「真陰、開幕」 (Shinkage Kaimaku)
“The True Shadow Opens”
Admit it, we all know what the attraction of this one is. The package has ecchi written all over it but if the first season is any indicator, Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride will likely present an ongoing plot device that keeps things highly interesting for the viewers.
I don’t think there’s any question based on what we saw from the premier that Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride intends to stick with its winning formula of the first season. The general premise encompasses a fictional modern Japan where the Tokugawa shogunate remained in power and not surprisingly, many of its famous samurai are of the hotter female variety in this setting. Continuing from where the first season left off, things started out rather comically as Yagyuu Muneakira (Hirakawa Daisuke) returns from his travels, only to find out his ancestry heirloom, the Yagyu Shinkage Dojo has been converted into a meido kissa (Maid café). No thanks to financial losses stemming from the Reiman Shock (Bad word play of the Lehman crisis), Sanada Yukimura’s (Kugimiya Rie) diabolical idea comes with the intention to make some quick bucks. As she aptly pointed out, there’s no easier way to mark-up the prices of your café merchandise than putting on a meido costume and I’ll be the first to admit I wouldn’t mind splashing some cash if I can get meido Tokugawa Sen (Kotobuki Minako) to “ketchup” my Omuraisu (Omelet Rice). It’s all fine and dandy until the episode takes a somewhat more serious turn when the wicked spirit of the Four Sword Demon, better known as the Dark Samurai – Miyamoto Musashi (Hikasa Yoko), Sasaki Kojirou (Shindo Naomi), Araki Mataemon (Tomatsu Haruka), Houzouin Inshun (Satou Satomi) — paid them a visit and demanded a show down with Yagyuu Juubei (Yuuki Aoi). Unfortunately, Juubei was unable to transform into her Master Samurai form after her soul was sacrificed to prevent Yagyuu Gisen (Mizuhara Kaoru) from reviving Amakusa Shiro (main antagonist of season one). That led to the prompt defeat of Muneakira and his haremettes, and he was given a one-month deadline to bring forth the “real” Yagyuu Juubei before the full effect of his cursed body takes place.
I won’t lie to you – this is not your definition of a masterpiece but it’s certainly more interesting than what most of us give it credit for. Production-wise, I’m still a fan of the unique visual style that features frequent ink-splatters and think borders. They come in handy as a creative way of censorship and serve the show well by giving the modern setting a traditional feudal look. But that’s hardly the biggest draw of the show for me. The most obvious appeal has always been the beautiful character designs and the return of its all-star female cast. Yuuki Aoi, in particular, impressed me greatly with her wide voice-acting range as Yagyuu Juubei. The split personality of her character provides Yuuki-san the stage to stretch her voice across different spectrums, whether it’s the child-like performance of the current Juubei or the sadistic side of our yet-to-emerge golden-eyed Master Samurai. What’s more, it’s not just the main cast who sports some of the industry’s biggest name. Hyakka Ryouran has an equally remarkable list of notable voice actors – Kobayashi Yuu (Gotou Matabei), Gotou Saori (Hattori Hanzou), Koshimizu Ami (Charles de d’Artagnan or just Nia), Toyosaki Aki (Naoe Kanetsugu), Noto Mamiko (Maeda Keiji), Sakurai Takahiro (Tokugawa Yoshihiko) – to round up the supporting cast and that’s a headline that would make any seiyuu-honed ears stand up straight.
From a pure fan-service standpoint, Hyakka Ryouran delivered marvelously and the first episode certainly featured a copious amount of female nakedness that is bound to get our adrenaline pumping. But make no mistakes about it, the fan-service is not always the focus of the show and it’s usually presented tastefully in a manner that works as an enhancement for the comedic effect. Quite frankly, even if the fan-service were toned down or censored, I’ll still be watching the show just for its action-filled adventure, lovely characters and great RomCom moments. All-in-all, early signs are promising for fans of the series – the anime looks great and that lucky bastard Muneakira still has one of the best-looking harems in the anime universe. It should be a blast covering this show and I’m happy to announce I’ll be writing about Hyakka Ryouran on a regular basis starting this week. A great anime of the ecchi genre is tricky to do, but when it works, it’s a tremendously joyous ride and I‘m expecting wonderful things from the “Samurai Girls’ Story of Love, Courage and Kisses”.
ED: 「結果、偶然でござ候」 (Kekka, Guuzen de Gozasourou) by 柳生十兵衛(悠木碧)、真田幸村(釘宮理恵)、徳川千(寿美菜子) (Yagyu Jubei [CV: Yuuki Aoi ], Sanada Yukimura [CV: Kugimiya Rie], Tokugawa Sen [CV: Kotobuki Minako])