September 25, 2009

Mystery Meat -- Samurai Girl Real Bout High School

Our second Mystery Meat series is Samurai Girl Real Bout High School. I'm pretty sure I got this because it sounded like a poor man's version of Ikki Tousen. And also because of one or more keywords.

Blow-by-blow, plus 32 frame grabs, below the fold. A few of the grabs are NSFW, but it isn't anything like as raunchy as the last one.


It begins with two beefy guys fighting in a wrecked temple (?). The battle ends with both of them using ki attacks, though we can't tell who won, and then we do a camera zoom out of space down to Tokyo. And we see a miko sweeping at a shrine.

OK, ki attacks and mikos are always welcome. May be OK. Queue the OP. Character designs look like late 1990's, maybe three years after Slayers.

The miko had short brown hair, but the main character seems to be a redhead with a long pony tail tied with a big yellow ribbon.

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And she's nicely built without being ridiculous. She's carrying a bokken. Which is reasonable if she's trying to learn and use kendo, in the samurai tradition. And later they show her using a katana while wearing traditional clothing.

I see that this was co-produced by "Kids Station" so I guess I can forget about gratuitous fan service. That's OK; they don't all have to be like that.

OK, OP over. Ground zero is "Daimon High School, a private academy." Looks to be pretty fancy.

Big shock; it's got dubbing. Looks like this was ripped from an R1 release, and I may have to guilt-buy it if it's still available. (Quick check and RACS doesn't have it, so maybe it's out of print. I'll check ANN later.) So a quick look at Zoom Player's menus, and now we're in Japanese with English subtitles, like we ought to be.

Our redhead is named Mitsurugi and she's an upper classman. Lots of younger girls are shown swooning over her as she arrives at school.

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We got a meganekko named Hitomi. Yay! She's friends with our girl, whose given name is Ryoko. I think I might recognize Ryoko's voice, but I want to hold off on looking that up.

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There's a short guy hiding in the bushes taking pictures of Ryoko. His name is Daisaku. He describes himself as her groupie. He has been surreptitiously photographing her for a long time, and showing the pictures to the other boys at the school. She gets mad and threatens to kill him, and Hitomi restrains her.

And then we get an incoming flurry of shuriken. Ryoko dodges some and deflects all the rest of them with her sword carrying case. Then she takes a swing at something, and three ninja pop up, moan, and fall.

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A swarm of ninja leap out and surround her. She's got her bokken unwrapped now, and we're about to get a big fight.

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But before they can get going, a group of media otaku, 4 guys and a girl, show up to video the battle.

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Maybe I gave up too soon on the fan service. Though as pantsu shots go, this one is pretty lame.

OK, time for some back story. "What is a K-fight? It's a revolutionary system that fairly determines who's right whether it's between clubs or personal grudges with the approval of both and under strict rules when discord strikes Daimon High." (So might makes right, eh?) "As for the rules, the challengee decides the showdown event, but that isn't it for the Daimon High Martial Arts Championship! Also, all judging and rules of the K-fights are run and maintained by the K-Fight Executive Committee!" (I guess wrong; that's who these five are.)

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"Currently, early this morning our current K-Fight champion, samurai idol Ryoko Mitsurugi, has been ambushed by the Amateur Ninja Club known for not showing their faces to anyone!

"The K in K-FIght stands for the K in kenka!" (Quick look in the dictionary, and presumably they don't mean 献花 "flower offering". So I assume it's 喧嘩 "quarrel, brawl, fight".)

OK, the fight begins, and it's being broadcast live on closed circuit television all over the school. One of those watching is a faculty member with a huge chest named Hishinuma, who says, "I'll be busy today." And then some students start delivering bodies.

I hoped for a well-animated fight, but we aren't being shown most of it. Instead we're getting the play-by-play over the school PA system while we see reaction shots from all over the school. What a disappointment. (But I guess that getting Jubei-chan level choreoraphed fights was too much to expect. But at least they could have done Ikki Tousen level fights.)

Fight's over, and it turns out that Ryoko is now 22-0.

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The animators can't seem to make up their minds how big her chest is.

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Moving right along, there does seem to be someone else in the kendo club who is, perhaps, her equal. We see them drilling together and I think he scores a blow. He's the one from the OP wearing the red jacket, and may be her boy friend. I think I recognize his voice, too.

