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Shin Koihime Muso: Otome Tairan Complete Collection DVD Review

9 min read

When a friend can’t stop becoming a cat, all the girls set out on adventures to find the ingredients to fix her.

What They Say:
When there’s trouble afoot in ancient China, it’s up to the Sisterhood of Steel to set things right once again. So, when a spell is cast on the beautiful Han official Kashin that begins to slowly turn her into a cat, it’s up to Ryubi and the others to go forth and find the exotic ingredients to undo the enchantment before the felinization is finalized. And there’ll be no time for pussyfooting around; at least Kashin certainly hopes there won’t be, because this is just the beginning of an even greater plot launched by a band of evil eunuchs!
Contains episodes 1-12 plus an OVA episode.

Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is kept simple with just the original Japanese stereo mix encoded at 224kbps. This series isn’t one that has a huge amount of a workout to it but there are some decent action scenes to be had and a fair bit of dialogue throughout it with multiple characters on screen at a time. It’s nothing that stands out as impressive but it’s a solid forward soundstage design that works well for what the show wants to get across. The music is where things stand out the most, but it’s generally the opening and closing sequences that come across the best. The presentation here is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in the spring of 2010, the transfer for this TV series and OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is spread across two discs in a six/seven format which gives the whole thing enough space to work without any problems. The show has a very vibrant look to it with lots of bright solid colors that makes it pretty eye-catching. The colors come across are solid and with only a small amount of noise to it in some of the darker scenes and that’s about it. There’s a few moments of some minor aliasing during a panning sequence but it’s not something that stands out all that much. There’s a good bit of detail to the show, and especially in the OVA, and all of that comes across really well.

Packaging:
Shin Koihime Musou: Otome Tairan comes in a standard single sized keepcase which holds both discs with a flippy hinge inside for them. The front cover brings three of the girls together with largely serious looks, avoiding using the same characters as previous seasons which is nice, while keeping it simple with the background with just some soft colors. The character artwork in the foreground looks really nice and detailed though, showing off the look of the show easily and certainly making it attractive. The logo is simple and straightforward but it has some really nice details to it in the background and I really like the font for it. The back cover uses the same kind of soft white and pink background to it that lets the really bright and colorful artwork stand out. The left half is given over to a great character collage and a strip of small shots from the show while the right side has a decent summary of the basic premise of the show. The discs features are clearly listed, what little is on here, and the bottom is the standard production credits and technical grid that lists everything accurately. No show related inserts are included, though we do get an advertisement for the game which may be a surprise for some, nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menus for this release are pretty nicely done with an in-theme style that fits the show well. Each of the menus uses different configurations of characters on one side with a soft white background to it. The left side features the navigation itself with the individual episode titles and anything else that’s available such as the extras and credits. Submenus load quickly and everything is smooth and problem free. They’re not huge standout menus with their designs, but there’s some good detail to it and it’s much better than a lot of the early Sentai menus that we had gotten.

Extras:
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences on the first disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After two successful seasons of fun that brought us an interesting mixture of cuteness, silly and heightened sexuality, Shin Koihime Musou returns with a third season subtitled Otome Tairan. As we’ve seen from the first two seasons, the show has a pretty standard storyline running here that feels like it largely mirrors what we’ve seen, albeit with a whole lot more girls running around and even more added all the time. The setup does have a predictable feeling to it where we get a lot of adventures for the girls to go through before it gets to the serious material, but there’s also something comforting in that because the show is meant to just enjoy the silliness of it all the minor and obvious challenges that they all must face on their journey.

