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Brave 10 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 04 April 2012 10:04

Sometimes you start a show without any real expectation of getting much out of it, and Brave 10 would be one of those shows. On the surface something for the fangirl / fujoshi crowd (manly men doing manly things, with one or two notable exceptions), it doesn't exactly do anything to make it stand out from the crowd. But it isn't entirely hopeless, either...

The Warring States era, where rumour has it that Yukimura Sanada has been gathering ten warriors known as Sanada's Brave 10, who have the power to change history and take down the Tokugawa empire. Isanami, Priestess of Izumo, is on her way to speak with Yukimura, but it seems that some people are very keen to ensure that she doesn't reach her destination. She's fortunate, then, that her path crosses with that of swordsman Saizo, who reluctantly takes on the role of her protector, and ultimately becomes the first of Sanada's Braves.

Over the course of the next 6 episodes or so, the series then goes on a hero-of-the-week (or sometimes two heroes) while the rest of the band is built up - a development which of course attracts the shoguns attention - before moving on to giving the Braves something to actually do. Other than argue. This show has a lot of arguing. For me, most of the band of twelve faded into obscurity as soon at their introductory episodes were out of the way, with only a few standing out: Saizo, by virtue of being the first and likely strongest of the bunch; main female of the bunch Ana, of clearly foreign origin and unknown motivation; and Kamanosuke, a thief with a real taste for blood and of very ambiguous gender - the series has great fun teasing with the subject of whether their a "he" or a "she", and it's a question that's never really resolved. Beware of the (potential) trap.

To round the core cast out, there's obviously Yukimura himself, a big man with big ambitions and a definite sense of fun about him; and the priestess Isanami, who bears within her a darkness that could destroy the world, should it fall into the wrong hands - a sure indication that the wrong hands will absolutely try to get hold of her, which leads to the all-hands-on-board confrontation between good and evil that rounds out the series.

I've never been much of a fan of this sort of "period" action series - historical Japan doesn't hold much interest for me, and shows set there have a tendency to boost up their heroes and villains with unlikely special abilities that leave me cold. Brave 10 plays with the latter idea a little - the Braves do each have their own unique abilities - but they're not overplayed to the extent they are in, say, Basilisk, so I can live with that.

Where the series did impress - and enough to stop me from dropping what would otherwise be a fairly unremarkable show - is the sense of fun it has about itself. Yukimura and his Braves really aren't taking any of this seriously - despite the world-ending potential of Isanami's powers, you never get the feeling that the world is really at stake. Instead, it's just a group of warriors out for a bit of a bust-up, and having fun while doing it. It's hard to describe in a way that really catches the feel that the series has, though, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

That said, a good sense of fun will only take a series so far, and Brave 10 doesn't push far past "okay, I'm getting a few laughs out of this...". Part of that can be explained by my natural wariness of this sort of show in the first place, but even compared to other shows with a similar leaning - you could probably bracket Sengoku Basara with it, for example, although that plays out on a much larger scale - it lacks ambition, and the fun to be had from Brave 10 is nothing more than a short-live sugar rush that'll quickly be forgotten about.

Rating - ***