This short OVA wraps up in Volume 4, with some darn good pithy action and character development. Unfortunately, like a little sister who keep jumping into the scene when you’re trying to take a picture of your friends, the fanservice is really distracting – I mean, to the point of actually detracting from the storyline. Which is a bloody shame, because in these three episodes, what was on and off a decent story goes straight into a fairly intense plot. Except the visuals don’t support the story at *all.*
In a lot of ways, it might almost be better to watch this whole volume with the English soundtrack on, while doing something else entirely. This way you would be able to hear the story unfold, without having to crane around the panty and nipple shots, just to get to the action.
While the rest of the character interaction is good, the transformation of Ryofu into uber-lesbian is completed in this volume and really, she gets extra snaps for dying so damn well. Which brings me to the manga version of Ikkitousen, repulsively entitled, Battle Vixens. In Volume 6 of Battle Vixens, Ryofu meets a completely different death, but one no less hunky and yuri-filled.
In the anime, Chinkyuu, Ryofu’s vassal and lover, dies trying to bring the Great Seal to her mistress. Ryofu berates her, because she never wanted to rule, but Chinkyuu admits that it would have made her happy to see Ryofu at peace. At which point, Chinkyuu closes her eyes for the last time and what little zest for life Ryofu has, goes with her. Ryofu has a tearful and moving departure from Chinkyuu, with the hope that they’d be together soon. And off she goes to kill Toutaku, like the obnoxious little expletive deleted he is. Before her death, Ryofu gets one last jibe at Ryomou. “It’s a shame, because you really are my type.” lol You gotta hand it to Ryofu – she’s got one thing one her mind. We are left with no doubt that, as she sloughs her mortal coil, she joins Chinkyuu in whatever passes as heaven for this story.
In the manga, Ryofu’s final fight is against Unchou, and she is taking a brutal beating. Her one moment of victory is that she managed to make Unchou pee her pants. Obsessing about this, Ryofu goes down at the hands of the superior Fighter. Chinkyuu (who had not been in the story until this moment,) runs up and shields Ryofu’s body from the killing blow. In response to Unchou’s taunts, Chinkyuu explains that she serves Ryofu to the death, and scooping her beloved lord into her arms, self-destructs so that they die together.
Regardless of the rest of the utter shittiness of the manga and much of the crapiness of the anime, these two rock. They have great deaths in both versions.
Our little Ryomou, in the meantime, has thrown herself into the role of vassal to Hakufu with vigor, but we get more than a few glimpses of her real interest – Hakufu’s mother, Goei. I love the way she blushes everytime Goei thanks her or smiles at her.
Again I say, despite working hard to end dumbly, the anime actually has a decent and fun ending. Good enough that it made me want to read The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which I did. And for the record, Lu Bu (Ryofu) and Lu Meng (Ryomou) kick butt in the novel, too. :-)But it’s not always easy to recognize the characters’ Chinese names, so I was never able to figure out just who Chinkyuu was – and the research I’ve turned up has that name associated with several different possible characters from the novel.
In any case, as I finished this volume I couldn’t help but think what a truly GREAT anime this would have been if they backed off on the fanservice a notch or three.
If you like panty and nipple fanservice, then you might find the story distracting – its rather complex and may be beyond your ability to concentrate past your fetish.
In conclusion? Good anime despite itself, lots of women who kick ass, at least one serious heavy-duty Yuri couple and the implication of one other crush-y May-December thing going on.
Art – 7
Story – 9
Characters – 8
Yuri – 8
Overall – 8
Ryofu and Chinkyuu were even cooler this time around than the first time I watched. And Ryomou is just brilliant. If she were real, I’d want to adopt her. ^_^