NIS continues it series of lovely anime releases with Brave10, an action series set in ancient Japan. While the slipcase, hardcover book, and disc themselves are up to NIS' very high standards, the anime itself is just so-so. It's filled with action and adventure, but there's not much of a story and it's filled with characters we've all seen before.
While traveling through the forest the brooding Saizo Kirigakure, an expert samurai who refuses to take a master, encounters the priestess Isanami who is on the run from assassins. She pleads with Saizo to protect her, but he's not interested. He's traveling his own path and doesn't want to get involved.
He looses that chance when the killers chasing Isanami appear and attack, only to be easily defeated by Saizo and his sword the Mari Blade. After she treats him to lunch, the warrior reluctantly agrees to take the plucky young girl to her destination, Lord Sanada Yukimura. Isanami needs to tell the Lord about the destruction of her temple by the villainous Tokugawa Ieyasu. Saizo plans on dropping her off and continuing on his journey, but once they arrive Yukimura tricks Siazo into working with him and becoming one of his ten warriors who will change the course of history.
First the good parts: This anime series has a lot of potential. The mystery of Isanami and what her powers are as well as why Tokugawa destroyed her temple and is pursuing her is great and kept me watching. The characters all have fun powers and unique attacks too (I especially like the villain who could generate snakes). The battles are exciting and well done. This could have been a fantastic show.
Unfortunately that potential is never reached. The show is only 12 episodes long, and that hampers it a lot. The writers never really have time to explore any of the characters to any extent, and they're still looking for the ten warriors from the title over half way through so viewers hardly get to see some of them. Since there isn't much in the way of characterization, all of the warriors are stereotypes. There's a grumpy warrior, a haughty ninja, the female sex bomb fighter, and the plucky, always happy Isanami, among others. They're all people we've seen before.
The show also ignores the main plot to a large extent. While I was most intrigued by the 'big picture' the program are more focused on telling battle-of-the-week stories that soon started to blend in together. While these were fun while they were going on, it becomes hard to place much importance on them a few episodes later.
Viewers have to be willing to suspend a lot of disbelief too. Wounds heal incredibly quickly. One person has a sword run all the way through his right hand, but the next day he's sent off on a mission and uses his sword like he was never hurt. Another character is slashed across the chest a couple of times and left for dead, only to reappear hours later, fully healed and just in the nick of time to save the day.
As I said, the show isn't all bad, it's actually fun watching each individual installment. It's only when you look back at it that you wish they'd put a bit more content into the program.
This set contains the 12- episode series on two Blu-ray discs, each in its own keepcase case and housed in a sturdy slipcase.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic image looks very good. The colors are strong and solid and they're accurately reproduced and come through clearly. The level of detail is very good and the lines are tight. Digitally it also looked very good with aliasing, which often plagues anime, being nonexistent.
This release arrives with the original Japanese soundtrack in lossless LPCM stereo. It sounded very good, with full range and some nice separation. There are optional English subtitles, but there is not a dub track, which is fine with me. I prefer watching anime in Japanese since that was the way it was created to be seen.
The discs themselves include a clean opening and closing and some commercials used to promote the show. The best extra isn't found on the discs however. That award goes to the very nice hardcover book that is included with the set. This attractive full-color book includes large images along with a synopsis from each episode, character design sheets, interviews with the creators, and more. It's printed on high quality glossy paper, and is really very striking.
This is an average show... if it was longer so they had more time to develop the characters and flesh out the plot it would have been much better. As it is, the show was enjoyable, but there wasn't anything that made it very memorable. Best make this one a rental.