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)