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Ikki Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor & Shugaku Toshi Keppu-roku OVA

FUNimation // Unrated // March 11, 2014
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kyle Mills | posted December 6, 2014 | E-mail the Author
Content:
Ikki Tousen is a tricky and complicated title for anime fans in the West. The first season was held by Geneon, while Media Blasters scored the licenses for seasons two (Dragon Destiny), three (Great Guardians) and four (this season.) Sadly Geneon eventually folded and closed their doors. Season two was then released by Media Blasters, but due to poor sales and problems with production, things came to an immediate halt and the license for the following seasons were dropped. After nearly 6 years of being stuck in licensing hell, FUNimation has saved it and fans are finally treated to the greatly anticipated English dub of Ikki Tousen: Ikki Tousen is a tricky and complicated title for anime fans in the West. The first season was held by Geneon, while Media Blasters scored the licenses for seasons two, three, and four. Sadly Geneon eventually folded and closed their doors. Season two was then released by Media Blasters, but due to poor sales and problems with production, things came to an immediate halt and the license for Great Guardians and Xtreme Xecutor were dropped. After nearly 6 years of being stuck in licensing hell, FUNimation has saved them and fans are finally treated to the greatly anticipated English dub of Ikki Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor. So how does the final season of the Ikki Tousen franchise (thus far) stack up to it's predecessors??

For those who do not know the back story of the Ikki Tousen franchise, the series is about several different schools at war with one another for territorial supremacy of the Kanto region in Japan. The fighters from each school possess sacred jewels called Magatama, which contains the spirits of warriors from "The Romance of Three Kingdoms", an era from China over 1800 years ago. These jewels give said fighters the power of their ancient ancestor, as well as their fate. For those who have not seen the series and have chosen this season as the starting point won't really be lost, if you read the review, you will know that the third season, Great Guardians really lost it's way, it didn't really focus on the main plot of the prior two seasons, and instead pandered to those who don't like to watch anything but anime porn. Is season 4 a step back into the right direction?

After the lackluster distraction that was Season 3, Great Guardians, where the storyline of the first two seasons was to put it frankly, nonexistent, Xtreme Xecutor brings us back up to speed with the storyline. Xtreme Xecutor begins with the introduction of a yet another brand new character to the series named Bachou Mouki (voiced by Cherami Leigh), a character that was originally meant to be in Season One, but was scrapped. Bachou is similar to Hakafu, an extremely powerful woman though air-headed. Bachou makes her first appearance in this season seeking vengeance for her brother who was slain back in the first season by the Kyosho Academy's leader, Sousou (voiced by Greg Weisman.) Bachou is impetuous and reckless though, charging in and willing to go up against everyone in Kyosho academy to quench her lust for revenge. After being defeated at the hands Kyocho, Gentobu Ryuubi finds Bachou knocked out and takes her in, realizing that their destinies are linked together and she accepts her as a friend and apart of the group. Eventually Bachou witnesses Hakufu defeating a number of enemies and pleads with Hakufu to give her the training she needs to take down Souso. Hesitantly, Hakufu takes her in and mentors her.

While I believed that this would be the primary storyline that drove the season, it very quickly took the backseat after only a few episodes when a plot begins to brew that will devastate the three rival schools. A mysterious woman name Kentei (voiced by Julie Rei Goldstein) arrives in the Kanto region, quickly forming an alliance with the leaders of Nanban Academy to lure the strongest members of the three schools to a fake tournament that she has staged in order to weaken each faction, rendering them open to be destroyed. Soon enough, Kentei's true motives for forming the fake tournament boil to the surface and can mean the end for our heroes of Nanyo Academy.

Unfortunately though, even with Kentei's true motives being brought to the surface, she ends up feeling like a shallow shell of a character, a villain overall with little to no development and I can't help but think this season would have been better off simply focusing on the Bachou storyline. Kentei doesn't do anything to continue the overarching storyline introduced in the previous seasons, and outside of the new character, Bachou, none of the characters are even developed, including the characters we've already come to know, any further than they were before. Sadly due to this, Xtreme Xecutor is on par with the previous disappointment, Great Guardians. Xtreme Xecutor is high on action and copious amounts of fan service that the show is known for, but it's short on just about anything else. The season doesn't do much to focus on the characters or the storylines, but by the end of the season, I have to give it the edge over the previous season due to the earlier episodes where it attempted to achieve the heights of the previous seasons, by balancing it's character development with the action and fan service.

Positives:

+ While not quite as good as the first two seasons, hardcore fans of Ikki Tousen are sure to enjoy it.

+ Although underdeveloped in most areas, the story lines were solid and had quite a bit of potential.

+ The returning dub cast. Since I enjoyed the first season of Ikki Tousen, I was thrilled to see the majority of the original cast return to their roles. While I knew it was impossible for them to get everyone back, FUNimation made one hell of an effort, and their hard work is appreciated. It was great to see them back in the roles that started some of their careers, especially Carrie Savage, whose work I've always have been a fan of. Cherami Leigh takes on the new role of Bachou and is easily one of the standouts.

+ Though it's brief, this season does touch on the overarching storyline.

+ If you're a fan of animated nudity, then the good news is that this season has more than any prior season.

- Negatives:

- Weak, clich├ęd characters.

- Another season of Ikki Tousen that sacrifices plot developments for copious amounts of fan service and action.

- If you're not a fan of animated nudity, stay clear of the Ikki Tousen franchise.

Video and Audio:
For video, Xtreme Xecutor is presented in it's original 1.78:1 broadcast aspect ratio. For a show 5 years old, it was a great DVD transfer. There were no signs of compression, the colors of the series were bold and vivid. The only real problem I seen with the animation quality was like in previous seasons the faraway shots were very poorly done, with almost no detail to them.

For Xtreme Xecutor, we get two audio tracks, the first is a 5.1 English language Dolby Surround sound and then we have the original Japanese 2.0 Stereo track. I viewed the series in English and it was a solid effort, with the returning cast upping their performances from a decade earlier. The dialogue is crisp and clear throughout and there were no noticeable problems with dropouts or distortions.

Extras: - The 45 minute OVA, Shugaku Toshi Keppu-Roku.

- Episode 1 commentary with Jonathan Klein, the voice director, and Cherami Leigh whom plays the role of Bachou.

- Episode 2 commentary with Jonathan Klein, the voice director for the dub, and Rachel Robinson who voices the role of Kan'u.

- OVA commentary with Jonathan Klein, the voice director of the dub, Jessica Calvello, the voice of Chouhi, Georgette Reilley, the voice of Kakouen, and Michele Knotz, the voice of Chou'un.

- Six dreamy viewers: A collection of shorts that amount to roughly 18 minutes total, each short has a different character daydreaming about lewd situations. It's essentially a way to show off even more fan service. These are not dubbed.

- Promo videos.

- Commercial collection.

- FUNimation Trailers.

- Textless opening and closing themes.

Overall:
Xtreme Xecutor may not live up to the heights of its first two seasons, but I'd say it's a definite improvement on Great Guardians and is some solid fun. If you enjoyed the first two seasons of Ikki Tousen, then Xtreme Xecutor comes recommended. If you're a newcomer to the franchise or just the average anime fan, start with season one, or go find something else. Rent It.

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