Ikki Tousen: Complete Collection (2003)
By: Captain Red Eye on December 17, 2010  | 
Madman | Region 4, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 325 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Takeshi Watanabe
Starring: Masumi Asano, Carrie Savage
Screenplay: Takawo Yoshioka
Country: Japan
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Rarely has a classification label promised so much: Sexual references, Animated sexual activity, Moderate violence, Course language, Mature themes, Nudity. Add to that a highbrow premise (the series is loosely based on the Chinese historical epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms), plenty of T & A and a ditzy, panty-flashing, ass-kicking heroine and mister, as far as this reviewer is concerned you've got yourself a deal.

A curious, wildly entertaining and at times perplexing blend of myth, history and blatant fan service, Ikki Tousen (Battle Vixens, alternately Ikkitousen or Ikki Tôsen) revolves around a series of high school students who are the reincarnation of Ancient Chinese warriors and must do battle according to the fate and karma of the hero whose talisman they wear. Given that some of the manga volumes included such titles as 'Fisted,' 'Girl on Girl' and 'Shafted' this occasionally involves wrestling not only with foes but with belt buckles, pant buttons and overactive libidos, though unfortunately the anime has discarded the lurid episode titles of its predecessor in favour of such misleadingly innocent (if mildly euphemistic) options as 'Summer Comes to the Watermelon Patch.'

The story opens with bubble-headed protagonist Hakufu starting her first day at an exclusive Japanese high school. Unaware that her talisman contains the soul of a dead warrior, unconcerned that her school uniform barely covers her pert rear and unversed in the art of making friends, Hakufu does what she does best; beats up around 30 or so guys for purposes of her own amusement.

Evidently discipline at exclusive Japanese high schools in alternate universes is somewhat lax, because the trail of injured and moaning students she leaves behind earns Hakufu nothing more than a trip to the sick bay to recover from her own minor injuries. There she is given the chance to flash some more cleavage and, of course, her ever-present barely-there underwear. So far, so good; cue episode two.

The idea of a group of high school students living out their lives according to the tales of a hoary Chinese text is an interesting one, and watching Hakufu come to terms with her destiny, fighting abilities and not-inconsiderable assets is an enjoyable if occasionally bewildering journey. The storyline flits endlessly between seriousness and sensuality (occasionally combining the two, as in Episode Six's lesbian rape scene) and will likely be too frivolous and/or deviant for some anime fans, but those who like their shows over the top and their heroines busty will find plenty on offer here.
The animation is somewhat static and the fight scenes get a little repetitive, but overall the series holds up well on DVD and the 4:3 transfer is vibrant, vivacious and fairly sharp image throughout.
The Japanese and English 2.0 soundtracks are both perfectly respectable, if a little flat at times, and the voice cast, which includes the renowned Carrie Savage (Corpse Princess, Fullmetal Alchemist) does a uniformly excellent job. The English subs are error-free.
Extra Features
Each of the set's four discs has something to offer in the way of bonus content. The usual art galleries, textless openings and trailers are included, though there are also plenty of hilarious and rather risqué audio outtakes, as well as live-action BTS footage of recording and photography sessions and interviews with Director Takashi Watanabe (New Fist of the North Star, the Slayer series). It's not a bad crop, with the audio outtakes a particularly nice, adults-only touch.
The Verdict
It won't win any awards for its animation, but as far as originality and sheer silly fun are concerned Ikki Tousen may be near-unparalleled. File under G for Guilty pleasure, or Grown-men-probably shouldn't-be-watching-this-shit.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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