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Samurai Girls Complete Series Anime Blu-ray Review

10 min read

The arrival of Muneakira brings that shadow that threatens Great Japan to the forefront.

What They Say:
Muneakiru Yagyu is a gifted student of the samurai way, but until he arrived at his dojo, he never knew just how gifted he truly was. There, beautiful girl Jubei falls naked from the sky and right into his arms, and when they kiss, he magically transforms her into a powerful master samurai. So, naturally, every beautiful girl at the dojo can’t wait to kiss him now! And some, like the sexy Gisen, want to do even more… It’s a tale of power and lust, filled with beautiful, scantily clad swordfighters who will do anything to please their master and attain even greater power!

Contains episodes 1-12

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is a solid one when it comes to stereo mixes as it has both the English and Japanese tracks in lossless format using DTS-HD MA as its codec. The show has a pretty good balance of action and dialogue, and silliness, and it works well across the board when it comes to keeping the viewer involved. The dialogue side of it handles things very well with some good quiet scenes where the importance of the moment can be heard well while the action builds up to a big level in an appropriate way. The opening and closing sequences are the strongest when it comes to an overall stereo experience, but the show works very well throughout though it doesn’t have anything that you can really call a huge standout moment. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episode series is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second which also contains all the extras, which roughly runs the length of another episode. This series has a very distinct look when it comes to its design and it’s definitely appealing because it is going its own route, from thicker outlines of the character artwork to a very stylized series of backgrounds. The transfer here works well for the most part, but there are problems inherent in the source from the way it was made that shows through as well. The main one is a fair bit of banding in various scenes with the darker colors and it can be a bit distracting at times. The other is during some of the panning sequences where there’s some line noise. It tends to happen more when you have black lines close together along brown arches of doorways, but it’s not consistent. Though there are these small issues in the grand scheme of things, the transfer has a lot going for it and the show definitely comes through with its style, especially if you had watched the simulcast. And it’s uncensored, which makes a huge difference.

Packaging:
The packaging for this two disc release gets a standard sized Blu-ray case with no hinge so each disc is against the interior sides of it. The front cover uses some really appealing illustration artwork of three of the lead female characters against a white background where the black brush stroke covers much of what’s behind them. It uses both the Japanese and English parts of the logo along the top which gives it a bit more color and style that works really well. The character artwork here is really strong but it does change it up from in the show by using thinner borders around them. The back cover splits things up in three ways with the left side featuring more character artwork and the extras while the right showcasing the summary. The middle split has the shots from the show with the total episode and disc count. The bottom is standard fare that lays out the production information and technical grid that covers everything cleanly and accurately. The release has no inserts included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu layout for this release is pretty nice as it uses the same styling and designs from the cover with each volume featuring a different cast configuration along the left side with the logo attached to it in both English and Japanese. The character artwork for the show has a very good look to it and its reflected here, though the artwork here doesn’t use the same thickness to the line work, which eases the differences a marked amount. The right side, using the paint brush look, has the listing of all the episodes by number and name with the language selection and the special features to it. It’s a good looking menu and I like the change-up by having the navigation on the right, which is used for the popup as well. While it takes up some real estate during playback, it’s easy to pick out the episode numbers even if the titles themselves are small, and that makes it easy to see where you are in the disc. The release didn’t read our players’ language presets and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The extras for this release are all on the second disc, which only has three episodes on it so there’s plenty of space. The first extra is pretty fun as it gives us six pieces of animated manga with subtitles that’s definitely cute. It’s done in full color with some mild animation, but the pieces in general just add a lot of humor and fanservice with a wink and a nod to make it enjoyable. They run a few minutes each so they’re not a huge hit, but I do wish they had been dubbed since it would be fun to have that for those that enjoyed the series in that form. Another fun piece lets the various girls get their own brief segments that deals with their relationship with Muneakira in different ways. Mostly it’s a chance for extra fanservice and devotion to a particular girl in brief form, which like the manga pieces, is just saucy goodness. Two of the original promos for the series and a TV made promo is also included, adding another five minutes to the extras. The production sketches are a welcome piece as well which runs about five minutes and has a new image coming up every couple of seconds, allowing for plenty of material for each of the characters. Add in the clean opening and closing and there’s definitely a lot to like here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series of the same name by Akira Suzuki that has eight volumes released as of this release, Samurai Girls is a twelve episode series that delves into an alternate timeline world where the Tokugawa shogunate exists until this day. The concept itself of a more classical looking Japan in the modern day is an interesting angle to work with and it allows the show to take place in the present while looking like something from a few hundred years ago while still bringing in some technology when it needs to. It doesn’t overuse it though, instead focusing on the simplicity of the modern life of a samurai. While I would have preferred to see a little more of the modern world here, the reasoning behind it being this way certainly makes sense.

