Battle Vixens (Ikki Tousen) Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ikki-Tosen

Battle Vixens (Ikki Tousen) Vol. #1

By Kim Wolstenholme     November 19, 2005
Release Date: November 07, 2005


Battle Vixens (Ikki Tousen) Vol. #1
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
Once again blood flows in the streets of Kanto. The eternal fate that has been handed down for over 1800 years is now being fought by ancient warriors who have been reincarnated into the student of the seven top schools.

One such student, Hakufu Sonsaku, arrives on the scene and is rumoured to be the legendary Shou-Haou (the one who is said to be the one to defeat many in battle). But can this blonde air-head with the overly-endowed assets actually be the legendary Shou-Haou?

The Review!
What’s the one thing every fighting anime needs? That’s right panty shots, and Battle Vixens has no shortage of those. It’s a shame about the plot though…..

Audio:

For my main viewing session I watched the show with the original Japanese language track, I then decided at a slightly later date to watch the whole thing again but with the English track. Both tracks are perfectly fine and use the left and right speakers for separation occasionally. Dialogue is nice and clear as is incidental music and sound effects. While both tracks are OK, I did prefer the Japanese track, as the VA seems to do a much better job at voicing Hakufu’s ‘blonde traits’.

Video:

Overall the video presentation isn’t too bad, although there were a couple of problems I noticed. Firstly the ‘title’ screen, which shows the episode number against a backdrop of flames, suffers from quite a lot of artifacting. In addition I also noticed some cross-colouration in a few scenes that made Hakufu’s panties look pink rather than white, and there are some instances of line noise. Other than this everything is fine, the show is very colourful, lots of reds, whites and deep blues and blacks and all come across well (apart from the few instances of cross colouration).

Subtitles are in the usual yellow MVM font and I noticed no spelling or grammar errors.

Packaging:

Demo disk only, no packaging supplied.

Menu:

Unfortunately, I’ve really taken a dislike to this menu and for one simple reason. The backdrop to the menu is a series of constantly scrolling thick blue and white horizontal lines. I’m not sure what the menu designers were thinking but they are very distracting and just don’t fit in. If it wasn’t for this the menu would be perfectly fine, with the menu options being centrally placed with a picture of Hakufu and Ryumou on the left and right respectively. Music from the show plays in the background that is actually quite infectious. All menu transitions are nice and quick with no unnecessary transitional animation.

Extras:

Not a huge amount, the obligatory clean opening sequence is included as is a short art gallery with design sketches for 3 of the characters (only 10 pages in all). The most ‘substantial’ extra is the Alternate Dialogue Outtakes, anyone who has the Texhnolyze disks will pretty much know what to expect here, which is basically the dub cast goofing around with the script. Mildly amusing and really only worth a quick once over.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)

I don’t know where the creators of Battle Vixens (otherwise known as Ikki Tousen) went wrong. They seemed to have all the bases covered – a cute leading girl, a boy who secretly fancies her and lots of fights. Usually these ingredients make up something that’s nice and light-hearted and fun to watch, but somehow this hasn’t happened this time.

In Kanto the 7 top schools are fighting for supremacy, quite literally, as certain school members seem to be direct ancestors of ancient Chinese warlords who have somehow managed to pass their feuds down their bloodlines. For generations a sacred bead has been handed down through the family line to denote that the bearer is descended from one of these warlords. This bead also indicates that the wearer is a ‘fighter’ i.e. a person who can be challenged to a fight by other people who also wear a sacred bead.

Hakafu Sonsaku has just moved to Kanto, where she has enrolled in Nanyo Academy, the same school as her cousin Kokin. Since she was small Hakafu has enjoyed fighting but her mother has kept her away from the fights and rivalries of Kanto – until now. Hakafu now has her mothers’ permission to fight, and she’s been given a sacred bead to denote her new position as a fighter. On her first day at her new school Hakufu has arranged to meet Kokin at the school gates, but he’s so caught up in investigating the history of the fighters that he forgets all about this appointment until he receives a reminder from his mobile phone. Kokin rushes to their meeting spot, to find Hakufu has already challenged a number of fellow pupils to fight, but things are not quite going the way she expected…

Initially she seemed to be managing to defeat her opponents, until she is challenged by Gakushu, a huge mountain of a man and one of the ‘big four’ at Nanyo. Hakufu gives the fight her all, and is surprised when her usual defeating kick is met with indifference by this huge man who, in turn, defeats her without seemingly breaking sweat. As Kokin takes Hakufu to the school’s infirmary he starts to tell her about the way things work in the school, and especially about the ‘big four’.

