So at first, it looked like Samurai Girls was going to be the story of one really powerful busty samurai, one reasonably manly guy (Yagyuu Muneakira), and a bunch of (mostly busty) scrubs. That would not have been much of a story unless they came up with a villain equal to the super-saijin, and then the rest of the girls would just be spear carriers. Fortunately, it’s not the story being told. It’s very clear that there will be several super-powered samurai girls, but not necessarily fighting each other — at some point, they’ll be defending Japan. Somehow, I managed to forget that little detail, as shown by the opening minutes of episode 1. Tonight, I was forcefully reminded of it. As of Episode 4, it’s become obvious that this is actually a harem show, with the usual inept male (Muneakira) at the center. In Episode 1, he was reasonably assertive. Granted, he wasn’t really in control, but then he was dealing with a bunch of nuts in the Student Council, and Hanzo wasn’t exactly the most stable person to reason with. But ever since Yagyuu Jubei showed up, he’s been pushed around by the women. If it isn’t Tsundere Princess Sen trying to stake him out as her territory (without actually, you know, claiming him), it’s Jubei in her ditz mode or loli genius Sanada-kun losing any semblance of common sense. Below the fold, it’s going to get into spoilers…
Episode 2 completes the basic setup. Sanada and her samurai Matabei were actually there to make contact with Princess Sen Tokugawa, who is running the student council of this prestigious school for her brother, who is currently in France. He appears to be conspiring up to no good, but I have my doubts. Sanada’s clan, nominally enemies of the Tokugawa, have foreseen some great threat overshadowing Japan. During the episode 1 chase, Yagyuu Jubei shows up, and based on her insane power level after kissing Muneakira, everyone concludes she’s the threat. But how can that be, when she turns into such a powerless ditz with no memory of her other form? And how exactly does Muneakira control her powers–if he does? All Master Samurai have to be sworn to a General, and that General is always of the Tokugawa; thus they control the country. Guys can’t randomly go around kissing girls and turning them into insanely powerful samurai capable of shattering buildings! So how and where do her powers come from and why doesn’t she have them any more?
While episodes 2 and 3 lay out more of the background, they spend more time handing out the fanservice. At the end of ep. 2, it looks like Jubei is going to be a non-issue, as her full, ruthless Master Samurai form is locked away, and Muneakira has no intention of unleashing it — if he even can. But in Ep. 3, as Sen fusses and fights jealously with Munekira, Jubei suddenly gets annoyed, and the other personality erupts. She initiates a kiss with Muneakira, and is released into her super-form, after which she proceeds to trash all four other girls. Only at the last second does she decide not to kill Matabei and Sanada, and changes back to her ditz-form, losing consciousness. So we now know that she can release herself, and indeed, Muneakira is her general — although he loses his mobility when she transforms (hence the chains).
Ninety percent of episode 4 is Sanada theorizing that it’s not Jubei that’s special, it’s Muneakira, so she demands that he kiss her and turn her into a Master Samurai. This is stupid and obviously a ploy by the loli to infuriate Tsundere Princess – and of course it works. Equally of course, Sen flips out when Sanada suggests she try it instead. The insults traded by all three left me in stitches. A lot of the episode is humorous, and some of it isn’t as crude as you might expect from the subject. Some was though… Fully half the episode is wasted with silly hijinks as the nominally brilliant Sanada is utterly humiliated by Sen and Hanzo over and over, all while trying to approach Muneakira for a kiss. The scene where she studies hundreds of books on kissing in the space of a few minutes (photographic memory?) and then tries to assimilate the knowledge, is also quite funny. “Sky-hurricane kiss?” WTF? Noting that she’s abandoned brilliant strategy for blindly charging ahead, she realizes she’s actually started to fall for Muneakira — said realization plays into further humiliation by Hanzo.
Matabei and Jubei finally drug Sen’s and Hanzo’s tea, giving Sanada a clear shot. Of course she ambushes him in the bath, just so both will be naked, I’m sure. Pure co-inkydink, not pandering, right?. Sen, not quite as unconscious as thought, staggers in and uses a secret naginata technique to blow the wall (along with Muneakira and Sanada) out. Um, she can blow out the wall with a naginata…remind me again why Sanada suggested that Sen become a super-saiyjin?
