Ikki Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor
A young girl named Mouki Bachou, a feckless (and reckless) brat bent on revenge, finds she needs to gain fighting experience, and after a brief flirtation with the Seito girls, settles on Hakufu as her master. Later, she joins about half our cast on a bogus sea journey into peril.
After experimenting with a more conventional (and more sentimental) story structure with Great Guardians, Xtreme Xecutor returns to the conventions of the first two seasons: rivalries between the schools are once again an important driving force; battles once again can be fatal; and the idea that these kids might be bound by the personalities (and grudges) of their antecedents from 1800 years ago returns with a vengeance.
There are a couple of things about this series in general, and the last two seasons in particular, that I've been pondering. One thing that I've always found interesting about Ikki Tousen is that for all its "Xtreme" fanservice, it's never really been a harem show. The male who seems to have the most success with women here is- well, a sexual molester and a scoundrel who's conducted, or helped to conduct, two horrible plots against his own team. (He's pleaded necessity both times. Right.) On the other hand, the show's "nice guy", who'd be the sultan of the harem in any other show is- well, I'll consider him a little later. We'll just say that Ikki Tousen is about as cynical about the "rewards" of virtue as anything I've ever seen.
The flip side of this is that when virtue IS cited as a motivation for actions here, it comes off as being a tad hypocritical. (Here I'm considering in particular this season, and the Great Guardians season.) I can understand why our cast doesn't like to be forced to fight to advance someone's scheme; on the other hand, when a character says "We fight for our future!", I have to point out that that's just bogus; our cast is not at all that high-minded. Face it, they'll attack each other on at the drop of a hat, and sometimes over the pettiest of slights; the centerpiece battle of the included OVA is a case in point. (We'll get to that later.)
Speaking of our cast, Xtreme Xecutor doesn't quite have a cast of thousands, but it's beginning to feel like it. Just about everyone from the previous three seasons of the show is here; even the characters introduced in Great Guardians get a little screen time (and show a lot of skin, of course), though in a non-combat role here. Moutoku Sousou's Kyosho School is once again in the fray, though it's much diminished from the days of Dragon Destiny. One of the two characters of particular interest this season in Kyocho, of Kyosho (the similarities of names in this show has always been annoying.) You may remember Kyocho as the laconic, taciturn, very tall girl in the athletic uniform from Dragon Destiny. Xtreme Xecutor does a surprisingly good job of conveying her thoughts and feelings despite the fact that her stoicism outdoes Mr. Spock's.
The other character of note is Mouki Bachou, the polar opposite of Kyocho: impetuous to the point of recklessness; oblivious to her own limitations (until they bring her crashing down); a leaping, kicking disaster (to herself as well as others) in pink sneakers. She does grow a bit during the series; perhaps she even finds acceptance somewhere.
I will also note the continuing haplessness of Koukin. He's still the most ethical, and one of the more reflective, of the series' characters, and a competent (if lackluster) fighter; but his romantic prospects have literally been negative-one since Great Guardians, he's not very charismatic, and Mouki declares him "goldfish poop" vis a vis Hakufu. (For those unfamiliar with this quaint Japanese metaphor: goldfish often swim around with a string of their own excrement still attached to their bodies. So the term is used to describe apparently useless or boring people who are always accompanying some charismatic individual.) It's not much fun sometimes to be the straight man; sometimes you don't even get much respect.
The artwork is as good (and colorful) as ever, though the music, as usual, I did not find particularly outstanding. (I thought the closing ballad in Dragon Destiny was OK.) On the other hand, Xtreme Xecutor somehow outdoes ANY of the other installments in the fanservice department. Kan'u, in particular, seems to spend considerably more time breasts-bare than breasts-clothed. Even the younger girls have their barechested moments, which made me feel uneasy. Lots of panty shots too. If you're only in the show for that sort of thing, you won't be disappointed.
The DVD package also includes a 45-minute OVA, Shugaku Toshi Keppu-Roku, in which all three major schools are off to Kyoto seeking spiritual energy tokens called Tsubas. Two things are notable here- we finally get an explanation for why there are no innocent bystanders hurt during fighter melees; and a classic clothes-destroying Ikki Tousen battle erupts between Kan'u and Hakufu (the one I mentioned above.)
Also included in the DVD set are six shorts called Six Dreamy Views. The shorts included in the previous sets have been rather pointless and stupid, but a couple of the ones this time at least had some clever moments.
On the whole, with its consistently good art and production values, off-the-wall plotting, well-realized (and eccentric as hell) lead characters, and of course its battles that leave no blouse unshredded, this series remains the Queen of the catfight shows. Xtreme Xecutor also represents an improvement in some ways (or at least a return to its classic form) from Great Guardians (though I did love Chubo); it's just doesn't quite achieve the cosmic, apocalyptic quality of Dragon Destiny. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Look, it's hard to make the case that "all characters depicted in the nude are over 18" (or 17, or even 16) when they include the likes of Mouki; Ten'i, the religious-fanatic child assassin from Dragon Destiny; and Saji (the OTHER one, from Great Guardians.) DEFINITELY not for kids. It's quite a bit more violent this time than Great Guardians was, but that's more in the nature of a return to form.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Ikki Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor © 2010 Yuji Shiozaki/Wani Books/ Ikkitousen XX Partners
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