I’ve been holding out on watching this anime for only one reason: the version aired on TV was censored, even on the glorious station, AT-X. It’s not so much that I’m inherently opposed to this kind of censorship (if it helps sell more DVDs/BDs, then I don’t think we have the right to be angry over it), but just a feeling of, ‘why not just wait and get the show in all its spectacle’? Well I waited, and the spectacle is all I’d hoped – an almost constant stream of eye-candy, both in terms of the nipple-inclusive nudity and the sexy art style and animation. First, the fanservice! If you’re a fan of nipples in anime (and why wouldn’t you be?) then this is definitely an anime to check out – the toplessness rate is very high and the drawings are unabashedly sexy. I also like the fact that there’s a rage of breasts sizes included, unlike other erotic anime. We’ve got a Kugumiya Rie voiced loli character with a fetching flat chest, and a large cast of buxom girls to make her feel insensitive. But it’s not just the nudity, the fanservice also encompasses some nice costume fetishism as well. We’ve already seen a number of moe outfits show up: bloomers, maid outfit, schoolgirl clothes. The way these typical anime wears are fused with feudal Japanese clothing styles create costumes that are somehow cool, sexy and cute at the same time! Then there’s erotic themes like Hanzou’s sexual infatuation with her (also female) master, and the arousing way Juubee calls Yagyuu ‘oniichan’.
I’m not typically a fan of anime that lean too heavily on the erotic tones and don’t bother trying to squeeze in any other assets. Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls may be heavy on the fanservice, but it’s not overdone to the point where the characters are dulled to mindless/retarded ecchi drones, and it’s all rendered with a unique and polished ‘look’. That ‘look’ is defined by bold outer lines on the ‘cels’. grainy, stylised backgrounds and thematic blotches of ink that splatter the screen in action moments. That might sound a bit wanky, but when you experience each of these design choices together it works surprisingly well, and instantly sets it apart from other anime in this category. The actual animation quality is quite high – the action sequences are well-executed and quite exciting to watch. Tsutomu Miyazawa is the chief animation director, and does a good job. The art director, Junichi Higashi, has done pretty much everything, good or bad, so I don’t know how much of the unique look to attribute to his input. The director, KOBUN, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery. KOBUN is an alias, under which no other works have been done. Their true identity is unconfirmed, but after doing some searching, the general consensus among Japanese fans is that KOBUN is Kobun Shizuno, which seems believable. KOBUN has made an impressive entrance into the realm of TV-anime direction and I hope to see more of his works.
The characters don’t stray too far from their gimmicks/cliches, but they’re still fun to watch. I don’t think anyone expected deep, realistic characters from this show, and frankly, an ecchi anime with characters who aren’t annoying as fuck already qualifies it for ‘rare gem’ status. The male lead is unintrusive without being pathetic, and the girls are both cute and strong-spirited. Kugimiya Rie’s character, Sanada Yukimura is especially fun as the proud and feisty loli, Tokugawa Sen (played by Kotobuki Minako) is a self-important girl with a soft dere core beneath her stubborn outer shell, and Hattori Hanzou is amusing as the easily-flustered maid with an almost slave-like relationship with her superior. Then there’s the bipolar lead character, Yagyuu Juubee, who has a deadly and barbaric warrior side and an endearing, naive maiden side. It reminds me of Elfen Lied in that respect. As you might have noticed, the girls are named after historical samurai figures, however there’s no real historical value to this anime. So far, Samurai Girls has been solid fun and deliciously ecchi!