“Hyakka Ryōran: Samurai Bride” is actually the second season of this show, but it really didn’t matter to the telling of things. Sure, I probably should have watched season one, but I thought THIS was season one. Besides, they explain the characters well enough that I didn’t think it was necessary to watch “Samurai Girls” to get up to speed.
The series takes place in an alternate version of Japan called Great Japan, in an alternate timeline where an alternate Tokugawa shogunate remained active and has remained isolated from the rest of the world. The male lead, Muneakira Yagyu, has come back from training to find that the dojo is in such a bad financial state that the only way to save it is to turn it into a maid café. The crew of trainees/maids consists of, from left to right:
Hanzo Hattori, the one who already looks like a maid,
Yukimura Sanada, the one with the fan in her hand,
Mitsuyoshi Jubei Yagyu, red-head with the pan,
Matabei Goto, nearly pantsless,
Sen Tokugawa, brown hair at the end.
One who is missing from this line-up is Kanetsugu Naoe.
Adding to this concern is the arrival of the four members of the Dark Samurai, dedicated to destroying everyone in the dojo. Since they feel that the members are not up to snuff to destroy yet, I mean, you have to make it worth my while to pound you into mochi, they seal away Muneakira’s powers and give them all just one month to improve or they will show no mercy when they come back to destroy them.
The odd thing is that they show up anyway as customers to take advantage of this maid café. I will kill you…but not until I get an omelette rice!
This is a show that isn’t all that demanding. I enjoy the artwork, especially the thick-line border around them and, since this is a romantic comedy involving a maid café, and there is lots of fan service, how can you quibble? However, they get a bit too coy for me with the art decisions. Whenever there is a change of scene, ink blots appear all over the screen, eventually changing it to black. When we have the bathhouse sequence (and don’t think for a minute it wouldn’t have happened), suddenly, ink blots and swipes appear, covering up all the goodies. Although an interesting take on the light beam censor, it is still damn annoying, as though I am going to have a major meltdown by seeing unfettered boobies. I saw Ladies vs. Butlers and I didn’t have a brain salad surgery. Huh? Why are you staring at me?
Played for laughs, we see the girls of the dojo go through the double paces of getting enough training and experience to be able to best the Dark Samurai, but still trying to keep the dojo afloat with the maid café. And since we have a disparity in personality, there are going to be emotional clashes to humorous results, like who is the best maid of them all.
Still, it feels slight, and other shows (like “Maken-Ki” and “Senren Kagura” and “Sekerei”) have done this approach of an All-Girl Squad better. The only aspect of appeal is the fact they have to run a maid café. OK, as mentioned, there is a tremendous amount of fan service in this show, as most of the ladies do sport some tasty desserts, but the core tale (becoming better to defeat the forces of darkness) takes a back seat to the antics and histrionics.
But I would suggest at least taking a look at it. You might find it a change of pace. I just wish it would decide what it really wanted to be than trying to be all things to all people.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Even with the ink blots)
Plot 6 (A lack of urgency)
Pacing 7 (Gets hung up with its own whimsy)
Effectiveness 7 (Needs a better payoff)
Conclusion 8 (It ends, but it gets to a coupler point)
Fan Service 8 (A similar show would be “Sekerei”)
Overall 7 (It just misses)
And remember, it’s first run until you see it. Welcome home, master.