Title: Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls
Genre: Action, Comedy, Romance
Summary: The story takes place in Japan in the early 21st century, in an alternate reality where the Tokugawa Shogunate has remained in power. In this reality, student councils are tasked with oppressing schools. Yagyuu Muneakira is a high school student who rebels against his student council with the help of girls who’ve had the names of famous samurai heroes passed on to them.
Review: Excuse me as a I catch my breath as I just finished the final episode a few minutes ago. The adrenaline pumping high I got from the final fight scene leaves it difficult to type. In honor of the final episodes of Fall 2010 airing and reviews opening, let us kick things off with the phenomenal Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls. This action packed anime is definitely deserving of at least one award this year. You are probably sitting at the edge of your seat waiting for the reasons I am so excited to write this review so let us break it down…
The art style was the most eye catching of the year and reached my top five favorite styles of all time. As you can see from the screenshots above I do not exaggerate how extraordinary the look of Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls was. An anime that combines action and ecchi usually only excels in the character design department. This one took things above and beyond with magnificent backgrounds and jaw dropping detail. The entire anime felt like you were watching a moving masterpiece found in the most distinguished museum. I am flabbergasted by the amount of effort they put into the art alone. The bold lines surrounding the bright characters gave a distinct difference from the background. Generally I like to see the characters seem as though they are apart of the scenery but this anime had me feeling differently. The style allowed this method of separation to work out perfectly. Additionally, it amplified every fight scene. I have heard complaints of some viewers that the ink blots get in the way of the fights, but to me they add a kind of chaos that gives off a more intense battle. Starting with standard black blots and moving onto colors like blue, purple, white, and yellow gave me the most incredible feeling as I watched two samurai clash swords. A part of me wants to say that the action scenes are worth watching alone given the art style.
The soundtrack (opening and ending theme) wasn’t too shabby either. The opening gave you an upbeat song preparing you for the fighting ahead while the ending was cute and sassy showing off the pretty girls. They did a good job giving the best of both worlds through music decisions. There was no background music for the fight scenes as I recall, but for this anime it was acceptable. I actually worry that background music may do more harm than good. The art and dialogue already had so much going on that adding more factors to the equation would just be too much to comprehend.
The characters modeling was probably one of the best of the Fall 2010 season. There was not a single character that made me grind my teeth in agony every time they showed up on the screen. Each character had their designated roles which were pulled off well. This was probably assisted by a great VA line up for the main samurai girls.The relationships between characters developed at the perfect pace that made it a lot easier to feel the bonds of friendship and love. I’m actually going to miss a few key characters like Nia and Jubei.
Let’s wrap up this long review with the story. It’s sad to say that this is probably the worst part of the anime. It wasn’t terrible, but it could have been better. I partially blame this on the middle few episodes and the attempt to combine action and romance. The anime started off very well as you can read in my first look. After four or so episode it began to slide down hill. The new characters being introduced took entire episodes that were seemingly pointless. Many of the episodes exemplified ecchi alone which was a turn off for me. You could see the end point of the episode and how it played into the big picture, but it wasn’t done well. Watching a thirty minute episode of maybe five minutes of solid content began to bore me. The occasional fight scenes were probably what kept me going, and I’m glad they did. The anime ended with a bang as the final three episodes focused greatly on story and built up to the climax. I was also very happy with the way they ended the series. The final episode was basically a twenty minute long fight scene that just got better and better. I could feel the passion and strength a general and his samurai shared. Even though the story wasn’t perfect, it was far from a series killer.
Final statements: Usually reviewing an overly ecchi anime is easy: good art, bad story, bad characters, don’t watch. Usually. Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls was a different story. The action, characters, art, and soundtrack made up for the ecchi. In fact, the art made me completely forget that the anime was ecchi. The series blindsided me with an amazing final three episodes and ending that blew my mind. This is easily a high priority watch for any viewer.