Senran Kagura Review
Warning: The following review may contain spoilers. If you wish not to know some events in the story, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please leave the page, since I don't want to damage a watching experience for you.
With that said, thank you, and onto the review:
Well, here we are. Another review, another fanservice anime. You think I would get tired by these now, but that's not the case. Fanservice isn't too bad, not unless the series does manage to have a decent story, and fanservice doesn't try to crawl into parts of the plot.
Although sometimes, fanservice just isn't my cup of tea, when it's paired with a weak story, unforgettable characters, and the use of a 12 year old for showing more boobs and panties. Thanks goodness that this show has no bare breasts.
Flash forward to Christmas Day, and I get a call from my friend who got the series for Christmas. He asked me if I wanted to watch it, and I didn't refuse.
What did we get?
This anime actually surprised me, as I thought it was going to be bad. However, it was actually pretty good. I did like how the anime immediately set us up with the story, the main characters were all developed as well as the rival girls and the final episodes are pretty good,
Of course, I knew this anime wouldn't be perfect. The story is a bit too generic, Hibari is literally USELESS AS S**T (I'll discuss this later), the rival girls are at first poorly developed and are stuck up for being stuck up, and the main villain. OH MY GOD!
But let's get to the story of this anime. Yeah, this anime has a story. How surprising!
Our story begins when our main character Asuka returns from a shinobi test that she barely passed. on the boat ride back, she meets a girl named Homura, and re-encounters her later while on a mission. Once she arrives back to Hanzo Academy with funny narration in check, we meet her 4 other classmates named Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyu, and Hibari. After their sensei Kiriya trains them for a little bit, they are all sent out on a mission. Delinquents have been reported in the city, and the girls have to deal with them. Once they are defeated. the girls realize that all of them were wooden dolls. Asuka also get in on the action as she was showing Homura around town. But, Homura is actually an evil ninja.
So, brief synopsis. Hanzo = good, and Hebijo = bad.
After we see a bit of the evil ninja school, the good ninjas have to train a bit more in order to be on the top of their game. But when Hebijo invades Hanzo, and when Hakura gives Hibari an earring, things really get heated. When Hakura brain-washes Hibari with the earring so that the Super Secret Ninja Scroll Yang can be obtained, Hibari decides to go to Hebijo as she feels her friends won't forgive her, and to try and find a way to get the scroll back. Since she needs to do something useful in this show.
Now, it's time to rescue Hibari. But how will the girls stop a stereotypical as f**k villain who is Hebijo's headmaster, from combining the two Super Secret Ninja Scrolls of Yin and Yang?
Overall, the story for Senran Kagura isn't going to win any awards for its originality. The plot does happen to range through some cliches, mainly to due with the fact of good vs. evil. At the beginning, the show feels as if it's relying on good old fashioned tropes just to reach the halfway point.
The villains in the beginning are poorly developed as well. You get to see at least parts of the main 5's backstories, but you don't get to see the villains until the end. At first, most of them were very one-dimensional for me, but after they were developed, you could get behind them a bit more, and possibly have a bit more sympathy to the characters you used to hate.
The last 2 episodes manage to redeem the show in some way. The mood, instead of being a little light hearted, is more serious and action packed. This made me treat the show seriously, and there wasn't a lot of comedy to get annoyed by. You also find out the backstories for all of the villains (the main 5), so that works as well.
I'm going to move on to the characters:
For this review, I will be focusing on the two major groups of 5 at the rival schools. I'll start off with Hanzo, and then go on to Hebijo.
The shinobi at Hanzo consist of 1 second year (Asuka), two third years (Ikaruga and Katsuragi), and two first years (Hibari and the prodigy Yagyu).
Asuka is our main character of the series. At the beginning of the first episode, she is shown at her ninja promotion exam, in which she barely passed. She is the granddaughter of a legendary shinobi named Hanzo, and wants to follow in her grandfather's footsteps. While mainly upbeat, she has a incredible fear of frogs, and freaks whenever one leaps on her. However, she loses her fear later on in Episode 3, and the frog is also her family's summoned animal.
Ikaruga is very mature and takes her duty of being a ninja seriously. However, she can sometimes lose her composure. She was adopted into a family with a line of successful ninjas. Her adoptive father's son wasn't able to pass on the bloodline, thus causing her to use her katana that her adoptive father gave to her. Her summoning animal is a phoenix.
Katsuragi is very enthusiastic and bubbly. She also is a pervert, as she loves to fondle Asuka's breasts. You'll know it the minute you see it in Episode 1 though, as she will do it again multiple times throughout the series. She's fighting to re-establish the honor of her family, as they ran away without their daughter after losing a mission. Her summoning animal is a dragon.
Hibari is very sweet as well as cute (according to Haruka), but she is quite clumsy, and can be childish. It is also noted that she can't do jack. While I did like her attempts at getting back the scroll or eavesdropping on certain conversations at Hebijo, she can't do a dime in fights. It always goes down to Yagyu saving her, or helping her out, because she is literally useless on the battlefield. Her summoning animal is a bunny.
