Gods help me, I *really* enjoyed Ikkitousen Vol. 3. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I’m seriously thinking about going home and rewatching it again. Today.
In a nutshell, this volume of the anime version of Wani Comics’ offensively fanservicey, trashy, faux-historical/martial arts epic, details the transformations of Housen Ryofu from psychotic lackey into honorable uber-warrior and Shimei Ryomou from psychotic loner into super-vassal. And despite myself, I really enjoyed the hell out of it.
Ryofu wakes up with the realization that she is dying, and decides to go out with a bang. She’s determined to take Toutaku out before she goes – a fine goal, in my opinion. She heads off to a mountain hot spring to train with *the* master and gain an undefeatable technique and the strength to go with it. Before she leaves, she explains to Chinkyuu why she has to do this, and Chinkyuu responds by explaining why she will stay with Ryofu until the very end. In a single volume, Ryofu goes from being a superficial baddie, to a surprisingly deep heroine.
In the meantime, Goei has brought Hakufu and Koukin (who remains the most annoying character in the series) to the same hot spring, in order to train. Well – they are there to train, she’s there to “take the water” as they say in Jane Austen. Hakufu almost immediately runs into Ryomou who has been drawn there for reasons that remain obscure and convenient.
At the hot spring Ryomou has an epiphany. Well, one epiphany and the beginning of a second. Firstly, she meets and is wowed by Goei, whose casual sensuality simply blows her away enough to remove the stick from her ass for a second.
Then, when she and Hakufu meet Ryofu on a mountain path, Ryomou realizes that her true fate is, was and always will be to serve Hakufu and protect her. In a single defiant gesture, she stands before Ryofu to protect Hakufu with her life. Ryofu laughs, says she doesn’t have the time and runs off.
In the meantime, Chinkyuu makes a bad decision which ends up getting her raped and tortured at the command of Toutaku’s lackey, Kaku Bunwa. Bunwa is one of those second-in-commands that you enjoy watching being taken down, because she thinks she’s so clever, but she ain’t. I’m sure you know the type. When Bunwa tells Ryofu about Chinkyuu, Ryofu goes off to save her lover/vassal in a stunningly impressive display of coolness and ki. Ryofu notches up several ranks of wow as she blows the life out of Bunwa’s enforcers without hardly moving. Waaaahhhhh….coooollll…. I just love a woman who can blow a man’s heart out of his chest.
Ryomou, having determined to serve Hakufu to the death, runs off to see “her” again. Not Hakufu…Goei. Bing Bing! We got a winner here! Ryomou discovers Goei falling to her knees in the street, as she has just met the Fighter that, historically, killed Hakufu. Goei begs Ryomou to protect her daughter and, Ryomou, in her second epiphany, swears to make sure that Goei is never sad. From vassal of the daughter, to serving the mother in one smooth move. Yay Ryomou!
Some other stuff happens – we learn why Toutaku always has bandages on his body, but you know…who cares? And we’re supposed to care about the dragon that is awakening within Hakufu, too. But we don’t, do we? Because *we’re* watching the Yuri-fest going on in the background. ^_^ In any case, Koukin will do all our worrying for us, so we’re free to watch the cool chicks.
The Yuri goggles are getting dusty on the shelf while we watch this volume, I can tell you. The Yuri is so blatant, starting with Ryofu’s waking up naked next to Chinkyuu right down to Ryomou vowing to keep Goei from ever being sad.
Yes, there’s fanservice, but I simply tune it out now. And for once, there’s actual nipples instead of that wretched convention of clothes that have exploded but conveniently hang down *just* to cover the nipples and groin, which I find absolutely tedious. In some ways, the fanservice was *less* stupid because it was more overt. At least it was more honest and less coy.
One final rave about this particular volume – the pencil board did not actually suck! Can you believe it? On the one side is Ukitsu (the Fighter who is supposed to destroy Hakufu) looking seductive and sweet as opposed to kick-ass, which I always find to be a disservice. But! On the other side is *my* favorite character, Goei. Yes, Hakufu’s mother. ^_^ What can I say? I adore her. Anyway, there she is mostly dressed, while her kimono falls sexily around her. She looks just as sensual and aware as she does in the actual show – no frontal lobotomy here. So this pencil board wins. I may actually use it, instead of locking it away with the ROD The TV boards in the “please don’t think I like these” collection.
I’ll be honest, Ikkitousen is not a *good* anime. But given this series’ general suckiness, this DVD is a good volume. (And, for the record, the anime is significantly superior to the manga, which you’ll notice I have not reviewed. Be patient.)
The Yuri rating for Ikkitousen, Vol. 3 is an easy 9. All the other ratings remain as before.