IkkiTousen Vol.02: Historic Battles Review
The first volume of Ikkitousen didn’t exactly end on a high note for Hakafu after her abject defeat at the hands of Seiji, but our buxom heroine has to pick herself up and get ready for even tougher challenges to come because Totaku has announced the start of the Big Fighter Challenge. Held every two years, the challenge is a fight tournament to ascertain the rank of each individual fighter and overall strength of each school in the Kanto region. The last time it was held ended in disaster when Totaku - an unknown freshman at the time - destroyed all the other contestants single-handedly, but Hakafu is soon going to find out that he’s not the only monstrously strong fighter in this year’s tournament…..
As you can see the storyline for Ikkitousen isn’t getting any more exciting, it’s still on a path that demands lots of action and “jiggling” but I suppose no one is going to buy this series for the brief lessons on Chinese history it divulges when the fighters re-enact the major events of the past. I can’t complain too much about this though because the action is generally pretty good, the fights are animated and edited pretty fluidly and each fighter has a unique enough style to ensure the various matches aren’t too repetitive. Compared to many other action Anime shows I suppose Ikkitousen’s scraps haven’t been quite as “technical” and slightly short, but as the story progresses this has started to change slightly and the fights on this disc are generally longer, while the tournament format allows for the “spectator’s commentary” plot-device to give us a bit of technical exposition. The other advantage of the current plotline is that it has and presumably will continue to introduce a lot of new characters in a short space of time, with the major newcomer on volume two being the elegant bad-ass, Kanu Uncho.
As for the characters introduced in the first volume, there’s not an awful lot of development during volume two besides some swift shifting of allegiances. Gakushu has shifted firmly into the “hero” camp and seems to be striking up an almost touching friendship with scrawny Koukin while Kannei still remains annoyingly insane. Over in Totaku’s camp, Saji and Ryofu are having a bit of a love-in but it’s clear both are on a rather solitary path for now and Totaku has brought in a new group of female servants to do his bidding, so at least he’s got his priorities right. Hakafu remains generally ditzy and carefree, although she has one or two brief moments of seriousness and naturally she still cannot make it through a single fight with her clothes intact. Luckily for her, her mother, Goei doesn’t seem too bothered about the clothing bill as she’s busy flirting with the other dim-wit of the series, Kokaton. What her motives could be for spending so much time with a future opponent of her daughter is completely unknown for now, but it’s good that at least one of the people in Hakafu’s camp as an air of mystery about them. The character that gets the most development across these three episodes is Ryomou, who has completed the transition from prideful sadist to courageous fighter in practically the blink of an eye. Episode five reveals a little bit about her back-story and reveals a considerate girl who puts loyalty to her closest friends above all else.
So the plot and characters are trundling along slowly but surely, yet the Fan Service seems to be descending further and further into the gutter with inexplicit sex scenes being flung in for no reason other than cheap titillation, and when you consider that the fight scenes tend to have psycho-sexual undertones to them anyway it feels even more pointless to put the fighting on hold just to introduce a bit of soft-core action. What’s worse is that early on in this volume there’s a distinct shift in tone towards the dramatic when Hakafu finds out about Seiji’s injuries at the hands of his compadrés, but the entire mood is rendered completely ineffective in a show that has such a ridiculous premise and too much focus on when the next T&A shot can be introduced.
While I have tried my best not to reveal too much about each episode in these synopses, please bare in mind that the second episode and onwards may feature spoilers for the episodes prior.
Episode 5. Bruised and battered after her fight with Seiji, Hakafu vows to become stronger than ever but when she learns of her opponent’s fate at the hands of his colleagues, she is overcome with anger and heads off to Yousho High School to confront the men responsible. Meanwhile Houkin learns from Gakashu that Enjyutsu has ordered both him and Hakufu to replace Kannei and Saji among the Big Four and represent Nanyo Academy in the upcoming Fighters Tournament
Episode 6. Ryomou confronts Ryofu in order to ascertain the whereabouts of Saji Genpou, only to be hopelessly defeated and humiliated by her former Sempai. The only way she can find out about Saji’s fate now is to defeat the green haired vixen in the fighters tournament, but she’s going to have to hurry because Nanyo academy’s first fight has just begun. Gakushu, Hakafu and Koukin are up against Keishu High School, who are so confident they’ve only entered two fighters into the tournament.
Episode 7. As Hakafu and Koukin fight off the deranged Kannei, Ryomou steps up to face Kanu Uncho alone in a one-on-one duel that will determine which school makes it into the third round. Unfortunately, Kanu is a true fighting prodigy and Ryomou is totally mismatched – even if the history books say the odds are in her favour. Can her team mates deal with Kannei and make it to the location of the second round fight in time?
PresentationPresented at the original 4:3, this is another set of cracking transfers that look pretty much identical to those on volume one, which contained four episodes on one Dual-Layer DVD. This time we have three episodes on a Single-Layer disc, but Geneon tend to allot a set amount of space for each episode regardless of how many episodes are on one disc –in fact volume one actually only clocked in at just under 5gb in size. So you know what to expect from here: lush colors rendered cleanly and sharply, good detail, brightness and contrast levels, a little bit of Edge Enhancement, a little bit of shimmer but a very pleasing transfer nonetheless.
If you’ve seen volume one then you know what to expect from the audio: A choice of Japanese/English DD2.0 Surround with the former sounding just a tad restrained when handling sound effects, but becomes more aggressive once the fights start and solid, clean dialogue reproduction that tears just ever so slightly when any girly screaming kicks in. The English track is pretty much identical
Optional English subtitles are present with no spelling or grammatical errors I can recall.