With a blend of genres, Grenadier is an interesting new series that provides plenty of fan service and story to make it worth watching. It's an interesting mix of mysticism, spaghetti western and samurai swordplay that sets up the interesting time style and much of the plot here. There's quite a bit of humor and loads of action, although many viewers may be drawn in by the ridiculously disproportionate Rushuna who showcases ample amounts of cleavage and a penchant for bathing. But I know that's not you, right? I didn't think so.
The concept here is that senshi are feared throughout the land and are basically taking the place of the samurai for battle prowess. Senshi are essentially just people that know how to use guns well, and when it comes to a sword versus gun fight chances are you know who's going to win. With blonde locks and some "guns" of her own, Rushuna comes to the countryside trying to spread the message of peace and love. Needless to say she doesn't really practice what she preaches most of the time and finds herself using her trusty .38 a lot of the time when her smile doesn't do the trick.
You may be asking yourself why she walks around cracking a smile and trying to win people over. In this first volume we really don't learn an awful lot about her, where she came from or her past. All that we're shown is that she was trained in the arts of peace and that a smile is the ultimate battle strategy, because if you break your opponent's will to fight then you win. Yeah, it's a little silly, but then again so is the show at times.
Grenadier is one of those anime that doesn't take itself too seriously and given the set up here it works perfectly. The balance between humor and storytelling is always a fine line in many series, but so far this one seems to be walking it just fine. Thankfully the yucks are more tongue in cheek with only a few bits of slapstick tossed in so it's nothing too off the wall. There's also a great deal of action in each episode although a lot of it is a little far fetched. I had to raise an eyebrow when Rushuna reloaded her gun for the first time. She kind of heaves her breasts in a way that launches bullets from her cleavage and while they are in the air she swings her pistol and voila, reloaded!
Unfortunately for the show there really isn't a lot of development, even between the main characters. In the first episode Rushuna befriends a rogue samurai named Yajiro and he tags along with her almost like her sidekick. Their different personalities work well together, but their relationship doesn't really go anywhere in the first volume. It'll be interesting to see where the future of the series brings these two.
The first four episodes of the show that are included on this disc are: The Smiling Senshi, Rushuna under Attack, Enlightened Evil and The Town that does not Smile.
The Smiling Senshi sets up the show and introduces Rushuna and Yajiro as they try to save a samurai master from being taken hostage. Episodes 2 and 3 are actually a two part story arc that involves a kingdom where everything seems to be peaceful and everyone loves their king. When a wanted poster for a golden haired senshi devil comes out things get interesting as Rushuna stumbles upon who the culprit really is. In the last episode our heroes find their way to a town where nobody can smile or laugh because they'll be shot by some evil senshi.
Apart from the small two parter there isn't a lot in the way of continuity with the first disc. Sure we see some snippets from Rushuna's past and towards the tail end of the fourth episode it alludes to future plotlines but for the most part everything seems stand alone story wise.
Grenadier - Service With a Smile is presented with a 1.85 anamorphic widescreen and features some great image quality. At no time did I notice any aliasing, grain or softness. There was a slight bit of pixilation at parts but it was very faint. Everything here is smooth sailing with crisp visuals that absolutely sizzle.
I particularly enjoyed the art style for the show and couldn't get enough of it. The design and animation is top notch, although there were a couple of points that some repeat frames and still shots were used. I suppose it's worth saying that I can't get enough of anime that are presented with anamorphic widescreen. I just think it looks so much better.
There are two audio options presented on this disc and those are the obvious English dubbed and original Japanese. Both are presented with or without English subtitles and come through your speakers with a 2.0 stereo sound. There is a slight bit of directional mix to the audio, but you can't expect an awful lot when it's mostly front channel. Both language tracks are equally good I felt and the dubbing offered similar sound quality to the Japanese selection.
Hello, what do we have here? You mean that there are more extras than just textless opening and ending songs? While those are included, the first volume of Grenadier does indeed feature some more bonus material than we normally get to see.
For starters there is a feature that apparently aired in Japan prior to the release of Grenadier. This is a very interesting look at the production process of an anime with behind the scene shots, talks with the director, designers and voice actors. They talk about the characters and the differences between the original manga and the anime that they pieced together. The opening and closing apparently went through some changes during production and some alternate music and video shots were included as a feature. I like the versions that they decided upon in the end, but it was pretty cool to see what else they had in mind.
An audio commentary is also included that features the original Japanese voice actors talking through all four episodes. I thought it was interesting because most commentaries that I've seen on anime are from the English dubbing crew and not the original voices. Some of their comments are pretty funny and it's worth re-watching all of the episodes again just for them.
Sure the show is chock full of fan service, but Grenadier is a really fun watch. It has a lighthearted atmosphere with a lot of jokes and action, not to mention the gorgeous designs and image quality. Some of it may be a little silly what with the cleavage reloading and all, but the goofy bits are few and far between. I hope the show picks up with some more continuity and a larger plot, though for an introductory disc there's plenty of entertainment here. Recommended
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