Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 17 and Up
- Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
- Released By: Media Blasters
- MSRP: 49.99
- Running time: 300
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 1080p
- Disc Encoding: H.264/AVC
- Series: Queen's Blade
Queen's Blade: The Exiled Virgin Collection
Queen's Blade: The Exiled Virgin Collection Blu-ray Anime Review
By Chris Beveridge
March 04, 2011
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Queen's Blade: The Exiled Virgin Collection
© Media Blasters
The fate of the peace of nations resides in a contest between women to determine who is the strongest and most beautiful. And most scantily clad as well.
What They Say
Leina has been training with Echidna for the Queen's Blade tournament. But when it comes time for her first real fight, her target is her first friend, Risty! Determined to prove her worth as an equal, Leina goes all out, but Claudette gets to Risty first. Meanwhile, Menace, Airi and Melona lead the Swamp Witch's minions in a full scale attack on the Queen's Gates. It's up to Leina, Tomoe, Nowa and the others to defeat the evil forces and gain entrance to the final rounds of the Queen's Blade!
The audio presentation here is pretty solid as it gives us both the Japanese and English track in stereo using the DTS-HD MA codec. The lossless presentation of the series is quite good though it is of course held back by being a stereo mix but it brings the series to life more than the DVD version certainly did. The music in particular comes across the best but the action sequences across the board have more impact and the dialogue has a stronger feeling as well. Having just watched the show recently on DVD, it's definitely a marked improvement overall as it has a warmer and richer feeling overall. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78: in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episode series is split evenly across two discs with six episodes on each and the extras pretty much split the same way. Both discs are dual layered discs with the first disc using up about 45.8gb total. The series spends most of its bit rate in the mid to high thirties and the show looks very strong because of it with solid colors and some real pop to a lot of it. There's a lot of variety here with all the various lands and characters that we see and the transfer handles it very well and in a way that's very pleasing. The show keeps the original openings and closings throughout and the translated credits are after the last episode in its own chapter, which like other releases, is definitely several notches below the quality of the main show. Queen's Blade simply looks great here in all its high definition boobie glory.
Queen's Blade is in a standard Blu-ray keepcase that uses the same style overall as the DVD releases. The front cover puts three of the girls together, though the ostensible lead of Leina is reduced in size overall as she stands between them which gives it a very unusual feeling. The character designs are decent and only the Thunder General stands out with her fanservice which gives hint as to what kind of show it's really going to be about. The back cover uses the parchment style coloring to it and has a simple by text heavy approach overall that feels rather appropriate for the show. The top goes over the basic premise of the series while though the center we get a nice selection of shots from the show with Nanael sitting alongside it. The bottom clearly details the extras on the discs, production information and a very clean and accurate technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for Queen's Blade are pretty nicely done though it is by and large just a series of clips from the series as a whole. The screen is given over to that entirely, operating at about half the bitrate for the most part, so it has a softer look in general which can be disconcerting at first. The bottom section has a nice menu overlay to it where it does things fairly in theme with the colors and design of it while just above it to the left is the series logo that ties it all together. The instrumental music works well for setting the tone of a fantasy-style show and the clips bring out lots of fanservice but no actual nudity, which is a plus. Submenus load quickly and accurately and there were no problems with navigation at all. The disc do not read our players' language presets though and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.
Queen's Blade ports over all the extras from the DVD release and spreads them across the two discs here. The six part OVA series is included which adds the fun out of character material with the gang at Gynos academy. We get the clean opening and closing sequences, the TV spots as well as the voice actor interview segment and the twenty-four minute piece from the Tokyo Anime Fair.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Reading up on the back story of the property, it’s amusing that Queen’s Blade is based on combat books and figures that are based on a gaming world called lost Worlds which came out in the US back in 1983. I even remember looking at that piece of cover artwork for it when I used to spend far too much time in hobby shops buying up miniatures, RPG games, dice and more. This series has been described as awful, terrible, trashy and just plain wrong. After watching the first four episodes of the first season that runs for twelve episodes, I’ll pretty much agree on the trashy part. But I’ll note that trashy does not equal bad and it can be a whole lot of fun actually.
