I knew what I was getting into when I first picked up Samurai Girls. The generic title alone should have been a warning sign, but I normally look past superficial things like that. The cover, well...scantily clad girls attempting to cover themselves should have been an indication, but I never judge an anime by its cover. No my friends, it was the description on the back that lead me to the inevitable conclusion that I was about to watch an ecchi harem show.
"The samurai code was never this sexy. Muneakiru Yagyu is a gifted student of the samurai way, but until he arrived at his dojo, he never knew just how gifted he truly was. There, beautiful girl Jubei falls naked from the sky and right into his arms, and when they kiss, he magically transforms her into a powerful master samurai. So, naturally, every beautiful girl at the dojo can't wait to kiss him now! And some, like the sexy Gisen, want to do even more... It's a tale of power and lust, filled with beautiful, scantily clad swordfighters who will do anything to please their master and attain even greater power!"
As you can see Samurai Girls isn't shy about what it is. It's yet another anime that was built around the voluptuous female form. It's otaku fodder in its purest form and designed for solo late night exercise and aimed at a market to push smutty figures and merchandise. In other words it's the kind of series that's big in Japan and undoubtedly Akihabara, but it's the kind of show that gives anime fans in the States a bad name. With the preconceptions and prejudice out of the way, is the show really as bad as it seems on paper and concept? Not entirely.
Taking place in an alternate version of history, Samurai Girls shows a Japan in the throws of a Tokugawa shogunate. Samurai rule the land and in order to become a master, one must form a pact with a particular general or another. Naturally the list of masters is small in this case and there's a tiered class of families and those of samurai lineage. Some names rise to the top while others are simply not quite as revered.
It's during this time that a young man named Muneakiru Yagyu takes a trip back to the city to visit his clan's dojo. There he finds a pair of naked girls; one busty and the other flat-chested, who naturally don't take kindly to his intrusion. Before their scuffle and introduction can really come to fruition Hattori Hanzo, a nerdy maid, and her pack of ninjas bust in and try to arrest the girls. Muneakiru gets in the middle of it and inevitably the three go on the run as they escape.
It's during the escape that Jubei Yagyu appears out of the sky and floats down into Muneakiru's arms. She's naked and sexy and with few words uttered she kisses her "big brother" full on the lips. This unleashes some powerful magic and makes Jubei's master samurai side takes over. She pulls out all the stops and decimates Hattori's gang until they are interrupted by Princess Sen Tokugawa, who takes them in as "prisoners", even though she's a childhood friend of Muneakiru. Soon enough there are girls aplenty encircling Muneakiru looking for him to kiss them and awaken their latent powers as well. Generic harem comedy much?
The show does try to put its best foot forward, and to be quite far the action is outstanding, but Samurai Girls simply falls victim to its own trappings. It tries too hard to borrow from other shows and genres. This is basically the harem romantic/comedy lesbian love-child of Queen's Blade and Ikki Tousen, but with samurai. Nudity abounds, jokes that are far too familiar fill each scene, and ultimately the show's merits will only be appreciated by pubescent boys looking for animated flesh to ogle.
With that being said the visual style of the series is the one thing that sets it apart from everything else on the market. The show utilizes an inky/watercolor art style reminiscent of Street Fighter IV. Battles are heavily splashed with ink blots and backgrounds are often a collection of blobs and colors. Samurai Girls is rather unique in that sense, and it's one of the touches that elevates the action. I will say that after twelve episodes the effect does grow rather tiresome, however.
Ultimately Samurai Girls is only worth picking up if you're looking for smut anime with beautiful girls fighting each other. The story doesn't carry the show and the setting is far too cliché for anyone looking for a substantial experience. Then again, what else would you expect from a series with a lesbian ninja maid?
Samurai Girls has been released on both DVD and Blu-ray, though the review material provided was for the standard definition release. The picture quality of this DVD is exemplary with some sharp visuals, vibrant colors, and very little in terms of flaws to speak of. Sure there's some grain and moments where the compression rate isn't as strong as others, but by and large the show is dynamic looking and attractive. The aforementioned inkblot animation style really stands out and I can only imagine what it must look like in 1080p. For all the flaws of the series, you can't knock the visual style or presentation.
You can kind of knock the audio, however. Though this release does include both English and Japanese 2.0, I can't suggest that you watch the English version. It's by far the lesser of the two in terms of quality, though I may simply be biased towards the Japanese language for my anime consumption. Technically speaking the show sounds "okay" but the limitations of the 2.0 stereo do subdue the action sequences in a rather frustrating way. Better presence on the soundstage would have gone a long way to improving the experience of watching the series.
Samurai Girls comes with trailers and clean animations, as one would expect, but there are some Japanese television promos, production sketches, and promotional videos to boot. Also included are some narrated comics and "Blushing Maidens in the Pact", which are six omake videos that will titillate the sense, if you know what I mean.
For all the big breasts and bouncy action, Samurai Girls is really a flat experience. The show relies entirely on the draw of its sexy cast and exposed flesh rather than try to create something original and fresh. The end result is Ikki Tousen with samurai, but with a harem comedy motif. While it does work sometimes it fails more often than not. I simply can't recommend this except for the hormonal otaku in the crowd that get their jollies on naked anime girls. The best I could muster is a suggestion of a rental.