Shinjuro may be a little young to be the master of a swordsmanship school, but fate didn't give him a choice. Now his position and martial arts skill land him in the middle of serious trouble when the rogue samurai Mikage faces off against the Tokugawa government, and Shinjuro and the small group of swordsmen who train at the school must now protect the town from harm. However, the group won't be challenged until the Tokugawa house calls in a favor, and the young swordsman is forced to duel Mikage himself.
Samurai: Hunt for the Sword feels like what would happen if you wrote an anime using cliff notes. It's not bad, but it's far from unwatchable. I would go as far to say that this might just be the most safely mediocore titles I've ever seen.
[STORY 5] Remember back when every seventeenth century feudal Japan-based anime opened with ninjas raiding a shrine and slicing down lots of useless guards? I might be a sucker for those cold openings, but I can't help it, it's so cool in classic, B movie fashion.
Door breaks down
Guard A: "Whose there!?"
Ninjas rush in
and cut down 57 soldiers in a poorly-lit shrine
Random ninja picks up cursed/sacred item: "We have it, master!
Bad guy with funny hair cut and scar arrives and takes thing: "Now nobody can stop me! Bwahahahaha!"
Anyway, the core plot is simple, but incredibly faint. It does succeed in setting up tension for the final battle between the two swords, which in a way makes this like Ayane's High Kick or something.
[ART 6] Character designs are cute at the most, but I got tired of this art style quite a while ago after Saber Marionette. Like the gals in SM, these girls are kind of pretty, but not the sexy I think they were going for. They pass as eye candy, because the male lead has such an undistinguishing look, he may as well be dry wall. Outside of that, the world is decently drawn, but not particularly immersing. Environments are reduced to generic rooms, another generic room, and several scenes in a town square. Decent, but lifeless at best for this universe, although animation for the final battle (while too short) was pretty sweet, and I'm sure Bleach ripped off a few of these moves for their stupid-looking bankai battles.
[SOUND 6] Pretty okay english dub. It's sometimes pretty cheesy, especially during a scene where the Shinjuro is complimenting Busty Lady on her massive breasts and Koharu takes offense. It's funny just how bad the english dub actors try to make these lines comical. If you pick up the DVD, you'll get a kick out of the outtakes.
[CHARACTER 6] As paper thin and cliched as this cast is, I only thought one person was really useless, and it's the silver-haired ninja lady (I forgot her name shortly after finishing the show, but she's the one who instigates the boob argument). Besides her, I enjoyed everybody else. Sure, they have no other traits that may redeem them as actual characters, but the girls are all pretty likeable and fun. I wish more was done with them backstory wise. The villians' motives seemed a tad bit unclear to me and I was trying to decide if there was an actual villian at all. They wanted this sword, bit then Shinjuro catches the silver-haired guy's eye and he wants to fight him, but on even ground. Huh, okay, so he's the fair, evil guy.
[ENJOYMENT 6] Rewatch value maybe kind of low, but there's nothing really terrible about it (except the ninja lady). The humor isn't laugh out loud funny, but it's cute for what it's worth. If you like to watch cute ladies (and who doesn't?) kick around a bunch of ninjas (and who doesn't?), this is worth a look, but it lacks at holding interest in a story.
[OVERALL 6] If this were a linear series, it may have been kinda bad, but for an OVA it has a cheesy charm about it. If there were anything else I could nitpick about is that it just kind of stops as opposed to having an ending. That annoyed me a bit, but I'll take this over Kaidomaru any day.
PROS: Campy, light-hearted characters, cool final battle, DVD outtakes
CONS: Kind of uninteresting, too much 'tell' and not enough 'show'
This is an OVA series about a young man who has to fight against an evil group bent on obtaining the hilt to an evil sword in order to take over the world. His father runs a swordmanship school, and when he hears the news he leaves on a journey to find a sacred sword that can battle against the evil one. That leaves his son in charge of the school, and also in charge of fighting against the bad guys. He's a little wimpy and naive; and is of course drooled over by several girls, but surprisngly he's a good fighter. This is a
very abrupt OVA, like many others, and is rather silly and shallow at times but I found it entertaining overall.
