Shin Ikki Tousen (2014-2021)
The world (including, of course, all the Fighters) is under attack by a young woman named Himiko (of Yamashiro Academy; even if they want to rule the world, or unleash armies of the dead, everyone's high school affiliation is important here.) Our Fighters (high school students possessed by the spirits of Chinese figures from 1800 years ago), after a raid that involves stealing their Sacred Beads (and some swords as well), mobilize in response, but chief heroine Hakufu has somehow lost her mojo. (Even her Water Dragon is all wet.)
I suppose this is as much progress report as review, since this thing is not finished, and who knows when it WILL be. But Extravaganza Epoch (2 OVAs, 2014), Western Wolves (2 OVAs, 2019), and Shin Ikki Tousen (3 OVAs, 2021) are the sequential pieces of a storyline involving Himiko and her hijinks, and it STILL stops well short of the story's climax. I'm adopting the Shin title for all the parts of the story released so far.
But then, the story has never really been the main draw of Ikki Tousen anyway; it's always been the bare breasts and panties, and don't worry, this one has the full complement of that. Everything's graphically depicted, except the pubes, per Ikki Tousen specs.
Extravaganza Epoch and Western Wolves, besides continuing the show's love of alliteration, are less Hakufu-specific; her power fizzle has left her pretty much marginalized even by her own Nanyo Academy crew. (I love Nanyo's motto here: "Improve oneself, and crush the rest.") I was a little bit surprised by the sudden proliferation of swords in the story, since the only chronic sword-wielder I remembered from previous chapters was the still-unflappable Shiryuu Chou'un, from Seito Academy's camp. But now we have swords all over the place, including ones that, per Arthurian tradition, can only be removed from confinement, and wielded, by just the right person.
The show's few male leads get pretty much marginalized as well- or worse. They pretty much disappear entirely in the third (Shin Ikki Tousen) OVA series. Saji and Gakushu, from Nanyo, get not much more than cameos. Poor Moutoku Sousou, the leader of Kyosho Academy and once a menace, ends up the worst off he's ever been. Well, at least Kakoton (the guy with the eyepatch, also from Kyosho) ends up OK; he even gets to haul around Seito's leader Gentoku Ryuubi for a while (she's more pacifist now than ever), and does it WITHOUT getting killed by an insanely jealous Uncho Kan'u, so yay for him.
People who've read my previous reviews of other installments of this show know that I've bemoaned the chronic abuse of Koukin Shuyu, Hakufu's would-be protector, AND the most sensible and ethical person here (if possibly the weakest fighter.) In Western Wolves he once again proves that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, as his reward for trying to keep everyone safe and on-track is to have one teammate fall on him, another physically attack him, and everyone laugh at him. And yet, perversely, I found these the most engaging scenes in the whole thing under review here- well, along with the appearances of a new girl, another sword-wielder named Shinmen Takezou. She's pink-haired, has her face partially covered by bandages, and, unlike the others, does not even keep up a pretense of sanity; she's a lunatic through and through, though maybe the only person here who's absolutely honest when another character tries to bring up deep philosophical matters. (The show gets a bit pretentious at times, somehow particularly inappropriate when the folks considering all these weighty issues are teenagers mainly engaged in tearing each other's clothes off.)
The third installment here, Shin, begins with the introduction of Hakufu's sister Chubo- we hope the REAL sister Chubo, since the one in Great Guardians was an impostor. Hakufu's gotta recover her powers to save the girl, so she makes a mystical journey (at one point ferried across a body of water, though her ferryperson is a little old lady rather than Charon) to a place called Jofukuin. Or maybe it was Yomotsu Hirasaka? OR maybe Yomotsu Hirasaka is a place IN Jofukuin? I got a little confused about the geography, but I felt the narrative thread pretty much fell apart here anyway. (Yes, I know, "Who needs a narrative thread when you've got battling near-naked girls?". I understand this.) There's a scheme going on in these very parts to release evil spirits of the dead from the Underworld. So Who Let The Deads Out? The blame is assigned to Himiko again, though exactly HOW this advances her overall plan (whatever THAT is, but we'll come back to this) is pretty unclear. We're introduced to a couple of girls who guard the Gate to the Underworld, one of whom wears a knit cap, scarf, and a sweater. I guess, despite what we were told, the Underworld is a pretty cool place after all. (Don't worry, she'll lose almost all the clothing soon. They ALL do.) The really weird thing about this is that despite the seeming remoteness of the place (Hakufu's boat trip, remember?), apparently there's an exit conveniently located near the ryokan where most of our allied fighters are staying.
Other things from my notes:
- Ryo'fu once again makes an appearance. That girl has had more resurrections from the dead than Jason in the Friday the 13th movies. No matter how valiantly she tries to remain dead, she just can't manage it somehow.
- I read the Wiki article on Ikki Tousen, and apparently Hakufu was much less ditzy in the manga than she is in the anime. AND she had maybe a deeper connection to the (much-abused-in-the-anime) Koukin as well.
- Kan'u, once again, completely forgets to wear a skirt for a considerable period of time. Great with a lance, but lousy memory for getting dressed.
- Himiko took the beads and swords because "When three sacred treasures are gathered, it will appear." The other "sacred treasure" is apparently a mirror. There's something disturbingly familiar here...
The Rec is once again this show's main competition.
Except for Koukin's humiliation (I DO feel for the guy, but hard luck and abuse do have a certain dramatic fascination), AND for Takezou's madness (in which much wisdom lies), I wasn't that engaged here. But still, the show delivers what many of its fans like best, and they will probably not be bothered at all by the fact that the story is incomplete. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: We've exactly what every other installment has: rampant explicit nudity, along with occasional bloody violence. Let's go R (16+).
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (7/7)
Shin Ikki Tousen (2014-2021) © 2021 Yuji Shozaki/Shonengahosha/Shin-Ikkitousen Partners
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