Of course Sanada lands on top of Munekira. And they’re still starkers. Of course she tries to kiss him, but is foiled, then it happens anyway, accidentally. And of course it —
Excuse me, but when did I start watching Yumeria? Sure, it’s just a kiss, not molesting, but in two out of three occasions, the girl has been stark naked in his arms. So now Sanada’s suddenly a super-saiyjin Master Samurai — with absolutely no control over her powers. Before she’s through, she manages to whip up a tornado with her fans and destroy half the dojo — and the next morning, Sen has an iron mask clamped firmly on Munekira’s face. Heh. So it’s not just that Jubei is special (obviously, she is, given her manner of entry to the story) but Munekira is also critical to the power up.
Next episode, a new girl; the one we see in the OP with the huge hammer. At this point, I re-loaded episode 1 to watch the opening segment again, where flying female samurai destroy American bombers threatening Japan. Sure enough, although you don’t see their faces, you can recognize Sanada, Jubei, Sen, the girl from episode 5, and Hanzo. The sixth girl is the French blonde we see in the OP carrying two oversized broadswords. She briefly appears in episode 2, and is called Nia, but she doesn’t seem happy with Sen’s brother — either they’re not really enemies or she switches sides. Not sure about the 7th.
But what really gives it away is Jubei’s introduction to the first episode, in which she names a few of the girls and says, “But you see, to get strong, they say that all of them require kissing.” Very first episode — duh. Ok, it will be a not-unexpected twist if Hanzo has to kiss Senhime, but under the rules, that should freeze Sen in place. So it’s going to be Munekira giving the oscular power-ups as we go further into the show. Great, the guy gets to be the Green Lantern corp’s, uh, lantern. For certain busty values of Green Lanterns. Opening of episode 2: “In ancient Great Japan, ruling males had a certain special power, the power of Sho. A power that pushes a samurai’s [ability] to their fullest potential. People would call the ultimate samurai who have the power of Sho, ‘Master Samurai’. However, in recent years, a samurai’s [ability] has been waning. There are now only a handful of Maser Samurai remaining.” Note that I inserted “ability” but the word was actually translated as “perpetuity”. This might be important. One confusing aspect is that the air battle took place in the 20th year of the Shouwa period, whereas the bulk of the story is set in the 22nd year of the Heisei period. I’m not sure of the difference — I’d assume WWII Japan vs. post-opening Japan. (But Munekira is obviously toting a modern electronic camera in episode 1, and Sen’s brother is using a modern touch-tone phone in France. Huh? Definite anachronisms.) So how are the girls still around? There’s a reference to gods guarding Greater Japan… does “perpetuity” mean some sort of ascension is being hinted at, so that they’re still around a century later? Or is is not a century? Are we seeing the past, not the future, in the opening?
And does Yagyuu Munekira’s ability to create new Master Samurai mean that there’s a regime change in the offing? His clan teaches swordsmanship to the Tokugawa…maybe the relationship goes a bit beyond that. Could Muneakira and Sen actually be distant cousins, known or unknown?
Anyway, given that I considered this show to be down below Ikkitousen when I first read about it, I’m surprised that I’m finding it to have genuinely funny moments and a better backstory/setup than “hey, reincarnated high-school age generals from the Three Kingdoms period are going to fight to see who will rule Japan!” It’s not quality entertainment, but it is entertaining me.
While it’s worth watching, I still have to complain about some flaws. Turning Muneakira into a wimpy harem lead cost some points, as did making Sen into a cute flustered tsundere, whereas in episode 1 she looked like twisted, sexy, evil incarnate. Jubei’s ditz mode is also annoying — I’d rather see her in “bottled nitroglycerin mode” but now that she’s shown that she can initiate her own release, well I’d bet that mask isn’t going to stop her. It makes her more of a danger, which is a good thing — it adds needed edginess that they lost by neutering her.
I just wonder how long they’re going to string out Sen before she kisses Muneakira. My guess? Most of the series.