Fencer of Minerva Vol. #1 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2001
What They Say
Diana, a spirited princess, flees her kingdom to join her true love - the sworn enemy of her royal house. But misfortune befalls her almost immediately, and she is captured by depraved slave traders! Will her prince arrive in time?
Take a hentai series, snip judiciously, release as a 16 and up release. What do you get? A fairly mediocre fantasy title. Release it as a hentai title as it should? Probably one of the better hentai ones out there, depending on your tastes. I'd been warned about this title from friends for awhile, but after watching it, I found it to be quite enjoyable.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The volume level for this show is a fair bit lower than other shows, so we had to crank up the volume a bit. Being from the early 90's, it's pretty much a straight stereo mix with most of the dialogue through the center channel and the few ambient effects and music going through the stereo channels. And for the love of god, whatever you do, do not listen to the English track. The Japanese actors requested their names be removed from the credits, but it's definitely the English actors who should have requested that. It's like these women have never had mad nookie before and don't know how to portray it.
There's some good and bad here. This was done back when OVA's were released with 45 minute running times and there was money to throw at them. The source materials look pretty good, with minimal rainbows and line noise. Colors are quite good, notably the main females blue hair, and the backgrounds hold up pretty well when it comes to staying solid. Where we run into the bad is during several sequences where the characters are at mid-range on the screen, they tend to get a bit blockier and their faces get rather hard to distinguish. We saw this problem on the Lady Blue release as well. But other than that, it's a fairly decent transfer.
This is a fairly decent if dark looking cover, but it definitely shows some fanservice right off when it comes to the lead female character of Diana. After watching the show though, I have to wonder why it was named Fencer of Minerva, as there are no fencers and no place named Minerva. The back cover provides another piece of artwork (with a character I don't recall in the show) as well as a brief summary. Features are nicely laid out, and the technical aspect is kept organized at the bottom. The black and white reverse side of the cover provides a few more pictures and the chapter stops, as well as the cast listing of the English actors. A note indicates that the Japanese voice actors requested their names not be used. Bah.
The menus are decent with the exception of the English voice over being used ("Do you want to be whipped?!"). Some animation plays in the background with the music. Selections work nice and fast and the layout is pretty straightforward.
For the extras, we checked out the decent art gallery (in video form) as well as the meet the characters section, which is a pretty typical character bio section. The Japanese trailers were fairly interesting to see how it was marketed in Japan.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As mentioned elsewhere recently, I rather do enjoy hentai. And I even publicly admit it. Fencer of Minerva was a title I hadn't heard anything about, other than negative comments from other hentai fans.
Fencer of Minerva is a fantasy-ish setting. Our introduction is with the two young children named Sho, the son of the King of Doria, and Diana, the daughter of the captain of the royal guard. The two are good friends, and play outside and talk of the future in the way children do. It's during their time outside that the royal guard captain begins his coup of the palace, and attacks the King. A quick pitched battle, and he's dead. We return to the children, where some of the others from the coup are coming to eliminate the son, so there can be no familial retribution.
As luck would have it, the boy escapes (else there would be no story). Diana tries to save him, but he falls off a cliff and into the running water, and no body surfaces. Thanks to the inept guards, they just consider him dead and the coup of the palace goes on, leaving the King dead and a new King installed.
Flash forward twelve yeas later, and Diana, now a princess, is getting ready to meet her chosen future husband, Prince Dunan of Gupte. Being the strong willed girl she is, she sneaks out early in the day in (a poor) man's outfit and strolls the streets of the city. While out, she encounters a slave selling bazaar. With one woman in particular, the slave seller is rather cruel, and she ends up getting involved, only to be attacked by the slave sellers hired guards. After quickly dispatching them, the royal guards show up, so she grabs the equivalent of a horse, rescues the slave, and heads out of the city.
Being the foolish girl she can be, an encounter with some local lizards leads the way for her and the slave girls capture by the nomads of the plains. Diana finds herself being indoctrinated into their culture, which is the whole master/slave style. Not too surprisingly, after being whipped, she falls into line fairly quickly with her new role along with the other slave girl. During their presentation to the men of the clan, where each will be chosen, a stranger rides into the group seeking shelter for the night.
Not too surprisingly, it's the older version of Sho whose arrived and has spent the past twelve years learning swordplay and just becoming somewhat hardened to the ways of the world outside of the palace. Sho engages the nomads quickly during a challenge, and wins over their trust. His skills prove enough that the clan chief even gives Diana to him as a good will gesture. With Diana knowing who he is, and Sho trying to not believe it's really her, their first night together as master/slave proves to be rather interesting.
With the two reunited, things move forward with Sho's plans for revenge while Dunan searches out the lands for Diana, and various smaller subplots move forward, as well as plenty of naughtiness in the night. The first two episodes bring to a conclusion this story, while the third one starts off a separate self-contained storyline, so there's all told over two hours of show here.
If there's one thing I didn't like, it's the fact that it's edited and released as a 16+ title. Even with what's left, it'd be put into the adult category by other vendors and shouldn't be considered a general release. From Animeprime:
Some portions of the scenes involving sexual situations were slightly edited. In particular, the shots of the 'internal female sex organ' were removed in episode 1.
With as much that's left, I really have to wonder why they bothered. I doubt mainstream audiences will get into the whole master/slave material, and hentai fans will probably pass on it for the cuts.
The show has number of fairly violent moments, but other than that, it's fairly tame. The master/slave sequences are done pretty well for the most part, and the character designs make them quite a bit fun, especially Diana. There's no demons, there's no tentacles, so it's more of a general audiences show in that respect. Some girlfriends/wives may not get into something like this (or be outright mad) but others may just have a knowing smirk. I found it enjoyable for what it set out to be, and for being a rarity in showing the whole master/slave side of anime without women being torn apart by demons.
If only it wasn't for the cuts... or that awful dub!
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art gallery
Original Japanese trailer,Meet the characters
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Central Park Media
Running time: 135
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Fencer of Minerva