Senran Kagura (Artland) – Genre: Action, Comedy, Ecchi
Episode 01 – “The Ninja Standing on a Skyscraper”
Fanservice is an interesting beast. Producers include it in their works with the hopes that it’ll draw in a bigger audience, but I feel that it ends up pushing potential viewers away. Senran Kagura is adapted from the action game for the 3DS, released in 2011 (Japan only). Apparently, when the game’s designer thought about how to best utilize the console’s 3-D capabilities, the first thing he thought of was huge breasts.*Facepalm*
It’s a shame really because Senran Kagura doesn’t have the makings of a bad anime at this point. I just feel the show is held back by this terribly flawed line of logic that rudely generalizes the mindset of the male population, or something like that.
The series itself revolves a group of five kunoichi (female ninja) who attend a secret shinobi school known as Hanzou Academy, in which they are trained by a wise sensei – the proverbial Charlie of Charlie’s Angels. Our protagonist is Asuka, a second-year at the Academy and is as cheerful and optimistic as most anime heroes come. Her classmates include the serious Ikaruga, the perverse Katsuragi, the star-eyed Hibari, and the young prodigy Yagyuu.
This all-female ensemble of characters is more or less what you would expect from a show like this, but the group dynamic luckily manages to be entertaining and likable. The cast is surprisingly backed up by a lot of strong seiyuu, such as Asami Imai (Kurisu from Steins;Gate) as Ikaruga, Yuka Iguchi (Tsukihi from Nisemonogatari) as Hibari, and Kaori Mizuhashi (Mami from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica) as Yagyuu.
In this first episode, we’re first treated to a high-action battle between Asuka and some mysterious ninja, in a modern day battlefield of skyscrapers with plenty of panty shots to be had. Like in the game, the kunoichi will lose clothing during the course of a battle from either sustaining damage or in this case a substitution jutsu. Interestingly, those breasts aren’t just for attracting mates. They apparently can act as carriers for kunai, scrolls, and bombs, too!
The girls later meet up at the Academy for some aerial training and are then assigned to clean up some delinquents that are terrorizing the city. Much to everyone’s surprise, the delinquents were actually dolls that were being animated by a mysterious woman. At the end of episode, we’re left with a scene from what we can assume to be the headquarters of an evil organization of beautiful women…
Surprisingly, Senran Kagura has some nice animation, though a lot of the frames go into making breasts bounce around. Still, the fights (particularly the opening one) are exciting to watch, and each girl has a special Ninja Transformation sequence as well. The characters themselves have really attractive designs as well (again, besides the large busts). As for the music, the opening and endings songs are conventional but not bad. In fact, the ending song is performed by the seiyuu of the five main girls. On the other hand, the BGM definitely has its moments, particularly this one track that has a nice violin and accordion combo.
I’m pretty divided on whether I should continue watching Senran Kagura. I like the concept of an all kunoichi cast, and the plot has some promising potential. Unfortunately, the excessive amount of fanservice just makes it difficult to watch at times. I wonder when anime producers will realize that there are more subtle to create characters that can be attractive for viewers. I feel that just putting big breasts everywhere insults the intelligence of the audience a little. Contrary to popular belief, we men are not simple-minded creatures! Maybe a lot people actually like this type of fanservice though, and I’m the crazy one.
If you can look past all of that (which is difficult) or if you don’t mind it or if you even like it, then I would say you should definitely give this series a shot. I may watch another episode or two, but no promises! It’s an anime that doesn’t take itself too seriously, has some nice action scenes, and some funny characters.