Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $34.98 US
Running Time: 110 minutes
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now
In these fights, a wardrobe malfunction is a requirement.
You know you’re in for a teenage boy’s anime dream come true when the cute girl with the nice body makes her opponent’s flight attendant outfit fall apart to the point of making her sexy opponent fight back in a topless state of undress. I’m certainly glad my school uniform didn’t rip away as if it were made of Kleenex but that’s Master of Martial Hearts as The Complete Box Set that contains all five OVA episodes has brawling beauties fighting for their ultimate wish … in their underwear or topless.
If the this series sounds a lot like Ikki Tousen, you aren’t wrong because Master of Martial Hearts seems to have all the same elements that include exploding clothes, girls in cute cosplay costumes and a sexy bombshell as a main character. The series follows the attractive Aya Iseshima and her cute friend Natsume Honma who are walking to school when they encounter a most unusual sight. You see, right in front of them is a busty flight attendant and a lovely shrine maiden locked in a no-holds-barred fight. When Aya steps in to defend the mousy shrine maiden, though, the young High school student proves that she has some really hardcore fighting skills. I mean, how else can you explain the fact that one of her punches can shred clothing so easily?
As it turns out, the shrine maiden’s name is Miko Kazuki and she tells Aya and Natsume about a secret underground fighting tournament called Martial Hearts (or Platonic Heart in the Japanese language track) where women fight to with the ultimate prize … their one wish will be granted. Miko, it seems, is fighting to gain friends and she gets just that when Aya and Natsumi offer up their friendship. While Aya doesn’t believe in the urban legend that is Martial Hearts, she quickly gets a text message from them telling her that because Miko quit it is Aya who must now take her place.
When Miko goes missing, though, Aya does decide to accept the invitation to participate in Martial Hearts and does so with her first fight being with the same sexy flight attendant who attacks using Natsumi’s hot brother (who Aya has a massive crush on) as a hostage. Once again, Aya proves to be skilled fighter who credits her mother – a fighting champion of some sort – for her skills. With one opponent defeated, Aya gets to move up to the next round and this time it’s against a person that Aya respects … her attractive and kind teacher, Ms. Suma.
While Aya doesn’t want to hurt her teacher, the older woman gives her student no choice but to unleash her fighting fury. The victory, though, comes at a price when Ms. Suma disappears as well. Digging deeper into the many rumors about Martial Hearts, Natsume discovers that the loser of the fight is banished to a “dark realm.”
Unfortunately, there’s no day off for Aya as the girl is attacked by a cute girl in a police officer uniform who says she hates bubbly girls like Aya and attacks. As it turns out, the girl in the female police officer outfit is one of three sisters who want Aya to join their little group within Martial Hearts. When Aya refuses, the smack down continues and leads Aya down the path to the final opponents that include an auto mechanic, an adorable singing maid idol and a lovely psychic.
While the series is only five episodes long, the story does allow for us to get to know Aya as well as enjoy the fights. As far as the fan service is concerned, it’s more detailed than in Ikki Tousen and there isn’t a fight that doesn’t end with Aya in her bra and panties and her opponent with her breasts exposed. Oh yeah, there’s even more panty flashes than normal as well so if fan service is up your alley then Master of Martial Hearts will not let you down.
What does let you down is the final act that does a complete 180 on the viewer with a twist ending that is a bit too elaborate and somewhat confusing as well. Even the horror movie-styled ending won’t leave much of an impression. It’s just too bad that this series didn’t get too serious at the end and, instead, took a more lighter approach.
Master of Martial Hearts is shameless good fun that is geared more towards satisfying the fans that crave plenty of fan service than those who are interested in a deeply involving story. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad series because there are a few interesting and fun moments scattered throughout the five episodes but this one caters more to the anime fan who is interested in seeing hot brawling babes getting their clothes shredded to nothing. It’s worth a peek if that’s your interest but everyone else might not find this their cup of tea.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Walking to school one morning, Aya and her friend Natsume run into two girls fighting and when Aya intervenes she quickly becomes involved in a secret fighting tournament called Martial Hearts where the winner gets her wish granted. As she battles an assortment of female fighters, Aya comes closer to finding the truth about the tournament itself.
VIDEO QUALITY: B-
The animation isn’t anything refreshingly new or different but compared to Ikki Tousen there is certainly more detailed nudity of the bosom type. Can’t say I’m a big fan of watching girls fight in their bras and panties but if that’s your taste you will not be disappointed in the very least.
AUDIO QUALITY: B+
There’s some decent voice acting in this series whether you prefer the original Japanese that makes for some awkward dialogue choices and the English dub, which is better in terms of the dialogue and great performances from Brittany Karbowski and other familiar voices. The newcomers are actually really good as well such as Anita Neukar who voices Aya excellently.
Just about the only real extra on the single disc is the audio commentary track with the Japanese cast that provides the voices for Aya, Natsume and Miko. They’re a fun trio to watch and listen to since this commentary is presented with the Episode 1 running in a picture-in-picture viewing format. There’s also trailers to be found as well.
The Complete Box Set of Master of Martial Hearts is a brazen, no-holds-barred brawling babes series where the blood flies and clothes seem to be made of tissue paper. While this series is certainly better than Ikki Tousen, there are a few flaws – like an unsatisfying ending – that hold it back from being a true guilty pleasure for those anime fans looking for fan service-filled series with a compelling story. It’s worth a view if you’re not turned off by the nudity.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment