Directed by Takashi Watanabe the famed director whom is best known for his work on such as the Slayer's franchise, Kino's Journey, Boogiepop Phantom, Freezing, Ikki Tousen and the Shakugan no Shana franchise, comes Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash, a series based off a semi popular video game franchise for the 3DS and the PSVita. Senran Kagura is very much similar to Watanabe's other fan service titles, but this time featuring female ninja's and even less of a plot.
The series starts off introducing our lead character Asuka (voiced by Felecia Angelle), in our opening minutes of the series we see her putting down some street scum, finding out she was actually on a mission with the sole purpose of surviving. After this introduction, we soon are told that Asuka is in the process of moving back to the city of Asakusa, returning to ninja school and continuing her aim of becoming a good ninja, to uphold the legacy of her grandfather, a famed ninja.
Asuka quickly joins Hanzou Academy, a school that is actually named after her grandfather. Hanzou academy is essentially a normal school with a secret ninja school/program hidden within. Hanzou is the academy of the good ninja, exclusively meant for those with a clean record, no prior crimes whatsoever. After joining Hanzou, the series quickly introduces us to Asuka's new classmates and the last of our primary characters... first we have Ikaruga (voiced by Alexis Tipton), a third year student, the most mature of the group, acting as the support to the other ninjas. Katsuragi (voiced by Brittney Karbowski), yet another third year student whom is overly sexed up, most commonly found groping the others chests. Hibari (voiced by Megan Shipman), the weakest and newest member of the academy. Lastly we have Yagyu (voiced by Bryn Apprill), the rebellious prodigy whom has feelings for Hibari.
Senran Kagura in a nutshell follows the journey of Asuka, Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyuu and Hibari, shinobi in training at the prestigious Academy. However, Hanzou's peaceful days come to a screeching halt when the rival school, the Serpent Academy, which houses the evil ninjas, whom will accept anyone with the ambition to learn the skills they have to offer, decide to challenge the girls, beating them senseless and stealing Hanzou academy's sacred ninja scroll.
After their defeat at the hands of the Serpent Academy, our ninja's must train and overcome hurdles both physically and emotionally before they're ready to take on the Serpent Academy in their final battle for dominance. Are they up to the task?
+ Solid dub work.
+ Despite having so many lead characters and a lot of them fitting your standard tropes and clichés, the show does handle it's focus on all of them quite well. The Majority of the antagonists are fleshed out as well which was nice to see.
+ Decent climax. I'd say the final few episodes were the series' best. Some great action sequences and character moments.
+ While I prefer a good story that will such you in, If you're a fan of overly gratuitous animated boobs, panty and cleavage shots, with mindless action and absolutely no plot whatsoever, then this will probably be your favorite anime. EVER.
- If you're not a fan of overly gratuitous animated boob, panty and cleavage shots, then you will probably hate this show.
- About as shallow a plot a show can possibly have. Good ninja school vs bad ninja school. Yeah, that's it.
- Story can quickly be broken down. Good girls train, bad girls show up to mess things up, beating up said good girls, the good girls train to become stronger and eventually overcome their rivals. This has definitely been done before.
- Takes quite a while to kick into gear.
Video and Audio:
Senran Kagura utilizes a very nice looking color palette. While I'd say that the characters are pretty one note looking, and overall bland, the actual animation itself is very impressive. The battle scenes are fantastic and fluid throughout. The series has absolutely stunning production values, but it's very obvious while watching this show where they put the majority of their budget. The fanservice shots.
Senran Kagura comes with two available language tracks. The first is a 2.0 TrueHD English Dolby track and the second is the original TrueHD Japanese 2.0. As per usual I watched the series in English dubbing while sampling a few episodes in it's original language. The dub is absolutely fantastic. Throughout the course of the series there were no signs of dropout or distortions.
Something I felt like I should comment on is the fact that despite being advertised in the initial solicitations, this box set does NOT come with the OVA's.
- Episode 4 Commentary with Brittney Karbowski whom is the voice of Katsuragi.
- Episode 10 Commentary with ADR Engineer Chris George and Megan Shipman, whom is the voice of Hibari.
- US trailer for the dub.
- Standard FUNimation trailers.
- If you purchase the limited edition box set then the series comes in a decent looking artbox that houses both the bluray and DVD amarays.
To put it bluntly, there is very little redeemable about this series. The reason I gave it the 1.5 stars out of 5 is due to the fact that they actually focused on developing the characters in the show. It was cool to see the antagonists get the same treatment as our hero characters, which I find to be pretty rare in anime. I'm honestly probably being generous with that rating, besides the ending and some of the character development, this show is an insult to anime. However, if you're a fan service junkie, then I'd say to bump the rating to a solid 2.5 out of 5. It's still not exceptional, but it's worth a watch to those whom this type of series panders to. To the common anime fan, skip it. You're not missing much.