|Commentary by Barbara Sheridan
Kondou: In my opinion this is the BEST Kondou I’ve ever seen. This is no kindly old grandfather type, who keeps to the sidelines and busies himself with who knows what. This guy is most definitely the leader of the Shieken dojo and joins the roshitai and goes on to lead the Shinsengumi.Hijikata: I am hopelessly captivated by the image of the historical Hijikata and I adore the PMK version but this version is coming across as a total jerk! He has this “I’m too good for it all” air about him, he makes snide comments on the sword Kondou’s brother gives him (Kondou) as a going away gift and he sends a surrogate to tell his girlfriend he doesn’t want to see her anymore. I’ve seen quite a few more episodes since this comment and I’m glad to say that Hijikata is changing, maturing and becoming very much a leader in his own right.
Okita: ( before and after bad haircut images) I like this Okita; he seems very much like the Gohatto Okita who was a very cool young man despite his limited screen time. In Kyoto he develops a bit of a crush on the neighborhood “bad girl” and is clearly heartbroken when she sets her cap for the older and far manllier Serizawa Kamo. Poor kid. Time will tell if he’s going to be a kick-ass Okita like the Mibugishiden version.(who amazingly is this show’s Yamanami)
Nagakura: I haven’t seen a lot of him but he seems like a decent guy and is a far physical cry from the semi-cutsey little PMK version. Second in my opinion to the very cool Mibugishiden Shinpachi.
Harada: A rose is a rose and a Sano is a loud slob no matter where ends hails from.! I love this guy! He always looks like he’s half-crocked, is always laying around and running off at the mouth in all the wrong circumstances. He even went and filched the little rice cake Kondou’s wife had secreted away for her hubby and was rooting around for free food when they guys went to see what was happening with the formation of the Roshitai. However he has come to grow on me considerably. He’s still a bit of a doofus but he’s got a big heart as evidenced by his being so helpful to the ailing grandma Yagi when the boys get to Kyoto.
Yamanami: Haven’t seen much of him either but at first he seems very on the ball and intelligent and an overall take-charge kind of guy unlike the wishy-washy Yamanami of PMK. However, he’s starting to irk the crud out of me lately. The guys are ordered by Matsudaira Katamori to take down some signs the Choshu have posted which are deregatory to the Shogunate. Yamanami wants Kondou to know that if they follow orders then the Choshu will be t heir enemies. Hello!!! Um yeah, bud they already are. Amazingly by episode 25 Yamanami is showing some major signs of rutheless leadership a la Hijikata. And not a moment too soon!
Toudou: This Heisuke is such a dweeb I can’t stand it. The first time I saw him he and Kondou were trying to get an audience with Matsudaira. He was following Kondou around like a puppy and came across like a frightened little goof when they ran into Ryoma Sakamoto (drop dead gorgeous btw) who took them back to his place to drink and b.s. He had no problem boozing it up in the last episode when he was given money as a going away token and suggested that he and Okita hit the nearest sake bar. (the glass lifting motion needed no translation nor did Okita’s big “I’m one of the guys now!” grin. Of course when they get to the bar they run into the already hammered Harada *smirk*)
Saitou: Although I haven’t had a chance to see him in he show yet, what’s not to love? He’s got that sexy/deadly look about him that was so appealing in the RK version. After a few more episodes he seems to be a bit of a loner and is pleasantly surprised when the guys coax him to join in their off duty diversions. He’also very loyal to Kondou who helped him early on.
Serizawa: I’ve only caught glimpses of Kamo so far but that swagger and that sneer are so freakin’ cool I hate to think how Kondou and Co are going to do him in before too long. But what’s not to love about Serizawa Kamo when Koichi Sato portrays him? He’s brash and bold and acts like he owns the place and again, that sneer is to die for. FYI the actor Koichi Sato was one hell of a Saitou in Mibugishiden. Arrg! The death of Serizawa was ruined by a stupid plot device! He was unstoppable so they had to throw in a stupid stupid plot device to finish him off.