It seems that Hakufu’s arrival in Kanto has not gone unnoticed, and there are already rumours going round that she is descended from the legendary fighter Shou-Haou, who brought members from the different warring factions together as an unstoppable force, or at least that’s the impression I got, as it’s a bit difficult to get much semblance of plot due to all the fan service that’s kicked around. However, not everyone believes the rumour, as initially Hakufu’s fighting skills leave a lot to be desired. That said she is a very intuitive fighter, who can use new techniques after only being shown them once, she’s also very determined and posses an almost inhuman strength that makes her continue fighting long after she should have been beaten.

For all it pretensions of having a serious plot, Battle Vixens is just an excuse to get girls with large breasts and small skirts to fight. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with this, it’s just that the overall execution is a bit weak. In the first 4 episodes we’re introduced to numerous characters that all want to get rid of Hakufu because of this potential prophecy. To make things even more complicated there are also numerous grudges held between the various members of the 7 schools involved. This all combines to deliver a plot that’s far too convoluted with far too many people involved. There is some attempt to give you an idea of the past of these people and how they got involved in the first place, but that only served to confuse this viewer even more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not averse to complicated plots, but there’s something not quite right when at the end of a show filled with panty shots you find that you didn’t quite get to grips with the plot!

It’s quite obvious what the target audience was for Battle Vixens, and it certainly pulls out the stops in trying to attract them. Of course if you’ve got panty shots, you really need to have good-looking characters and Battle Vixens has these in spades. Hakufu obviously gets most of the attention as the main protagonist and provider of panty shots. However, Hakufu’s mother is also very attractive, as is one of Hakufu’s opponents Ryumou.

As well as panty shots, Battle Vixens also has plenty of fight scenes, which are actually quite well executed, and usually also serve to add yet more fan service into the mix. A number of Hakufu’s fights end with her school uniform being ripped in rather strategic places to show yet more flesh, which seems a bit bizarre, as her opponents tend to end each fight fully dressed (although usually a bit battered). Some of the fights are also quite graphic with attacks usually ending with a large splatter of blood from either one of the opponents. One thing that slightly disturbed me with some of the fight scenes was the fact that the girls involved (be it Hakufu or Ryumou) seemed to get some sort of sexual excitement out of the fight. I’m not quite sure why this was deemed to be necessary, it’s fine for girls to enjoy fighting but I’m not quite sure why the sexual element was brought into play.

So far Battle Vixens is actually quite a light-hearted show, as the fight scenes and panty shots are interspersed with some nicely comedic moments. Hakufu is not the sharpest tool in the box; in fact she’s the typical stereotypical blonde. She’s a bit scatter brained, and is too willing to take people at face value (especially guys who offer her a free meal when she’s hungry). Despite this she’s got dedication and a willingness to learn, although she’s got to be reminded about things she’s just been taught. There is also more to Hakufu than initially meets the eye as, in some of her bouts she changes personality and becomes much more forceful and deadly, although she seems to have no memory of this personality change.

Hakufu is supported by her cousin Kokin as well as her mother who has also moved to Kanto. The support she receives from her mother actually isn’t really ‘support’ in the true sense of the word, as she actually points out Hakufu’s weaknesses rather than her strengths. This leaves Kokin who not only tells her all about Nanyo Academy, but also the current situation in Kanto. He also takes it upon himself to teach Hakufu the basics of fighting after she meets a street fighter who leaves quite an impression on her. Kokin is the shy reserved sort, but his fighting ability is also very impressive, and he’ll go to any lengths to protect Hakufu from her potential enemies. From his research Kokin seems to be quite clued up about the history of the fighters and seems to be the only person who realises that Hakufu could really have a dual personality that is only brought out during fights.

In Summary:

The first volume of Battle Vixens left me a bit confused, and I’m not referring just to the plot. There are certain elements to the show that I really thought were uncalled for and served very little purpose. The plot also seems to be more complicated than is really necessary and involves way too many people. Despite this there are elements from the first four episodes that I really enjoyed, the fight scenes are well done and quite imaginative and I found the character of Hakufu to be quite fun, even if she is a little bit of an airhead.

Battle Vixens really knows the audience it’s aiming at and actually does a good job in getting the fan-service elements right. So if you like panty shots, anime girls with booby bombs and few brain cells, easily ripped school uniforms and a decent amount of fights you’ll lap this up, and can probably add a couple of grades onto the mark at the top of the page. If on the other hand you prefer something a little less in your face with a bit more thought behind the story I’d advise you to give this release a miss.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Alternate Dialogue Outtakes,Art Gallery,Clean opening

Review Equipment
Panasonic 42” Plasma, Arcam 88+ Prog Scan DVD Player, Kef Egg 7.1 Speaker system with a Ruark log sub. Denon 3802 amplifier.

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