A fantasy story that pitches some most unlikely characters into a fantasy world and forces them to... strip hapless elf women naked?
Junpei, a muscle headed karate expert. Airi, an Oscar winning actress. Ritsuko, a military obsessed teenage girl. A T74 tank. And Celcia the elven elder who has to help them return to their own world. A simple fantasy plot you would thinks (or at least Junpei would), but when their quest involves searching for the fragments of a miss-cast spell the task proves somewhat more difficult, especially since these fragments have been imprinted on the bodies of various elf women across the land. Not only this but somehow the fantasy world seems to be very well equipped for the unusual party, but at least itís convenient, right? And, of course, not every elf is willing to disrobe right in front of them, so begins the quest to beg, trick, talk and bargain the elves out of their clothing. And if that fails? Junpei will just strip them anyway! ďIím sorry for ripping your clothes off!Ē
Iíve decided that, since these series are so similar, I might as well give them a single review. They are after all both straight out of the same mould, with very little difference between them, but thatís not really a bad thing at all. Essentially this is just a send up of fantasy stories in general, and despite the ridiculous premise it is plenty of fun. The whole thing is generally light hearted and very tongue in cheek, especially with Junpeiís references to not liking fantasy stories. In the first series this is just for silly fun, but itís practically an institution in the second. Occasionally, especially when the actual story in each series turns up, it does take a more serious turn, but that just helps give a little more depth to what otherwise is pretty much a one trick pony. The thing is, it is a very good trick.
Most of the episodes are stand alone stories, each telling us about a different elf encounter, which range from the silly to inventive, the confrontational to the heartfelt. In general, although overall itís pretty good, the best episodes of series one occur in the latter half of the series, with the encounters and scenarios becoming more inventive and thought provoking, not to mention that the actual plot and reasons for everything that has gone on happen in the last few episodes. The little plant elves in particular were a riot. Conversely the best of the second series occur in the first half of it, with the latter ones taking the whole fairy tale and piss take elements a little to far, going from and fun and silly to fun but stupid a little too often. It isnít helped that, while the final plotline is good and conflict ridden, it isnít really as well thought out as that of the first series when it plays out. It balances out though, and overall it may not have a high story quality, but it is great fun.
Despite the entire show revolving around seeing attractive elf women with no clothes on, there isnít actually any explicit nudity since they all pretty much try to cover themselves as fast as possible, and itís all done for comedy and nothing more. The violence is fairly frequent, with Ritsukoís gun obsession and Jupeiís martial arts plus the fact they have a tank, but again it is very very mild. Teens and up for this one, though more mature children would be okay, although they wouldnít get some of the more subtle jokes.
If there is a weak point in these seriesí it is the animation. Naturally the art quality for TV animation is not going to be the highest quality, but the fluidity of these ones is pretty low for a recent anime, and the art is not particularly subtle in its drawing, even if it does look okay for the most part. Colours are all bold unless they go out of the way to create atmosphere, and it looks pretty simpley done, especially on incidental animation. Thatís not to say it looks awful, far from it, itís just not the high quality people are coming to expect in anime, especially with some of the quality of work we are seeing now.
The dub overall is actually pretty good, but Iíll take it in two parts. For the first series they take a lot of liberties in making the English script. And by a lot I mean a *lot*! The thing is, it may send purists into a flaming rage, but it actually works really well. Some sections, such as the extreme example of Junpei chasing the ghost and her reactions to his proposals bares no relation to the original Japanese script, but it does mean they can update it for a western audience and add some additional humour. On of her reactions to Junpeiís trying to take her out of her clothes was ĎIím too embarrassed!í and became ĎIím a lesbian!í Not subtle and not Japanese, but in the context it really did work. They do it tongue in cheek, and have a good time with it.
The second series however stayed a lot truer to the original, and I personally think it had more times where it didnít work too well. It is still above average, but some times it just felt stilted, like they were fitting the words in more than acting them. While the first one could have made a sport out of watching the dub with the subtitles going at the same time, this just doesnít make you want to, and the incidental voices donít sound as good either. That said the main cast, especially Junpei and Celcia, are still often on top form. Overall this is a decent enough dub, but the second series just loses out to the first.
It doesnít look that great (a reason I put it off for as long as I did, sad to say), the idea is silly, and it certainly isnít anything particularly special. However, it is good simple fun and a lot of people will like it for what it is. Plus the fact that it was released at six episodes per DVD (making only four disks for both 12 part series!) and this is something that is well worth the money. It wonít change your world, but it will provide a great way to spend some time, especially when watched with friends.