What They Say:
Before Hua Mulan, before Wu Zetian, China bore another great hero, one whose true name was lost to history… until now. Swearing vengeance after bandits destroy her family and village, a girl named Aisha takes the name Kan’u and sets forth on a journey that will take her across the ruins of a great nation, living not as a woman “should,” but by the strength of her own sword and the steel of her own will.
As she travels, Aisha’s courage and example become a beacon to other kindred souls: women who dare to shatter the shackles of their own traditions and take up arms, to become a force for change. Now, as a new world begins to emerge from the embers of the old, the face of evil must confront its ultimate nemesis: a girl who has become the soul of a new people. An epic battle for the fate of a nation will be unleashed!
Contains episodes 1-13.
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.
Originally airing in the summer of 2008, 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.
The packaging design for this release comes in a standard sized DVD keepcase which holds both discs with a flippy hinge inside for them. The front cover runs with the primary trio of characters in the outfits they wear for pretty much the whole series. You can tell a lot from a cover and what you need to know about Koihime Musou is definitely here with the three of them and their smiles, designs and overall look. 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 blue background to it that lets the really bright and colorful artwork stand out. The left half is given over to a nice 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 nor is there a reversible cover.
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.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the game of the same name, which also spawned a manga adaptation, Koihime Musou is a twelve episode series with an additional OVA that takes us back to second century China and introduces many, many, many women throughout its run as they deal with all sorts of adventures, trials and tribulations. The games have done well, spawning several sequels, and the anime has had a new season every year since this original one came out. Having not seen those even though they got a simulcast, I went into this show with no real expectations and quite the open mind.
Based on the heavily mined story of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Koihime Musou introduces us to Kan’u, Kan’u serves as the lead character for the series in that she’s the one that the others are slowly drawn to. She’s earned a reputation as a raven haired beauty who is skilled with in the art of fighting. Her travels have taken her all over the country to see the sights and to help deal with bandits where she comes across them as she has a solid sense of justice and what’s right. Kan’u’s the kind of decent character that has the right approach to things in not leaping into things, appraising situations appropriately and dealing with it without going to extremes.
Sometimes things go awkwardly though, such as the opening episode where she ends up visiting a village that’s under siege from a group of bandits that turns out to just be a bunch of kids. She’s more amused by it than anything else when she discovers what’s really going on and that the villagers themselves treat it in a similar fashion, even when they do things like vandalizing the mayor’s house with a caricature of him on it. The group is lead by a young girl named Rin Rin who is all about having fun and getting into things, but she’s a good kid overall. She’s rather taken with Kan’u in the end and ends up being taken in by her as a sort of adopted younger sister. The two of them form the core of the series as they make their way back out into the world to travel around.
Koihime Musou then moves on to what essentially defines the series as the pair travel around and meet numerous other characters with well known names from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Between generals and rulers that are met and numerous regular characters, the pair end up befriending others with their mild style and friendly faces, such as Choun who also takes on the role of the secretive hero of justice known as Butterfly Mask, and they deal with simple stories that are almost always wrapped up in an episode. Finding bandits being a main piece, one has them tracking them by playing the trojan horse angle and finding themselves inside an abandoned mine where they have to free a lot of kidnapped kids and young women. Another has Kan’u not doing so hot after she hurts her ankle and Rin Rin goes off in search of an herb that will help her, but most she tries to outdo a compatriot they have for awhile named Komei that fills much the same visual and personality role as Rin Rin, except sweeter and not nearly as aggravating.
The series does try to go a bit more serious in the last couple of episodes as most of the series is fairly light and decidedly non-threatening with the kinds of stories it wants to tell. The show has largely removed the protagonists that populate the games in favor of something simpler and with the intent of just having fun, which does admittedly leave a lot of it feeling very fluffy. Each episode seems to introduce more characters, which have both their known names and real names to add just that extra layer of confusion, and the scope of it gets to be a bit silly since some wander in and out of the story. When it gets more serious towards the end, it still keeps an air of lightness to it but the more involved plot and characters in it, especially the way a certain warrior leader toys with Kan’u, gives it a bit more depth even if it is still pretty much a shallow depth.
Koihime Musou does go and have a good bit of fun with the franchise in the OVA is it brings us into the modern day and puts all the characters in the school setting. Running a full thirty minutes, the OVA wants to run the kids through a series of competitions by the halfway mark or so that involves them going against each other. The goal itself really doesn’t matter but the various activities involved makes it a lot of fun and allows many opportunities for the girls to be in all sorts of minimal amounts of clothing, swimsuits and less. The swimsuits in particular for the pool based competitions really takes it up a few notches since everyone wears different things and some are really skimpy. One segment has one of the girls going topless, something that happens in the main series as well when there’s a hot springs episode. Fans will be glad to know that there’s no obscuring going on here as the nipples are presented in all their glory.
While the stories themselves may not have done all that much for me, and in fact many felt less than memorable within minutes of finishing them, I really did like the visuals for the series. The character designs are definitely thin in nature but they all have a lot of detail to their designs and the variety is very well executed so you don’t confuse one with the other. Of course, a lot of them have overly large breasts that sometimes move independently of each other, but that’s part and parcel of what this kind of show is about and its origins as an 18+ PC game. Everyone is definitely distinct here with their design and the outfits really drive that home. The backgrounds a bit more generic overall, but combining them with the characters and the bright colors of it all and it comes together very well.
Koihime Musou is the epitome of an empty calorie show in which it’s fluffy and pretty to look at but there’s not a lot of there, there. It’s a very episodic show that spends much of its time introducing new girls to the mix, though not all of them go traveling or stay all that long. It’s got an unsurprising smutty streak to it as there’s even a segment where one of the women that Kan’u meets ends up basically fondling her between her legs for awhile as they hide out in a box for a mission. I liked how they didn’t make it a huge group traveling and changed it up a bit and I really liked the character designs and the overall look of the show, but the stories themselves are fluffy and empty. It’s a show that you like to watch because it’s not going to strain you in the slightest and will just entertain in a very basic way.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 4th, 2011
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.