Gifu Dodo!! Kanetsugu and Keiji: Episode 1 – “Kanetsugu and Keiji”

Gifu Dodo!! Kanetsugu and Keiji is an anime based on a manga by Tetsuo Hara, the mangaka that created Fist of the North Star. The anime is produced by Studio DEEN, and is directed by Bob Shirohata. The series is being simulcast on Crunchyroll on Tuesdays.

This series is a work of historical fiction that is set at the end of the Sengoku period, and it tells an alternate story of this era of Japan’s history. The series focuses on the possibility that Uesugi Kenshin had an illegitimate child. Useugi Kenshin’s retainer is a man named Naoe Kanetsugu. Kanetsugu ends up teaming up with a well-known eccentric warrior named Maede Keiji.

The episode opens at a party a man named Tarobei is throwing to celebrate the completion of his new mansion. It turns out Keiji is there, and he puts an axe into part of the mansion. Kanetsugu enters at that time, and explains to Tarobei the point that Keiji was trying to make with his action.

From there, it cuts to the two men outside, reminiscing about when they first met; it then goes into the opening credits. When the story returns, we have gone back in time to the point where Kanetsugu and Keiji have their first face-to-face meeting.

Word gets to Kenshin and Kanetsugu that Keiji has interfered in an Uwanariuchi, which is a battle between two women if a husband marries a new woman within a month of his divorce from his first wife. Both men recognize Keiji as a man who had interfered in a major battle and cost Kenshin and his troops a victory. Kanetsugu is sent to find Keiji and deal with him.

Kanetsugu’s search takes him to the red light district, where he finds Keiji playing a biwa in a pleasure house. Kanetsugu sits and listen to Keiji, and at first things seem to be all right; but then, Keiji’s song changes, and a tension develops. A group of men suddenly burst in and try to take down Keiji, but it fails. By the end of the first episode, Kanetsugu and Keiji seem to have developed a mutual admiration of each other.

I have to admit that while there’s the potential for an interesting story for this series, it’s got some sluggish pacing for its storytelling. I’m hoping that this sluggishness is due to trying to establish the characters and the environment they inhabit, and that future episodes will have a better pacing to them. There is also a little bit of “info dumping” that takes place to introduce the main characters, but I don’t think it hurt the pacing, since the overall pacing is already rather sluggish.

One thing I have to give credit to this series for is the animation. It has a more “realistic” look to it without the blatant use of computer graphics, and the viewer almost feels like they’re in Japan during the Warring States era. The only thing that I found a little jarring is the fact that the character design for Kanetsugu makes him look an awful lot like Ken from Fist of the North Star. OK, yes, I understand that the same mangaka created both Gifu Dodo!! Kanetsugu and Keiji and Fist of the North Star, so perhaps similar looking characters should be expected.

Even though I found the first episode of Gifu Dodo!! Kanetsugu and Keiji to be a little on the boring side, I’m still willing to watch the next episode of this series to see if the pacing will improve.

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