Anime Reporter scratches his head over Samurai Bride: the Complete Collection (12 episodes), the sequel to Samurai Girls, and brought to you by Kobun, the director of the original series and the studio behind not just Samurai Girls but also Elfen Lied and Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero. So, you know… expect some action and more than a little topless jiggling to follow.
Brace yourselves… here we go.
Those unacquainted with the first series will require a little bit of back-story. Muneakira Yagyu is a General. Now, in this instance, this doesn’t mean that he’s involved in the military; rather it refers to his power. He can awaken the powers of a Master Samurai, essentially tapping into the powerful potential of any female samurai that he happens to kiss. That’s right; we’re already entering fanservice territory. Now, Muneakira is just returning from some time away travelling after he and his female companions saved Japan. What he returns to is not the respectable dojo of his family, however, nope, in his absence it’s been converted into a Maid Café, (you know, like Hooters, but with everyone wearing French maid outfits). Apparently the dojo has fallen on hard times and, in order to make ends meet, this has become an inconvenient necessity. As if becoming a maid café wasn’t enough of an excuse to put anime boobs on display trouble, four Dark Samurai return from the dead to settle an old score.
The deadly quartet places a curse on Muneakira, promising that he has one month to defeat them, or lose everything to his curse. Muneakira and his beloved samurais will have a month to assemble more allies to their cause, take a lot of baths and perhaps, if there’s time, unlock the secret to the most powerful Master Samurai of all, the Samurai Bride.
Samurai Brides has a pretty strong premise, ancient Samurai spirits battling it out with a young generation of super-powered samurais, but the plot is stretched incredibly thin to make room for justifying increasing displays of nudity and excuses for characters to grope each other. The saving grace for this ecchi fanservice is that the nudity goes hand in hand with humour and the show doesn’t try to take these aspects of its plot too seriously. There are some attempts at more serious character interaction and emotional development, but these feel quite forced and unnatural given the surrounding events. The veritable harem of samurai warriors is expanded somewhat to include a busty character obsessed with breasts, a “man-hater” obsessed with large breasts and a monkey… who can transform into a fairly naked girl.
Really, the actual evil-fighting, training and samurai-bride plot elements could be wrapped up fairly neatly in three or so episodes, with the vast majority of events being comprised of Ecchi-time.
The animation is actually quite lovely, with bold dark lines giving characters a somewhat antiquated look which perfectly captures the idea of samurai battles in a modern setting. Battles are colourful and imaginative. The biggest problem is remembering that the bad guys are supposed to be bad guys and that there’s actually a curse and a plot to doom them all, when entire episodes are more concerned with details like who’s the best waitress in the maid café or a friendly competition that sees rival maid cafés fighting it out in a number of events for a grand cash prize.
Also included on the DVD and Blu-ray release are a series of short animations, which, more than humour, are really interested in making the characters abandon any shred of subtlety from the main story and are basically just three-minute instances of fantasy-fulfillment.
Make no mistake, this is a show which puts soft-core nudity at the front of its priorities, with humour a close second and things like plot and character at a bit of a distance. You’ll notice that my final score takes “fanservice”, i.e. nudity into consideration. That’s really for one reason. If you’re not interested in this show as a chance to ogle some cartoon breasts, then trust me, you’re not interested in this show. The final score was calculated with the target audience in mind.
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Ahem… ‘Fanservice’ 8
67% – “To Love and to Fan-Serve” – Samurai Bride isn’t the most original series out there, but it packs in a decent amount of humour and action, even if the story leaves quite a bit to be desired. Also… boobs. Lots of them.