Year: 2010 Number of episodes: 12 (aprox. 25 min per episode) Genre: Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Supernatural
Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls is the kind of anime show that seems to have everything going the right way before it even starts airing. A storyline revolving around samurais? Check. Edgy visuals that make the anime stand out from the rest? Check. Fan service? Double check. All the ingredients to make a great anime series are present, which makes it all the more perplexing that Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls turned out to be a complete failure of a show.
Let’s start at the beginning. Taking place in Great Japan in an alternate timeline where the samurai tradition has been kept alive through modern age, the show starts off with the arrival of protagonist Muneakira Yagyuu at a samurai academy, where he accidentally stumbles upon Yukimura Sanada and her bodyguard Matabei Gotou as the two undress, encounters childhood friend and princess of the Tokugawa clan Sen Tokugawa, meets the quirky Jubei who he seems to share a special connection with, and otherwise gets to know a good deal of other female students. However, no one seems to be aware of the fact that Great Japan is standing before a grave threat; one that shares a long history with the country.
Jubei Yagyu in Master Samurai form.
It’s hard to get a good sense of what Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls is about during the first episodes, because when it comes to story progression, the series is all over the place. Taking a look at the first half of the show’s episodes, close to nothing happens that is relevant to the plot. It seems as though the anime forgot that it actually has a story to tell, concentrating too much on trying to deliver as much entertainment value as possible, but ultimately failing in that respect as well, with many jokes simply falling flat and the amount of humour ending up to be rather insufficient overall.
The second half of the series isn’t much better either. Whereas the earlier episodes seemed to go nowhere, the final ones feel extremely rushed. Characters are introduced on the go, the antagonistic threat literally appears out of the blue, and the plot suddenly rises in scale with no explanation whatsoever. In addition, despite having so much time on its hands to allot for character development (early on the episodes are basically just various interactions between characters put together to reach the twenty minute mark), most characters end up feeling rather underdeveloped, with protagonists such as Jubei and Muneakira turning out to be nothing more than cardboard cut-outs of anime stereotypes as the show concludes.
Kanetsugu Naoe never ceases to be annoying.
The mysterious Gisen has something up her sleeve.
The only thing preventing Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls from being a complete waste of time is the visual department, where the series clearly stands out. Boasting an unconventional look, the show features a stunning art style comprised of detailed—albeit not particularly original—character design, backgrounds in wash painting style, and ink drops marking scene transitions and censorship, in case you’re watching the censored version. The animation is also relatively well-done, though for an anime revolving around samurai warriors, the amount of fight and action scenes is surprisingly sparse.
Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls also lacks in scope. Aside from a number of scenes that I can count on the fingers of one hand, only the characters relevant the plot are shown, making the anime unbelievably disconnected from the world the story takes place in and causing the experience of watching the show to feel like a far-off and underwhelming venture. There’s a lot more to complain about, but the things mentioned earlier should give you a general idea of what to expect and—more importantly—what not to expect from Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls going in.
Midnight Movie of the Week #205 - Dorm
*"We have a lot in common, you know? No one cares about either of us."*
Starring: Charlie Trairat, Chinatra Sukapatana, Sirachuch Chienthaworn.