Queen’s Blade takes place in your typical swords fantasy world where there’s at least a lick of magic about in it as we see an angel floating about and a woman who over utilizes a snake in a non-natural manner. The overall idea of the show, at least in its larger sense, is that the world is made up of several nations or kingdoms and there’s an event that happens over time where various women compete in matches across the lands for the Queen’s Blade, the title that will allow them to become the big wig in the world and right the wrongs they see or just create a lot more wrongs. The matches get shown through magic orbs that appear via the angels the oversee the matches so everyone can see what’s happening. During these episodes, there’s only one angle that we get to see trying to set up the matches and only one official match that gets underway in the last episode.
The show focuses on a number of small story arcs as nearly every episode introduces more characters, but it's those introduced early on that define the larger narrative. The first is the focus on the Vance noble family in which one of the daughters, Leina, has left in an attempt to acquire the Queen’s Blade as she wants that power. Her life has been set by her father, the only male of note in the series so far and the only one with spoken lines as well, as she’s to be married and build from there within their nation. Her elder sister is a powerful general but because she’s considered a bastard child, she’s not in line for power. Her younger sister isn’t set either because of what their father wants. For Leina though, everything changes when she comes across Risty, a somewhat famous Robin Hood-esque bandit from the countryside who is looking to fix some failures she sees within the world, namely with orphaned children such as she was.
For Leina, her life is one where until she met Risty, she was never fully exposed to the way life is in her own country and how bad people really have it because of her father’s policies. These early episodes are about her figuring out these things and getting on the move by partnering up with Risty a bit in order to get past the Great Wall and away from her family’s reach. This doesn’t go too well as they end up losing a lot of their money along the way and we see Leina trying to earn some gold coins by basically engaging in a series of mud wrestling matches with other women. Risty is sort of amused by all of this as she’s really just letting Leina get a feel for life outside of the walls she’s lived within for so long and to realize that there are many people that are going to take advantage of her.
The other arc that comes into play is a young woman from the country of Hinomoto (i.e. Japan) who is now being set up by ninjas who want to take her down. With the help of one who gives her a heads-up as to what’s going to happen and the encouragement of others, she decides to head to the continent in order to acquire the power of the Queen’s Blade so she can fix what ills her country. With Shizuka at her side, the pair head off and deal with some culture shock while traveling and getting a feel for the world. There’s a good moment where they witness the first match of the Queen’s Blade tournament and start to understand what they’re up against, which is more amusing as they actually crossed paths with Leina at one time before that. These two have a fair bit of setup going on but their story seems much weaker at first than Leina’s.
Throughout the series, Leina's journey through the world with Nanael watching over her and getting her into a few fights continues to tie things together as she meets so many people. Of course, Nanael wasn't supposed to get her into the matches since she kind of tricked and forced her into it and her entire way of looking at everything feels off. In fact, Nanael eventually gets called up to Heaven where she's told that she's ready to be sent down to Hell because of all the things she's done in a very un-angelic way, which naturally panics the hell out of her. It's amusing watching her trying to figure out what to do, but she gets one last chance where she has to go to the swamp to investigate what the Swamp Witch is up to since she's orchestrating some of the moves being made that have the bad girls getting involved in the competition.
Nanael's story is a good deal of fun here, especially as her time spent going through the swamp has her approaching it in a way that really says she doesn't understand how to be a spy. So much so that she ends up taking a bit of a break in a hot spring she comes across that's quite hot, only to have the terrible trio show up to enjoy their own down time. Nanael thinks she's made a coup by this but she's such a moron at times that she doesn't realize all the information she's picked up are things that they all already know. Seeing her final punishment, it's certainly appropriate enough for her but it feels like it's really a punishment for Leina more than anyone else.
Leina's travels before she gets saddled with Nanael are a fair bit of fun as well as she ends up getting caught up in some trouble inside a forest of elves. No humans are allowed in there but she helps out an elf in training from an attack so she gets a bit of an okay on all of it. The elves are amusing as they're very naturalistic and the young one that Leina helped out doesn't even wear underwear. Turns out none of them do as even the mighty and proud warriors just use leaves to cover themselves up. Getting to see a little more of the fantasy elements like this works nicely, though it could have used a lot more near naked elves running around.
