We are in 1930s Japan, in an alternate timeline where the Tokugawa shogunate is still in power. Secret organizations with conflicting interests lurk in the shadows. In the midst of it all, there is Nawa, a skillful warrior with supernatural abilities with a tormented past. Nawa has sworn revenge against the people behind the massacre of her village and uses the special powers coming from her clan to fight her enemies. Here are our mid-season impressions on this promising steampunk tragedy!
Light Spoilers Ahead
We all went in thinking that Sawa would manage to get her revenge towards the end of the series, only to find out that this happens in the first half, when she discovers why her village got pillaged, making her the sole survivor. What’s next, though? Jouran is essentially a story about revenge, not just Sawa’s, but the different ways people seek or avoid revenge, and the complicated aftermath of violence. We are not sure yet, but seeing Sawa and Asahi’s connection, we think that one of the messages will be “violence begets violence”, adding to a cycle of trauma.
We have to note that Jouran is not for the faint-hearted, with several violent scenes, so expect a lot of throat slashing, as expected from a dark seinen anime series. Battle scenes look awesome, as the animation style changes to thicker, brush-like lines, giving motion and fluidity to the fighters’ movements. Sawa’s transformation scenes are bone-chilling, she becomes revenge personified. We like these scenes so much that we think perhaps a more experimental animation style like the one used in battles would fit Jouran better and add to its uniqueness.
Convoluted First Half
Here’s the tea, though: it takes a while for Jouran to find its pace and show its true strengths. It took us half a show to understand more about the characters’ objectives and the structure of the Nue organization. Apart from Nawa, we also get two powerful side-characters, Elena Hanakaze and Makoto Tsukishiro, each hiding secrets. Makoto is an enigmatic double agent with a curious agenda of their own and we are looking forward to learning more about their motivations.
The way the characters were introduced in the first episodes was slightly confusing, with a first episode that felt like jumping right into the middle of a story, without much explanation. That being said, we are enjoying Jouran more and more as we are entering the second half, since it dared to trick our expectations about the revenge story, leaving us hyped for Sawa’s escape along with Hikari.
Joran The Princess of Snow and Blood is an ambitious story about the different forms revenge can take set in a beautifully rendered alternate timeline. We hope that the second half of the series does justice to Jouran because so far, the story has been convoluted. But, what did you think of Joran so far? What do you think the future will hold for Sawa and Hikari? Let us know in the comments below and thanks for reading!