Hunt For The Sword Samurai was a blind buy for me and though very little impressed me or could be considered exciting, it was certainly not a waste of time.
The plot has been regurgitated from dozens of other anime series. A thieving samurai faction has discovered where a magically endowed sword hilt is located and is determinted to make this dojo their next hit. If it was that easy though, they would have been able to overthrow the reigning government officials without competition. However, a young samurai named Shinjuro, a recently promoted headmaster to his samurai dojo, will not idly sit by
and let the evil doings of his rival samurai go without opposition.
The dojo which Shinjuro, our local hero, heads, is composed of his elder sister, a childhood friend, and a mysterious girl from China, who claims she is the daughter a friend of Shinjuro's father. None of these samurai girls have anything more then a familiarity with the sword and are certainly no threat to a skilled weilder. The enemy faction, is composed of a former student of Shinjuro's father, and a rouge martial arts expert, who is deadset on overthrowing the head of state.
Of all the characters, Shinjuro and Mahoro (the rogue) seem to be the most skilled. But the balance is swayed with the addition of Shinjuro's fathers former student, whose name eludes me right now. Two against one. So what do you think happens. Shinjuro's father miraculously shows up to even the teams. Didn't see that one coming. However, now that our hero won't be pitted against two equally strong foe, he can focus completely on annihilating the ultimate threat, Mahoro.
The convenient plot seems almost hastily put together to ensure everything works out for "the good guys". And because it lacks anything even close to an orignal idea, don't expect to be dazzled with plot twists or suspenseful moments. On the bright side though, for a two-part OVA, the story is never rushed. It takes its time to quickly introduce characters, further the story, and ends on a high note. Very few series as short as this can say that.
As for characters, Shinjuro, is a believable lead. He is the only son to a skilled samuari, a student in his father's dojo, and was given the title of headmaster upon his father departure. With a few well timed fight scenes prior to his final match with Mahoro, we the audience, were able to witness his superior skills as a samurai. Thus, when he was forced to battle a more experianced warrior, we knew he was not completely outmatched. He is obviously a man of honor, and will help those that he deems to be weaker then himself, without a second thought for his own well-being. But though he is grown with skills of an adult when it comes to the sword, he is still just an adolesent boy when it comes to being around pretty girls.
Mahoro, the enemy samurai, was never given enough time to develop as a reasonable "bad guy". Why is it that he wants to overthrow the govenment? What has the government done that has tipped this man over to "the darkside?" I think there may have been a quick explaination near the end of the series about a rivilary, but if so, if was not noteworthy of rememberence. I don't remeber discovering how he became an expert swordman, or who he trained under either. Regardless his story, he suited the "bad guy" role fine and was certainly deadset in his goal.
I was very impressed with the quality of the art throughout the series. The characters themselves all looked great, though completely unoriginal. The girl were very cute; their outfits appropriate yet tantilizing. The male cast also looked very good, especially Shinjuro's father. He had a extreamly unique style to him and wore a messy beard that I was very fond of. Plenty of attention to detail was evident regarding the background cel animation, especially during more intense moments. These usually took place at either dusk or dawn and the vibrant use of reds, oranges, and yellows captured the true beauty of the time period.
The best part of the series however, in my opinion, was not the cute girls, or the final fight scene, or the samurai beards finesse. No, it was the boob humour! I'm have always been quite fond of the childish antics that revolve around situational foolery. Shinjuro accidently grabs a girls breast while fighting, tells the wrong person about it, and never lives it down. He becomes the butt of a very impressive and long running joke for the duration of the series. It's been done before, many a time over. I laughed the first time I saw it, I laughed the 10th time I saw it, and I'll laugh the 100th time I see it. Boob joke are dynamite.
As for the recommendation potential of the show. If you like samurai series, this will not be a complete waste of time. It has a great structure, decent fight scenes, and somewhat believable characters. The art is mangaed nicely, the music suits the mood well, and the humour is low-brow, yet very enjoyable. If however, you like to be blown away with an epic series, given vast amounts of character development, and enjoy meaningful dialogue, you might want to skip over this series.