Samurai Girls – Not Much to Take Off
Title: Samurai Girls
Extras: 4 Case Manga omake mini-stories, 2 short bonus OVAs on each disk, French and English Dub versions and original language sub version.
I had hoped with Samurai Girls to get a chance to play another drinking game. With the tagline “Experts in Striptease Fighting”, I was hoping for it to be ridiculous enough to make it suitably brainless watching. But it wasn’t. And that’s the problem – it had all the promise of being really really badass, from the art style and the opening and the character designs, I was actually excited for a really cool anime.
And it just… never really delivered.
The first scenes we see are of Japan, in this alternate universe we are set in, and various points in history where it has nearly been conquered. The last is of a troop of World War 2 bombers, who are then resoundingly destroyed by a troop of girls with little effort. The effect is certainly gripping. After the credits roll, we see the final scene of the episode – a naked girl falls from the sky and is kissed by a young man. Then we skip back to the start of the day and it is all explained.
The young man is Muneakira, who has recently arrived at a school in the mountains for training the wealthy and the elite. It is run by the Tokugawa family, who have asked him to come and investigate the mysterious disappearances of several students. This is pretty much the last we hear of that for a few episodes.
He heads to the Dojo he’s been assigned, only to walk in on Yukimura, an underdeveloped 15 year old with great strategic prowess, and Matabei, her buxom and perpetually underdressed bodyguard. From there the show quickly becomes a bit of a farce, with consistent boob jokes, accusations of Muneakira being a pervert left, right and centre. It all gets a bit repetitive and a bit tiresome. Yukimura and Matabe, it transpires, are trying to bring down the Tokugawa clan, or the school, that much isn’t really clear. What is clear is that the Tokugawas are apparently aware of it, and for a real bit of overkill send an elite squad of over-armed and underdressed ninjas to come and arrest them. This is the School Discipline Squad, lead by Hanzo, a bespectacled girl dressed in a maid’s uniform and concealing more blades in her clothing than can really be safe. She immediately assumes that as Muneakira, Yukimura and Matabei are in the same room together, obviously the only thing they can have been doing is having wild monkey sex, and she tries to arrest them for indecency as well, shrieking all over the shop. The three non-sexed-up criminals escape, and Hanzo crawls to apologise to the imperious Princess Sen Tokugawa, and there’s a strange moment with Sen’s foot and Hanzo’s face which frankly made everyone feel a bit uncomfortable, and then the ninja discipline squad are out again.
Muneakira, Yukimura and Matabei are almost captured again, until the mysterious girl falls from the sky, sans any clothing whatsoever, and kisses Muneakira. This is apparently all that is needed to turn her into an Epic Badass, and she wipes the floor with Hanzo without ever drawing either of her swords. It is a really really cool fight. But, in transpires, this mysterious girl – Jubei Yagyu – has a bit of a split personality. As a Master Samurai, she’s badass – both in that she can take out an opponent without ever breaking a sweat, and in her superior, smug personality. The rest of the time, she’s clumsy, incompetant, overly childish and insists on calling Muneakira Big Brother, which doesn’t work so well in translation when she keeps smushing her boobs on him.
And that is in essence the most frustrating thing about this show. You know there is brilliance there, you know there is the capability of having this brilliantly driven, wonderfully executed and just downright cool plot, with a range of great characters, and it all dissolves into kissing, name calling, sex jokes and peoples boobs falling out all over the place. You see the main antagonist for probably a grand total of a minute and a half before episode 9, and whilst they occasionally mention him, there’s no real air of threat, and the kidnapped students? Largely ignored for the sake of girl-on-girl bathtime action and in-depth discussions on whether Yukimura’s boobs are too small. The show constantly promises so much, but it takes so long to deliver, the last three episodes almost feel like a totally different anime. And it feels long, which isn’t good for a show that is only 12 episodes in length.
The animation is different from the usual, and it is stunning – the backgrounds are styled in ink and watercolour to look like traditional Japanese paintings, whilst the characters have bolder outlines to fit this. The fight scenes are beautiful, and there is a lovely effect with ink blots that splatter across the screen in action scenes – although in the first couple of episodes, the animators do seem to get a bit carried away with this and they become irritating rather than effective.
At its heart, I think the problem is that Samurai Girls doesn’t know what it is, or who the audience are. Yes there are boobs, but the effect isn’t sexy, so is it aimed at men? Yes there is romance, but it’s not in-depth and punctuated with very sexual shots of the girls, so is it aimed at women? This is perhaps simplifying it to the nth degree, but the basic point still stands – it seems to try to be too many different things without ever being one very well.
Rating: 2/5 – I just got bored, but you might enjoy it for the crack.