Grenadier, an action packed ecchi anime that actually has a story. And a very interesting story at that. It follows the adventures of a female Senshi (gunman) called Rushina and her samurai partner Yajiro. Due to the interesting plot and philosophies of the characters, I really wanted to like and enjoy this anime. I would have done a drunk marathon for this, going by the outward appearance alone, but I was Ill that weekend. This anime unfortunately falls victim to the terrible tropes and typical ecchiness that plagues many anime. If you can look past these, then enjoy. But otherwise, I was frustrated at myself since I got bored during most of this otherwise interesting anime. I hate the ecchi genre and that is likely to affect the outcome of this review.
The animation quality is decent for a 2003 anime, though the style is unoriginal and feels cheesy at times. The ecchiness is initially OK but gets worse and there's an entire episode set at a brothel and I don't know how to feel about that. There are bits wher clothes get a bit ripped :( Of course, since this is an anime, nothing vulgar occurs and there is no real nudity, despite many skimpy outfits and the like. One could even argue that the mysogenistic character design in the brothel episode is justified by context. However the overall animation is quite average. There are some very cheesy and cringeworthy bits where people shout the name of thir attacks and a few animations seem to be repeated, like the reloading of the bullets.
The soundtrack isn't too great and doesn't stand out. However the background music is usually appropriate to the scenes that occur. The music sometimes feels upbeat and cheesy, which doesn't fit too well with the interesting and serious overall plot. This anime has an English dub, which isn't exactly the best. I noticed some of the English voice actors were from some bad anime I've seen before.
The main character is a very skillful, big-breasted gunman called Rushina Tendo AKA 'The Smiling Senshi'. She was raised to be a pacifist by Tenshi, AKA the empress. She has certain views that peace is better than war and I can really commend that, she also loves to take baths, so expect a lot of bathing/hot spring scenes. Despite being skilled with her revolver, which she can instantly reload by spinning and releasing bullets from her breasts (?! are they full of bullets or something!?!?), she will always takeout her foes without killing a single one. This is slightly bullshit, if she doesn't wound them (which is against her philosophy), then they could easily just continue fighting. If only they had tranquilisers in those days... Her idea is to make the enemy lose the will to fight, so then she doesn't have to use force. Usually this means she smiles at them and comes at them with peaceful intentions. However in a few cases she embraces the 'foe,' a pleasant idea overall, but this means shoving their faces into their breasts. As nice as it may be for the guy, it's rather suffocating (talking from experience unfortunately) and overall disrespectful to herself. But the biggest bullshit thing? One major terrible trope of animes is that they are terrible with correlating appearances to age. How old is Rushina? Early 20s? 18? Nope. SIXTEEN FUCKING YEARS OLD! I don't need to explain why this is a bad thing, god I hate the unrealism of anime sometimes.
The other main character is Yajiro Kojima, a skillful samurai mercenary of unknown age. He believes in justice and is the typical action hero. No bullshit from him, he wants to stop the wars and fighting, but is willing to fight to put an end to it, unlike Rushina. He hates the Senshi and feels they are evil people exerting their force. He lives by the way of the sword and believes in it, he can feel it in his palms when he takes a life and this helps him to realise the value of the lives his sword takes. He believe that guns don't give that feel of someone's life and make it easy to take lives making them worthless. His main enemy is Tenshi, the pacifist empress who he stubbornly believes is evil. There is a tragic romantic interest with one of the minor character's but otherwise, he is a man beyond such pervertedness. This proven by his lack of patronism at the brothel, when he visits. This could also be interpreted as him being a trope gutless protagonist but I don't think that is a concern here.
Mikan is an orphan girl who is an expert at blowing balloons and creating various things out of balloons. Her balloons make real life balloon animals look like childrens scribbles in comparison. She lost her parents to a gang of evil Senshi and wants revenge on them, something that Rushina doesn't necessarily approve of. Again a bit of bullshit, in a later episode she wears a skimpy outfit and it is apparent she has unrealistically large breasts. I'll retain my rage for now.
The empress AKA Tenshi is a pacifist that has taught Rushina all she knows. She has set Rushina the task of journeying around the lands to teach peace to all. There is more to this character than meets the eye. There is also an evil Jester character, who appears whenever a strong enemy appears and has an air cannon. This character also has an interesting hidden story. Teppa Aizen is a perverted childhood friend of Rushina's who is one of the Jutensen aThe other characters aren't as important, though the Jutensen are powerful Senshi under the orders of the empress.
The story is the best bit of this anime. An action packed journey to the capital for Yajiro to confront the empress and Rushina to report back after having been on her journey for a while. They meet many people along the way and the plot thickens with interesting twists and turns. I'll be honest, I got very bored during the first half, but it picks up in the second half. There are some bullshit bits here and there, however and the story doesn't have proper foreshadowing or use of plot devices. I've seen better plots so it won't score so highly.
Overall it isn't so bad. If you can soldier through the terrible filler and the bullshit that inevitably come with an ecchi anime. If you are on the fence about this one, then maybe don't bother. I still think this would be more fun on a drunk marathon (which I normally do for terrible anime). I had trouble keeping interest in this anime, despite the story being interesting and the overall anime being OK. Perhaps this is more suited towards younger audiences.
