Perhaps you have already heard of Touken Ranbu, DMM’s browser and smartphone game that involves a lot of pretty boys who are actually anthropomorphic personifications of legendary Japanese swords. The series has proved to be incredibly popular with anime adaptations, musicals, stage plays, and even manga under its belt. The new anime adaptation, Katsugeki / Touken Ranbu, has started airing too, which made its popularity spike up even further. But what exactly is the reason that makes this series so popular?
Touken Ranbu is a free-to-play browser card battle game wherein the player takes the role of Saniwa, a sage who has the ability to bring inanimate objects to life—legendary Japanese swords in this case, all of which take the form of handsome (or cute) young men called Touken Danshi. And of course, such a game will be popular among females, the game’s intended target market.
The Heian Era sword, Mikazuki Munechika, and its Touken Danshi counterpart of the same name, who is lovingly referred to by the fandom as ‘Jiji.’
A game full of beautiful boys isn’t the only reason why this game is so popular, of course. Touken Ranbu was first launched in 2015 as a counterpart to another popular DMM game that involves the anthropomorphic personification of naval warships into cute young girls, Kantai Collection, which was at the peak of its popularity during that time.
It was also well-timed to another fad that’s rapidly gaining popularity: rekijo, or female history aficionados. These girls are known for spending a lot for their interests, and since historical swords are their thing, they took the bait and easily became fans of the game. The fact that all of the Touken Danshi are absolute eye-candies is a plus, too!
Even if you’re not a rekijo, you will most likely enjoy this game because of the interesting personalities of the characters, who also embody some of the traits of their original historical owners. Just take Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki, Sakamoto Ryoma’s uchigatana, as an example. While he clearly has a sword just like other Touken Danshi, one unique trait of his is that he has a gun, which is obviously a reference to Sakamoto Ryoma.
Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki is a double wielder: he wields a sword on one hand, and a rifle on the other hand.
Now that the game has done its fair share in the franchise’s popularity, did its other adaptations manage to make it popular too? If we’re looking at the anime, then it definitely took the interest of those people who only watch anime and aren’t into games.
If the comments on Reddit, 4chan, or even MAL are anything to go by, we can see that Fate fans who are impressed with Fate/Zero and Unlimited Blade Works’ animation will check Katsugeki out as well because of ufotable, the studio behind the two Fate series. If Katsugeki managed to convert new fans into the franchise, then they’ll most likely also check out Doga Kobo’s Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru, the slice-of-life version of the series.
As for the stage plays and musicals, while actors usually become popular because of their projects, it goes both ways for Touken Ranbu because most of the cast in both Tousute and Toumyu are already established stage actors with their own fanbases, and fangirls who have no exposure to a certain franchise will suddenly check it out just because they want to watch an actor on stage. I’ve seen a lot of my Twitter mutuals do that, and I’m certain that the Japanese fandom does it too… After all, who does not want to see their favorite actor on stage as one of the beautiful Touken Danshi?
[Musical Touken Ranbu The Trial]— Nei (@uchihaneitai) February 2, 2017
Kuroba Mario as Mikazuki Munechika
Kitazono Ryo as Kogitsunemaru pic.twitter.com/YrHNzUa3Er
Whether it might be the stage play, musical or the anime, a fan will end up checking out the source material, or in this case, the game itself. Even though it hasn’t been officially released into English yet, there’s no need to worry about the language barrier because there’s a lot of tutorials and guides out there that can help you on your mission to know more about your favorite Touken Danshi. In fact, this guide, in particular, is a good place to start your journey as a Saniwa.
So open your app or go to DMM.com on your browser now and start playing! You might even end up getting Jiji, the rarest character in the game!