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Re-Enter The Samurai!

Hyakkan Ryouran: Samurai Girls
I'm not going to say that it is impossible to go through and list every single anime or manga that comes out each season and month, but it's just not practical; and I for one don't always feel like waiting around for the opportunity to have all the shows already out and airing before I start writing and blogging about them.

That said, I can honestly say that even though this show didn't make it into  my recent Fall Anime 2010 lists, this is certainly a show that has grabbed my attention, and managed to gleefully slip past my rants and raves. And while it is certainly a show of deliberate extremes, and no-holds-barred avant animation it is fast setting itself up as the new look of the way of the Samurai.

I'm of course talking about Hyakkan Ryouran: Samurai Girls, that "Not just another fighting anime" that focuses on busty and/or barely clad girls with swords, and other various fighting weapons. But wait, could it be that while this is a heavy handed fan-service driven vehicle, it actually has some of the best looking animation this season?

Well, don't just take my word for it. Go out and find some and see it for yourself!

No your eyes do not deceive you, I am actually recommending a show!

What if the Sengoku Period (warring states period) of Japan (1400 - 1500) didn't end and still continues to present day? A time when the Takugawa Shogunate was never abolished, and Japan is isolated from the whole world to develop apart? What would happen it be like with Samurai and Ninja warriors still going to a fro?

Well, This is the setting of Hyakkan Ryouran: Samurai Girls, only it goes beyond just another fighting anime that seems to have infested the airwaves over the past few years, featuring scantily clad girls with swords. This show actually unfolds methodically and with a deliberate intensity. While similar in feel to shows like Koihime Musou this story actually goes above and beyond with just re-writing history, it presents a look at the world that could be. 

It goes without saying that the animation and visuals of Samurai Girls is some of the best animation produced by any studio in a long time, especially any that are worth noting, using a flat almost broad canvas stroke look to the animation, and giving off a visual element like that of A Scanner Darkly.

Ironically this isn't ARMS first attempt at fan-service anime, as they are no stranger to mature themed anime, having worked on various titles ranging from Body Transfer, Elfen Lied, and I"s Pure. Yet despite the clear strong heavy eechi moments, this show manages to captivate by an almost force of self possessed will power.

The show begins with Muneakira, a seemingly average man arriving at the request of the Student Council to take on a position at a local school. While doing the tourist thing, he encounters two girls Yukimura and Matabei hiding out in the school's abandoned dojo, and soon finds himself caught up as their accomplice. While attempting to make his escape from the enforcers of the school discipline, a strange orb of light appears from the sky and a mysterious girl named Jubei Yagyu descends with the near unlimited ability of a true Master Samurai. 

Amidst the madness that ensues the girl is only able to be stopped by Muneakira, and the group is arrested for violation of laws seemingly intended to run the education system.

Complicated? Yes. Confusing? Without a doubt. But there is something that seems to force the viewer to watch, to see how this show is going to unfold. The episodes seem to go by with little accomplished, and before you know, the episode has ended and you instantly want more, questions that were not answered, now will only be revealed in the next. And this is the hook of the show, a slow deliberate pace that seems hypnotically timed against the animation, and the curious Mystery girl from the heavens that goes from being a legendary untouchable warrior to a below average girl with seemingly no abilities what-so-ever.

While the show does sport quite a few nude moments, the editing and censoring takes advantage of the unique ink effects that sporadically splatter the screen, especially during moments of emphasis, and intensity; and uses these very dramatic elements as a blur tool to hide a few rather embarrassing shots of our heroines in the buff.

If you are looking for a show that has something of substance to offer, in addition to the usual boobs, panties, and fighting girls then really you should look no further. While the plot seems to be taking a while to get where it's going, there really does seem to be a rather interesting balance, and in all truth it can't come soon enough. Considering some of the mindless and pointless shows premiering this season, I can honestly say that I am taking a bit of a sigh of relief here.

In addition to some familiar modern things combined and meshed with this unchanged Shogunate world, you will no doubt hear familiar names from actual historical figures from time to time. The most significant early name dropped being that of Hattori Honzo.

I am sadly like the rest of the fans, waiting to see what becomes of this show. The direction, and the characters. I can't say I see any that just jump out at me, but I'm sure there will be a few that leave memorable impression. Including that of Princess Sen, and her near masochistic leverage over her servant Honzo.

This show is a feast for the eyes, in more ways than one. Beautifully rendered, and calmly serene, it makes history seem to come and touch the very screen with every ink blotch that is dropped.