Koutetsu Sangokushi anime review

Koutetsu Sangokushi anime review
A wanderer who is from a house with an ancient treasure, which is sought after by kings. The ancient treasure was seized from him by his king and he goes on a quest to recover this treasure. Only to be thrown into the middle of a battlefield.

Koutetsu Sangokushi (pronounced "ko-tet-soo san-gok-shi"). Never did I expect that I would find myself getting so hooked on it that I watched it not just once, but THRICE. As a result, the DVD player went POP!

Koutetsu Sangokushi belongs to that genre of anime called "shounen-ai" (literally means "boy's love"), which hints at or actually depicts romantic relationships between boys or men. So, aside from the peasant woman who dies in the first episode, you won't find a single female in this anime.

The story takes place in Ancient China, specifically the war-torn kingdom of Go, which is being attacked from its borders by rival kingdoms who are hell-bent on getting the Imperial Seal -- an ornate dragon box with a glowing orb inside that has the power to bestow upon the person it favors the powerful Flame Armor. Enter Rikuson Hakugen who, as the "Crimson Warrior", has been traveling all over the country with his Master, the flamboyant Shoukatsuryou Koumei, helping the oppressed people in the land. Upon his return to Go, Rikuson has become bitter by the realization that he could not help everyone. Koumei convinces the young hero to ally himself with Go, only to have Rikuson witness the assassination of its King and the Imperial Seal stolen by mysterious thugs. Before long, Rikuson -- together with five other misfit warriors -- pledges to retrieve the Imperial Seal, and defend Go and its new boy king Sonken from all invaders...one of whom may be his own beloved Master Koumei.

Most of the anime blog sites who have reviewed Koutetsu Sangokushi have done it a great disservice by labeling it boring. Far from it! This is character-driven storytelling at its finest. It may seem to drag for those who prefer action non-stop and the dialogue straightforward, but if you want to appreciate this anime to its fullest, you have to play close attention to the interactions between the characters. It is such a multi-layered story that you won't be able to grasp the numerous messages it wants to convey with just one watching alone. Stick with it and you won't regret it!

While Koutetsu Sangokushi may be considered as a visual treat for the ladies who want their anime loaded with bishounen ("pretty boys"), credit for its success in pulling off a very difficult character-driven plotline falls exclusively on the shoulders of its all-male leads and the seiyuu who portray them. Mamoru Miyano -- who wowed fans with his portrayal of Light Yagami in Death Note -- provides great emotional depth and heartbreaking vulnerability to Rikuson. Not surprisingly, it is for this role -- and two others -- that Miyano won the Best Male Seiyuu Award at the recent Seiyuu Awards in Japan. Voice actress Mitsuki Saiga is in her element as the bratty Ryoutou, although her portrayal is remarkably reminiscent of Wolfram in Kyou Kara Maou! A particular treat for me was the hilarious repartee between Taishiji (played with boisterous perfection by Kentarou Itou, who is more known as Ensei in Saiunkoku Monogatari) and the wimpy Ryomou (portrayed by fan favorite Akira Ishida, who played Hakkai in the Saiyuki anime). Also brilliant were Takehito Koyasu and Koji Yusa, who portrayed rival siblings Koumei and Shoukatsukin, respectively. Masaya Onosaka and Noriaki Sugiyama, who played star-crossed brothers-in-arms Chouhi and Choun respectively, had me weeping buckets. Oh, my nephew wants me to mention seiyuu Rina Satou as the irritating tranvestite boy king Ryuubi. Says Enzo, "An actress who could play such an annoying character as Ryuubi is darned good in my book." I must admit that the one seiyuu whose acting really bowled me over was that of Junichi Suwabe, who played the ex-pirate Kannei. Suwabe is more known to fans for playing strong male characters -- Grimmjow from Bleach, Atobe from Prince of Tennis and Archer from Fate/Stay Night, just to name a few. So to see him acting out an emotionally vulnerable character was quite an accomplishment. Personally, I would like to see him playing more roles like this.

Koutetsu Sangokushi, for all its complexity, is a story about love in all its forms. You have love for one's sibling, love for power, the love that a student has for his teacher, love for one's country, and -- yes, the hints are too strong to be ignored -- even love between two men. It's a compelling story of how love can be used to achieve one's selfish gains. But on the other hand, it is also love that can right all wrongs, even if it entails a noble but heartbreaking sacrifice in the very end.

Better than review, is a Trailer video of: Koutetsu Sangokushi. Watch it now:
Browse Anime by Alphabet:
Browse Anime by year of production:
  • 1993
  • 1992
  • 1991
  • 1990
  • 1989
  • 1988
  • 1987
  • 1986
  • 1985
  • 1979