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Anime on DVD: Jubei-Chan
Jubei-Chan, the Ninja Girl
There is one reason for this series to be in the essential collection: Akitaroh Daichi. His rather insane and bizarre humor needs to be recognized. More well known for the long running series, Kodomo no Omocha (Child's Toy), he definitely has his following. Since Child's Toy probably won't be licensed for a while, we have to make do with his next series, Jubei-Chan: The Secret Of The Lovely Eyepatch.
Our story begins 300 years ago. Legendary samurai Yagyu Jubei is on his deathbed. Yagyu tells his attendant Koinosuke that he must find his successor and deliver the Lovely Eyepatch (Yes, this is what it is called. It is in the shape of a pink heart) to this person. When asked how to find this person, all he is told is to find someone with "plump bouncy bonbons".
300 years later, he seems to have found the person in Jiyu Nanohana, a normal (aren't they all?) eighth grade girl who has just moved to the countryside with her father, Sai. She, of course, has different ideas than Koinosuke, and tries to avoid using the Lovely Eyepatch whenever possible. When a rival samurai clan starts making trouble for her, though, she finds that she doesn't have a lot of choice in the matter.
Course, this show is full of wacky characters. There's the required love interests, Tarajiro Ryujoji, a senior who likes to talk too much about his Kendo skills, and Bantaro Sanbonmatsu, who is the leader of "The Ruffians" (Or "The Unrefined" if you are watching the dub), a small gang. The character on his shirt changes to match his mood or thought process. Both love Jiyu for her pure heart. (Or maybe it is because of those "plump bouncy bonbons", who knows?) Shoko is trying to start a group of her own called "The New Student Lovelies" and meet for ice cream after school, but is always thwarted in her plan. Her friend, Kou, always looks sullen and speaks in short sentences, not saying much of anything.
Then there are the bad guys. Basically, the first half of the show is a parody of the "Magical Girl/Monster Of The Week" show. Jiyu has to face increasingly weird samurai. She wants nothing to do with this, but is often left with no choice but to invoke Jubei. It eventually comes to a head and becomes about something else completely. The series ends up being about the relationship between Sai and his daughter Jiyu and dealing with the past. It is shown many times, sometimes humorously, sometimes seriously, how much Sai cares about Jubei and that he'd do anything for her. (Not always the right thing, but he means well)
Overall, this is a pretty good series that doesn't have a lot of filler and flows well. It has a good balance of silliness and seriousness to keep from going over one end or the other and it ends quite satisfactory. So, what are you waiting for? Get out and enjoy it!