I first picked this harem-ecchi action anime up years ago. I dropped it after 4 episodes and today I've come back with alcohol, due to my dislike for harem-ecchi, but to finish what I started. I will try to keep my opinion out of this and give this anime a fair review. Though low expectations have made me do this with booze. It full of action, good music and *ugh* fan-service. Back in the day I used to enjoy anime like Sekirei, but my tastes have matured and I've become more cynical over the years.
The quality is immaculate for a 2010 anime and I was able to find this in 1080p blu-ray quality. But the style of this anime... is out of this world. The inky, artistic outlined style of this anime is beautiful and very unique. Yes, some aspects like the character design appear to be generic, but upon closer inspection some things look a bit more distinctive. Especially as Some of the character designs seem unoriginal from a distance. There is plenty of blood splattered around like ink, which is also present quite a bit. The rarely used setting of a psuedo-'feudal Japan' really help the art style. There is even an aged film look for flashbacks. But on to the negative. At times the inky animation looks a bit naff. But there's worse.
Being an ecchi harem anime, this does have a lot of unnecessary fan-service and nudity. Though from what I've heard, there is a censored version of this anime, I do not know how. The only versions of the anime I've found have toplessness in them. This is especially noticeable in the outro, which otherwise makes interesting use of the chibi-style. If you have read my previous reviews, you should know my views on ecchi, fan-service and nudity. It's only acceptable when it serves a just purpose. As far as I could tell, there was no need for the nudity here. There is implied sex, which would justify nudity, but the context is just all wrong. But it goes one step further with one character... this thing is censored even in the uncensored version! Thankfully frontal nudity is mannequinned (mannequin crotch) especially for when the guy is nude, which is fairly often. Overall the animation would get max score for the sweet, unique style of animation, but the pointless fan-service brings it down.
The music is fairly good. The intro music is energetic and does a good job of introducing the action of the anime. The outro is not so great, wasn't to my taste, but was still suited to the distasteful animation in the outro. Not that the outro music was that bad, it just made sense. The background music in the anime itself was utilised as was appropriate, no music during the scenes that didn't need any, action music for the fight scenes and comedy tunes for the funny ones. Heck, there were moments when the music reminded me of the music from Angel Beats, a compliment if anything. Despite all the praise I give it, the music didn't tempt me enough to get the soundtrack.At times the music reminds me of the music from the comedic sections of Angel Beats, yet more praise.
Surprisingly this anime is available in both English and Japanese. And with good voice actors doing the roles too. (The wrong names are listed for every VA on this site) Major name in the dub business David Matranga does the voice of the protagonist Muneakira Yagyuu and also did the voices of Hinata from Angel Beats, Kubodera from Another, Tomoya Okazaki from Clannad and Duke Dracul from Kaibutsu Oujo, which was the last anime I watched. Emily Neves who voices Jubei, also did the voices of Angel from Angel Beats, Kotomi Ichinose from Clannad, Mei Hoshino from Yumekui Merry and once again Reiri Kamura from Kaibutsu Oujo I recently watched. Hilary Haag did the voice of Yukimura and also did the voice of Yui from Angel Beats, Fuuko from Clannad, Merry from Yumekui Merry and yet again Princess Sherwood from Kaibutsu Oujo. Shelley Calene-Black the voice of Matabei did the voices of Kyou from Clannad, Shirakawa from Elfen Lied, Saki from Yumekui Merry and Hime from Kaibutsu Oujo. Yet more major names like Luci Christian for Sen, Maggi Flecknoe for Hanzou and Melissa Davis as Gisen. I must add that Rie Kugumiya does the Japanese voice for Yukimura and I hate her voice. She's been type-cast as the flat-chested tsundere little bitch and I hate that character trope. I definitely didn't want to watch this in Japanese.
So many good dub VAs, as is evident from the good anime that, coincidentally, they have collectively done voices for. Overall the sound design is very good and misses out for not being exceptional enough for me to want the soundtrack.
