast. This certainly extends to the physical appearances of both Naoe Kanetsugu and Maeda Keiji as well, who are both shown as towering presences within the series – both figuratively and quite literally. The “righteousness” expressed by these two characters as they recount their military conquests and intrigue is certainly as audacious as it is egomaniacal on their part, veering into the comical territory all too often as physical appearance in this case equates to actual power. Both of their inflated egos seem to be reflected through their significantly large heads as well, but I can’t be certain if that was done on purpose or for simple aesthetics. This is one series that definitely falls within the seinen (young male) genre category and is not afraid to lavish in it.

There are interpretive renditions of certain historical events that are highly dramatized as well, especially considering that the creative liberties taken by the series is already elevated to a height that would make any serious fan of history perform a facepalm. More akin to a Dynasty Warriors video game title in terms of scope, the elaboration upon righteousness can only extend so far before it becomes repetitious to the audience. Considering that the series does derive from the manga co-authored by Tetsuo Hara of Fist of the North Star fame, the eccentric look of the series is nothing out of the ordinary considering Hara’s stylistic choices, so the unusual artistic vibe is something that is to be quite expected and seems commonplace considering some of the overly dramatized scenes littered though out the series.

Despite the series being ridiculously absurd in respect to its history and characters, its technical qualities is where the series truly falters. Recycled footage being the main hindrance, where entire segments from previous episodes are simply placed into latter episodes, which is quite noticeable too. Many segments within the series are also just still images that are panned across, with little to no movement being seen throughout the series as whole. As reflective upon the manga in which the series stems from, this is warranted…in the manga. As an animation series, Kanetsugu to Keiji does not feel as adequately produced as it should have been considering the weighty source material, but it appears that Studio Deen had their budgetary concerns elsewhere at the time.

In retrospect though, Gifuu Doudou!!: Kanetsugu to Keiji is a series that only specific individuals will find favor with. As a truthful and accurate account of Naoe Kanetsugu and Maeda Keiji as historical figures and the events they were embroiled in, you will not find that here. If you are looking for an overly masculine – to the point of being laughable – representation of these two figures, then you will definitely benefit from viewing the series. As someone who shares an appreciation for the Sengoku era of Japan, Gifuu Doudou!!: Kanetsugu to Keiji is a series that I find too quirky and unusual giving the historicity of the characters and events, but perhaps that is what will make it all the more appealing for some people.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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