Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now
Who knew that school girl outfits could explode like that?
Before we could even get to know the main protagonist of this story or what her personality is really like we see her pick a fight with some mean boys but also lost most of her school outfit that left very little to the imagination to begin with but is now in tatters. She still manages to whip her opponents but aside from looking good in her bra and panties there is very little else meaningful or interesting about Hakufu Sonsaku in The Complete Series of Ikki Tousen.
Interestingly enough, Ikki Tousen is a unique twist on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story with many of the familiar characters from the story transformed into sexy and bosomy young High school girls. Ikki Tousen actually recreates key moments from that story with High school students standing in as the reincarnated characters that are fated to meet in battle. Instead of different providences at war, the story is set up as seven schools that are at odds with each another and the battles mere fistfights that determine what school dominates the other.
We meet Koukin Shuyu from Nanyo Academy who is awaiting the arrival of his very attractive cousin Hakufu Sonsaku to the school. In Hakufu’s first day, she gets into a fight with a few tough boys only to trun her school uniform into tatters. She’s not a smart girl and often jumps into problems even when Koukin tells her to be careful. Hakufu would have been really annoying if she wasn’t a sexy girl who doesn’t even flinch when an opponent tears her clothes away or if she lands in a very provocative pose … mainly all of which involves panty flashing.
As word of her fighting prowess spreads throughout the school, Hakufu is challenged by fighters that are ranked as members of the Big Four. Meanwhile, Koukin comes to realize that his attractive cousin is being targeted and he gets cryptic messages from his fellow classmate, Genpou Saji, who seems shifty and is not a good person seeing as he practically feels up every girl he encounters. Hakufu even meets Ryomou, a deadly fighter who sports an eye patch and favors wrestling-styled moves. When Ryomou is asked to take down Hakufu, the girl awakens a “dragon” within Hakufu that makes the dumb girl lose control of herself and thus gives Ryomou quite a thrashing.
Not sure of what to make of her uncontrollable rage or what it means, Hakufu rushes out into the street only to meet two other fighters that include a slacker named Kakoton and a girl in a very revealing school girl outfit named Kanu Uncho. Normally, this is the point where a character would go on a little soul searching journey but Hakufu is too dumb for something like that and ends up treating the upcoming Big Fighter’s Tournament like a fun event. She doesn’t even train like Koukin does yet somehow she becomes to main target of a hidden foe named Totaku.
The best fights come when the tournament finally arrives and pits Nanyo Academy against the six other schools. The once foe Ryomou joins Hakufu and Koukin in the fights as well as the once big bully Gakushu. In the middle of the tournament, we dive into the drama created by Totaku who playfully tortures his allies such as the beautiful Hosen. Their plan is to unleash the dragon within the clueless Hakufu until Koukin, Ryomou and Gakushu uncover the real mastermind behind the plot.
While the battles are street brawls, they try to fall into the historic battles that were fought in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms … particularly the ones that have key players going up against each another. There are also deaths in this anime and the blood certainly flies during the more brutal fights that have characters coughing up blood or – at one point – getting their heads bashed in like a ripe watermelon.
Violence aside, there’s also the heavy fan service I mentioned that would have made this anime a guilty pleasure had the panty flashes and torn clothes been amusing. Instead, it’s overused and stops being sexy very quickly to the point that it becomes comical for all the wrong reasons. Gee, I never thought I would say that about a show with cute, bouncy girls. There’s also nudity and sex, which certainly makes this a series that earns its TV MA rating.
In the end, though, it is the story that is handled poorly to the point that the ending will make you shake your head wondering what was the point of fighting. Ikki Tousen, The Complete Series, is simply an unsatisfying series that could have been great had the story and characters been the driving force being the series rather than the mindless fan service that stops being fun to watch. If this series sound interesting, I recommend renting this one first.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
An intriguing take on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story, we follow Hakufu Sonsaku, a bubbly and bouncy young High school girl who will fulfill the prophecy laid before her as a fighter for Nanyo Academy. She goes up against some skilled fighters along the way only to find herself in the middle of a fighter’s tournament and a plot to overthrow the leader of the school. Plus, there’s loads of fan service that goes from plentiful to excessive.
VIDEO QUALITY: C+
I would like to say that the animation is Ikki Tousen’s best feature but it’s just plain generic in that seen-this-all-before kind of way. At least the girls are cute in this series and if you like to see them rip each another’s school girl outfits then you are definitely in luck.
AUDIO QUALITY: C-
With the exception of Carrie Savage, the rest of the English dub cast does a somewhat decent job but I would go with the original Japanese voice for this series. The music isn’t amazing but at least it does a good job of making the action scenes feel more dramatic.
There’s only the trailers to be found in the second disc and nothing else. Unfortunately, the DVD easter eggs from the individual DVDs are not included.
How can a series with cute girls and loads of fan service be so devoid of anything that would have made this an appealing action series? Ikki Tousen is an interesting concept but with characters that are quite bland and a story that fails to keep the momentum to make the fight scenes good enough to enjoy. What we have here is an anime series with a lot of flash but no substance.