Review for Majikoi-Oh! Samurai Girls Collection
I’m a believer in saving the best for last, which for me is why MVM have got the month of May back to front with their releases. Having seen Bodacious Space Pirates already, I know just how good it is. Then there is Mayo Chiki! That for me was something of an unknown property, although sitting in the comedy genre I had high hopes for it. Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls on the other hand is a girls and combat anime, one which I also haven’t seen prior to the review discs, but which probably lies somewhere in the Ikki Tousen, Sekirei, Tenjho Tenge bracket. Besides, while I haven’t seen this, I have seen the completely unrelated girl fighting Samurai Girls anime that was released by Kazé last year, which turned out to be ink-blot stained tedium made real. If the name is an ill-omen, then I would have far preferred if MVM had released its shows for May in reverse order. Still you never know, Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls, a.k.a. Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!! may turn out to be good after all.
Kawakami Academy aims to keep the spirit of the martial arts alive, and when we first encounter the student body, there’s no denying that they have some success. Class 2-S is at war with class 2-F, the top versus the bottom, and it’s an all out warring states era reconstruction, with class 2-F’s Yamato Naoe sweeping the field on account of his superior strategic mind. He’s not so hot with the combat, but that’s where the rest of his class come in, particularly the girls who have amazing fighting skills to unleash on the battlefield, albeit with non-lethal weaponry.
All of that is small potatoes really, as at the forefront of Yamato’s mind is his love for his senpai, Momoyo Kawakami, heir to the school’s martial skills. He’s even asked her out twice, to be shot down each time. Typically, while his love is focused on one girl, every other girl is in love with him, particularly Miyako Shiina, who goes as far as breaking into his porn stash, and pasting her face over all the girls in his magazines. There is a general field of un-requitedness hovering over 2-F. But something is rotten in the state of Japan, something tied into Kawakami Academy’s past, and that something is heading for a collision with class 2-F, and in particular Momoyo, Yamato and their friends.
1. Come at Me, Seriously!!
2. Complete the Mission, Seriously!!
3. Go Crazy For Me, Seriously!!
4. Talk to Me, Seriously!!
5. Get Mad at Me, Seriously!!
6. Carry It With Me, Seriously!!
7. Come With Me, Seriously!!
8. Explain What’s Going On, Seriously!!
9. Come Out to Me, Seriously!!
10. Go At It With Me, Seriously!!
11. Sortie With Me, Seriously!!
12. Love Me, Seriously
Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer on these discs, which follow the usual route of US to Australia to GB for its PAL conversion, from Sentai to MVM via Madman. The image is clear and sharp, and there’s no immediate problem with compression artefacts and the like. The action sequences come across well enough, and there’s a good deal of attention put to choreographing the battles enough to make them individual and imaginative. There’s a slow motion battle in episode 10 that is amazing to watch. The animation design on the other hand is anything but, with the characters and the world looking like the textbook definition of generic. You could chop and change these characters with any other mediocre anime show and you would never tell the difference.
You have the choice between DD 2.0 English and Japanese stereo, with optional translated subtitles and a signs only track. There’s no immediate problem with the audio in either language, and it comes across clearly and without glitch. The original language is the way to go, even though it is a cast of generic voices for generic characters. I only lasted two minutes with the dub before I had to turn it off. The problem with Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls is that it too suffers from the Sentai conveyer belt system that results in so many lacklustre releases from them these days. They fast track the localisation process to a degree that the production suffers. Here it is a perfunctory dub with little thought given to the performances, plus subtitles that are barely proof-read or corrected. Typos abound, particularly on the first disc, and you will see the wrong word used, or words missing altogether. It helps if you have watched enough anime to grasp some rudimentary Japanese, as well as an ability to work things out through context.
Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls is presented across two discs with static menus, and jacket pictures to look at when the discs are at rest in compatible players. Each episode is followed by a translated English language credit reel. It’s standard practice for Sentai releases these days, but it’s pot luck as to whether Madman will retain them when they create the PAL masters.
The show does pretty good when it comes to extras, which explains the seven-five split in episode counts. All of the extras are on disc 2.
First up there are the shorts, not animations, but audio dramas that have the show’s characters reviewing the episode that has just played. They are presented separately, or with a play all option, and are played against the image of a Matsukaze countdown timer. In all there are 55 minutes worth here.
There are three textless openings to enjoy running to just over 4 minutes.
There are 11 textless closings, the clean closing of episode 1, which is the animation continued, plus 10 hits of pure fan-service. In all this reel lasts 17 minutes.
There are 2 minutes of Japanese promo spots, and finally there are trailers for Rosario and Vampire, Ga-Rei Zero, and Mayo Chiki!
You know that feeling you get when you’ve watched seven episodes of a 12 episode anime series, and you still have no idea what it is about? Welcome to Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls. I tell a lie of course, as the cynic in me knows full well what this show is all about. It’s about fan service, it’s about appealing to the male otaku demographic, and it’s about parting them from their money. Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls has fan service in abundance, from its opening sequence to its ‘slow pan over bikini babe of the week’ closing. Random nudity, sexiness, and saucy humour abound in this show, and it’s not shy about upping the nipple quotient, where some other shows would be apt to self-censor.
When it comes to the actual story, it becomes tougher trying to figure this show out. The opening episode promises something completely different from what we eventually get. Its introduction of a school upholding the martial traditions of Japan, coupled with a full on battle between two classes applying the sort of strategy and tactics from a wargame, makes you think that this will be Baka & Test but for real. But from episode 2, we’re into full on harem comedy territory, with main male lead Yamato Naoe having to deal with the various women in his entourage, all of whom lust after him to some degree. All that is except for the one girl that he has his heart set on, Momoyo Kawakami, who has instead turned him down, twice. That’s a whole lot of unrequited love for one show, and there is plenty of desperation, awkward situations, and bumping into each other naked going on here.
Then in episode 7, the cyborg babe and her team of hired mercenaries attack, and the show becomes something different altogether. Before it was harem hi-jinks, now the show gets an added dose of political commentary and half-baked analysis on the situation in Japan, the government’s distance from the average man in the street, as well as the way that the average man sees Japan... plus breasts. All of a sudden we’re getting a combat anime mixed up with the harem comedy, and once again it’s like watching a wholly different show.
Regardless of which show it is, the school rivalry, the harem comedy, the combat anime, Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls is exceedingly daft, and plays wholly to the male otaku audience with the way that it objectifies its female cast, and makes the males proxies for the viewer. Whether it’s Yamato fending off the advances of his classmates, the otaku proclaiming his fidelity to 2D women, the photographer who uses his own body parts and imagination to get his targets into a ‘state of disrobement’, it’s predictably silly. It’s only sporadically funny though. Especially as early on, its idea of humour is to set up a situation, such as Yamato and Christine bumping into each other naked in the bath, and then filling the next five minutes with fast paced verbiage as the two joust wits. The original Japanese may be lightning fast, may be the most brilliant vocal performance of the most brilliant bit of writing since Shakespeare first put quill to vellum, but the dub isn’t funny, and neither are Sentai’s subtitles. This sort of scene happens often enough in the show for me to just switch my brain off and slip into a daze, before the actual animation of the show resumes.
I was right. MVM should have saved the best for last. Instead they did it the other way round, and my last impression of MVM’s May releases will be Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls instead. Last year’s Samurai Girls from Kazé had that distracting inkblot thing going on, but was more consistent in terms of narrative, if a little duller. This Samurai Girls is a lot more conventional in design, but wholly inconsistent. When it is funny, it is genuinely so, and particularly during the phallic symbol, pseudo fellatio episode. It’s a shame it doesn’t happen too often though.