The only real male character in this anime is Muneakira Yagyuu, a samurai warrior who somehow has tha ability to make master samurai contracts, a power that ahould be exclusive only to great general. He means well to each of the other characters and thankfully he isn't a pervert. Unfortunately being the only man, he is the target of the affections of every damn girl. Ugh. He tries to avoid being kissed and all but unfortunately, despite his background in combat he is still overpowered by these girls fairly often. While he doesn't have any thoughts or feelings for any of the girls, he still feels the trope of the genric harem protagonist as he doesn't choose a girl. He's insensitive at times and has no guts whe it comes to women, that or he's like me and is too respectful to do anything to hurt them. He does have a bad taste in swinwear, I wouldn't be surprised if he even wore briefs instead of boxers. Have some good taste in your clothing man!
Jubei Yagyuu is the mysterious split-personality redhead girl who appears from the sky in the first episode. Like almost every other character in this anime she has large breasts. She is dim-witted and clueless about a lot of things, but means well. She likes to eat a lot and acts like an innocent child. She's harmless and even gives Matabei a nickname of Beita. She refers to Muneakira as big brother (onii-chan), despite having no relation to him, the name is unexplained. She treats Kanetsugu like a pet and calls her Guutsu-Guutsu. But when kissed by Muneakira, her personality changes and she becomes a master samurai. This only oocurs with her and when she turns into a master samurai, Muneakira becomes tied down and is unable to move. One who is somewhat aggressive and quite the opposite of Jubei's normal self. Her power level is apparently at least 6 digits and her weapon of choice appears to be a katana. Her eyes change and her gets shorter with the transformation too.
Sen Tokugawa is the princess and the authoritative figure in this anime. Though it doesn't mean she behaves in a sensible and mature way. A teenage girl in all respects, except for her unrealistic large breasts and curvaceous body. She is apparently a childhood friend and acquaintance of Muneakira's. She is rather strict and very protective over Muneakira, as is clear from an early episode. Obviously she has feelings for Muneakira. Her master samurai weapon of choice appears to be a spear. She can be rather mean and moody at times. Overall Sen Tokugawa is somehwhat childish and a bit of a bully sometimes.
Hanzou Yoshinari Hattori is Sen's maid, servant and personal protector. She has glasses that contain technology that allow her to scan things like power. Seems just like a scouter from DBZ. From certain scenes, it appears that Hanzo has feeling for her princess, a shame they never get her anywhere with the princess. She's even a bit of a masochist and loves to be punished by Sen. She wears strange heels, wields double sided blades and hides ranged weapons in her skirt. Like her master, she hates things like kissing and girls getting intimate with guys.
Yukimura Sanada is the trope flat-chested short girl in this anime, the only one of the sort. She seems to behave with more dignity than Sen who is her rival in love. But when it comes to Muneakira she acts like the dumb lovestruchk girl she is. Just like every other character of the trope, she gets upset when people mebtion her height or especially her flat chest. She has smarts and initiative to make up for it. She often is found arguing with Sen or annoying Kanetsugu. Her weapons of choice are fans.
Yukimura's bodyguard and best friend is Matabei Gotou. She has no damn modesty and is fine leaving her breasts unveiled at times, when other girls would notice it and be embarrassed about it. She is protective over Yukimura of course and wears a wierd thong-like thing? She's a gentle character, not as smart as many of the other characters but is smarter than Jubei. Just enough brains to be normal. Weapon of choice is a staff.
Kanetsugu Naoe is a penniless, ojou-sama type character and the comic relief of the anime. She is rather dumb as such and has a grudge against Yukimura for embarrasing her when they were both children. While Jubei is dumb in a childish way, this character is just plain idiotic, despite her attempts to appear to be smart. A real dunce and she's gullible to boot. She likes to sneak around and spy on the rest of the gang, she hates Muneakira and thinks he is a pervert with a legit harem (where he actualy does stuff with them). She often gets knocked out. and her favourite weapons is a comically oversized hammer. She claims to be a warrior of love, yet she knows nothing of it. She has no idea how disposable she is to her master Yoshihiko Tokugawa.
Other characters are not exactly considered protagonists or main characters. The shady Yoshihiko Tokugawa (Sen's brother) seems to be a jerk who treats women like shit, effectively keeping Charles De D'artagnan (a french girl) as his bitch. Gisen Yagyuu (still not related to Muneakira) is a perverted seductress who strongly believes that generals should treat their samurai like dirt and be forceful and mean to them. She tries to seduce Muneakira and tries to 'tuck him in' on many occasions. The usual shitty characters then, despite a few interesting ones.
