On paper, Samurai Bride looks like it’ll shape up nicely. It’s set in a haunted fantasy of a samurai setting and promises a mix of comedy and action. On the subject of “shaping up nicely” there’s also plenty of fan action as the shapely girls of the samurai team set up their own Maid Café to earn some badly needed dosh.
It’s hard to work out quite why Samurai Bride doesn’t live up to its potential. I’ve not seen the original Samurai Girls and that may be the problem – sometimes the cast is a little daunting, with too many girls to keep track of, especially when they start pretending to be each other. This is a harem comedy.
In essence, Muneakira Yagyu and awaken the dominant samurai power in certain women by kissing them. This is very useful power and in the original anime that kissing was put to work on many girls who then went on to defeat an evil threat.
Samurai Bride starts with a new evil threatening to take over the land and now all that kissing combined with rumours of a super-powerful “Samurai Bride” level can mean only a trip down the aisle will become necessary to save feudal Japan this time. That’s part of the gag of the season – he’s already smooched the girls, now he has to pick one – but also perhaps part of the problem. We’ve already done the flirting, the teasing, and the fan service doesn’t waste any time when it comes to getting rid of clothes or into interesting positions.
The set-up is quite nice. The samurai girls are low on funds and so turn their dojo into a Maid Café. That barely opens before an even more powerful troupe of dark samurai girls turns up, kicks butt and essentially acts as a dark menace lurking just outside.
The plot doesn’t quite manage to zero in on that. Instead, we get distracted with various loops and side stories about the various girls. All too often it feels like an excuse to drop a new character into the limelight before moving on to the next. It’s easy to sit back and admire the jiggles of the girls but not so easy to enjoy the wibble-wobbles of the drama.
A surprising and delightful success of Samurai Bride are the ink plot and woodcut animation sequences that interlock the chapters. These are gorgeous. I think they point to all the fragments the failing plot dishes up between sexy samurai poses, though. I can’t think of an anime that has so many cuts within episodes.
Should you give Samurai Bride a go? If fan service around a troupe of kick-ass samurai girls catches your interest then it’s probably worth a punt. If you need a little glue in the form of an interesting plot, something to give you a bit of emotional attachment or interest in the women, then leaping into the sequel may be a mistake. Watch the original Samurai Girls first.
My copy of Samurai Bride Complete Collection was provided for review. The DVD and Blu-ray was published in the UK in July 2015 by Manga with a RRP of £24.99 or £34.99.
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