What Is Touken Ranbu? The Ikemen Sword Training Browser Game, Explained

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Deanna Nguyen
Deanna Nguyen is a writer and editor with several years of experience in content creation and editorial management for print and digital publications. Aside from watching anime and simping for her favorite characters, she enjoys playing otome games and cuddling with her bichon frise, Yoshi, during her free time.

If you’re looking for a game with ikemen or you’ve heard about Touken Ranbu but never got around to playing it, we’re giving you a breakdown of the web browser game that launched an English version this year!

From the concept and historical influences to the anime adaptations, here’s everything you need to know about Touken Ranbu


What is Touken Ranbu

Think anthropomorphized Japanese historical swords—that’s basically Touken Ranbu. More formally, Touken Ranbu is a free-to-play, card-collecting browser game developed by Nitroplus and DMM GAMES.

The game first launched in Japan in 2015 and quickly gained popularity, inspiring several adaptations including anime series, stage plays, musicals and a live-action movie.  

RELATED: Handsome Sword Game Touken Ranbu -ONLINE- Getting an English Release 

The player takes on the role of a sage (Saniwa) who has the ability to travel back in time and give famous Japanese historical swords, known as the Touken Danshi (Toudan), human bodies and personalities.

Players train and level up the swords by taking them to battle to defeat the History Retrograding Force. Resource management and grinding are two key gameplay elements that will help players efficiently level up and achieve Kiwame status for their swords. 

Despite the cast of ikemen, Touken Ranbu is not an otome game. There are no romance elements, routes or endings. 


Do I need to know about Japanese history to play Touken Ranbu?

You don’t need to crack open a Japanese history textbook to play or understand Touken Ranbu. As a matter of fact, it might be the opposite! The appeal of toudan, aside from their handsome appearances, is how their personalities are shaped by the person who forged or wielded them and the time period they came from. 

For instance, the Vice Commander of the Shinsengumi, Hijikata Toshizou, wielded a famous sword named Izuminokami Kanesada that was forged by a swordsmith of the same name. Hijikata also carried another sword named Horikawa Kunihiro.

In the game, Izuminokami and Horikawa are shown to be very close to each other because they shared the same master. Most of the Toudan share special or familial bonds with one another based on their former masters and the swordsmiths who forged them. 

Touken Ranbu isn’t your authoritative guide to Japanese history, but it is heavily influenced by historical figures and the swords they wielded. Collecting the Toudan and leveling them up allows you to learn more about them and their relationships with one another.

You’re basically getting mini history lessons in the game! Now, who said games weren’t educational? 


What’s the difference between Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru and Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU?

Funimation Touken Ranbu Season 2

Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru focuses on the everyday lives of the Touken Danshi at the citadel (honmaru) while Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU takes on a more serious and dark approach with heavy action and drama.

The former was produced by Doga Kobo and received a second season titled Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru Season 2. ufotable produced the latter with an anime film adaptation in the works.

If you’d like to get to know most of the toudan and enjoy slice of life with a dash of comedy, Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru is your route. If you prefer fight scenes and gorgeous animation with a focus on a smaller cast of characters, Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU is the way to go. Or just watch both! 


So, do I need to play Touken Ranbu before watching the anime adaptations?

You don’t need to play the game to watch Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru and Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU. As a matter of fact, most people (including myself) were introduced to Touken Ranbu because of the anime adaptations which were accessible to stream way before the game’s English launch. 

Now that the game is available worldwide, you can enjoy the source material and the shows without the wait! 


Where and how do I play Touken Ranbu?

In order to play Touken Ranbu, you need to register an account on Johren.net. From there, just launch the game on your web browser and create an account in the game.

Konnosuke, a fox guide, will provide a tutorial to get you familiarized with the gameplay. If you need extra help, the Touken Ranbu Wiki is a reliable source for all things Touken Ranbu!

When playing the game, be prepared to grind a lot. While you can buy resources and other helpful items at the store, Touken Ranbu is free-to-play friendly. In other words, the game doesn’t require you to pay money to get strong swords.

What it does require is your time and patience because you’ll need to farm materials, repeat maps to level up your swords, complete citadel tasks and wait for your swords to be repaired, forged or return from a survey thanks to timers. 

Make sure to follow the official Touken Ranbu English Twitter account for announcements, maintenance notices and event guides! If you’re still on the fence about playing the game, give the anime adaptations a try, which you can stream right here on Funimation!

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