To save the galaxy from impending doom, Cacao and Parfait are sent on a mission through time and space to retrieve the Fourth Warrior, Lamunes.
Unfortunately, Cacao and Parfait discover Lamunes at the helm of the marauding Giga Genos invasion fleet. World by world, Lamunes is determined to bring the entire galaxy under his tyrannical heel. With the help of a plicky orphan, it's up to Cacao and Parfait to stop Lamunes from taking over the world.
Once upon a time, there was a kids anime called VS Knight Lamune & 40. It was a simple and fun adventure series from 1991 that eventually spawned three OVA sequels and another TV series in 1996. This third OVA, the final chapter in the franchise, takes a hard left turn away from what this franchise was and decided to go down its own path.
There's a reason why people say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
The problems began no more than five minutes into episode 1, when I was introduced to the apparent main focus of this OVA: Ecchi. Now ecchi, in moderation, isn't
necessarily a bad thing, but the T&A in Knights of Ramune makes its presence known about as subtly as an air horn in a library. Not even the opening and first ending sequences are safe, with both featuring numerous pans of Cacao's and Parfait's assets. No amount of fan service was able to cover for the actual plot, which is your typical 'Save the world from impending doom' fare with more questions than answers. Why was Ramunes chosen as the Giga Genos leader? Why is he so adamant in taking over the galaxy? Why do Parfait and virtually every other woman have to be naked to pilot the mobile suits? Couple that with a plot twist that could be seen a mile away, and you have the makings of your textbook shoddy plot.
It's not easy to watch an anime when you can't sympathize for any of the characters, and Knights of Ramune is a prime example of this. We're given a slew of one dimensional characters, including our very own heroines, who are about as forgettable as they come. Attempts are made later to give some background to Ramunes and his lover Electone, but it's far too shallow and far too late to be able to save face. The seiyuu cast is no better, with Yuko Miyamura (Evangelion's Asuka) and Takeshi Kusao (Lodoss' Parn) among the bigger names who displayed flat performances.
There were, however, a few glimmers of goodness in this sea of mediocrity. The art and animation, in general, were decent. Though it was far from groundbreaking, it wasn't entirely atrocious either. Even though the first ending was a poor excuse to show more T&A, the second ending theme, "Hoshi Furuyoi no Monologue", was an enjoyable piece of vocal music, and I actually looked forward to hearing it as the second batch of episodes would end. After episode 4, the rampant ecchi is also taken back a bit, though it's far from enough to get this series out of the hole it dug itself.
Hardcore ecchi fans will get the most enjoyment from this series, but everyone else should stay far away. Make no mistake, Knights of Ramune is still a very poor OVA series and an even poorer representation of the Ramune franchise.
I like about 97.3 percent (calculated precisely) of everything I watch. Making these cartoons takes a lot of time and effort, and I am always amazed by the will of people to bring their creations to life. I feel that we all should give people the benefit of the doubt and look for the redeemable or at least the serviceable in everything.
But man…”Knights of Ramunes,” is just upsetting. This six-parter decides to take some tried and true anime tropes like robots, swords and tits (all among my favorite things) and mashes them together in a most unfortunate manner. Imagine if
someone took the VF-1 Valkyrie, the Sword of Omens and Tifa Lockhart and went full Seth Brundle with them. Pretty ugly. I was disappointed enough to write a review about how disappointed and wounded I was, seriously. Despite the opportunity to use this time to better myself or engage in helping with social ills I choose instead to use it to vent futile frustrations with a near-pornographic anime from twenty years ago. My priorities are obviously in order. I will admit that I saw it through to its end, but that might be just my own repressed masochism finding an outlet. Bonus points for keeping me abusing myself to the end.
The basic plotline concerns a pair of priestesses, Parfait, a novice, and Cacao, an adept, who are sent to investigate the destruction of worlds and the kidnapping of children by an unknown army of assailants. The show starts off well enough, we are promised a sexy romp where our heroines will frequently lose their clothes while engaging in some derring-do. While a viewer will get that in the loosest sense possible, there are dozens of moments of cringeworthy awfulness that simply HURT. Much of it comes from the fetishy material that is supposed to be the main draw here: it is among the most-unsexy I have ever seen. The fanservice is completely gratuitous and lacking the joy/humor of classics of the genre like “Golden Boy” or even “Agent Aika.” Why make a viewer titillated by providing gorgeously animated breasts when you can make them feel horrible about themselves instead?
