Ikki Tousen Vol. 1: Legendary Fighter
Ikki Tousen was one of the titles on my iffy anime list. On one hand, it's Geneon, and I don't think they have failed me yet. On the other hand, the description sounded really bad: "The spirits of ancient warriors continue fighting for peace in this popular anime series. Ancient grievances are causing rifts among seven schools whose students are guided by reincarnations of the powerful warriors." Only two sentences in and it sounds like either a B-anime or a hentai. Ikki Tousen actually is a well-animated soft-core hentai street fighter series.
The DVD itself is not all that bad. We get four episodes, chapter selection and language set-up with three options: English with subtitles, English without subtitles, and Japanese with subtitles. Extras include: an art gallery with manual controls, a clean opening, DVD credits, and Geneon previews. This disc's selection was Ai Yori Aoshi 2, Mahoromatic, and Demon Lord Dante. There are hidden outtakes if you hit 'enter' right after selecting to view the clean opening. The outtakes were funny, but not hilarious. The subtitles were excellent, and the dubbed voice acting good. I would still prefer the subbed version to the dubbed. It just has that extra edge to it.
The opening has, perhaps, the greatest ratio of panty shots per second that I have ever seen. Now I don't mind a little fanservice here and there, but not when white cotton panties and bras are being tossed left, right, and center. The opening and ending songs ("Drivin' Through The Night" and "Let Me Be With You", respectively) were so annoying that I simply skipped over them from episode one onward. Opening a panty-fest montage with music that sounds like Miami Sound Machine is just plain wrong. When the song suddenly turned into an Engrish rap with a style dating Salt 'n Pepper's glory days, things have gone very, very badly.
In any case, on with the story. The plot is piled on in the first few minutes, then it fades away, only to be inserted rather painfully and awkwardly at each episode's end. Apparently, all of the high school students (all of the students we seen anyway) are reincarnated warriors from The Three Kingdoms. I am sure if I were familiar with the tale of The Three Kingdoms, Ikki Tousen's story would make more sense. Then again, this is based on a manga titled Battle Vixens, so the plot may be a trick. These students wear sacred beads that contain the soul of their previous selves, and they're called Fighters. They battle for control of the Kanto area and the seven high schools.
Enter Hakufu Sonsaku. Picture Excel with longer hair and huge breasts. Congratulations, you have her character! She's incredibly dense and stubborn, having recently inherited a sacred bead and switched high schools. She is a talented natural fighter, but she must become great if she's to live up to her destiny and become ruler of the seven schools. You see, in her Three Kingdoms life, she was Sho-Haou of Koutou, the hero who united the seven kingdoms through his martial prowess. Naturally, everyone else wants to kill her before she becomes any more powerful. The problem is that Hakufu isn't that intimidating when she is so Excel-like focused on what her mother will do to her when she gets home. Additionally, her clothing keeps getting ripped off of her body in every fight scene.
She's not without help though. Her cousin, Koukin Shuyu is also a Fighter, destined to be Hakufu's protector. Hakufu, however, laughs this off because she is obviously the stronger of the two. Then there is the incestuous love/crush. These things happen in anime and -- particularly -- in anime of this shade.
The seldom-seen Enjyutsu and his four subordinates rule Koukin and Hakufu's school, Nanyo Academy. The Big Four include: Saji Genpou, chronic breast fondler and manipulator; Gakushu, huge muscled and honorable guy with a weakness for sweets; and Kannei Koha, who is quite insane after losing his sacred bead. Since the bead is a person's soul, it makes sense that Kannei is drawn as a crouching demon with a long tongue. Last comes Ryomou Shimei, a one-eyed goth/maid/sadomasochist schoolgirl, inspired by Evangelion's Rei. Actually, she looks to be a great character because she plays herself to be heartless yet allows herself to be used by Saji.
Strangely, the Big Four are not the major bad guys of this series. That honor belongs to Totaku, the cruel and vicious Fighter who is currently taking over schools with no mercy. We finally meet him in the last episode on this volume... He grows orchids. I mean, how can you be afraid of a gardening nut? Sure, he has a scary voice actor and he has white bandages plastered around his face and arms, but he's a geek. Then again, he's perfect to play against Hakufu, AKA the brick wall.
The animation comes courtesy of J.C. Staff; therefore, it is very colorful and crystal-clear. Character designs are fairly middle-of-the-road, but I did like seeing urban clothing and accessories being included. After all, this is a street fighting series with a lot of panty shots and breasts.
But I don't know. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood for Ikki Tousen. Maybe I don't like blatant fanservice. Maybe I didn't like the mixture of reincarnation and panties. Yet, I am sure that if you deleted everything except for the breasts, tongues, bras and panties, and hit 'mute', this would be a nice soft and short session for self-enjoyment or self-abuse (pick your method). There is a short but very well animated spanking scene, and the female Fighters (most frequently, Hakufu) exclaim how excited they are now that they've been kicked or punched. One of the commercial breaks is a kilt being lifted in a breeze, the title logo suddenly tattooed on a butt cheek.
Honestly, I'm surprised to see this coming from Geneon. They don't often skip into the world of extreme fanservice and light hentai. I was not sure, at first, how to rate Ikki Tousen because it's definitely not your usual Geneon fare and it doesn't fit into one genre. So, I decided to view it as a soft hentai for guys who like schoolgirls and Guilty Gear X. As such, it's pretty good. Great visuals. Just make sure to turn the sound off...