With the final four episodes, Queen's Blade covers a fair bit of ground for getting us to the point where they're ready to enter the capital and begin the real fight to determine who the new queen is. There's little in the way of new characters and fights related to that here, but there is at least one, and one of the weaker ones of the series as a whole. We're introduced to a dwarf named Ymir who has come to seek revenge against a weapon maker named Cattelya who she claims is making inferior materials. Ymir is certainly cute and all but Cattelya really takes it down a few notches by having breasts that are bigger than, well, Ymir. There's no surprises with story here as they end up fighting, but it's hard to watch Cattelya. The women of Queen's Blade all generally have large breasts, but ones like this just make you cringe and wince.
Where Queen's Blade goes after this is really quite a lot of fun as everyone is getting closer to Gynos and end up coming across each other. There's a good bit of tension to it at times, but in general they all know that it's not the right time yet. Where it gets interesting is that Leina asks Echida to help train her for what's about to come. It gets quite dirty at first with Echidna stripping both of them down and covering them in a protective goo so they can fight, but it's layered with more meaning as well. With just three days to go, there's not much Echidna can teach her. But it's about teaching her that she needs to have a reason to really fight, to take it truly seriously and realize that it is a matter of life or death they're going to be putting them through. The episode as a whole really does a nice job of letting both of them come across well here as Leina seems to really stand as tall as Echidna does.
Beyond that, the final two episodes brings everyone to the gates of Gynos where things are ready to start moving forward as nearly everyone who has shown up in the series arrives, including the bad girls. What sets things off to start though is that of Claudette arriving as she's come to deal with Leina as she harbors quite a lot of grudges against her for their past. We saw some of it much earlier in the series but it all comes home to roost here pretty well, especially with Elina in tow as well. Coming after Leina has spent her time training, it's good to see her stand up as well as she does but also to see just how serious Claudette can get about it. With this fight and the subsequent ones involving more of the cast of warriors, the show ends on a good note here and feels very much like the end of a first book of a larger storyline.
Where Queen’s Blade gets its grief is with the way it heavily utilizes its sexuality. Men are essentially nowhere to be found in the series first four episodes and what we get with the women are done in Standard Fantasy Style. That means they’re wearing practically nothing even though they’re doing all the fighting. There’s heavy sexual material here for a TV show as one of the opening villains, a pink haired girl whose hair covers her breasts in the shape of hands, squirts liquid out of said breasts in order to take down the enemy. Every shot seems like it’s done to maximize the characters’ sexuality when it comes to the action scenes, though it’s not done as often by a large stretch when it focuses on non-fighting sequences. Similar in feel to Ikkitosen but ratcheted up a few notches, Queen’s Blade has no problems in being highly sexually charged with its visual approach. And honestly, with all the characters looking as attractive as they are and the animation and designs done so well, it’s a lot of fun. I liked this approach with Ikkitosen as well and this just shifts that kind of feeling to a fantasy setting and ramps it up a bit more. Or a lot more depending on your point of view. While I can see how some (many?) would be offended by such a show, there’s nothing here that’s shocking or terrible. Trashy? Sure, but it’s also fun.
When I watched Queen's Blade the first time around, it had a number of lengthy delays that drew the whole thing out much more than it needed. Watching it in one sitting like this definitely changes your overall perceptions of it if you did what I did before and this set pulls it all together just right. The show makes out very good with its high definition form as the character designs are even more eye-popping and the backgrounds for many of the scenes seem like they come alive even more. The general idea of the story is one that I like but it's one that moves very slowly overall when you get back to the way they're continually introducing new characters. Yet they do make it work here for the most part, Cattleya excepted, and you can get behind and enjoy most of the cast. If you don't take it seriously, enjoy the overall idea and just have fun with it, Queen's Blade can be a great little romp and one that I can recommend as an easy and fun guilty pleasure.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, OVA Episodes 1-6, Clean Opening, Clean Closings, TAF Event, Voice Actor Interview
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.
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