OP: 「精霊飛来」 (Seirei Hirai) by 小野大輔 & 柿原徹也 (Ono Daisuke & Kakihara Tetsuya)
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「運命のふたり」 (Unmei no futari)
“The Destined Pair”
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter who the studio is, who the voice actors are, or what the pedigree behind a show is. All it takes is for a series to feature some of my favorite genres (like BRAVE10’s Sengoku era swordplay) to guarantee that I will be giving it a chance.
Drawing inspiration from the Edo era story Sanada Ten Braves, much of the premise was quickly laid down in this premier episode without a second wasted. Kirigakure Saizou (Ono Daisuke) is no plucky inexperienced youth only beginning in his ninja gaiden – he is a powerful and feared Iga assassin who just happens to run into Isanami (Satou Rina), a shrine maiden who is the sole survivor of a massacre at her temple. Already I’ve taken a liking to these two who are ostensibly the “destined pair” of the episode title. OnoD is fantastically adept at playing anti-heroes and Saizou is no exception with his large Zanbatou, ronin attitude, and plethora of named-moves. As for Isanami, although she’s your basic damsel-in-distress, she is an exception in that she doesn’t let her recent past affect her cheery demeanor like so many others do, at least until her hopes were dashed. It was like a breath of fresh air to see that even though she wants Saizou’s protection in order safely find Sanada Yukimura (Morikawa Toshiyuki) and ask for assistance, she never comes off as too clingy. She knows that the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
The common trope of a major character being introduced via a fight isn’t subverted here, but it really gives a chance for Saizou to show off his skills with one of Sanada’s master ninjas, Sarutobi Sasuke (Kakihara Tetsuya) and marks the beginning of a rivalry that I will be looking forward to as well. As for Sanada himself, I was slightly disappointed that he was no longer portrayed as a red leather jacket wearing youngster (OYAKATA-SAMA!), but rather as a calculating leader who uses Isanami and Saizou as bait in order to see her mysterious deadly power for himself. And like all good leaders, he delegates the work instead of doing it all himself, realizing that he needs as many heroes as he has fingers to keep Isanami safe from the perpetrators of the shrine massacre.
Studio Sakimakura has done a commendable job animating the quick ninja fights and giving off that all-important shounen vibe. The visuals have been a little dark for my tastes so far, but that’s when ninjas do their best work so I can’t complain (unless I have a death wish). Even though the names for Saizou’s moves are completely unintelligible to me, it doesn’t stop me from looking forward to seeing of all the characters’ unique powers. From next week’s preview, it looks like the new female characters could either be new recruits for Sanada’s Braves, or they could be aligned with the man responsible for the shrine massacre. In either case, we’ll probably find out more about who exactly our antagonist is and possibly shed some light into the mystery of the jewel on Isanami’s hairclip. More hints of a romance between the main pair wouldn’t hurt either since she’s already found her way into Saizou’s room and futon. I’m not sure yet if my schedule will allow me to continue blogging this show, but seeing BRAVE10’s fun take on Sengoku ninjas has convinced me to at least carve out some time each week for the next episode.
* Full-length image: 05.
ED: 「艶男。-adeosu-」 (Adeosu. -adeosu-) by ADAPTER.
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