Review: Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls 1

Yagyuu Muneakira, Sanada Yukimura and Gotou Matabee.

At first glance, Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls has a lot going against it. It’s based on a figure series which depicts various historical samurai as busty girls. It’s being animated by ARMS, who are responsible for such shows as Queen’s Blade and Ikkitousen. AT-X will be broadcasting an uncensored version, with plenty of nudity to go around. By all accounts, this should be another brainless fanservice-fest that only the really, really hardcore otaku will enjoy.

Or is it?

The old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” is applicable here. I actually watched the first episode of Samurai Girls and enjoyed it. Why? Well, despite the conclusions some of you have drawn from my HOTD hatred, I actually like fanservice-heavy shows. I’m a healthy, heterosexual guy in his mid-twenties… why WOULDN’T I enjoy staring at nubile samurai women parading around in skimpy outfits? What I don’t appreciate is when such shows tack on a paper-thin plot into which the writers put no thought or effort. Just because a show has bouncing boobs doesn’t mean the story has to suck!

And you know what? Samurai Girls actually has a decent story. It’s set in an alternate version of the present day, where the Tokugawa Shogunate still rules over a feudal Japan. The main protagonist, Yagyuu Muneakira, is tranferring to a military academy at the base of Mount Fuji. There he accidentally meets Sanada Yukimura and Gotou Matabee, two female samurai who are opposing the ruling Shogunate. After a nasty run-in with the school’s Shogun-endorsed militant student council, Yagyuu casts his lot with the rebels, setting the stage for a feudal battle of shifting loyalties in a high-school setting.

This intriguing story is only one aspect Samurai Girl‘s enjoyability. The tasteful fanservice, gorgeous art style and memorable character designs make this show is a visual treat, and the writing is serviceable enough that you won’t be bored out of your skull waiting for the next ecchi scene. Granted, there are still some big flaws… but this show has definately piqued my interest.

Find out more after the break.

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Final Thoughts on Occult Academy

Do you see that look on Maya’s face? That expression of disappointment and contempt, mixed with just a hint of anger? Yeah, that’s how I feel right now.

Look, I wanted to like Occult Academy, I really did. Back in the early days of the summer season, I called this show “messianic,” a gift from the heavens destined to drive back the forces of mediocrity and darkness. Here, at long last, was an anime that had a plot beyond “cute girls drinking tea,” characters with more depth and originality than tired archetypes like “twintailed tsundere,” and humor more sophisticated than “LOL BOOBIES.” In other words, this was exactly the kind of thoughtful, original show we needed to counter the ever-increasing tide of fanservice and moe garbage that’s been swamping the airwaves. Sadly, it was unable to live up to those high expectations.

Find out why after the break.

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Review: Occult Academy 5 & 6

Just another ordinary day at Occult Academy.

As those of you who have been listening to the podcast know, my opinion of the recent Occult Academy episodes has been rather low. Episode 3 was just plain boring, and episode 4 completely derailed Fumiaki’s character, turning him into cowardly comic relief. Now, these two episodes weren’t BAD per se, but they also weren’t anywhere near as good as the first two. Seeing such a promising show fall from grace was painful, and I was starting to worry that Occult Academy would completely squander its potential just like So Ra No Wo To. Boy, am I glad to be wrong.

Episodes 5 and 6 were a complete turnaround. Thanks in large part to the strong writing, these episodes picked up the pace, un-derailed Fumiaki’s character, and rekindled my interest in the show. They even nailed the comedy, which was both hilarious and perfectly blended with the more serious aspects of the story. And, best of all, Mikaze got almost no screentime! Will wonders never cease?

Find out more after the break. Continue reading

Review: Occult Academy 3

Show us those pearly whites!

After the first two episodes of Occult Academy blew me away, I was expecting big things from the third. In hindsight, perhaps this was foolish; many anime have great introductions, but falter a few episodes in. Was I setting my expectations too high? Or was I merely so confident in the creative talent behind Anime no Chikara that I thought they could do no wrong?

Perhaps I’m being a bit drastic; the third episode of Occult Academy certainly wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. It rounded out Fumiaki’s character wonderfully, and delivered more laughs than Seitokai Yakuindomo will ever manage. However, it barely added anything to the series’ mythos or storyline, other than the rather bland new character Mikaze. In fact, this Mary Sue romantic interest and her date with Fumiaki took up far too much of this episode’s runtime, and slowed the pacing to a crawl. The end result was an episode that, while still enjoyable, was nowhere near as good as the previous two.

Find out more after the break.

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Review: Occult Academy 1 & 2

You are entering the world of Pumpkinhead!

Like my fellow editors here at Project Haruhi, I have been pretty disappointed by the new summer anime thus far. In my humble opinion, this season’s shows are either overrated, subpar or just outright horrible. Of course, I’ve experienced this kind of thing before. I always take solace in the fact that, just when things are looking darkest, a single great anime emerges from the shadows. Like a brilliant beam of light from the heavens, this one show drives back the darkness and brings hope to all the downtrodden, world-weary otaku.

This season, that show is Occult Academy.

Think I’m being hyperbolic? Find out more after the break!

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