Fifteen year old Ichimura Tetsunosuke longs to avenge the murder of his parents, and so when his older brother joins the Shinsengumi, he chooses to sign up as well. Despite his wishes, however, he ends up being assigned as a page to Vice-Commander Hijikata- a role that has more to do with mundane chores than earning glory on the battlefield. Nonetheless, Tetsu applies himself to his new life, but will he ever get the chance to fulfil his desire for revenge? Should such an optimistic and pure-hearted boy ever be forced to face the hideous reality of taking another’s life?
It’s easy to write a rant about something you hate, and only slightly less difficult to tackle the case of something you love (especially if you don’t mind sounding like a raving idiot), but when it comes to that extensive middle ground of the downright mediocre, it can often be hard to know what to say. Unfortunately, Peacemaker is one such series, an experience so average that once it is over, it leaves very little of an impression.
All that can be said in the series’ favour is that, unlike the impression given by the earliest episodes, it is not actually the generic shounen series it appears to be. This isn’t about Tetsu becoming “the strongest Shinsengumi”, but instead a young man’s journey from an idealistic boy out for revenge to a more mature figure who has seen the realities and consequences of battle. Whilst that does elevate it out of the realms of the completely generic, it isn’t really enough to make it a worthwhile experience. Beyond this main idea, the plot seems to meander around without ever deciding what it wants to do- sometimes the series can be quite dark and bloody, but just as it has built up a serious mood, it is equally prone to destroying it by offering a forgettable comedy episode such as one in which Okita winds up Hijikata by stealing his collection of hilariously bad haikus (at least I assume they are hilariously bad in Japanese, they lose all semblance of it in translation).
As far as characters go, Peacemaker has a somewhat overextended cast of both historical and non-historical characters, so much so that even twenty-four episodes aren’t really enough to develop them all (in fact, in some cases it is hard to even remember their names). Whilst a few of them are actually quite likable (and preferable to their portrayal in other historical series), their presence is balanced by more annoying or simply bland personalities- and whilst Tetsu himself is not as bad as the average spiky-haired lead, he is still somewhat annoying.
Visually, Peacemaker’s character designs are mixed, with some being aesthetically pleasing and others ranking as little more than generic. Apart from a few decent fight scenes, the actual animation is nothing special, although since this a Gonzo series, there is a bit too much unnecessary CG. Background music is generally forgettable, and the OP and ED should be skipped to get each episode down to around 21 minutes.
A perfect example of absolute mediocrity, Peacemaker shows occasional flashes of interesting content, but all too often remains entrenched in the realm of the average. You could watch it if you have absolutely nothing else to spend your time on, but if that isn’t the case, you won’t miss out by giving it a miss.