Master of Martial Hearts: The Drinking Game

Title: Master of Martial Hearts
Rating: 15
Release Date: 4th April 2011
What is it: 5 episode OVA
Extras: Commentary by original Seiyuu on the first episode

Master of Martial Hearts was sent to me for reviewing purposes, and once I read the press release, I knew it was going to be a very difficult series to review seriously.

It goes like this:

Directed by Yoshitaka Fujimoto (Ikki Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor), the five-episode OVA Master Of Martial Hearts takes anime “fan service” to an eye-popping new level as a bevy of fully-stacked, battling babes go head-to-head in a mysterious, combat-based quest to gain possession of the Platonic Heart, a mythical jewel that can grant the holder any wish.

A pugilistic peep show that hurls political correctness out the nearest window and leaves nothing to the viewer’s imagination once the all-too-revealing, raiment ripping mayhem gets under way, Master Of Martial Hearts is definitely aimed at the more mature anime fans. Consider yourself warned.

Aya Iseshima’s carefree existence takes a bone-crushingly violent turn when she inadvertently wanders into the midst of a sadistic, girl-on-girl martial arts tournament with an irresistible prize for the victor. Her freshly-pressed school uniform doesn’t stand a chance of surviving this pulverizing peep show, but Aya’s out to prove that she can take a pounding just as well as the other knockout beauties in this clandestine competition. If she emerges victorious from a series of fabric-shredding fights with titillating teachers, sultry stewardesses and mesmerizing maidens, her every wish will be granted by a mysterious jewel known as the Platonic Heart. But if she goes down for the count, she’ll join the growing ranks of brutally bruised yet resiliently buxom battle-broads that are never heard from again.

I didn’t even make it as far as ‘pugilistic peep show’ before I knew this was rather outside my area of expertise. So, I drafted in Jon – Manga Market’s MCM Dogsbody, and Web Advisor – who only has a few anime series under his belt, and with the help of a large bottle of Vodka, we concocted the Master of Martial Hearts Drinking Game.

The Master of Martial Hearts Drinking Game
The Master of Martial Hearts

Now, there are a few notes on this game.

Note 1: Unless you want to Never Ever stop drinking, don’t drink for EVERY boob and panty shot, just drink for every new person’s one in a scene.
Note 2: I have only watched the dub version of this series, so I am aware there are some script differences, but reading subtitles was going to be very difficult.
Note 3: Don’t drink for the credits, or you will need to refill before the show even starts.

The show itself is fairly lightweight, as you can probably guess. It tends to forget it actually has a plot, and tries to make up for this by having the characters constantly tell you what has just happened. It is also the sort of show where clothes rip based upon the force of impact. It reminds me a little of Burn Up Excess, but whereas Burn Up Excess was more of a comedy sex romp (one of the extras is a ‘jiggle counter’), Master of Martial Hearts takes itself a bit too seriously for my liking. This means that often, bits which are meant to be dramatic miss the target a bit because the situation it’s all happening in is hi-larious. There are a few moments of brilliance, such as when Aya is fighting in a maid cafe. “Masters!” cries the maid, after slicing Aya’s shirt open before an audience of dodgy guys, “Your magic is helping me to win!”

“It’s not magic, you freak!” Aya points out. “You’re waving a blade around on a stick!”

Jon, as a relative newbie to anime, came to the conclusion that it was brilliant. He said he knew he shouldn’t like it, but he did. And I think that’s true – it’s not something you can actually dislike. It’s so farcical in and of itself that even though it a few full-frontal shots short of being soft core porn, you just have to laugh. Its length helped with that I think. With only 5 episodes, it clocks in at just under 2 and a half hours. For a drinking game, that’s pretty good, and makes for a decent evening.

The animation style is okay, nothing special. Attention has been paid to certain elements – this is another anime that wouldn’t lose out from adding a jiggle counter – whereas other times it seems that maybe the animators got a little bored and wanted to get onto the next scene where they could draw boobies. Aya’s hair changes colour a few times, from reddy-brown, to dark brown, to almost black…. And body proportions change depending on outfits – sometimes Aya is positively inflated, whereas other times she looks a good deal more like a school girl. Equally, I’m not quite sure what happened to the animation in the ending credits. The style becomes chunkier, and whilst some could argue it’s a more realistic style of animation, after the animation in the episode it looks clunky and like it was done in a bit of a rush.

Surprisingly, where it doesn’t fall down as a series is in the tropes I’d expected to see – there are no nosebleeds from pervy men, no flagrant innuendo in either character positioning or in dubbing during fights – these fights are fights, and you’re not there to forget that. I’d anticipated a much more sleazy feel to the series overall, and it just doesn’t have it. Yes, it’s got boobs left, right and centre, all with carefully rendered nipples, but whilst that’s a clear focus, it’s not as creepy as you would think it would be. It’s more Carry On Fanservice than Debbie Does UFC.

All the plot seems to take place in the last fifteen minutes of the series, which ends with a Deus Ex Machina that is foreshadowed briefly in the first episode, and then forgotten about until the end. But then, most people won’t be watching this for the plot. Rather like people don’t really read Playboy for the articles.

Rating: about 96% proof. (3/5)
Try this if you liked: Burn Up Excess.

One Response to “Master of Martial Hearts: The Drinking Game”
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  1. […] it and called dibs. This is because I saw bits in it that made me fondly remember my evening with Master of Martial Hearts. It wasn’t that it branded itself as a ‘pugilistic peep-show’, or that it claimed […]

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