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"Ikki Tousen" Vol. 1: "Legendary Fighters" Engage in Legendary Fanservice

ImageIn the 1800′s, a legendary fighter was able to take out one hundred men during a single fight. Years later in modern time, has this legendary fighter been reborn in the body of a ditzy high school girl known more for her “booby bombs” than her brains? Hakufu Sonsaku just transferred to Nanyo High School, and the Big Four are out to see if she’s this legendary fighter or just a legendary clod in the first volume of Ikki Tousen, “Legendary Fighter.”

Episodes Included On This Disc
Episode 1-4 (No Episode Titles)

It seems like I’m destined to be the fan service man around these parts. Pretty sad, huh? Well, at least that means I get a steady stream of babes with short skirts and revealing blouses.

And man, I am not complaining.

Destined to go down as one of those guilty-pleasure fighting anime, Ikki Tousen focuses on Hakufu Sonsaku, an ancient Chinese warrior known as the “Shou-Haou” ripped from the pages of history. Well, presumably. My knowledge of nineteenth-century Chinese history would make Ken Jennings weep. This Sonsaku is reborn into the body of a very stupid and very buxom teenager. As a symbol of her reincarnation, Hakufu possesses a Sacred Bead. On which she’s written her name with a Sharpie so she’ll remember whose it is (hey, I couldn’t make this stuff up). Aided by her cousin Kokin Shuyu, who historically was Hakufu’s most trusted friend and comrade, she survives high school by the skin of her teeth. It seems that she’s not the only one with a Sacred Bead. Everyone else who has one is apparantly ready to fight at the drop of a hat, and the Big Four, the strongest fighters in the school, are out to get her.

A legendary plot? Not in the least. But there are nice characters to fill it. Hakufu’s an idiot, but that’s her character. She’s genuinely sweet until she goes violently insane during fights. Along with simple nice-guy cousin Kokin, they are apparently the only two good people at Nanyo High School. The adversaries for the series are The Big Four (no relation to The Big O or Super Sentai‘s The Big One), relatively evil fighters who are in the same high school class as Hakufu. Shimei Ryomou is the most notable of the Big Four, or at least you’d think so given the amount of space on the DVD box devoted to her. A sadist in battle, she uses her joint-technique to put people into submission. Somewhat sick and twisted, she licks her lips in pleasure from the fighting. Gakushyu is your typical huge badass, but he does have a sweet tooth to balance out his rough exterior. Genpo Saiji’s the pervert of the gang, who constantly feels up the women, even guessing Hakufu’s cup size (she thinks he’s a bra salesman). Hakufu’s mom is Goei, probably the least responsible mother since Yusuke Urameshi’s.

It’s clear that J.C. Staff’s animators and Geneon (Pioneer)’s dub writers had a lot of fun with the show. They nickname Hakufu “Booby Bombs” (You didn’t think I made that term up, did you?) and the announcer (in a blooper) calls a character a “Nancy boy hanging out in a green house.” It doesn’t get better than that. And just look at the animation. Skirt shots are everywhere. Clothes apparantly only exist in this world to be ripped and as to Hakufu’s character design, to quote a blooper, “I’ve seen smaller cantaloupes at the market.” The only time this penchant for perversion ever actually grossed me out was a fight between Hakufu and the sadist Shimei. You would think I’d be all up for a fight between “Booby Bombs” and a girl in a maid’s outfit with handcuffs, right? Well, with her submission technique, Shimei can make someone’s muscles relax… and Hakufu… well… I just found the most disturbing visual in any fan service fighting show. Speaking of the fighting (what a novelty, considering the volume is entitled “Legendary Fighters”), the physics are relatively realistic. Though the damage done to the grounds is a bit otherworldly, nobody hovers in the air firing off energy blasts here.

While there is a version out there with the series box and some physical extras, I just have the single-disc release, so my extras were a non-credit opening, an art gallery (no music, and some of the shots are just screen caps), Geneon previews (surprisingly, only three), and some hidden bloopers. Also, the case has a reversible cover featuring Shimei on the reverse.

And the winner of this battle is…? Ikki Tousen comes out strong in the fan service department, weak in the story section, and only moderate in the extras and episode count. If you’ve got some cash to blow on anime and your main criterion involves “booby bombs,” Ikki Tousen could be a knockout.

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