What They Say:
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms continues on in modern Japan, as the rival high schools involved in the retelling of the epic saga struggle to achieve dominance. The focus begins to shift to other high schools and the interaction of their front runners. In the backdrop, the dragons of the remaining two great leaders are awakening, leading to growing mayhem. As ancient artifacts are acquired and events unfold, the battles keep raging on with enough intensity to rend flesh and clothing.
Contains episodes 1-12.
For this viewing, I took in the English dub, which (along with the Japanese track) is offered in 2.0 and encoded at 192kbps. The mix is decent, and both channels come through clearly. There is no dropout among the various tracks. It sounds good, though I wish all of the action, a 5.1 mix would have been nice.
With one exception, this is a gorgeous release. Offered in 1.78:1 Widescreen, this series has a colorful design, and all of the colors are bright and bold. Lining is also clear and distinct. For the most part, the transfer is free of technical flaws, but there is some background noise in some of the fast moving scenes. It did not distract too much, however.
The three discs come in a standard Amaray case with a middle insert to hold the third disc. The front cover has a montage of Hakufu, Ryomou, Kanu, and Kakouen set against a red background, while the back has some screen shots and a series summary. Each of the discs has a Dragon God motif. I do have to say that I like the titles of each disc, parodies of popular game franchises: Romance of the Three High Schools (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), Dynasty Fighters (Dynasty Warriors), and Sousou’s Ambition (Nobunaga’s Ambition). Otherwise, the set is basic but well designed.
The menus for this release are also basic. Each disc has a shot of one of the girls, with the selections clearly offered underneath. The series logo and series title are prominently displayed to the left. The background music is on a one minute loop, so it does not get too repetitive.
This release has some nice extras on it. Aside from the standard textless songs and TV spots, there is also some footage of the Tokyo Anime Festival Stage Event promoting this series, which is fun. The big offering is the six OVA episodes, those that name is a bit of a misnomer. In reality, these are short omake-type episode that tells a story of all the girls on vacation in a hot spring and engaging in various competitions. Frankly, it is little more than an excuse to have more footage of the girls naked, but they are also amusing. Still, it I do keep wondering why extras like this never get dubbed with the rest of the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The original Ikki Tousen TV series is one that I have watched a few times, and one that I am confused as to how much I like. Essentially, as long as I do not think too much about it, I like it. But the moment I try to engage my brain, I begin to hate it. Needless to say, I set into this release of the second season with a bit of trepidation. In the end, my feelings are much the same.
Following Totaku’s downfall and the subsequent collapse of the power of Rakuyo High School, Hakufu Sonsaku takes over the reigns as the leader of Nanyo High School and works to maintain a peaceful balance. With Kanei still in a mental ward and Saji in self-imposed exile in the mountains, there are few that could challenge her perch anyway, even if they wanted to.
But with Totaku’s death, a power vacuum opens up with Kyosho’s Sousou more than willing to fill it. Sousou had the same type of power of the Dragon Gods that Hakufu also harbors, making him a match for her. With the emergence of the inexperienced Ryuubi Gentoku at Seito as the third Dragon God, it is obvious that things are once again coming to a head. This creates a mad dash to find and control the legendary Dragon Jade, a jewel with the power to contain the Dragon Gods.
The original Ikki Tousen was a fun series with one major flaw: there were too many people trying to do too many things in too short a time. Add in that each person held the spirit of a long dead warrior from the Chinese Novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and that they were basically re-enacting the events from the ancient days, and there was way too much to try and wrap your head around. If I ignored all of that and just concentrated on the pretty girls getting in fights and tearing each other’s clothes off, I was fine. If I tried to sort out all of the plot threads, my brain began to unravel.
This series suffers from the same flaw. Obviously, the tie to Romance of the Three Kingdoms is still there, and they are still acting out the events from it. This series benefitted from already having a base of already established characters such as Hakufu, Kanu, and Ryomo, so it was easier to jump right into. That said, a lot of characters from the first series were either killed or incapacitated to the point that they did not appear in Dragon Destiny, and instead there was a whole new series of characters taking their place to get used to. Once again, it was almost overwhelming keeping it all straight.
And while there was a base of characters we already knew, another problem I had was how some characters changed from the first series to the next. The way this one opens up, it does not seem that much, if any, time has passed since the death of Totaku, but suddenly Hakufu is the not ditz she once was. And now Koukin is actually competent as a fighter. And Saji ultimately rejoins Nanyo as one of its Big Four as if nothing had happened a few weeks prior. I know they are all being guided by their destiny, but there does seem to be quite a few leaps of faith here. Frankly, it is Hakufu’s somewhat maturity that bothered me the most. Watching her stumble her way through each day provided much of the entertainment of the first series. I missed it here.
But while I have all of these complaints, I will also say that Dragon Destiny did actually come together better at the end than the first season did. I do not know if I am just getting used to all of the characters and have a better idea of what to expect, but this time around, when all was said and done, it made sense to me. I could see how and why it built as it did. And frankly, that right there was enough to raise my estimation of the series quite a bit.
And also like the first season, Dragon Destiny is just as much fun to sit back and enjoy the spectacle. It definitely works as a popcorn series, as there is plenty of enjoyment to be had watching all of the pretty girls fighting. So there will be no complaints from me there.
Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny has all of the same positives and negatives of the first season, though it wraps up more logically when all is said and done. If you liked the first season, then you should find plenty to like about this second one. If the first season left you flat, then avoid this one at all costs as you will not find anything new. Otherwise, it is mildly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Promotional Video, OVA 1-6 Episode Shorts
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Media Blasters
Release Date: February 1st, 2011
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony BDP-S360 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection upconverted to 1080i, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System