Dialog confirms that he just won their practice match, and apparently always wins against her. But... he says, "You did defeat THE Shizuma Kusanagi, after all." And she responds, "Please, don't mention that red monkey's name in front of me!" Wonder who that is? "It's because of that red monkey that I'm in this mess right now."

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Here comes a new challenger, maybe. She ends her sentences with desu wa so I hate her. Her name is Azumi Kiribayashi. She seems to be a romantic competitor for the guy, who she calls Tatsuya-sama. Now I really hate her.

Ryoko calls him Shishikura-sempai, presumably his surname.

I recognize the school principal's voice, too, and it's easy. He was also Samson in Banner of the Stars, and an old favorite. He schemes with the wimp with the camera to figure out how to make the K-fights more exciting. They're perceived as being monotous because Ryoko is too strong. "So there's only Mr. Kusanagi after all?"

Cut to him out fighting in an alley, easily defeating a bunch of toughs. And I was wrong: he is the one wearing the red coat. Interesting that in the OP he's shown on a motorcycle with Ryoko riding behind him. Is he the real love interest, then? Anyway, he left school after Ryoko defeated him and hasn't been back since.

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Eyecatch. And it looks like her chest has shrunk a bit. The second eyecatch shows Miss desu wa with a practice naginata. I might have known. Back to the show.

Ryoko is changing in the locker room (no fan service) and finds a necklace someone left behind.

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She puts it on. And the gem in it starts glowing. Energy pours out. She starts screaming. The energy ends, and she passes out.

She wakes in the locker room. Oddly, she's standing up. The locker she found it in is closed. The necklace is in her hand. She's a bit stunned.

And then she's distracted by the committee, beginning their coverage of the next attack against her. It's the "K-Fight 2nd Semester Club Funding Grab Match", whatever in hell that might mean. Maybe the principal offered a cash prize to anyone who could defeat her, if all her competition attacked at once?

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Yup, that's it. Which ever club defeats her gets 100 times their normal funding. "That's the new rule! And as an added bonus, a trip to Hawaii for two!"

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It's being held in the auditorium, where they've got a fight ring in the middle. The whole student body is there to watch. Ryoko is carried in by the "hip-looking mini-kimono squad" and she is seething. "We shall see if her kotetsu seeks blood again this evening!" Another quick trip to the dictionary. Koutetsu means "steel". Also means "armor" but I assume they're using it to refer to her sword, despite the fact that she's carrying her bokken, not a katana.

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First up, rugby team. It's only going to get sillier from here, I imagine. Ryoko is royally peeved and she isn't going to be going easy on anyone this time, I think. Gonna be lots of business for kyonyuu no Hishinuma-sensei.

The girl who has been doing all the commentary on this is Tamaki Nakamura.

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They're still not animating the battles. Just camera moves over still shots of her wins. Of course, they're also sillly: the tennis club, the Japanese equivalent of ROTC (not so silly), the magic club. Hishinuma-sensei doesn't seem too worried about it all. I think I recognize her voice, too. I think it's the queen of tears.

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Getting back to the battle: judo club, looks to be the last. The announcer says she's now 45-0. But we're not done yet. A new opponent appears. It's Miss Desu Wa.

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Are we going to get a reasonable animated fight scene now? Betcha not, but I could get lucky. Anyway, her naginata notwithstanding, she's the head of the Flower Arrangement Club.

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And, by gum, they're giving us a few seconds of reasonable combat. Desu Wa lands a blow and knocks Ryoko down. I think all this will do is make her mad.

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Ryoko does a sweep. Wo, fan service!! Hasn't been much of it, but when a girl in a skirt that short is fighting this hard, there really should be a least a bit.

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Combat comes to a halt for a moment. Both of them catch their breath, facing one another from a distance. Then they charge. The naginata knocks the bokken away upwards, but Ryoko isn't defeated and fights empty handed, using a spinning kick.

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She stops the naginata withn the bottom of her shoe and stands on it.

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Her bokken (which was knocked high) falls into her hand and she attacks. One blow connects, and Desu Wa is down, in pain. Ryoko stops with her blade next to Desu Wa's head. It's a victory.

