R4 DVD Reviews
Saturday, 05 August 2006 00:00
What can be better than a damn good ninja-girl series? A ninja-girl series in a handy yet cheap complete collection, this one courtesy of Madman (Geneon are also due to release a Region 1 set, but it'll be a tad more expensive). If the first season of Jubei-chan the Ninja Girl caught your attention, then The Counterattack of Siberia Yagyu should really be a no-brainer...
For the full episode summaries and detailed reviews, check the individual disc reviews which are linked at the bottom of the page. Akitaro Daichi's shows are nearly always worth a look, thanks to his completely off-the-wall sense of humour - it's something that permeated the first Jubei-chan series and went a long way to making it as enjoyable as it was. You'd think, then, that having a second series that was noticeably darker in tone would run the risk of gutting the show of its soul and lead to a howl of protest from fans. Not a bit of it.
The story here revolves around the appearance of Freesia Yagyu, the real daughter of the man himself (thanks to a very unlikely spell in the freezer), who has come to claim the Lovely Eyepatch as her own. Jubei would be quite happy to let her have it, were it not for the continual interventions of Ayunosuke (the son of Koinusuke, and also remarkably well-preserved for his age) - and so battle is joined again as Jiyu is unwillingly hauled into battle against someone who's quite prepared to kill her.
It's that constant spectre of something truly nasty happening that really darkens the tone. In the first series, no-one really got hurt - they fought, but being cut by Jubei just led to freedom from a centuries-old curse and a new, happier life. Being cut by Freesia is very much the real thing, and people do get quite seriously hurt here. All of which makes the Tenkousei Lovelies Fan Club and their occasional attempts to introduce some humour feel seriously out-of-place - something that the characters even realise themselves, in some self-deprecating scenes. Makes you wonder why, if Daichi or the producers knew they didn't quite fit in, they left them there anyway. One of life's little mysteries.
The change in tone doesn't affect how watchable the series is, fortunately. Jiyu and Sai are still Jiyu and Sai, and their reactions to what goes on around them are mostly very believable (Sai slips out-of-character a little in places, but nothing too serious), while the action scenes are as beautifully choreographed as ever and a complete joy to behold. The ending has a good sense of finality about it, too - although you could have said that about season one as well, mind you.
Jubei-chan 2 was one of those series where I was chomping at the bit in anticipation for a long time before I ever saw it. After two times through, I'm most definitely not disappointed - absolutely worth seeing, especially if you were a fan of the original.
» Volume 1: Resurrection
» Volume 2: Vendetta
» Volume 3: Revelation
» Volume 4: Unification