Anime Meta-Review


Tsukikage Ran


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1-9 of 13
  • type: TV
  • grade: watchable
  • people: Daichi
  • form: sub
  • source: fansub
  • Series state: Can't find any more to watch.
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Thu Mar 1 11:45:06 EST 2001
  • mod: none

Oh yeah, give me some of the epic samurai drama that's common in Japan and rare here. For a fan of "Sanjuro" or "Yojimbo" there's lots of good stuff here. Mind you, being anime, some small variations from the norm may be observed.

However the essence is clear from the classically Japanese opening song. The anime draws heavily on the whole samurai `thing' and also on Japanese history. Of course this is Japanese history in the same way westerns give a fair view of early American history, but it really doesn't matter. It's doubly interesting for a western fan to whom much is exotic and intriguing. We get to follow a master swordsman, of almost unbelievable skill, as they wander across Japan. Barring an excessive fondness for sake it is a life seemingly without aim or purpose. In addition they meet a skilled chinese martial artist, an outsider in Japanese society, who becomes a travelling companion of sorts. Together they get involved in all sorts of plots and stories drawn from the era. And given that they have a sense of honor, and the personal power to make things happen, they often become quite pivotal characters.

Sounds fairly classic doesn't it? However, here's where the anime effect kicks in and things start changing. For a start the lead, the title character, is a female sword master. This immediately makes the stories run a little bit differently. Although, barring the fact that she's clean and well dressed, she's certainly got the lazy, violent, dispossessed samurai bit going. Likewise her martial arts companion is also female, a master of the probably deadly but certainly humorous and impressive fighting style of neko-tekken (cat fighting?). Likewise she, and the show in general, includes a lot more humor than the true samurai drama probably does. The stories themselves might be serious, even deadly (the lead being quite willing, and called upon, to kill) but there's lots of humor round the edges.

And, thankfully, it's actually pretty good. It could be said that, even for a western fan, some of the stories are pretty familiar and the show's foundation is a bit simple, but the skill in production keeps it enjoyable. There's a good sense of character from the lead, and many of the villains and people she meets and the depiction of this world is interesting. The young martial artist, while more obviously female and fun to watch, has a tougher time of things. Her character is a bit confused by her `sidekick' status. She's not the focus character, is often called on for some comedy relief or to draw the somber lead into the story. As a result she's a bit loud or artificial too often, which is a shame, because the character has potential. The episodic stories (so far) and lack of recurring chararacters also seems to limit the scope and character of the stories.

On the positive side the production is solid. Even through the chaos that is video compression this is an attractive series. The colors are rich and the depiction of this historical environment detailed and interesting. Likewise the action, when it happens, is great fun to watch. It's a bit choppy, sort of like a shorthand for what is happening, partly because the combats and moves are complex. As such it's far superior to the normal level for this sort of thing. There's a real urge to watch it in slow motion so you can follow all the fun. The voices are fitting, although as mentioned the martial artist is often too loud, and the period music is wonderfully atmospheric.

Other Reviews

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Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:26 WST 2009