Anime of Tomorrow
Tag Archives: Samurai
Initial impression – unoriginal, but not entirely mind-numbing (4/10)
Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (English title – Parallel World Samurai) (more info)
Genderbending ancient Japanese heroes into women is hardly new territory; but Samurai Girls proved that it’s possible to turn that premise into something cool. And while it falls far short of anything approaching what Samurai Girls accomplished, Sengoku Collection does a respectable job of telling a story of a young woman out of her era.
Where it fails, though is when it turns to the tired old plot device of having the main character travel around collecting pieces of some vague energy in order to have her wish granted. It’s so lacking in imagination and the main story is such an ordinary clash of cultures / boy meets girl story that I can foresee nothing promising on the horizon.
This suspicion is further confirmed in the credits where the other characters feature as a smorgasbord of moe stereotypes ranging from glasses to jailbait. I’ll fully admit my own weakness to moe, but I don’t like having it shoved in my face in such a painfully obvious manner. The spirit of Sengoku Collection can be summed up as regendered, fetishized historical figures transported to the modern era and trying to get home and that’s a bit too simple for me to lend it any more of my time.
What do you think? Is this kind of formula too weird? And is reimagining great men from Japan’s past as women something that piques anyone’s interest? How do you feel about the excessive exaggeration of the character’s appeal? Is it fun and goofy or offensively contrived and transparent?
Final impression – unpolished and childish shounen (4/10)
Winter 2012 (12 episodes) (more info)
Brave 10 is a testament to some really bad design with incomprehensible, unbelievable personalities popping up in every new character we meet. Saizo’s actions and words are so inconsistent that it’s unbearably annoying and Isanami’s playful, happy-go-lucky attitude is not becoming of someone who just lost every friend in the world and is now on the run in fear for her life. The pitifully transparent foreshadowing doesn’t bode well for the writing, either. When Yukimura Sanada just comes right out and says he’s going to need ten warriors by his side before he can start fixing anything, it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to have to put up with a drawn-out, pathetically simplistic build up of gathering party members. And considering the nature of the battles we’ve seen thus far, they’re all sure to be thimble-shallow oddballs based around some superpower theme. Despite all this negativity I’m oozing, the action scenes are really well done and would have complimented a much better story. So if you’re looking for a shounen, action anime with samurai and ninja that’s all about spectacle, Brave 10 is the show for you.
Final impression – plotless (3/10)
Autumn 2011 (12 episodes) (Japanese title – Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!) (more info)
At Kawakami High School disputes between classes are resolved with grandiose battles. It reminds me of those two combat episodes of School Rumble. You know…the one where they did the cavalry game at the sports festival and the one where they fought with air rifles. Then add a touch of the Olympic combat of Dog Days and you’ve got the less than mediocre Majikoi. The first episode just drops the viewer right into the middle of a battle with no setup or reason to care who wins. The course of the fight wasn’t even constructed with any kind of development besides some contrived epic mercenaries who were there for no other reason than for the underdogs to win against the atypical, cocky top seed. It’s a thinly veiled, juvenile sports story that’s been done a million times and Majikoi does nothing to revolutionize the trope. Since I can’t tell what else this anime is about, I’m completely uninterested. It makes absolutely no room for plot development and if this first episode can’t construct the most basic elements of a story I have no hope for the future.
Final impression – refreshing, but could’ve been better 8/10
Fall 2010 – (title literal translation – Blooming Flowers – Samurai Girls)
The young samurai Muneakira returns from his travels around Japan to find the wanted criminal Yukimura being hunted by his childhood friend, Princess Sen Tokugawa. Yukimura is a diviner and has come to the capital to warn the country’s leaders that a calamity is on the horizon. However, Sen’s brother, the de facto leader of Japan, has written off the prediction as heresy and has ordered her capture. However, things get messy when Muneakira’s chivalrous nature leads him to take Yukimura’s side. When the battle is looking bleak, a mysterious samurai girl named Jyuubei descends from the heavens to defend Muneakira with her otherworldly strength. Who is this monstrously powerful young woman and what is her relationship to Muneakira?
Samurai Girls is set in a fantasy-style modern Japan, in a world that experienced a very different end to World War II. As I often do when a specific plot element excites me, I’m going to mention that I have a soft spot for alternate history stories, so this anime may rank higher on my scale than others might rate it. Given the excessive ecchi, even I would have expected my own rank for Samurai Girls to be a much lower score. But there’s a lot of innovation throughout the anime that is very fresh; resulting in the ecchi being more icing on the cake than excessive sugar. Using inkblots to censor the anime’s TV version was a stylistic stroke of genius. Unnatural rays of light that censor other, similar anime like Koihime Musou are getting cliché and tacky. But enough about the ecchi. Samurai Girls as a concept isn’t anything new. Attractive women with superhuman abilities is common enough, but it gets executed very well in Samurai Girls. There is a great balance of story and action, with pretty much every character having likable, relatable traits. The art style is also refreshing, with very sharp shading and thick lines that makes the entire anime look like it was painted with a wide brush. Excellent opening and ending theme music round out a surprisingly awesome anime.