Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $69.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now
Now that’s what we call one hell of a kiss.
Having seen just about every “harem” anime series out there from Negima!? to Love Hina, Samurai Girls (or Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls) is actually a refreshing change that brings the familiar elements with a different kind of samurai series that sets this one apart from the others in a good way. The Complete Collection of Samurai Girls is one harem series you do not want to miss out on and even more so on Blu-ray.
Set in an alternate version of Japan called Great Japan, we come to learn that the country was well protected by Master Samurais throughout the centuries including the World War II era. Revered as deities, these Master Samurais not only happen to be skilled fighters but also women of great power. So Great Japan has set up a special school called the Buou Academic School in the foot of Mount Fuji to train those potential candidates that will not only becomes Master Samurais and Generals but also continue to reassure the safety of Great Japan.
It is in Buou Academic School that we meet a new transfer student named Muneakira Yagyu who comes across two naked girls in the empty dojo where he was assigned to live. As it turns out, these girls have come to infiltrate the school in hopes of revealing the school’s true purpose. One looks like she belongs in grade school (the pint-sized Sanada) and the other is her busty servant named Matabei. In a crazy mix up, all three are accused of being spies by the leader of the Armed Discipline Committee – a girl named Yoshinari Hanzo Hattori … who happens to be wearing a maid’s outfit.
That’s not all, during a skirmish with Hanzo; a flash in the sky brings with it a beautiful naked girl named Jubei Yagyu who floats into the open arms of Muneakira. The girl confuses Muneakira as her brother and kisses him – an act that awakens powers that the young man recognizes as those of a Master Samurai. However, this form doesn’t last very long and Jubei is reduced to being a bubbly child-like bimbo who considers Muneakira as her “big brother.”
Thus begins Muneakira’s problematic life in the school as we come to learn that he was sent to aid his childhood friend who happens to be the powerful Princess Sen. It is this beautiful young Princess who asks Muneakira to look into a recent string of disappearances in the student body. Also, she wants the young man to go to the school in hopes that he would come to realize that she has strong feelings for him. Of course, now that three lovely girls are living with him it is not going to be very easy since it appears that Sanada also seems to like Muneakira.
While poor Muneakira becomes victim of the girls’ jealousy over how the beautiful and busty Jubei is hogging him all to herself, a threat is targeting the school and Muneakira as well. This threat comes in the form of a good-looking young man named Yoshihiko who has a connection to Princess Sen. Yoshihiko’s plans don’t become apparent until the very end, which keeps the mystery behind his attacks interesting. It is this secret villain who sends a spy in the form of the very annoying Kanetsugu Naoe who fails at her job miserably.
In the wake of all the excitement, Princess Sen and the others come to a realization that Muneakira has within him the power of a General, which is somebody who has the ability to awaken the powers of a Master Samurai and lead them. This is done through the intimate act of a kiss as he awakens Sanada’s Master Samurai powers. Meanwhile, the other girls shy away from doing such a thing.
Things get even more interesting towards the end as Yoshihiko and his servant, Nia finally make their appearance in order to reveal his true plan to thwart a foe named Shiro Amakusa that will eventually lead to a huge and exciting confrontation. We also get another girl who comes in the form of Gisen Yagyu who ups the fanservice quotient to a higher degree. Her antics definitely make the TV MA rating justifiable.
Samurai Girls has its genuinely funny moments but they’re not as abundant as one might think considering the fact that Sanada and Princess Sen’s rivalry makes things awkward for Muneakira. Sadly, Kanetsugu – who was meant to be a comic foil – doesn’t add anything at all. Still, it’s hard to complain about the lack of real laughs when the series has great action scenes, gorgeous animation (that adds ink in creative ways) and a solid cast of characters. Normally, I end up hating the guy that winds up being surrounded by lovely girls because they come off as geeky or weak but Muneakira doesn’t fall under that category.
A word of warning, though, for those who find fanservice very displeasing you will find that this series piles it on. There’s a lot of it here and the majority of the fanservice is of the nude kind with panty flashing being the least of your problems. I’d often roll my eyes at fanservice when it is overused but, somehow, I found it tolerable. Then again, that might just mean I’ve become desensitized to it but I felt that Samurai Girls doesn’t use fanservice in a gimmicky way. It uses it more to make Muneakira comically uncomfortable.
The Complete Collection of Samurai Girls delivers a wildly entertaining and fun anime series and, despite a few weak spots, it actually does not fail to show you a really good time. Sure, the fanservice is very frequent and situations that do live up to the TV MA rating but those who can overlook this will find a series with a delightful cast of characters and solid action sequences that more than make up for the series’ shortcomings. Give it a chance and you’ll definitely have a blast with this series.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In an alternate version of Japan, a young samurai named Muneakira journeys to a school dedicated in preparing students that will help lead Great Japan when a beautiful naked girl named Jubei falls from the sky. Jubei is one of a number of girls that Muneakira comes to knows as Master Samurais. However, an enemy is targeting him and the girls to carry out his secret plan.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The animation in this series looks outstanding and stands out beautifully at times so this is definitely a series that looks its best on Blu-ray. The visual effects and the action scenes flow gorgeously in this series but if you’re really opposed to over-the-top fanservice of the uncensored and totally nude variety then you might want to skip out on this one.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original score by Tatsuya Katou is simply gorgeous and even the opening and closing theme songs are actually quite catchy. Then there’s the Japanese cast that does a great job with the dialogue with Daisuke Hirakawa and Aoi Yuki really standing out. As far as the English dub cast is concerned, they do a good job and you’ll recognize most of them right away even though they’re using pseudonyms like Eileen Dover and Amanda B. Reckonwith.
The second disc contains the extras that include the clean opening and closing animation, original Japanese TV and Video Promos for the series as well as some Sentai Filmworks trailers. Then there’s a Production Sketches feature (complete with nude sketches of the girls).
You’ll also find a Narrated Comics feature that contains six chapters with the colorful illustrations of Chiruo Kazahana and featuring the Japanese voice actors handling the dialogue. They’re fun short scenes that are actually quite funny. Finally, there’s the Blushing Maidens in the Pact feature that has six short scenes in its original Japanese language track that is actually naughtier than the fanservice seen in the main story.
Despite the few things that hold it back, the Complete Collection of Samurai Girls does not fail to entertain in the very least and has enough going for it to make it worth watching from start to finish. Excessive fanservice aside, it’s hard not to like a series that has its meaningful moments mixed in with fantastic action scenes and an exciting finale. This series is way too much fun to pass up.
Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks