「剣姫（マスターサムライ）の正体」 (Tsurugi Hime (Masutaa Samurai) no Shoutai)
“The Sword Princess’ (Master Samurai) True Identity”
Seeing as all the female characters have yet to be introduced, I haven’t even considered comparing the ones seen thus far. However, if I were to make an early pick, Sen would be my favorite at the moment with that feisty tsundere-like attitude of hers. She makes it no secret that she’s unhappy about the child-like Jubei cuddling up next to Muneakira either, so it’s a lot of fun hearing Kotobuki Minako spout out all the pent-up jealous rage like she never could in her K-ON role. Jubei herself would be right behind Sen in my books, simply because she has that badass master samurai side of her juxtaposing the naive and playful one. The whole split personality that comes with a five million power rating is a cheap way of giving some added dimension to her character, but works well considering it provides a means to shift between the lighthearted humor and the crazy samurai action in this series. It also lets me hear more of Yuuki Aoi experimenting with the lowest, mean-sounding voice she could muster, which I haven’t gotten the least bit tired of yet. In fact, this past year of anime has pretty much put Aoi dead center on my seiyuu radar for future series, much like it has on everyone’s casting sheets as well. She’s definitely one 18 year-old seiyuu worth keeping an eye on in 2011. Though less likely, I’m hoping that fellow 18 year-old Minako starts getting some more roles too.
Story-wise, this episode delved into Jubei’s master samurai designation, and the confusion over how she doesn’t seem to possess any of the insanely powerful swordsmanship demonstrated earlier. After the quirky yet cute humor over the dinner Muneakira was forced to cook, the revelation that Sen’s been looking into the mysterious disappearances of students cast more doubt over her brother Yoshihiko. In particular, the way he just told Sen that Sanada and Matabee are behind the incidents with no basis made it pretty apparent in my eyes that he’s looking for someone else to take the blame. As if to serve as an immediate opposition to that suspicion, Jubei’s nightmare of her other self seemed to suggest that she was or is going to be at odds with Yoshihiko in the future. Either way, it put an interesting spin on Sanada’s feng shui premonition that Jubei will cast a shadow over Great Japan, seeing as the Yukimura technique used to restrain evil had absolutely no effect on her. Clearly, Jubei’s not as bad as the previous episode probably wanted us to believe. What’s more, it turns out that Muneakira is her general (i.e. master/commander), whom she needs to kiss to unleash her full powers. As such, it’s probably safe to say that the badass introduction of her character was to showcase what her master samurai self is capable of, before the story progresses onto the real antagonist, possibly the Bakufu.
While all that’s going on, the humor is as prevalent as before, and I’m really liking the samurai action/comedy mix as a result — more so than I’m probably letting off anyway. I’m also loving how I get absorbed into this whole alternate reality, which the feudal-like backdrops and dark character outlines contribute vastly towards. The fan-service on the other hand is kept nicely in check for the television broadcast, yet still provides its share of nakedness whenever Jubei switches personalities. Mmm, not a bad side effect at all. I’m definitely looking forward to this series more and more as the weeks go on.
* The first ten seconds of the opening sequence were updated for the regular broadcast, so I’ve included a copy of it above for completion sake.