The crowd goes wild. And that was a good fight, well animated. This seems to be where the biggest part of the animation budget for the episode was spent.

But was it real? Suddenly she's wearing the necklace again, and it starts glowing again. She doesn't understand where it came from. The glow fades out.

She's standing in the middle of the ring, but no one is there. The auditorium is completely empty. She calls out names of people she was just with, but no one is there. Then she hears a voice: "Welcome, Demon Lord of Yenen." That can't be good.

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A glow collects and materializes into the form of a girl floating in mid-air. Ryoko says, "Who are you?" The girl points behind Ryoko and says, "It's coming."

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Ryoko turns. A mass of dark energy materializes in the form of a dragon. Ryoko is royally freaked.

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It looks like the dragon is attacking, and all Ryoko has is a bokken, a wooden practice sword. Episode ends.

I'm impressed. This is better than I thought it would be. I might watch more of it.

And now to consult ANN. It was licensed by TokyoPop, which explains why it's not available any longer. I was wrong about recognizing Ryoko's voice. The cute guy's voice is one I've heard before, but not in any role I've ever considered noteworthy. Desu Wa has the same voice as Tina Foster in Ai Yori Aoshi and Saki in Genshiken but she's not someone I'm very familiar with. I was wrong about the principal; it's the voice of Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop. I was also wrong about the nurse; the seiyuu is a no-name.

The cute guy is listed as a minor part. The one who wears the red jacket (and he's voiced by Seki Tomokazu) is one of the top roles and he appeared in the cast shot in the OP. Obviously he's going to be the real love interest.

The miko and her priest grandfather didn't show up in this episode but presumably they're going to be the ones who explain to Ryoko that she's caught up in a larger battle and so on and so forth. Maybe they'll recognize the necklace. That should be an interesting scene. Presumably the glowing floating girl is a kami, but she might be a demon.

FORENSICS: Why did I download it? I think I looked at the art and the concept and thought it sounded like fun. I don't think I was keyword hunting on this one. And despite the frame grabs above, the fan service so far has been very tame and pretty rare.

However, BakaBT had the following keywords on it: ecchi, pantsu, superpower, swordplay, Gonzo. So maybe I was keyword hunting after all.

Will I watch more? I think I'll watch at least one more episode, to see what happens with the dragon and in hopes of seeing the miko and priest show up and getting some back story. It'd be nice to know who the glowing girl is, too. (Right now I'm betting on kami.) And who were the two bruisers fighting at the beginning?

Also I want a look at the Seki character. I can't think of a role I know of that he's been in that hasn't been fascinating. He's one of the best in the business.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Mystery Meat at 05:33 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 2242 words, total size 15 kb.

1 I'm going to keep watching this, so no spoilers please.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 25, 2009 05:38 PM (+rSRq)

2 I haven't actually seen it, so I can't spoil anything, but I've heard decent comments about it.  It's somewhere on my "to-watch" list, which just keeps getting longer these days...

Posted by: BigD at September 25, 2009 07:43 PM (LjWr8)

3 I have the first DVD.  If I remember, I didn't think it was bad, I just never bothered to find any more of it.  I haven't watched it in years.  I might dig out the DVD and give it another go.

Posted by: Arson55 at September 26, 2009 01:06 AM (3CbGH)

4 "I hoped for a well-animated fight [against the whole amateur ninja club], but we aren't being shown most of it."

Eh, the Law of Conservation of Ninjutsu being what it is, that fight wouldn't have been worth much.


Posted by: Mikeski at September 26, 2009 09:41 AM (GbSQF)

5 According to experts (that is to say, Aroduc), J2 has the best fights. He actually blogged about it.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at September 26, 2009 10:19 AM (/ppBw)

6

I've heard that, but I haven't seen it and don't really want to. For one thing, the story concept is lame. The first Jubei-chan series ended in a way which should have precluded any sequels. But more important is that they changed seiyuus for Jubei-chan. And I liked the first one a hell of a lot.

But the fights in the first series are damned good, and that's what I use for my standards of "really well done battles". That last battle in this anime didn't measure up to that standard, but it was better than DBZ fights so it was still noteworthy.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 26, 2009 12:19 PM (+rSRq)

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