Yagyu is a ninja prodigy, At first, she was very off in her own place, and wouldn't accept the others as her friends, expect for Hibari. She vows that she will be Hibari's protector, due to the fact that her little sister looked like Hibari. After she died in a car accident, Yagyu felt bad that she couldn't help her. But after meeting Hibari, she supports her, and always helps her in battle. Her summoning animal is a squid.
Overall, the girls of Hanzo are all equally developed, and have a unique personality trait about them. The only one I had problems with was Hibari, because she can't fight and has to rely on Yagyu to save her every single time.
Now onto the girls at Hebijo:
Staring at this plate of food like it's SOOOOO magical. Are those barbecued ribs? Magic? Pictures of my favorite anime characters? Who knows.
At first, the majority of the 5 main girls at Hebijo start as one-dimensional. Mainly Haruka and
Yomi, but their backstories do change my mind a little. Homura is a second year, and Mirai is a first year. The rest are unknown (at least in the anime), though we can assume that Yomi is a second year.
Homura is the rival to Asuka, and is first introduced as a normal girl. However, it is later revealed that she is a evil ninja. She was supposed to enroll in Hanzo Academy, but she had to kill someone in self defense. Which is a problem, since Hanzo doesn't accept any dirty records.
Haruka is the scientist of the group, and is the rival of Hibari. She is most known for creating puppets, making them look like humans even though they are actually wooden dolls. She uses the sleeves of her lab coats to fight, and stores a lot of chemical vials in the coat as well. In her past, she was used as a dress-up doll by her mother, due to her father having multiple affairs. She wants Hibari because well.......
Hikage is a snake-like girl who rarely shows any emotion, and is the rival of Katsuragi. She was raised in the streets to be a killing machine, and was told that showing emotion would make her weak. She fights with various knives that she sometimes licks.
Yomi is a girl who seems poised and mature, but actually has a darker side inside of her. She is addicted to bean sprouts, and is the rival to Ikaruga. She hates rich kids in general due to the fact that she was poor. She lived a harsh life, and after seeing Ikaruga on TV, she wonders how lucky her life is. Because of her parents passing away shortly after, she hates all rich kids and thinks they are all obnoxious. YAY! STEREOTYPING! She fights with a sword.
Mirai is the smallest girl in the group, and is the rival of Yagyu. At her old school, she was constantly bullied, and joined Hebijo to fight against those who teased her. However, like Hibari, Mirai can't really fight. She at least shows more potential than Hibari ever does, but what she shows is pretty weak.
Other characters include the headmaster of Hebijo (AKA is cliched as hell and wishes to take over the world. OMG haven't seen that one before), Hanzo's ninja teacher, Asuka's grandfather, and Hebijo's ninja teacher.
The animation for this series was done by Animation Studio Artland, which is a side studio of Artland, who are known for Reborn, Demon King Daimao, and Mushishi.
Overall, this animation is actually pretty good. There aren't too many moments that are done poorly, but it isn't eye-catching or amazing. It's pretty good in not going too outside the box too.
The fanservice in this show isn't horrendous, as they show no nipples. Yeah, there is a lot of boob jiggles, partial nudity, and panties. But NO NIPPLES! Anyone who is mature enough to watch a fanservice might go with this one, as it isn't the worst in terms of showing bare boobs.
The score for this series was composed by Ruka Kawada, who has also composed the scores of Kanojo ga Flag o Orareta, Kiniro + Mosaic, and Katteni Kaizo.
Overall, the score for this series was pretty kick-ass when it got to being dramatic. A lot of the track pieces use cymbals, and sound very classic and interesting. My favorite piece throughout the series is one that is used for tense moments, and I remember it being used (besides a lot in the series) in the final episode of the show when the girls realize that the headmaster at Hebijo is their main target.
The opening for this show is fantastic, and had me pumped to watch more episodes of the show. All of the endings are nice, with the one sung by the villains being the most forgettable. And Hitomi Harada's obviously being the best.
I watched this show in its English dub, as I found the first few episodes to have very funny scripts, and not take the show as seriously as the original Japanese does. However, Monica Rial manages not only be kick ass as Homura in the dub, but also is great at aiming for the show's serious side. Plus, they made a reference to Debbie Downer, which is awesome.
Highlights in the show's original Japanese (so far) are Hitomi Harada, Yu Kobayashi, Yuka Iguchi, Kenji Fujiwara, Ryoko Shirashi, and Suzuko Mimori.
Highlights in the English dub are Felecia Angelle, Alexis Tipton, Brittney Karbowski, Bryn Appril, Martha Harms, Monica Rial, Teri Rogers, Kara Edwards, Lara Woodhull, and Lydia Mackay.
This show isn't the best out there for people who are looking for an original story. It's a good anime for what it is, and I did enjoy it for the most part.
I recommend this show for people who want a tame fanservice series, stories that have some character growth, love funny scripts in English dubs, or looking for a fun show for a couple of hours.
Somewhat interesting story.
Great main characters.
Kick-ass final episodes.
Funny, but can be serious English dub.
Main villain is a stereotypical douchebag.
Some parts to the show's story are a bit cliched.
Rival 5 girls start off as one-dimensional.
Hibari is weak as f**k.