Everything comes to a head as the battle to stop destiny from repeating itself takes place.
What They Say
With Sonsaku's apparent death, Nanyou's position in the Kanto region is in question. Discussions with Seito bring Koumei's long-term plans into focus, and the two schools join forces against their common foe, Kyoshou. Its leader, Sousou, continues to lose more of himself to his ancient namesake and when he is consumed entirely, it's his friend who pays the price.
History continues to be replayed, and the circumstances leading to another Battle of Red Cliffs fall inexorably in place. When dragons appear in the sky, only an ancient orb can change the tide for those fighting against their destinies.
Contains episodes 9-12.
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 another fighter clad in a schoolgirl uniform looking particularly attractive while not actually showing off a lot, which is a surprise for this series. 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. 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 fun again comes in the final 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 once again as we get more hot spring material for example. The big extra here for fans of the Japanese actors is that we get a twenty-six minute piece with a few of the girls as they talk about the show, answer questions and even have a mini concert. It’s a good meaty extra for those who really get into this part of it and having the musical performance was a big plus to it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A release schedule like Ikki Tosen: Dragon Destiny has had is really not helpful for either the fans or for reviewers. With six to seven months between releases, as the first came out in November 2009 and the second in March 2010, by the time the third volume comes around the show is going to be kind of hard to remember in general, even if it was a simple slice of life kind of series. But take a second season to a complex history bound piece with dual personalities, multiple schools and plenty of different agendas and you really only get one thing. A complete and utter mess. The first two volumes of Ikki Tosen here didn’t win me over handily, unlike the first season, because it came across without being as clear or focused on any particular character long enough for the story to really make sense. With the delays, by the time the third volume rolls around, there is honestly a whole lot of “so what” attached to it.
The show doesn’t exactly help all that much at this point either. With the final four episodes, it goes into the traditional mode of working through the storyline so that the various players start to realize their true role in things and get their asses into gear. With Koume now directing things a bit and organizing a final battle for everyone to participate in at a special location so as to avoid widespread damage, the draw of the Dragon Gems is strong enough to bring all the key people in. And with Gentoku simply not wanting to fight anyone, it allows her to play on the defensive side by guarding them as others fight it out first before everything can come to the big, epic ending moment. Naturally, Hakufu gets involved in a big way but it’s such a splash of color and action that it’s just the various parts we see without any clear whole to tie it together well.
Prior to the big all ending action scene, and subsequent epilogue piece showing that all the survivors have found someplace to be while noting that there’s plenty of room for more to come, we get a few scenes involving the buildup of events. Most of it seems rather empty for the most part since there’s teenage angst in the form of thousands of years old warriors repeating history, but the one part that was interesting was seeing how Hakufu is being trained and beaten down so she can handle the fight against Sousou. Because of her abilities and the way she got pounded so easily already, there’s a neat trick to deal with Sousou’s power that’s introduced here that I actually liked. It’s gimmicky to be sure, but at this point the entire thing about Ikki Tosen is that it’s all about the gimmicks. Everything happens for whatever reason they can shoehorn in there and that’s all there is to it. Hakufu’s buildup was the only part that I thought worked well simply because it was one of the quieter moments with an established character who made even a modicum of sense in the first season.
Back when the first series came out I was on the outs with a lot of people because I thoroughly enjoyed the show many called degrading and base. I loved its style and the way it didn’t try to play nice with the mixture of violence and sexuality. It was brutal. It was confusing as well since it’s the three kingdoms gig done in the present through reincarnation of sorts. Dragon Destiny builds on the reincarnation part by dealing with more of the past bleeding into the present at a point where it becomes too confusing. And it does it without maintaining the kind of violence and brutality we saw before. In fact, I really felt that this season was very tame overall when it came to the violence and sexuality. The OVAs are a whole other kettle of fish and they really should have just gone the extra couple of inches and made a hentai series for it. I really went into this series looking forward to it and excited, but it rebuffed me at every turn and was made worse by taking a year to get twelve episodes out over three volumes. Perhaps it’ll flow better as a set but I have my doubts about that.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Promotional Video, Bonus OVA Episodes 5-6
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.