Warning: This post contains some NSFW imagery/nudity.
What’s the show? Senran Kagura: Shinovi Master, Episode 1.
And is there anything important I need to know about this show? It’s uncensored.
I had to ask, didn’t I; geez is that the only thing you ever think about? Anime of the season!
That’s not what I asked! So now that we got that out of the way. What are your actual thoughts on the show? Not just that it’s got nipples and you’re strangely obsessed with stuff like that. Anime of the season.
Be serious! I am being serious, this was my favourite premiere episode—maybe even more so than the unfortunately titled but otherwise excellent ‘Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai’. This first episode had everything I was expecting from a second season of Senran Kagura, without necessarily feeling like a second-season—and I mean that as a compliment. You could almost watch this episode without having any knowledge of the franchise, though I’d argue that some of the more dramatic scenes would lose the impact without prior knowledge of the characters.
Okay, you’ve given me a lot more to work with here, so this is a second season? Yes, the original Senran Kagura aired 5 years ago—which probably feels like an eternity ago for fans. I’m only a recent fan, having watched the original series a couple of months ago but I’ve always been aware of the series. The first season was very goofy with a lot of comedic moments and light-hearted fan-service; I enjoyed it, but fully admit that there wasn’t much narrative weight or drama to the series. This series feels like a dark and gritty reboot, albeit one that continues with the continuity of the first—or at the very least the character continuity. I haven’t played the games these are based on though so I can’t speak to the continuity regarding those.
“Dark and gritty reboot”? Okay maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, ‘dark and gritty’ compared to the original absolutely. But I should probably stop mentioning the original and focus on the episode at hand.
Please do, so what happens? Well Asuka is out and about with Yumi in Harajuku doing some last minute Christmas shopping and immediately I love the vibe this show is giving off—while I don’t hold as much fondness for Harajuku as I do Akihabara I still appreciate its unique charms and it was fun spotting all the places we visited in our trip there. They’re out shopping for fake cat ears for Asuka’s sister, then they go and get some pancakes—
Oh for sure, this definitely screams “dark and gritty”! Do they get photos taken in a photo booth next or is even that too edgy for this show? Well they eat some cotton candy as it starts to snow and it’s very pretty… but I was just trying to set the scene! So the rest of Asuka’s ninja clan (did I mention their ninjas? They’re ninjas, every main character in this show is) are confronted by a pair of ~evil~ twins who have some harsh words for these “good ninjas”. We don’t see what happens next but a little while later after Asuka and Yumi split up to find the cat ears they’ve misplaced and Asuka has a run in with these twins.
Do they share an ice-cream? No, its eluded to that some manner of harm has come to at least one, if not all of Asuka’s fellow ninjas as one of the twins shows a bloody ribbon that belonged to Hibari. They have a pretty brutal fight, especially for this show, knives are thrown, blood is spilled, poor Asuka is gut-punched, thrown into the side of car and left absolutely destroyed; her clothes torn her body defeated as she’s only left to ponder whether her friends are dead or alive. It’s a devastating and emotionally effective premiere that benefits from having a prior connection to these characters.
Okay, I admit, that’s pretty dark—at least by comparison—as you said. So do you think her friends are actually dead? Oh of course not. I mean they’re not going to kill off 4 main characters—I’d doubt this show would even kill off one, but that doesn’t negate the drama and impact of the moment.
You almost make this show sound like it’s worth watching. Did I mention all the nipples?
Gah! You had to go and ruin it didn’t you? Listen, I know you don’t like me talking about this, and probably most of my readers don’t either but the Senran Kagura franchise is kinda built on its fan service and it’d be neglectful of me not to mention the fan service in a review of it.
Fine then. Everyone who’s not interested can just skip this paragraph and go to the final thoughts one after? Make sure to get it out of your system, yeah? The fan service is very good, it’s not the best I’ve ever seen but it’s a lot better than the first season, which didn’t have any real nudity to speak of. We get a little tease fairly early on but the majority of it comes from the transformation scenes, which look great. There’s even some in the fight scene—which, could be some seen as potentially conflating sex with violence, but with the exception of a slow-motion panty shot it seemed more situation than exploitative. But that’s obviously up to one’s own personal preference on the matter.
So who do you recommend this for and need I even ask your final verdict? Anime of the season! Also, it’s safer to say this is strictly for fans of the first anime or the game, I don’t think anyone else is going to get much out of it otherwise. I also don’t know if the ~darker tone~ is going to carry through as the preview for the next episode seemed to be teasing some rather silly shenanigans, but if there’s any show out there that’s probably able to both be silly and serious it’s this one! Either way, I couldn’t be happier and look forward to the next episode!
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