The summer's here with a (somewhat) full slate of new shows, so AniMaybe kicks off its Summer 2011 preview with a look at Manyû Hikenchô, an adaption of the samurai action manga written by Hideki Yamada and animated by Hoods Entertainment.
As a collective of animation fans, we really shouldn't be surprised when creators and producers collaborate on a project for the sake of titillating males. Whether it be live-action or animated, breast jokes and sexual pratfalls have been done for many years and probably will be done for many more. Unsurprisingly, the mix of this sort of campy action and seductive storytelling has already made its way into samurai "drama" B-movies. If you want any sort of evidence, I would suggest you check out any of the Kunoichi Ninpôchô series to see what I mean. (Keep in mind, while the trailer is safe for YouTube, it's still pretty darned suggestive. NSFW if your boss is sensitive to these things.)
Breasts that fire bolts of electricity and plumes of fire? Black holes that pop up between thighs? When Pat Benetar suggested we stop using "Sex As A Weapon", she might have been looking into the future at Manyû Hikenchô, the latest venture in animated samurai-era soft porn.
In the case of Manyû Hikenchô (lit. Secret Scroll of the Magic Breasts), we're not just talking about a society that battles with breasts in mind, but we're talking a whole Tokugawa shogunate setting where fame and luxury come from being endowed with cantaloupes the size of Mt. Fuji. Those with washboards for chests are doomed to live a life of poverty and humility. So sayeth the Manyû clan, a ruling family that possesses secret techniques to make mounds mountainous and the power to reduce a woman's breast size through swordcraft.
However, the inheritor of the clan's secrets, the tomboyish samurai Chifusa, doesn't see such endowments as being restricted merely to the upper class. She defects from the Manyû clan one night, only to fall wounded from a bridge, shot by her own stepsister Kagefusa. Chifusa sees the damage that her own family has done to the women of Japan who have had their breasts shrunk and vows to use her mystical sword to take the power away from the Manyû clan. Of course, possessing the secret scroll of the Manyû means that every time Chifusa magically wipes out a woman's J-cups, her own jugs inflate from all that stolen power. Hyuk hyuk.
Or...at least we think she's squeezing them. See, this show has been animated by Hoods Entertainment and directed by Hiraku Kaneko, two entities who were responsible for the production of Seikon no Qwaser. Perhaps due to reputation of the craft alone, a good majority of the screen is invaded by glowing beams of Censorlight™ when the boobies come out to play. While this form of censoring has been used before, it gets so intrusive that characters appear as if they came from the movie Cocoon, glowing to the point of being unidentifiable. It's due to this interference that the show loses all animated meaning, and the (partially) decensored version on TV-Tokyo's anime satellite channel AT-X only eliminates the bars over the breasts (which look rather disfigured from their gargantuan sizes).
Overall Rating: 5/25
There's got to be a story somewhere in Manyû Hikenchô, but it seems that producers and directors are happy to have people ogling at the initial concept than the actual direction of the show. The characters, outside of the honorable Chifusa, are poorly refurbished and recycled, only there to show off their flesh at the drop of a yukata. Perhaps there just might be a little bit of an ode to the ridiculous nature of the Kunoichi Ninpôchô movies, but this show is merely an X-rated version of the Highlander series, Chifusa cutting down the competition and collecting breast cup sizes until she's the biggest one left.
Thankfully, no one has picked Manyû Hikenchô up for the season, and I suggest no one should. If I wanted to see a misogynous show with martial arts, bad acting, and a flurry of gratuitous breast flashes, I would have picked up Cheerleader Ninjas.