Thursday, April 7, 2011

F1RST IMPRESSIONS: Battle Girls - Time Paradox

The Spring 2011 anime season has begun, and it couldn't have happened a day sooner! Now that the birds are back and the buds are starting to bloom, we're taking a new approach to seasonal reviews here at AniMaybe. We'll hit you with our impressions regarding the first episode, then update you with impressions in the middle of each season.

Today, we introduce Battle Girls - Time Paradox, an anime TV series from TMS Entertainment.

Storyline: 0

There have been historical figures from the Warring Period of Japan reformatted as buxom cookie-cutter harem figures in Hyakka Ryôran Samurai Girls, as well as reincarnated through possessions of school girls in Jûbei-chan. We've even seen some loosening of interpretations of character to produce parodies in Tono to Issho. All we need now is to step back in time and completely obliterate history by making significant figures such as Nobunaga Oda and Ieyasu Tokugawa indistinguishable from beer poster models.

Battle Girls - Time Paradox (Sengoku Otome - Momoiro Paradox) takes the easy way out in its first episode by turning the Warring Period into a version of Wizard of Oz. Hideyoshino (or Yoshino Hide, if that's her full name) is a bauble-haired high-school student who has a knack for having trouble find her, preferring cell phones over study. Instead of hitting the books, she takes the easy way out by getting a charm at a nearby shrine, only to get caught in a sort of Shinto ceremony. Next thing she knows, Hideoyoshino stumbles into a fiery battle between factions and thinks she's found her friend from school, only to realize that the purple-haired girl is a general for Nobunaga Oda, who is seeking an armor to help her dominate the country. "Hideyoshi" mistakes this as merely some attempt to collect pieces as if they were gatchapon machines and decides to help until she can find her way home (or at least cell range).

Yes, barring the trivial things, this is exactly the same plot device as Fushigi Yûgi—ditzy girl without much motivation jumps time and space, finds herself in strange land, and helps a stranger gather a posse in the process. No, nothing more needs to be said about a storyline so recycled that it's decomposing.

Animation: 2

The animation has its moments when the background is meant to be meticulous, typical for a show that relies on relics and architecture to associate the story with the era. However, once the show requires movement, there's nothing all that exceptional about it. Background characters are bland and unimportant, color left for the main characters, while the animation itself feels as jittery as Hideyoshi's train ride. You get some CG for the dramatic points, but this is a step back from average.

Characters: 2

Nothing spectacular about the T&A people in the show either. Hideyoshi is what you get when you infuse Miaka from Fushigi Yûgi with even more of Usagi's personality than before, and Oda is a lot more Naga the Serpent than Nobunaga, almost passing as a stand-in for Queen's Blade. There's no doubt that future characters who resemble Hideoyoshi's friends will be revealed, only chestier. The saving grace may be the talking dog at the end of the episode who asks Hideyoshi in a gruff, dramatic voice, "Who the hell are you?"

Track: 2

Pretty much the soundtrack to any Samurai Shodown game, perhaps with the guitar and koto tracks raised in volume. The voices themselves aren't great, although Hideyoshi's voice actress, Rina Hidaka, is a little more reasonable and less squeaky when she's required to speak normally. The songs are sung decently in the opening and ending themes, even though I could do without the "naked-characters-hidden-in-strategic-areas-by-[noun]" montage.

"Hype": 2

The only real thing that Battle Girls has going for it is the fact that it, much like Rio: Rainbow Gate! before it, is an adaption from a pachislot machine series developed by Heiwa. The series has likely already made its money from Japan's gambling addiction, so the anime is just the cherry on top. Even though it's being produced by anime veterans TMS Entertainment, the expectations are already pretty low to start, although the fact that Rio: Rainbow Gate! pretty much obliterated minds with its ridiculousness does provide some sort of standard.

Overall: 8/25
I'm not sure what the appeal is when it comes to turning heroes from the past into cute maidens and scantily-clad women, especially since Battle Girls isn't the first to do it. I suppose it doesn't translate well into other cultures—if someone were to give Ulysses S. Grant a sex change and a pair of immense mammaries, all while treating it as a non-parody, I'd be concerned about that person's mindset and the resulting backlash from historians. At least Jûbei-chan knew it was meant to be funny and treated as parody, but I don't think the memo has gotten to everybody yet.

If Battle Girls - Time Paradox is successful this season, it will find it in the same manner Hideyoshi finds trouble—by accident.

(Battle Girls - Time Paradox is simulcast on Crunchyroll every Saturday at 9:30 PM EST.)

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