Battle Vixens (Ikki Tousen) Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, April 10, 2006
Release Date: Monday, March 13, 2006
What They Say
After her defeat by the honorable Taishigi, Hakufu takes it upon herself to fight even harder to reach the top. Even as the tournament's battles rage on, the head of each school plots to defeat the others by manipulating their pawns into battling each other. Will Hakufu become an unwitting tool, or will she be able to control the warrior spirit growing inside her?
More panty shots and kung-fu action as the second volume of Battle Vixens continues the theme set up in the first disk.
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'.
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.
Demo disk only, no packaging supplied.
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 Ryofu and an as yet un-named character 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.
The most substantial extra on this disk is the Directors Interview, although I'm not sure whether this is serious or tongue in cheek, although I'm going for serious. In this segment we see the director overseeing a live action shoot to give the animators a reference point to work from when animating the action sequences. A Q & A follows with the usual questions being asked. The dialogue outtakes follow the same formulae as the ones found on the previous disks and is just the dub cast goofing around. The Art Gallery is 10 screens with character designs and the clean closing is exactly as it says. The extras are rounded off with trailers for Samurai Champloo and Kiddy Grade.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
After watching the first volume of Battle Vixen (aka Ikki Tousen), I wasn't exactly looking forward to continuing with the series for the reasons outlined in my first review. The plot seemed to be lacking while simultaneously being enormously complicated and overall the show just didn't sit right with me. So it's perfectly understandable that the second disk of Battle Vixens wasn't among my first choice of DVD's to watch, however I found that on watching the second disk, that if you just kick back and relax, the show is a lot easier to take.
The second disk contains just 3 episodes, which actually seems to be about the right amount of time to spend watching this show. The episodes on this disk really just continue from the last volume, although with 1 crucial difference " the Big Fighters Tournament has begun. This is a tournament held every 3 years, which includes 5 representatives from each of the fighting schools in Kanto. It's basically a competition to find the best fighter from all the schools and has traditionally been very bloody and brutal. This year it seems as if Nanyo Academy is down on a couple of combatants, as initially only Hakufu, Kokin and Gakushu seem to be willing to take part. During their first battle Nanyo seem to be heading for a quick knockout as Gakushu is taking quite a beating from his opponent until Ryumou turns up to help out.
After the fight between Hakufu and Ryumou on the last disk the last people I expected to become friends were these two. However, it seems as if they've put their differences aside and are quite happy fighting their opponents together. There was no indication (from what I recall) of Ryumou deciding to work with Hakufu, although the historic spiel at the end of each episode does indicate that Ryumou did help Shou-Haou. I suppose Battle Vixens isn't really going to be a show about developing friendships as the focus is firmly on panty shots and action sequences, but this development did surprise me somewhat.
If you were already thinking that enough characters had been introduced, then get ready for some more. This volume introduces Kana, a female fighter who is held in high regard by all other fighters, and quite rightly so, as she manages to dispose of all 5 representative from one school with no apparent problems. Kana's an unusual character as she has some of the same traits as Hakufu " she loves to fight but unlike Hakufu is more detached and doesn't let her emotions rule her fighting ability. One of the main fights on this volume is the battle between Ryumou and Kana, with both girls being quite evenly matched even though they use different techniques. In addition at the end of the last episode on this disk, another new character is introduced, although as yet we have no name to go with this girl who seems to know more about Hakufu than even Kokin suspects. She also appeared very briefly in an earlier episode and it is quite possible that she's going to play an even bigger part as the series progresses.
As I mentioned earlier this volume does not try to build up on the story in any way, which might be why it's more entertaining to watch, the focus on this volume is simply the tournament and the individual battles this comprises of. Of course there is some political manoeuvring in the background that the actual contestants may or may not be aware of, but this really does play second fiddle to the panty shots and kung-fu action. This volume does seem to contain non-stop action, but unlike the previous volume the fights themselves didn't seem as bloody or as brutal as some of Hakufu's initial bouts in volume 1. I was expecting to see much more bloodshed this time round but this isn't forthcoming, which surprised me when the tournament was described as being very brutal. While the fight scenes might not be as kinetic, there is certainly one aspect of this series that gets a lot more attention this time round.
The fact that this volume has been rated an 18, should give you a good indication of what aspect has more attention devoted to it. The first volume hinted that some fighters could derive sexual pleasure from fighting and this is taken to a whole new level on this volume, and the panty shots seem pale in comparison! The fight between Ryomou and Ryofu leaves Ryomou in a slightly compromising situation that Ryofu quite happily takes advantage of, and then there's the scene between Ryofu and Saji which includes quite an 'interesting' camera angle. I suppose this development just compliments the exploding (and slightly bondage like) clothing and panty shots, but Battle Vixens seems to revel in pushing the boundaries of whatever genre it's aiming for.
My overall opinions of Battle Vixens haven't really changed with this second disk, although I found 3 episodes far easier to watch in one sitting than the 4 on the previous disk. The show just seems to jump from one fight to another, and the connecting story is tenuous at best (although I have got a slightly better understanding of what's meant to be going on!). The main problem with this disk is that the numerous battles with the various characters just don't seem to do anything new, once you've seen one fight it seems like you've seen them all. So much so that looking back on this volume it became quite difficult to separate one fight from another, not really an ideal situation when the main hooks for this series include numerous panty shots and non stop action.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Alternate Dialogue Outtakes,Directors Interview,Art Gallery,Clean closing
Panasonic 42" Plasma, Arcam 88+ Prog Scan DVD Player, Kef Egg 7.1 Speaker system with a Ruark log sub. Denon 3802 amplifier.
Mania Grade: C-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: TV MA
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2