The story is set in a modern day feudal Japan, ruled by the Tokugawa government, where master samurai are a dying breed and are very rare. Though I find it very strange that only guys appear to take on the role as generals and only girls can be master samurai. Muneakira Yagyuu is sent to the abode (apparently an academy) of princess Sen Tokugawa to investigate the disappearances of many students. That's all there is to the story without spoilers. There is jackshit about romance and resolving the harem. with the exception of the one sided romance between Nia and her general. Occasionally progress is made with this overall plot. There's a few twists and turns and interesting developments, but this is drowned in the usual ecchi-harem malarkey. Expect the usual lack of conclusion from this, even regarding the somewhat interesting overall plot. There is a sequel which has an interesting name suggesting the story continues. I plan on watching it next to see whether this first series is justified in its lack of a complete conclusion. But looking on the bright side, these ecchi harem concentrate the story in the last few episodes. The last four episodes are filled with plot progression, so including the first episode 5/12 episodes are decent. Better than most of these filler-filled anime then.
I'm disappointed that such good voices were used for such a bad anime. There were a LOT of moments where I drunkenly shouted WTF at the top of my lungs out loud while watching this anime. Yes there is major BS and shocking content. This is not one to watch for anyone who wants good story and no anime trope crap. This is one of the better harem ecchis for those who enjoy those genres though. I'd still put forward the usual arguement that porn is better for perverts, but this provides story with the crazy BS and some people may enjoy that shock and find it funny. I might have laughed once or twice in my drunken stupor. I can only allow a recommendation for fans of ecchi-harem, so enjoy!
Family-friendliness Rating: 5/5 Nudity and typical harem-ecchi BS and then explicit scene, despite censorship (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 4/10 (higher is better)
Story wasn't bad and the characters made sense (except the annoying one who was barely worth a couple chuckles). The thing I had a problem with was the art style. The random ink drop crap annoyed me alot.
I had some hope for this one when I first saw it because it was trying to be visually a little different, with thick lines that give the show a wood-block quality and ink splatters. But beyond that it is pretty conventional, and also just downright dull.
Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls is an anime series that was released Fall 2010. It is foremost a comedy haremseries. Secondarily, it contains elements of action, and makes an attempt (if a misguided one) at also stitching aspects of science fiction and fantasy into the plot. It is perhaps most recognized for its unique art-style. And, of course, its frequent display of topless women.
Plot / Story
At the beginning, Hyakka Ryouranalmost seems to know where it's going in terms of plot. Almost. A fascinating introduction informs us that this show will combine historical elements with fantasy and science fiction elements. Somehow, in this world of Zeppelins, DragonBall-style scouters, and biogenetic mutations, the Tokugawan Shogunate is in charge. And this re-imaged version of the Tokugawan Shogunate maintains its grip of power by utilizing attractive female super-warriors that it calls Samurai. Now, this is all pretty far out there, but its also kind of cool, and after the first episode I was eager to see where they were going with it.
They didn't go anywhere with it.
The show becomes more and more complex, with naked Samurai-girls mysteriously descending from the sky, and angles relating to a government conspiracy unfolding. I don't shy away from complex stories, but its clear that they bit off more than they could chew with this one. With only twelve episodes to work with, not only does the show end abruptly, there are a number of completely unexplored threads of plot left dangling. Ultimately, we are left even more confused at the end than we were at the beginning -- and it's not even the good kind of confusion that we might experience by watching Ghost in the Shell for the first time. It's confusion mixed with frustration due to wasted potential.
As far as the romance goes, its your standard dump of nonsense. This isn't meant to be a sweeping love drama. It's a harem anime; you get your typical haphazard concoction of sexual tension with jealousy at first, before it all seems to funnel into a great big commercial for polygamy. It certainly never takes itself too seriously in this aspect, but as a result it's never particularly moving either.
