For 1800 years the seven schools of Kantou have fought over supremacy of the land. Their students constantly fight each other in battles to prove their strength. Sonsaku Hakufu is a 17 year old girl that just transferred to Nanyou Academy, and at her arrival, finds herself fighting one of its top 4 fighters. But Sonsaku possesses a soulstone which contains the spirit of a great fighter, and she is not an easy match. When an order is issued to defeat Sonsaku, she finds herself in all out war against all of the schools top fighters. What lies behind this dark conspiracy?
When I first read the synopsis of Ikki Tousen, a.k.a Battle Vixens, I thought it’d be a cool martial arts tournament style anime with a little fan service. The truth of it was that my first impression was flipped. It was a little marital arts with a lot of fan service. Now as some of you may know, I don’t have a problem with fan service in anime if it’s done right but this is a case where not only was it not done well at all but it really just felt unnecessary. The storyline is very sporadic and hardly ever makes any sense. You’re given a villain and then suddenly he’s not that important anymore and then there’s a huge tournament….that lasts for maybe two episodes. It just felt like the show wanted to try several things out and then decided to scrap it mid show. The fights were rarely interesting and the people who were supposed to be the strongest fighters were defeated like they were little kids but then suddenly one hit anyone after that. The silver lining of the show was that there were some decently funny parts scattered throughout the series. They were genuinely funny to me but still for a martial arts anime the comedy shouldn’t be the drawing point. I don’t know, if I had to describe how I feel about the story after watching Ikki Tousen I’d have to say I’m disappointed because it had premise but didn’t bother even trying to capitalize on it.
As like the story, the characters of Ikki Tousen are a disappointment. The best thing about them is that it seems that the illustrator went out of their way to make sure every character was attractive in some fashion or another. I guess if you’re going to focus solely on fan service you’d want to make sure the characters are at least attractive. Hakufu is a complete and total air head. She’s actually where a majority of the comedy comes from when she fights with her mother but in all honestly she gets annoying when she fights. People hype her up and then she always gets destroyed because she doesn’t even know basic fighting techniques and just relies on watching others fight to learn how to fight. I found the other main character, Kokin, to be even more annoying. He’s supposed to be Hakufu’s protector but he’s just an average fighter. He’s really more of a liability and the only purpose he serves is punching bag for the bad guys so Hakufu can get angry and defeat them and also to have a hint of romance towards Hakufu but never do anything. My favorite character was probably another lead character named Shimei Ryomo. She starts out as a major bitch but then grows fond of Hakufu and Kokin and actually contributes to the cause. Like every other character, though, she’s pretty much reduced to just fan service by the end of the show. I normally would go into the supporting characters but to be honest they all just blend together in one big wring of boobs and abs and don’t ever really stand out. You’ll be hard pressed to find a character in Ikki Tousen that you like for just the character and not for the looks.
The soundtrack was a little dated(the show came out in 2003) but it was probably a hit soundtrack for the time. I personally didn’t really like it. The opening song called “Driving Through the Night” by m.o.v.e was a song with female pop vocals and male rap vocals. The lyrics had nothing to do with the show itself so I really question the decision unless it was a hit song in Japan in 2003 but that’s my only guess. The ending was called “Let Me Be With You” by Shela. It was a slow paced emotional pop song. It was my favorite out of the two songs but to be honest it still wasn’t all that great. At the very least it at least somewhat fit the theme of the show. Much like the show I just found the soundtrack very disappointing overall. The music producer was Hiroshi Motokura who’s work can also be heard in Gun Frontier, Majuu Sensen: The Apocalypse, and Harmagedon. I’m not sure about his other soundtracks but this one is definitely not one to write home about in my opinion.
The voice acting in Ikki Tousen wasn’t all that great to be honest. You can definitely tell it’s dated. I tried to consider that when watching but even when I did that I just didn’t think, as a whole, that the acting was well done. Well with that being said let’s get into the cast. The leads were Carrie Savage(Hakufu), Ted Sroka(Kokin), and Rebecca Soler(Shimei). Carrie Savage is probably the most well known out of the leads today. She actually doesn’t do so bad as Hakufu but she had her work cut out for her making a character like that good. In fact that’s how I really feel about the entire cast. The cast itself wasn’t bad but when you consider how long ago this was done and just the overall quality of the show you kind of have to give them some slack. I will note that another voice actor in the show who’s pretty popular today is Sam Riegal who plays Totaku. I can kind of see that this show might have been some of these actors starting points or first big leads. As I said when you watch the show hold back your expectations on the show itself and that includes the quality of voice acting. I’m not trying to slam any of the voice actors here but this may not be the best example of quality voice acting.
Ikki Tousen is really all fan service and no substance. Fan service anime can have great stories and be entertaining but this is not one of them. If you’re a history buff interested in the novel “The Three Kingdoms” then you may find some things interesting as the show revolves around that novel. There just isn’t a whole lot to say about this show. Ikki Tousen isn’t the worst anime I’ve seen but it’s definitely down there so with that being said I’m giving Ikki Tousen a 5.5/10!