Under Your Radar: Senran Kagura (Anime)

Shinobi– that is what they who made their living in service of the daimyo and feudal lords of this land, by carrying out espionage, subversion and assassination, were called by everyone else. This tale is of the miracle of love and courage of five young ladies, who have devoted their youth in the fight against evil, as shinobi.

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS BRIEF SHOTS OF WELL-ENDOWED FEMALE INDIVIDUALS IN THEIR UNDERWEAR. DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.

Break your world by Sayaka Sasaki

Break your own lingering chains yourself

You took the blemished, rusty blade
You’d tucked away in your soul when assailed by doubt
And brandished it blindly

Your awakening to this surefire heat started the day you realized
That you can’t get any stronger without admitting your weakness

A crimson trap winds around you like a spiral
Burn in what is real and blow it far away
(Come on! Burst the dark right now!!)

Flashes of light in the distant sky bloom fiercely
To envelop the shadows and release them into the altostratus
Vowing to blaze for yourself the path to believe in,
Break through the unseen chains, the maze

You don’t need to grieve anymore
Who can read the future? Know thyself
Ready now! Discern truth or false
Break your world

Radar Logo 2

SK Promo Art (Small)It sure has been a while, but it’s time for Under Your Radar! This time, we’ll be discussing an anime adaptation of a video game series by the name of Senran Kagura. The series consists of 3 games by Marvelous AQL, 2 on 3DS and 1 on Vita, as well as 5 different manga and the aforementioned anime. While one of the manga has been licensed by Seven Seas and FUNimation picked up the anime for streaming (but you can only watch it if you’re in the US because Hulu), Marvelous USA is having a hard time deciding if they want to pick up the game or not, despite it being the most-requested game to said company.

SKSV Screenshot

And I can’t say that I blame them. Excellent gameplay aside, the games were originally created for the sole purpose of expressing the director’s love for large breasts, which seems to have made the developers feel as if that’s a free pass to introduce clothing damage and stripping mechanics for little reason and introduce other clearly depraved things like a minigame where you collect panties falling from the sky.

Still, this puts me in an interesting position. The gameplay is, from all people I’ve heard from who’ve played it, very good, but I cannot actually experience this gameplay. The anime is my only option right now. As a result, I can only render my judgement on an adaptation that removes the redeeming feature of the series. This is why I’m making it clear from the very beginning of this review that this is solely about the anime. I will review the games if they become available to English-speaking audiences at a later date.

SK Cast

Now, normally I would not have prefaced my review with all of that, but it’s worth giving context, especially given what I’m about to say. The Senran Kagura anime opens with a decent-enough fight sequence, but spends little time making the viewers think most fights won’t involve innuendo, stripping and/or clothing damage. But perhaps that is too obvious a complaint. I feel as if I’d have lost a bet if I focused too much on that, so I’ll shove that part of my criticism aside. Now, ignoring the obvious complaint, is the story of this anime something that justifies watching it?

SK Anime Screenshot 2

Nope.

Sadly, this anime falls into an obvious pitfall that all video game anime adaptations have to try to avoid. Namely, the story of a game tends to be gamey by default, with everything simply being in place to justify a new mechanic or the addition of a gameplay segment. And, I’ll be honest, I could tell exactly when and where all gameplay portions would have started as I was watching. The anime studio made little-to-no attempt to cover this up, if it’s even possible to cover that sort of thing up in a non-story-driven game’s adaptation without having fans up in arms.

SK Anime Screenshot 1

What makes things worse is that, as I said earlier, the gameplay was this series’ redeeming feature. Everything else could be shrugged off if it was all simply stuff taking place in-between the gameplay. But you can’t play an anime, and no Time and Eternity doesn’t count as a playable anime, but that’s for a future review. Quite a few things were rather predictable, with only a few interesting tidbits in the story (such as the useless character having to temporarily switch to the dark side towards the end of the series). At the end of it all, the anime leaves you wanting to know what happened to a set of characters who run towards danger near the end.

Verdict

I’ll be honest, I’d watch another season of this, but I’d rather have Marvelous USA stop being so fidgety and bring the games over. If they aren’t gonna do it, firmly decide you won’t, so someone else can. The entire time I was watching this, I was wishing I was playing the game instead.

There’s really not much else to say.

Rightful

SESA

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