[or, thoughts on "Queen's Blade" and related shows.]
I was going to write this upon finishing the summary (if you can call it that) of the last episode of Queen's Brade/Blade. But first, I was sorta kinda drunk. Second, the "review" button for the series does not appear to be functioning. And I will be damned if I have to write a review of each individual episode.
So how will I sum it up? It is a step above Ikkitousen (or "Battle Vixens" if you saw the manga on US bookstore shelves).
Let's start out with a quick recap of Ikkitousen for the sake of comparison: The story there was about big breasted girls (and a few dudes) who were the reincarnated aspects of legendary warriors/nations from the whole Romance of the Three Kingdoms tale, with a clothes-ripping rate that I thought couldn't be beat until I saw QB. I call this franchise "self-hating hentai." Why? Because on one hand it wanted to be a shonen action manga with some school stuff on the side, and on the other hand someone wanted a child-sized R3K story. But someone else wanted sexy, big-breasted girls so that they could sell it to horny teenagers and older otaku. Unfortunately, the fight between these forces was never quite resolved, and so anyone who saw the anime/manga ended up getting the worst of all sides: a series that gave liberal amounts of fighting and all the nudity it could get without showing actual nipples, crotch or any sexual acts. As a friend of mine wrote after dragging himself through the first season (without any alcohol, God help him): "Next time? Decide if you want grimdark, hentai, or romantic high
school comedy with combat. Don't try all three. Because it just doesn't
Going into Queen's Blade, we can say that there were two forces at work here: The side that wanted to sell toys/gamebooks/dolls/figures and wanted a show with a vague plot to tie them all together, and the side that didn't think it would sell unless the main characters were all sexy, big-breasted woman (with the exception of a couple characters for the lolicons out there). In this case, the latter side mostly won out (although there was reportedly an alternate "censored" version aired on some Japanese channels), and unlike Ikkitousen they didn't seem too confused about their goal: Show off the characters with as much cleavage and sex as possible so you can sell the toys, but not so much that it gets classified as "hentai" and shoved into a dark room somewhere. I think that's what made this show a little more watchable for me than Ikkitousen: it didn't try to hide the fact that it was all about the T&A, and that the paper-thin plot about a grand tournament was just an excuse to parade it on display.
But enough bitching about the meta stuff, how did the actual show pan out? Pretty much exactly how I expected. It was a long parade of fanservice, only interrupted by the occasional fight scene or dialogue sequence where Claudette got angry about something. The only character in my opinion that showed anything more than one-dimension in this show was the warrior-miko Tomoe, who actually tried her best not to fall in with the fanservice-y aspects of the show, though the writers dealt with that little discrepancy in the second half of the series. This thing would've been written off as a piece of crap if not for the "acid-shooting boobies" of the demonic bunnygirl, which was probably a first for a genre where you think you've seen everything that could be done to animated women. It's probably for that reason that any of us took note of the show. That act alone in the first episode probably set an unreasonably high bar of innovation in the hentai-ish aspects of the show that they couldn't match (except the tit-biting snake lady came pretty close), but they did manage to satisfy at least one fetish per episode.
So if you want my recommendation, go ahead and watch this show if you want some cheap hentai-thing to watch or if you're interested in a drinking game (take one shot every time someone's clothes get ripped, and two shots when a fetish gets invoked though knowing TV Tropes' version of Rule 36 you'll probably die of alcohol poisoning shortly after). Watch it if you really, really want to know the backstory of those characters in the books and figurines that you might have bought. But trust me, you're better off spending your time on a better series, like Seikon no Qwaser. At least in that series, they offer some hard science along with the fanservice/borderline-hentai content. You think acid-shooting boobies are bad? Wait until you see masochistic twin girls who secrete the element of Mercury.
But on related note, whatever happened to the GI Joe version of selling toys? Y'know, the kind where you have an incompetent team of superheroes versus an even dumber team of villains who use the very same vehicles and characters that kids could buy on shelves and man-children could laugh at before smuggling them out of the Toys R Us? I'm assuming they still have those kinds of shows in Japan, right? Otherwise, Power Rangers would've ended and there would only be 150 Pokemon. Perhaps that's the same reason that Power Rangers keeps getting syndicated, Queen's Blade is going to run another season, and Pokemon/Digimon/Beyblade/[Generic Toy Monster Show] will never f**king end.