The kidnappers are soon revealed to be led by Ramunes IV, a reincarnation of a hero that our heroines knew from the previous series (first spoiler: he is actually an unwitting imposter raised to fill the legendary heroes shoes), which I haven’t seen but can’t possibly be this bad. Flanking him is his harem of scantily-clad female mech-using-minions along with his shadowy master Don Vodka, who obviously privy to info we don’t have access to yet. The fact that the viewer KNOWS that he has information and the story wont let him spill it is downright infuriating in its own right because nothing noteworthy really happens until he does towards the end. By then we have had our fill of lackluster mech-battles and boner-killing "fanservice."
This is going to alienate the contingents of anti-sjw's and manosphere drones on here, but my biggest issue with this show is how the adult female characters are treated with such viciousness by this fucker Ramunes IV. It is to the point where any playful kinkiness is totally negated, holy cow; this guy is just a bastard! And one with a bad Yu-Gi-Oh! haircut! Whipping and a little rough-play can provide some naughty fun, but watching a total Caligula abuse his adoring groupies without an ounce of feeling for them is not my idea of hot. But then again, this is pretty much negative male sexual frustration personified. But, I guess I don’t get frustrated in this way and it just kinda freaks me out. On the other end we also are “treated” to the young sidekick girl, Lemon, positioned as a potential sex-object (her inclusion in the first closing theme is downright offensive! Look it up!) despite her looking like a five year old. But, there is an audience for that...and I am not among its ranks. So many of us are here because we love anime girls, and probably fell in love with one of them as children. They check off so many (admittedly backward) desires and cater to our every fantasy…but at the same time, we also still love to see them abused and hurt in incredibly terrible ways. Even as an adult I am not able to reconcile my adoration along with the ability to watch them be hurt in such a way. I would like to write about this further concerning some of the ultra-hardcore hentai stuff out there (which I admittedly watch), it is something I feel is important to ponder for those out there who get that feeling from time to time. The easy answer is simply that we are sadistic monsters that also hate what we love, but that just isn't a good enough analysis for me.
Anyway, back to Psuedo-Ramunes. I hate to harp on him, but my hate for him is compounded by how uncertain is position is in the story. As the chosen one, the “Warrior,” he is charged with saving the galaxy by finding a legendary mecha (of course)…but does so by destroying planets and kidnapping kids? I may have been in a state of utter bafflement, so feel free to enlighten me if I missed it.
What REALLY sucks about this show is how badly the creators dropped the ball in regards to the story. There is the potential here for some really emotive moments. This is especially true with the relationship between Ramunes IV and the cyborg Electone, his personal sex and chew toy (Second Spoiler: she is a clone! Ooooh!). The idea that they are both “artificial” could have made for a perfect tragic love story for the inexperienced heroines to learn from and us to attach to. A part that is done fairly well is the flashback to Ramunes IV’s and Electone past. We see a meek and kind-hearted boy thrust into a position of power but given solace by his beautiful robot companion. He is shown to love her throughout his life, and even when they first join in union his desire for her is telegraphed as pure. It is easily the highlight of the show for me, and it is completed ruined by the fact that we simply aren’t given ANY reason for his transformation into a complete and utter piece of shit other than a vague explanation from Don Vodka along the lines of “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But there is no indication that he was losing grip, and it kills the story. I will digress and say there is a similar story in “New Fist of the North Star” that is done with some competence and delves into issues regarding providing symbols of hope to downtrodden peoples but also abusing power. That show is worth a view for anyone interested in that story element with a less jiggly orientation.
There are a few virtues here, including a catchy as all smut theme song, high-quality animation that stays on model more than you might expect, and some nice outfits for the female characters (they aren’t clothed often though). Our two heroines are likeable enough for being the requisite sexy and energetic. Parfait is most appealing as a nicer version of Lina Inverse (this show was written by “Slayers” staff after all), but I can’t say much about the rest of the cast, which are just kinda there. It really is a shame. It is like the creators of this made every wrong choice possible, and in the end took what is said to be a fun kids show in previous incarnations and decided that it needed to be almost-porn as well.
I feel bad being this negative towards someone else’s work, but in some ways it is therapeutic to use something as innocuous as an amateur review to work out your own feelings about a piece of media. We all love this stuff, often to an unhealthy degree, but sometimes you just have to step back and investigate how badly a work can go, even in talented and motivated hands.