A simple google search for Irohanihoheto shows that it’s the first phrase in the Iroha poem. The Iroha poem is some witty poem that manages to use every (ancient) kana exactly once. Doing that in a Japanese poem is like constructing a 26 words English poem that use all the alphabets once. In fact, the word ‘Iroha’ itself is like the ABC of Japanese.
The alleged meaning of the poem is about some deep philosophical Buddhism shit. It’s something a crude man like me, whose vocabulary is the full range of ‘fuck’, would not understand. But from what I can gather, it has something to do with how karma is ever changing and formless.
I am sharing all this because context is very important in Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto as half of the fun is to see how they weave history into this fantasy samurai show.
So here’s the basic story and context for the show. Akizuki is the descendant of this sword wielding Chinese badasses whose job is to use their special sword to seal off this magical head of a vengeful warrior. This vengeful warrior was a rebel during the Qin Dynasty. He was beheaded and his decapitated head got really piss off with Qin Shi Huang because Qin Shi Huang was an asshole. This piss off head got so angry that it became magical and float around doing evil shit.
Below, I will try to account on the real legend of Qin Shi Huang and add in how Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto revised this later on.
To give you an idea of this Qin Shi Huang guy, he is that guy who worked people’s ass off to build the Great Wall of China. His achievement includes unifying China, perpetuate the use of coins, burn lots of books that criticize him and got so bad shit insane that he is actually trying to find the elixir of life. Oh, and he totally worked people’s ass off even after his death by asking people to build tons of statute warriors to protect his grave. As you can see, he is one big man child who sometimes has sand in his vagina.
So being an asshole like him, he send out troops of Chinese wizards to find the elixir of life because fuck people, he want to live forever. One of this wizard is Xu Fu, which legend has it, migrated with 3000 children to Japan while in search of the elixir of life. If legend is to be believe, this Xu Fu guy is one of the best con artist in history.
Xu Fu went to someplace that might be ancient Japan to search for the elixir of life. During his first search of the elixir of life, he realise that Qin Shi Huang is a big man child who won’t hesitate to kill off Chinese wizards who have failed in their search of the elixir. With that knowledge in mind, and the fact that Xu Fu knew that this elixir of life bullshit is one huge bullshit, he pretty much gave up and started to plan his lies.
He went back to China and told Qin Shi Huang hat there’s this greedy deity in Japan who asked for more giving in order for an exchange of the elixir. This is why he needs a platoon of armies, 3000 children, lots of money and other materials so that he can go back to Japan in order to please this greedy deity. Qin Shi Huang , usually a smart guy, got duped by Xu Fu and granted him his requests. Xu Fu, seeing his plans worked, laughed and went on having a good life in Japan.
And here’s where Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto revised this piece of history. The show totally ignored all of the above and says that Qin Shi Huang asked Xu Fu to seal off the vengeful decapitated head(mentioned in paragraph 5) in Japan during his searched for the elixir of life because fuck Japan, they need evil head in their country.
So the story of Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto began, 2000 years later, an era where Japanese got bullied by evil Americans into opening their ports and the beginning of the Meiji Restoration.
Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto is set in 1868, which is near the end of Bakumatsu where all the exciting big wars happen. It especially focus on the events that happen after Sakamoto Ryouma death, namely the bloodless edo war and such. To put it simply, Sakamoto Ryouma is this guy who pioneers the Meiji Restoration and our main character, Akizuki Yojiro, was once a bodyguard of his.
Troubling times call for extreme measures. With knowledge that there is this almighty evil head in Japan, people started to search and unleash the power of the sealed head for their own personal reasons. Some people want to use power to wreck havocs, some want to use it to save Japan, while our hero, Akizuki, just want to seal that motherfucking piece of shit while being sad that he can’t save Ryouma.
With that, we began our journey on how an evil head floats around to conspire real and important events in Japanese history … … with real historical characters … … and some sweet sweet romance between two good looking humans … …. and a plan for revenge … … and some sword and gun wielding actions … … and evil evil foreigners, all of which with instances of badly drawn animations.