For Otome Tairan, events are fairly standard at the first with the girls hanging around and getting into a little bit of trouble, causing a little friction and having their silly moments. Where it all gets upended after a little bit of getting familiar with them again, Kada returns to the town and has with him Kashin, the former Commander in Chief of the Kan forces that we saw quite awhile ago. Kada’s return is pretty welcome by everyone since he’s like one of only two men that we see in the series, but Kashin is very unwelcome. What helps to put them at ease is that she’s got some cat ears on her head and other characteristics of a cat. As it turns out, Kashin has been slowly poisoned and is becoming a cat and Kada wants to get the girls help to retrieve the three ingredients they need. Now, he has other important things to do, so he won’t put it together or go help find them all, but he’ll leave the recipe and check in on them some time in the future. As a favor to him, everyone gets behind the idea and off they go.

Thankfully, the series decides that it can sustain multiple adventures going on at once and breaks the large group of girls into three girls to go after all the ingredients at the same time rather than coming across as an army traveling across the lands. Because of the number of girls that populate the series, I’ve lost track of who is who and really need an augmented reality version in order to be able to make sense of it all. What it comes down to though is that everyone heads out and we see their journeys where they run into individual adventures to deal with that brings in even more girls to join them. When you consider what some of the ingredients are, one of them being the lint of a special baby elephant, you know it’s not exactly high stakes in a way, though they do offer their challenges along the way.

The new introductions aren’t all that much in the end and in one case adds a whole lot of pandering. The first one we get is Gien, a hardened young woman who is harsh and quick with the sword, but ends up causing a lot of trouble because of it. She gets into things with her master pretty easily and it turns into a situation where she has to decide between doing the right thing and losing her place with her master. Gien’s an interesting addition to the cast overall since she gets to wield a big weapon and has an eternal grimace to her face. Gien does eventually become a part of the group since they all travel together for awhile and there’s a gradual understanding, but it’s like most of the series in that it’s all pretty pat and neat.

While not exactly a catgirl, when the adventurers make their way to where the elephant is, they end up meeting Mokaku and her three servants who all have a jungle-like way about them and cat-girl like elements along with the elephant side since they basically worship this particular type of elephant that the others have come to get the lint from. The group adds a bit more wackiness to the proceedings, but we already have a huge dose of that with Rin Rin and a few other girls that are kind of close in the ditzy manner they approach things. With the cast growing significantly again with their addition, it’s all feeling like a whole lot more than enough is enough. I like a lot of the characters in their simple one dimensional way, but when you bring in seemingly new characters every episode and keep adding to the group for the journey, it gets overwhelming.

When the series gets towards the end, it does want to run with the big storyline that involves armies and the whole cast together at once. Once again, Ukitsu is at hand to orchestrate things and he has a fairly basic plan in order to dominate the lands and has amassed an army three times as big as what the girls have. While there are nods to this storyline throughout it, it’s primarily in the last couple of episodes and has a decent little build up and quick resolution. It is amusing watching the massive army movements done in planning mode when they come up with a way to take down Ukitsu and it gets pretty sexual. The same can be said about the OVA that follows it as it deals with another one of the Saint Francesca present day storylines where it’s all about the culture festival. It has some strong sexual tones at times, including some toe sucking, which is both humorous and fits in with what we’ve seen with the past OVAs. There’s soemthing to be said about completely sexing up your cast in a separate show just because you can. It’s pure fluff and all, but it is a good bit of fun and I’ve liked them as a good way to close out the season considering how abrupt it can be with the main storyline.

In Summary:
With the third season of the series, I find myself largely in the same position as I was with the first two seasons. I like the animation, I like the designs and I like how they move easily between the cute chibi material and their regular cute material as it’s all about having a particular look. The animation has some great colors and details and a whole lot of characters to work with, but the stories continue to be pure fluff that doesn’t leave me with much of anything to get behind. This is an easy show to get ones hate-on about, but that’s missing the point of it. The show is intended to be light and silly and appeal to a particular audience. I’m not the audience, but I can appreciate how well it’s put together and I get some enjoyment out of it. This season is an extension of what we’ve seen in the previous two, so there are no surprises to be had. If you liked those, you’ll like this and for good reason. Lots of cute girls, lots of good action to be had and plenty of fanservice.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 24th, 2011
MSRP: $49.99
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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