The series that manages to piss off more people than most other shows returns for a second season.
What They Say
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms continues on in modern Japan, as the rival high schools involved in the retelling of the epic saga struggle to achieve dominance. The focus begins to shift to other high schools and the interaction of their front runners. In the backdrop, the dragons of the remaining two great leaders are awakening, leading to growing mayhem. As ancient artifacts are acquired and events unfold, the battles keep raging on with enough intensity to rend flesh and clothing.
Contains episodes 1-4.
Media Blasters has created a decent bilingual mix for this series that utilizes a stereo mix for both language tracks encoded at 192kbps. Ikki Tousen isn’t all that much of a surprise with what it does with its audio since it is a fairly straightforward action show which utilizes that soundstage well and effectively. There’s a bit of directionality across the stereo channels throughout the action sequences and occasionally with some of the characters dialogue when there are multiple people moving about the screen. We skimmed the English language track and found it to be essentially the same in presentation and both tracks are clean and clear of any noticeable problems such as dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this twelve episode series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With only four episodes to a disc, there’s plenty of room here to breathe and the transfer looks good overall, though one or two of the night scenes show a bit more noise shifting around in the background than I would have cared for. It’s a generally vibrant show with lots of colors that stand out and they look very good here with minimal issues all around. Line noise is non-existent as it cross coloration, leaving a very pleasing looking presentation overall, especially when it gets to the busy action sequences.
Ikki Tousen lets it all hang out with its front cover as it features Kan’u, twisting around, so that we can see the underside of her shit as well as a bit of her posterior as her skirt whips around her. She’s always worn a flimsy little outfit so there’s no surprise here at all. The framing of the cover is really appealing, as the graphics designers at Media Blasters often do very well at this, and the blue shadings in the background allows the character artwork to stand out really well. The only dislike is the logo which makes an already difficult title even more difficult. The back cover plays it a little subtle in a way as it has a large circle in which there’s the basic summary of the show and a listing of the special features. In the middle we get a strip of shots from the show which are almost all fanservice oriented, something you may not notice at first. The bottom of the cover makes a brief nod towards the episode count and lists the production credits as well as the technical grid which is accurate and complete. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for Ikki Tousen uses the background layout design from the front cover to good effect here as it spreads it out a bit and gives it room to breathe. Inside it we get a different piece of character artwork of Kan’u as she’s standing tall and showing off just a touch of cheek while holding her weapon as the wind whips her skirt and hair. The colors are very appealing as is the overall framework added to it. The navigation strip is along the bottom with everything nicely laid out and quick to access. Submenus load quickly but the disc doesn’t read our players’ language presets and defaults to English with sign/song subtitles.
The extras here are amusing, though we do start off with the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences. The fun comes in the first two of six OVAs (Which some places seemingly list as full episodes, even though they’re four minutes – with separate English credits). These are fun, silly fanservice pieces with no redeeming value beyond seeing boobies. The episodes focus on a few of the girls going to the hot spring where they let it all hang out, top side at least, as certain areas are still taboo even for an OVA. In addition to these two pieces, we also get a promotional video for the series that runs about two minutes.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back when Geneon licensed and release Ikki Tousen: Battle Vixens, the series got a lot of grief from a vocal segment of fandom for its overt sexuality and amount of fanservice combined with violence. I haven’t seen that season since it first came out but I have fond memories of it because it was so brutally honest about what it wanted to be and reveled in it. Four years after that season, a second season was kicked off with Dragon Destiny which was then followed by another season called Great Guardians. The first season must have done well enough for Media Blasters to pick this up and to dub it since they’ve seen the numbers for it and that means we get more sexy violence with high school kids imbued with the spirit of ancient generals and warriors.
Dragon Destiny doesn’t do all that much to reconnect the viewer to the series in the four years since the first and that’s a little refreshing, if a bit confusing. While the first season seemed to focus primarily on Hakufu and her ascent into the school she’s in, this one seems to focus more on Gentoku at first from the Seito Academy. Gentoku really isn’t interested in any of this stuff as she just wants to read her books and lead her life, but she’s in the position of having a dragon inside her that others want to either unleash or conquer. Because of her position, she’s regularly guarded by Kan’u and Chouhi as they’ve sworn to protect her at all costs, though Kan’u is secretly waiting and hoping that Gentoku will awaken the dragon inside and take her proper position.
The plot for this particular season is still largely undiscovered, but the basic premise that comes across in these first few episodes is that someone is working to bring the dragons out of these warriors in order to stir up chaos. There are a couple of characters edging around the background here that are setting things in motion but haven’t really revealed themselves all that much. The event that really starts the ball running is when Moutoku’s dragon is awakened and he becomes a bit more sinister and more intent on stepping up the pressure on the other schools to establish his dominance. With the first school’s leader put out of commission in the previous series, there’s a bit of a power gap and a struggle that’s about to take place and the awakening of the dragons sets it in motion.
What’s disappointing about this show at its start is that the familiar characters are kept more to the background, but they do gain a bit more importance as it progresses on here. Hakufu doesn’t really take a role until the third episode as she gets more involved in things. On the plus side, Ryomou is fairly involved from the start as she’s seeking something out to deal with the dragons that are awakening and she’s even trying to awaken the one in Gentoku in order to see if the sealing talisman’s she’s discovered are capable of the job that’s needed. She’s the only one outside of Moutoku that seems to have a real mission at hand and she plays it well while grappling with her own inner dragon and the pain that’s caused by it when it starts to wake.
Visually, Ikki Tousen doesn’t stray too far from what the series in 2003 did with its look. It’s a bit smoother, the animation a bit richer, but by and large it feels like a continuation overall. There’s no radical redesign to it here which helps a lot. The shift of focus to other characters such as Gentoku, Chouhi and Moutoku helps it to become its own show before it starts bringing in Shuu and Hakufu and all that’s associated with that school, so it lets the designs shape up from a different perspective and angle. The animation is here is pretty good for what it’s trying to present and while they do over accent the human form, it’s all done very intentionally and to good effect. Yes, there are boobies bobbing everywhere, but that’s a staple of anime for how many decades now? Many shows may avoid it, but I have a love for a show that is unabashed in it and revels in such things.
Story wise, Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny is fairly confusing as it has a growing cast, a lack of even a real minor recap of events that have come before and it starts off with a different set of primary characters than the Battle Vixen’s series did. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter because as much fun as the goofy big epic dragon story may be, the appeal of it is that it features an array of characters that are well designed running around kicking the snot out of each other, actually having sex with each other and providing a good deal of skin and fanservice. And they’re in no way shy about animating it here as there are a nipples galore, especially in the OVAs. The appeal of Ikki Tousen for me the first time around and this time is that it’s unabashed in its display of violence and sexuality, which is a turn off for me. For me, it’s something that stands out from the rest and the way it’s presented here is spot on.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Promotional Video, OVA Short 1-2
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.