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[R1 DVD art]
AKA: グレネーダー ~ほほえみの閃士~ (Grenadier: Hohoemi no Senshi), Grenadier: The Smiling Senshi
Genre: Feudal japanese western - no, seriously.
Length: Movie, 12 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Formerly licensed by Media Blasters
Content Rating: 12+ (fanservice, violence, death)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Ranma 1/2, Scrapped Princess, Noir. (Grenadier is all these shows after being run through a blender)
Notes: Based on the manga by Kaise Sousuke, which is published in North America through Tokyopop.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars
 

Grenadier

Synopsis

Rushuna Tendo, a top pistol marksman, is travelling the lands in a journey to learn the ultimate battle strategy; to make people lose their will to fight by smiling and ... uh ... putting their heads in between her breasts.

But, as she travels, Rushuna finds herself hunted, apparently by the same order who taught her the ultimate strategy of removing the enemies' will to fight by holding their heads to her bosom. Something smells rotten in the capital of the land, and Rushuna might have to put her smile aside as she, along with her allies, battles her way into the heart of trouble.


Review

Matrix meets Young Guns, both who meet ... uh, well, I don't know a good samurai flick which to use as an example, so just bear with me here. Anyway, a samurai/western action movie? Who'd a-thunk it?

You see, while the show starts out with a general samurai warfare attack on some nondescript castle, the show doesn't take long in introducing the main character, Tendo Rushuna. Rushuna is, as I mentioned in the synopsis, travelling around on a journey of learning, and it's by a hotspring that the other main character, the mercenary Kojima Yajiro, meets up with the rather naked and apparently nonchalant Rushuna. She hides Yajiro from his pursuers by squishing his face between her breasts (and quite substantial breasts at that) as she leads the bandits in pursuit on a wild goosechase by pointing them in the wrong direction. Yajiro, for natural reasons, is quiet the entire time. So, after she puts on her clothes, that's when Yajiro notices her gun. And later on, as he witnesses her skills with said gun, he refers to her as a senshi; a gun master.

I'll admit it right now, it didn't take me long to develop a liking to Rushuna as a character, and I can honestly say that this is not because of the fanservice she provides or that she would give the Divergence Eve girls a run for their money by her chest size. She's cheerful and optimistic to a fault, and her drive to settle anything in as non-violent as possible way is a big plus, though she doesn't resist getting serious when the situation requires it. Of course, that's when things start getting a tad ridiculous, but I'll get back to that in a little while.

Kojima Yajiro, on the other hand, is the show's cynical mercenary. He finds Rushuna's ideals farfetched and non-realistic to begin with, but eventually decides to tag along with her after she succeeds by herself in doing what an entire team of mercs failed to do. They have a rather nice chemistry thing going, though don't expect anything resembling a budding romance starting up between them, as I saw no sign of that in the show's entire run.

It's perhaps that chemistry that made me so irritated when Kurenai Mikan, aka "the brat", showed up. Like too many shows before, her only role seemed to bring "comedy relief" -- in the form of her badgering of Yajiro, of course -- to the series. And, like any brat in these kinds of shows that I've seen so far, she's sassy, rude and irritating to a fault. Can you say "third wheel"?

Artwise, this show is pretty nice. Character designs are good (HURR HURR) and the animation is decent enough for a TV show. The CG, which -- aside from simulating cel animation -- is also used for things like explosions and various firearm slow-motion scenes. This is where the Matrix comparison I mentioned earlier comes into play -- bullet-time effect and all, and also where the show takes a turn towards the extremely exaggerated.

Basically, if you're looking for realistic handling of firearms, you'd be better off with another show. The gunfight scenes here are ridiculous, to put it mildly. Rushuna has the ability to shoot rapidly, applying non-fatal shots to several soldiers at long distance... without looking in the direction she's aiming. She has the ability to twirl away from gatling gun fire and shoot other bullets out of the air. Later on, as she faces the ten sages, things get even more out of hand. And don't get me started on her reloading technique, which I won't say anything about now -- except that there's apparently a reason Rushuna's chest is huge, outside of giving us guys something to stare at. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) Anyway, lack of realism aside, I found the whole thing rather amusing. In fact, I would have to admit some of the last fights are pretty cool. Your mileage may vary, of course, but complaining about this is like complaining about the roof-hopping in Crouching Tiger or the arrow-deflecting scene in Hero. It's not SUPPOSED to be realistic, just to be something you sit back and enjoy for what it is.

One of my friends and fellow reviewers mentioned that the show seemed to have a problem with its pacing near the end of its run. The more I think about it, the more I agree with the sentiment, and it marks one of the few problems I had with the whole thing. It started out slowly enough, taking its time to introduce the main characters. (The brat not appearing until the middle of the show.) And then, it spends just as many episodes practically rushing through the rest. I don't think we even got to meet more than half of the ten sages -- thus being cheated out of a few fights -- and the revelation at the end could have been embellished some more. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that Grenadier was originally supposed to feature more episodes, but were cut short for various (probably economical) reasons. This is just a guess, though, so don't quote me on it.

Oh well. I'd be hard pressed to deny my enjoyment of this series. it doesn't bring much to the table aside from nice scenery, amusingly exaggerated gunfights, interesting characters and gigantic knockers some light fanservice, mainly provided by Rushuna. (I almost choked on my lemonade when she calmly professed her age to be 16. It's the truth. I swear!) If all this sounds good to you, I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to enjoy this show as well.

(Lighthearted and fun. Remove a star if you like realism in your helping of anime)Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: Well, Rushuna seems to have a penchant for baths and hot springs, which means nudity of the non-explicit variety. There are also a lot of battles and fights, which does lead to red shirt death and bleeding wounds. Things never get really messy, though, so the show is probably fine for teenagers.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Grenadier © 2004 Sousuke Kaise / Kadokawa Shoten / Grenadier Project
 
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