Characters in Hyakka Ryouran are, as a rule of thumb, flat. Occasionally we'll get a flashback that attempts to inform us more of that characters resolve, but these flashbacks usually aren't very exciting or interesting. Most of the characters don't even receive this treatment, and we are instead left with stock characters pasted into the story to fulfill their purpose. Amongst these are the hotheaded, pampered princess, Sen Tokugawa, the supergenius-tsundere Yukimura Sanada, and the male character who does absolutely nothing but act as plot-glue for the girls, Muneakira.
Now, the characters aren't very dynamic. Whenever a characters motivation does change or evolve, it happens so jeeringly, that it seems weird. I swear, one of the characters actually seemed to change her sexuality between episodes for no reason. So there's definitely some issues here. They are not, however, without their positive qualities. Aesthetically, almost all of the characters have an interesting design (at least the female ones.) And despite being generic, the characters aren't unlikable. Characters such as Yukimura fulfill an archetype that works; and it would take a person without a heart to hate the adorable Jyuubei.
Another of my favorites is Kanetsugu Naoe, who singlehandedly raises the show's comedic value three or four levels.
Art and Sound
This show's artistic style boiled down to one word: ink. This was never meant to be a series that looks "normal". Character outlines here are strikingly bold, but the thickness of the lines vary, as if it were done with a brush. Backgrounds appear to have been painted in a similar way, although they generally radiate more of a minimalist-vibe. It never looks bad, but it's also strange to see this application of style in an anime. It appears more to be a style used in visual novels or video games. Still, it looks great when animated; screen captures do it little justice.
Hyakka Ryouran's love affair with ink doesn't end with the character and background lines though. During battles, the ink blots actually splash off of the characters weapons onto the "camera." During transitional screens, the ink blots are again prevalent. In fact, even the rain is drawn boldly in black, as if it were meant to be ink. Not even the opening and ending videos are spared the splatter. This effect is really incredible in episode one, but by episode twelve, it begins to feel really stale. They did something great, but they went back to the well too often with it.
Sound-wise, all of the characters in this show are voiced competently. There are few standout roles, but oppositely, there are no exceedingly bad ones. Jyuubei should have a cutely-innocent voice, and she does. Yukimura should have a condescending-arrogant voice befitting of a young girl, and she does. This pattern continues to apply for the other cast members, and that's fine. Sound editing in the episodes, equally so. It fits, and that's that. I will say that the opening and ending songs are more catchy than they have any right to be. The opening, Last Vision for Last by Faylan is a J-pop song with a tinge of rock to it. The ending, Koi ni Sesse Tooryanse is sung by the female characters themselves. Approach me publicly and I'll deny it, but the song is too cheerful not to like.
The action in the show isn't bad, but it's not as good as it should have been. The animation quality is high, and the visual effects look quite good. Unfortunately, none of the battles in the show have any punch to them. They look okay, but they are short, and they fail to tell a story. Instead, it tends to follow the formula of having two girls lock up their weapons, and then inexplicably, one or both of them will have their shirt torn to shreds. There will also be a lot of -- you guessed it! -- ink blots.
I do want to say that one thing I found appealing was that the girls each have their own unique attacks which appear on the screen (written in ink of course.) This reminded me of certain classic shounen series, such as Yu Yu Hakusho, and I thought it was a nice homage.
Honestly, if you've read this far you've probably already decided whether or not you're going to watch this show. It's an ecchi. If you're planning to watch it, it's for the blend of comedy and the fan service. So I will say, yes, it has both of those. You're going to get all of the boobs, and all of the humor. There were so many screenshots I had that would have really gotten to the core of the show, that I just couldn't post because this is a family-friendly website. If moments like that are what you're after, you won't be disappointed.
Aside from that, Hyakka Ryouran doesn't have much going for it, though. Everyone should watch at least one episode just to get a sense of the unique style, since it is something different, and it's something kind of cool. As a series though, I'm going to say... pass.
Final Rating: 5.75 out of 10.0
I do love ecchi's and harems and Samurai Girls is one of the best I have seen. Not only are the characters (except for Kanetsugu, she was incredibly annoying) all interesting and in their own way like-able but the plot took very unexpected turns and the story got quite dark, when they introduced Gisen who turned out to be a brilliant villan. The animation is also really unique and I haven't seen an animation style like this before. More in video review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB1onliKUcI
BBFC rating - 18 for strong sex and sexualized nudity