The series focuses on the arrival of Muneakira Yagyu, the childhood friend of Princess Sen who has come to the Buou Academy that’s located near the bottom of Mt. Fuji. While Princess Sen has requested he come there, he’s doing it primarily because the sacred dojo on the academy grounds has no master at this point and he wants to help get it on track. His arrival there goes badly though as the dojo has been taken over by a couple of young women with their own goals and he runs into (sometimes naked) conflict with them before Sen herself arrives. What the encounter does is to highlight that there is something wrong in Japan that these two women, Yukimura and Matabei, trying to inform the Imperial family. While those who do divinations for the Tokugawa don’t foresee bad things for the country, their family does and they’re intent on trying to make it known.

What throws everything for a loop though is a naked girl literally falling from the sky into Muneakira’s arms, which turns to an embrace and a kiss. This kiss creates a pact that unleashes her true power as a master samurai, something that the country has a limited number of that are incredibly powerful. The woman, Jubei Yagyu, has two personalities from when she’s engaged in the pact and not, but her engaged self is a brutal person with some strong goals. The flip side is a cute girl that’s kind of daft and treats Muneakira as her big brother. That causes plenty of problems since Sen wants to get closer to Muneakira but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When they learn that Muneakira can “gift” the power of a master samurai to someone by entering into a pact caused by a kiss, they all want to get closer to him and the cast naturally does grow.

The series does spend a good bit of time with the various girls and their relationships with Muneakira, but it doesn’t really force it in the way one might think. It’s definitely a significant part of it, but their motivations for the kiss/pact makes sense and some of them don’t want to go that path at all until the larger threat becomes the prime part of the series. While it wasn’t as clear in the simulcast early on, watching the show in this form shows the progress of the subplot of the threat and of Sen’s older brother with his manipulations as he’s trying to deal with the small number of master samurai that exists. It’s a pretty good plot overall, but it takes a bit to really come into focus but it does work well overall. Because of it being such a minor part, when it does dominate at the end, it feels a little bit like it comes out of nowhere, but in marathon form you can see it seeded a bit more. It’s definitely a good way to bring the season together into a cohesive piece.

Samurai Girls has a fun story to it and some very fun characters, but it’s the animation and style of it all that makes it more than just another familiar show. The use of color, the thicker line work and the classic designs really works well in its favor. It wowed me in the simulcast and it had me very much enjoying here on a much larger screen with higher quality. I’ll also admit that this uncensored version provides for a lot more titillation and sauciness than we got in that version. I’m hard pressed to say it’s distracting, but it’s definitely out there in full force with a lot of posterior shots and a ton of exposed breasts that dangle or whip around depending on what particular kind of action is unfolding. Sometimes I feel strange in saying that fanservice and gratuitous nudity is a positive, but when it works, it works well.

In Summary:
While I had some quibbles with Samurai Girls going too big too quick during the simulcast, and I can see that here as well overall, I still find this to be a very enjoyable show both for story and for visuals. The combination of the two makes for a series that’s fun even as it uses familiar character archetypes. Most of them don’t really get much in the way of backgrounds and that’s a positive because they’re not really needed here for what the show wants to do. The focus is on the present and that works very much in its favor in keeping it a fast moving show with a lot of serious moments, some spot on humor and a good sense of sensuality that is quite alluring. Add in the very fun action and creativity associated with it all and Samurai Girls is definitely an easy pickup and one we can recommend easily.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Narrated Comics, Blushing Maidens in the Pact, Promotional Videos, Production Sketches

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 23rd, 2011
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 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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