Family-friendliness: 4/5 Only bumped up to 4, cos it features a brothel, where nothing occurs, thankfully (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 6/10 (higher is better)
Grenadier is the smutty daughter of Trigun and Rurouni Kenshin. It has the same theme in it (fighting for something, either honor, peace, or ambition) and at the same time it has lots of brainless fan service in the form of nude and action. Although most such shows have only an excuse for a story, this one in particular is occasionally trying to focus on its theme in ways that are somewhat smart.
So the story begins with swordsmen being wiped out by modern weapons. A survivor of them meets a girl who happens to be a master gunner with the title of Grenadier. She is on a quest to clear her name of accusations regarding treason and at the same time doing her job as a defender of the land. So the two of them roam the land, trying to get to the capital and confront the queen who seems to have gone mad and left the kingdom to rot.
The premise is indeed catchy and the show does not drop it a few episodes later for aimless softporn and storyless adventures. It sticks to it and offers a solid ending; something most such anime do not. At the same time it is not deep or complicating; it is still full of silly action, over the top nudity, and tired jokes. So it tried to be a bit of both and was left stuck in the middle, something most viewers do not like because they would rather have an extremity of one or the other. Ι for once didn’t mind that much.
The setting is also eye-catchy on a basic level, as it combines all sorts of cultures, from Wild West, to feudal Japan and hints of medieval fantasy. This expands to the soundtrack, which is a blend of western, Japanese folk, and J-pop. The production values are not great in terms of animation or outlines, but as far as decorations and details are concerned, they made a fine job.
Unfortunately the above will go unnoticed for most, since they will most likely be looking at huge boobs, bath scenes, and weird duels between superhuman gunmen. There is a ton of guilty pleasure in every episode that will most likely overshadow all its attempts to be smarter than the usual. The action scenes are actually very good for this sort of anime and even follow a sort of internal logic, as well as basic strategy. Of course you should not try to rationalize anything because they are all pretty far-fetched. The heroine can dodge bullets by spinning around and reloads her gun with bullets that pop out of her breasts. Yeah, oozing creativity used for wrong reasons…
But beyond that, each fighter in the show has his or her own personal style and even sort of lives his or her life based on it. It is not just for show but also a way of life. Nothing complicating but at least it fits to each one of them. My favorite part is the brothel which aims to make men less violent by removing their guns (and clothes). Past that, there is no actual character development for anyone in this show, past the young samurai who wants to avenge his fallen comrades, even if it costs him his life. Since all other Grenadiers have reached the peak of their skill they have no room for development, and the ephemeral goons they fight are just too dumb to matter. He alone though was not that strong to begin with and being dragged on a quest of vengeance with little value to his life meant for a lot of interesting things to happen that flesh him out in a nice way.
Although not a great show by any means, it is occasionally shows a few interesting concepts that remain constant and the action is not bad for what the show is all about. Just don’t expect an amazing story or memorable characters.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 3/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 2/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 1/2, Story 1/3, Characters 1/4
I really liked this anime because it was very uplifting and very motivating. The energy and honesty you'd see in Yajirou was really bad ass -- I even dressed up as him for anime north. Also, Rushuna was just a great person with whom to team up. She was a really nice person with a respectable stance on things. The whole story would focus on the benefits of positive actions and views of life -- peace vs war, happiness vs. sadness, optimism vs. pessimism. That being said, the plot could have gone a bit more in depth with these themes. On the upside, the characters were likeable and the animation and sound were both great.
If you're here to see ecchi, then yes, this show is awesome for that too :)
Take Trigun, swap out about 75% of the "cool" factor and 50% of the drama factor, and replace it with ecchi and fanservice (and perhaps a touch more comedy that stems from the ecchi), and in a nutshell you have Grenadier. For viewers who haven't watched Trigun, all this means basically is that it's all but impossible to not notice the fanservice (I mean, it's a key element in how Rushyuna reloads her gun o_o).
This is not to say that any of the other factors I mentioned above are absent from the series. The drama in the storyline is not totally lighthearted, and there are a fair few moments where the characters take a moment from their ecchi routine to kick some butt in style (even if said butt ends up being fanservice later). The only thing that will differ between viewers is whether they'll like the presence of fanservice, or whether they'll find it utterly tasteless and distracting from what's going on in the plot. And it can go both ways. I personally don't mind ecchi (I am a healthy young man), and while I don't think it's particularly necessary at certain points in the story, I'm not the sort that gets distracted from the story taking place by a second or two of melons being flashed. However, not everyone is like me. If you dislike ecchi in your drama, take my advice and try another series first.
Character-wise, the two main leads are pretty strongly developed. Perhaps not as strong as Vash was in Trigun, mind you, but they still have their own motivation, and their own reasons for moving forward, all ecchi aside. Complementing the two mains is a somewhat hefty cast of side characters, some which play a major role in supporting the two, and others that will make you wonder why the makers bothered introducing them at all. At the least, the screentime of such characters is kept to a minimum.
In the end, I'd suppose the series was enjoyable. At the same time, I feel like a lot of anime fans out there simply get turned off by the presence of ecchi (no pun intended), and while it's totally understandable, it's also unfortunate, as there are quite a few series out there that hide good storylines under their exteriors of fanservice shots. If you're not a hater of ecchi, I'd recommend giving this one a chance.