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DVD Review: Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny Volume 1

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Wow, I do not know where to start with Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny. This rocked up in a package from Madman Entertainment and wasn't something I particularly asked to review. Nevertheless I thought I'd give it a try and I was introduced to the sillier, more perverse side of Japanese anime.

Ikki Tousen, based on a manga called Battle Vixens,  is a modern day-Japanese reworking of the classic Chinese tale 'The Romance of the Three Kingdoms'. Basically a bunch of Japanese high school kids are somewhat possessed, via special earrings, by participants of the original Three Kingdoms story. Their high schools represent the warring factions and to a certain extent the characters know their own fate as they walk a similar path to their ancient counterparts. There are leaders for each school and they possess special power, like dragons that lay dormant inside them. The schools battle each other and in some instances kill each other without a care for what the outside world thinks. There is plenty of deceit, back-stabbing, alliances and air-headed girls who aren't quite aware of the power they possess. Like I said it's a somewhat silly story which can be confusing at times because there are a lot of people involved. Nevertheless the story zips along fairly quickly with the four episodes on this disc seeming far shorter than the 100 minute run time. From what I can gather this volume actually delves deeper into some of the other characters that were briefly established in the first DVD so fans who enjoyed the first collection will find a lot to like in this one. It mainly focuses on the aggressive expansion of the Kyoshou Academy as its leader Sousou seeks to rule all the schools. 

So the silly part is explained now here comes the perverse. Ikki Tousen contains what is known as fan service, and lots of it. Fan service is basically stuff that doesn't add anything to the show and is put in for the enjoyment of the audience by either amusing or exciting them. Often this is done through the addition of sexually-explicit material and Ikki Tousen certainly has some of that. It's by no mean the worst Japanese anime but as far as mainstream anime goes it's far removed from your Naruto and Bleach animes. If you don't like exposed, overly large boobs and random female panty shots then you may not be able to sit through Ikki Tousen because it pretty much dominates the show. If you do like those things then Ikki Tousen can actually be a fun and mildly entertaining show. It makes fun of the fact that boobs are such a huge focus in the show while the action sequences are actually quite good. It takes a similar tone to shows like Naruto and Bleach where most of the characters are a specialist in a certain fighting style or weapon and they have special attacks and abilities. The difference is, when Hinata or Sakura are punched or kicked their overly large boobs don't pop out at the drop of a hat like they do in Ikki Tousen. Ikki Tousen doesn't quite stray into Hentai territory but there is some sex in this collection. By the end of the four episodes I actually found myself laughing at the fan service and trying to pick which female character would be the next to be exposed but some people will definetley be put off by the fan service. 

It was disappointing that the audio was only Dolby 2.0. As I said the fights are quite impressive and there were a few moments, like the scenes with the dragons, that would have sounded good in surround sound with a sub. The animation is good with the fight scenes really standing out. The image is really clear and uses some nice color work, like in the images shown. I did find a few instances where an action in one scene was hard to follow into another. For instance a plane flies overhead where two characters are fighting. One of the characters jumps, the plane flies overhead and she's gone. You assume she's jumped into the plane but you don't really know. These instances were only minor so they didn't really affect the show. The character designs, well, I'll let you judge for yourself whether they are any good. I will say that while faces and hair colors change, the general look of the girls are quite similar.

As far as special features go there are two OVAs which are fan service through and through with their main focus being boobs. It also contains a few trailers, a promotional video and a textless version of the opening and closing sequences. Its not a huge selection of special features but the OVAs should make fan service fans happy. 

Overall I can really only recommend this DVD to existing fans of the series or manga or people who appreciate fan service, especially of the sexual nature, in there anime. It lacks 5.1 audio and fan service is such a prominent part of the show that a lot of the fun and silliness in the show feeds off the fan service while the action isn't quite enough to overshadow the fan service.       

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