Mania Grade: B
1 Comment | Add
Rate & Share:
- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 16 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Media Blasters
- MSRP: 24.99
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Queen's Blade
Queen's Blade Vol. #1
Queen's Blade Vol. #1 DVD Review
By Chris Beveridge
May 11, 2010
Release Date: May 18, 2010
Queen's Blade Vol. #1
© Media Blasters
The competition across the land for the woman who will become the next queen has begun and the participants are getting it on – and their clothes off.
What They Say
In a land where a queen is chosen every few years solely by winning a tournament, there can be no short supply of formidable opponents. For one woman warrior however, an early defeat clearly shows her that she is lacking in experience though she may be bountiful in body.
Fortunately, while defeat could spell one's doom, her life is saved by a powerful stranger. But unfortunately for this savior, less-than-pure motives and shrewd family members mean her reward is a prison cell. Her release is prompt when the unseasoned warrior she saved, tired of her current lifestyle of nobility, sets off to prove herself.
Contains episodes 1-4.The Review!
Queen’s Blade is a show that Media Blasters has some faith in, hence it getting an English language dub adaptation. The show has a decent pair of stereo mixes to it encoded at 192kbps that convey the material well. The forward soundstage has a clean sound to it with an expected layout where we do get some directionality, mostly during the fight scenes and the music, but also some decent dialogue placement throughout as well. The show isn’t one that stands out hugely in the audio sense but it’s a solid mix that works well and is free of problems. The opening and closing songs tend to make out the best overall in providing a good full feeling.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Each volume contains just four episodes of the show and some extras so it works within a decent bit of space to provide a very good looking result. The series is one that has a pretty good budget to it and it’s all on the screen with some very lush visuals at times and a whole lot of pop when it comes to the color. The encoding for it is solid across the board with only some areas of standout noise in the background, often in dark scenes at night, but generally a very pleasing look. Or it could just be that all the fanservice is highly distracting. The release is free of issues like cross coloration, halos and line noise during panning sequences which leaves it to just look really attractive.
All told, the Queen’s Blade cover is pretty tame as it serves up four of the women from the show in their usual outfits, but when taken as a still shot it really doesn’t show just how far the series goes at times. There’s a good look to it with all of them having a nice amount of detail and some relatively standard fanservice skin showing as they’re set against a wispy yellow background. The logo is definitely old style along with the volume name along the bottom to the point where I’m sure some won’t read it clearly the first time. The back cover comes across as pretty tame as well with just one shot through the center that’s a collage of different characters that again don’t show off anything too extreme. The summary takes care of the premise of the show rather nicely while the bottom is fleshed out with the episode count, the discs features and production credits. The technical grid is nicely done as well with clear and clean listings of exactly what’s involved with the release. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover. I had hoped there might be one like some adult releases that have a hard and soft version.
The main menu uses the artwork and background design from the front cover as its main image, set to the right, where it has a nice bit of vibrancy to it and a very solid look. The character illustrations show off their detail well and the bit of music to it sets the mood fairly well as well. The left side has the navigation strip with the logo while using the various text designs from the front cover as well. The layout is quick and easy to navigate and Media Blasters continue to off both sign/song subtitle tracks alongside full subtitle tracks which is very welcome during a time of corners being cut. The layout is easy to navigate and submenus load quickly, though the disc doesn’t read our players’ language presets and defaults to English with the sign/song subtitle track.
The opening volumes of the series has a couple of nice extras to it. The first two OVA episodes are included, which run just under three minutes each and involve Tomoe and her first day at school where the delinquents go after her. It’s all about fighting and fanservice with a lot of nudity. We get various clean opening and closing segments, including the special ones to the episodes here, alongside a couple of brief TV spots and a short promotional video that was used to push the series before it came out.
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 two main story arcs in these opening episodes, though they cross paths lightly and there’s often more to it as well. 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.
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.
Fun is what really sums up my overall feelings of these first four episodes. The flow of the show is decent, though I could have done with less Tomoe and more focus on Leina and Risty. The fantasy setting is fairly standard and we get some fun material showing up with the mysterious angel gets involved, but by and large it plays things with a straight face as weird and unusual events play out. When you have a villain that wears a snake to cover her naughty bits, a living snake, it’s going to be weird at times. But by playing it straight and using a ton of sexuality, it creates an odd feeling that keeps you off balance a bit as it slowly drags you into the story and the overall sense of fun. I dreaded this show at first based on the general reaction to it but it turned out to be a really fun time that has me looking forward to more.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closings, TV Spots, Mini OVA Episodes, Promotional Spot
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.