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December 24 2010

4156 44c6 500

Hyakka Ryōran Samurai Girls

Being an avid anime watcher, I learnt not to judge anything from their first impression alone. Sadly, that's not usually the case for other watchers. Just like ARMS' previous work Queen's Blade, people often get fixated on the nudity aspect and quickly judge the series as nothing than "another Ikkitousen". Just for clarification, I was feeling neutral about Ikkitousen until that BJ scene, which then I drop it immediately afterwards. However, HRSG managed to capture my attention with great visual, awesome combat, fun characters, interesting personalities and not to mention a solid plot.

Hyakka Ryoran Samurai Girls is another HobbyJapan-ARMS production. Similar to QB earlier, the focus is on the cast of beautifully designed characters. However HRSG this time contains a more coherent plot having had a light novel series predate the anime adaptation.

The setting is in the alternative universe in modern Japan, where the souls and the spirits of Samurai and Generals still exist in the modern time. The show is best described as a "high school samurai comedy" (thanks RandomC), with most of the fun take place in the dojo between the main character Yagyu Muneakira and his fellow samurais. There are a number of name references of the famous Japanese characters, for example Yukimura, senhime and Jubei. It's a small harem you might say, and most of the comedy/story revolves around this tiny group of people, with occasional life stories on bond and trust. The series feel quite short however since the setting is mostly at one place, however HRSG has a very clear focus in the story as in your typical "must stop the resurrection of the final boss". It's not original, but I'm not asking too much in a series that focuses more on characters, and it did execute the story nicely.

You cannot talk about this show without mentioning the visual style. ARMS goes all out employing a grainy oriental ink painting direction when doing the backgrounds on top of using bold outlines on the characters. What it does is making the series just look absolutely beautiful. The backdrop looks amazing, and comparatively the character looks a lot cleaner than you normally associate in any other anime series. Sufficient to say, HRSG has got one of the best looks this year.

The combat sequence is quite awesome as well. Compare to Queen's Blade where they are stuck on earth and feel more like ancient medieval sluggish fightings, HRSG broke that restriction with the use of ink blots. Think filming a fight in the rain. When there's a huge collision you will see water splash on the camera lens. HRSG uses the ink blots to create similar effect during fight scenes. It's not CoD's jelly vision per se, but enhances the overall feel of dynamism during the fights. Several characters also use figurative ink as ways of combat. Start from stepping onto ink platforms in mid air to them as energy fields, this show is quite stylised in the combat department as well, not to mention the fluidity of animation.

Being an ARMS production, fanservice has to be there, otherwise it's such a shame leaving those beautiful character designs to waste. That being said, the fanservices are just that, fanservice. It doesn't come often in the story, and by the time you are hooked it's not the main focus anymore. Another thing I love about this series is their use of censorship. Instead of the generic light beam or black hole, they employs different ink blots onto the screen. Those ink blots fits into the overall theme of the story, and the show actually looks nicer with those on than them being removed.

The seiyuu are quite good, however I'm not that knowledgeable into this field so I won't talk too much about it. I'll just say that they fit the characters quite well. The OP and ED are really nice. Compare to shitty ones from QB, ARMS has certainly stepped up in their game. Those two are the ones I will not skip the OP nor ED during watching.

Overall how would I rate HRSG?
Is it a masterpiece? no. 
Does it deserve more credits than those rubbish the internet people sprout out? Definitely.
I would not call this series a guilty pleasure simply because it has a lot more on offer than your generic fan service. It's a solid series by itself, and I strongly recommend this show to anyone who's not offended by the occasional scenes of tastefully censored nudity. 

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