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Senran Kagura Shinovi Master Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read
© Marvelous Inc. / Honey Parade Games Inc.

The ninja girls are back and with as few clothes as before.

What They Say:
Gather your secret ninja scrolls and hang on to your seats! The beauties of SENRAN KAGURA are busting out some new moves in a brand-new season. Studying ancient ninjutsu at their hidden academy, these girls will stop at nothing until they master the path of the shinobi, no matter who stands in their way!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty standard but serves the material well as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the new English language adaptation, which doesn’t get the usual 5.1 bump but is in stereo as well. Both tracks are encoded with the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. The series has a good mix of action and dialogue that keeps it moving while making sure both sides of it have some very good moments. With the action, it utilizes the forward soundstage well to jump about and provide some depth and placement where needed. We get some much bigger action scenes towards the end and those ramp things up well, making it fun and appropriate. The dialogue side is much the same as we get the usual standard sequences but also some big scenery chewing bits with the way the characters go at it, especially in the action sequences. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2018, 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 episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by TNK, we get a really well done show here with some great animation and character designs along with some very fluid scenes. And not just the groping and jiggly stuff but the action and more traditional areas as well. I had liked what Artland did the first season around but this one just feels a bit more vibrant, bright, and colorful with its design that it really drives home a solid visual design that the transfer captures very well. The colors are solid throughout, the detail shines well in both the character animation and the backgrounds and there are a lot of scenes that just pop wonderfully. It’s a great looking title overall that definitely shows the fanservice material and the big action sequences – especially the last episode – in all its glory.

Packaging:
While the previous season got a limited edition release about five years ago, Shinovi Master gets a standard edition release that comes with an o-card for the first pressings. The o-card and cover are the same artwork with a good shot of Asuka in action mode, though the o-card is much more vibrant in its color design. It’s a bit empty in terms of background but the color really does work in its favor as does her design. The back cover gives us a huge piece where it says it’s totally uncensored and that’s critical to the show being picked up by many people. We get a brief summary under that while the right provides our trio of villains for this season looking good against the red. The extras are clearly listed and we get a good technical breakdown of the formats included and how they’re put together. No show related inserts are included with the release but we do get a nice reversible cover with a white background where the right panel features the core cast together and the left panel has the series logo to it.

Extras:
The extras for this release are fairly standard but definitely welcome across the board. We get the clean opening and closings and a solid selection of promo videos and commercials from the Japanese side. On the English side, we get a cast commentary track for the eighth episode that has a good bit of fun in talking about the characters and the silliness of the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the series of games by Tamsoft and Marvelous Entertainment, Senran Kagura is a twelve episode series that’s complemented by several spinoff manga series as well. The series is the second one, coming some five years after the first, and is a very fun and slick looking show that hits all the right notes for those wanting fanservice and action. Senran Kagura doesn’t try to hide what it is, which as I’ve said before is good, because it chooses to kind of revel in it. When it steps away from that, that’s when the show becomes a little bit of a chore, which is what I felt with the first season as well. Again, I haven’t played the games or dabbled in the manga and none of that is necessary here. What’s required is to go into it with a sense of fun and understanding that the breasts, well, they will be swaying. And regularly.

The premise for this season… I’ll admit doesn’t really matter. I found with the first series that plot is something that doesn’t exactly get in the way of the show but serves as little more than minor connective tissue in order to set up fight sequences. Initially, things look like they’re being set up by some junior high girls, GEkkou and Senkou, who don’t view our favorite ninja girls as being good for the field and just plain bad people in general, turning it into a quick fight. They’re actually from the same school system, which is amusing when the older girls figure this out, and the new pair have a good bit of style about them in costume design and visual. They make for some trouble during the opening few episodes with what they do but mostly it sets a target on the middle school as to where the trouble may be coming from for our leading ladies.

I mean, let’s take stock just from the first few episodes after that fight scene and the mild pummeling the girls get. We get a second episode that puts some of them at a spa resort (which does lead to some fun water gun fights among other things) and we get the third episode that takes us to the hot springs. Any other series I’d be castigating for going to such easy cliches so quickly as being terrible. But for a show like this where its delight in engaging in the sexual is paramount alongside the action, it fits perfectly. Watching them fight it out to turn swimsuits clear or just to be involved in the whole hot tub thing, it’s all over the place. But even a few episodes later where we get the gang dealing with Gessen Middle School in a competitive ninja-way, the amount of nudity is just near constant.

And that’s what the show wants to revel in. We get all this silliness in the first half that puts us on the path for the Shinobi Masters battle that dominates the second half and that kind of storyline is even more of a “story tune-out.” You know the basics of what it’ll be and how it’ll unfold, but you damn well watch because the action is glorious and exciting. Even as brutal as it gets at times it’s still appealing because you want to see these young women recover and find their fighting spirit to move forward. With that being the springboard to the whole yoma invading storyline and dealing with Fubuki as the main opponent, Shinovi Masters leaps from story point to story point with ease and delivers exactly what the viewers want. Knowing its game origins and the ability to leap from arc to arc like this with smaller pieces, it’s all very fitting. Honestly, the characters aren’t ones that I ever feel like I truly get to know in terms of what motivates them and who they are, but I get their passion for the fight and being on the side of right and across the opponents they face here, whether in tournaments or in dire battles again evil creatures, they stand out whether dressed or not in their fights.

In Summary:
I have no problem in admitting my love of fanservice when it’s done right and appropriately. There are many shows where it doesn’t belong and is brought into it, making it unwelcome. A series like Senran Kagura is designed around the concept, however, and it’s executed with the kind of attention to detail and fun that fans of this kind of work expect. Shinobi Master takes us forward with more adventures with this group and it’s easy to find a favorite character or just enjoy them all as they fight with great moves and strong design aesthetics for their outfits. Both on and off. I never feel guilty about shows like this because it is so honest about what it wants to be and doesn’t try to couch it in some other way. The Shinovi Master season looks great throughout, works an uncensored source for it materials, and brings us a delightfully fun dub. Bring it together in a slick little package and it’s exactly what I like having on my shelf.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries (8), Promotional Videos, Textless Opening Song, Textless Closing Song, Japanese Commercials

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 29th, 2019
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.


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