Jiyu Nanohana is an ordinary schoolgirl until she runs across a scatterbrained 300 year old samurai who tells her that she is the reincarnation of Yagyu Jubei. With the help of the "Lovely Eyepatch" she transforms into the legendary swordsman whenever she needs to use his awesome fighting ability, which she needs to do quite often as a rival clan is dead set on conquering Yagyu to satisfy an old family grudge.
I expected much more, all my friends were hyping this to the moon. They said it was great, but they were wrong. What's sad is the potential that this anime has to be great, it has such a good story line. Unfortunately where this show suffers greatly is in the pathetic writing job. It takes forever for the characters to develop, and I swear they're saying the same things every episode (example: Episode 1: "I'm not Jubei, I'm Jiyu Nanohana". Episode 2 "I'm not Jubei, I'm Jiyu Nanohana". Episode 3: You get the picture)
Not only does the show suffer
from bad writing, but bad voice acting on both ends. The Japanese voices are annoying, I'm all for high and cute voices, but the female voice are so high that they pierced my eardrums (or at least I thought they did). The english voice acting is the worst that Ocean Group has ever done. Really expect better from these guys, they did great dubs: Death Note, Gundam Wing, and much more are on that list. However, we are stuck with a cast that either under acts, or doesn't act at all. This looks to me like a series full of over acting, but the voice actors show little or no skill in that department.
The only good thing this series has going for it is the fight scenes. They are sweet. Sadly, they are short, and you have to wait all episode, before you actually see a 5 minute battle.
Why is this popular in the US? My best guess is, it came out during a time when anime fans were starving for product, when the anime section at Suncoast was only a shelf as opposed to the wall it is today. Anime fans wanted what they loved so badly, they excepted almost anything. Today, you find anime at Wal-Mart, Target, Some Gas stations, your city may even have an anime shop. Those that like this, are either mostly old school fans who are nostalgic, or they like to play MST3K the home version.
Jubei-chan is an anime that probably fools most viewers at its start. What appears to be a stereotypical show about average high school kids who must save the day from evil bad guys is actually a clever satirical comedy. This is hard to realize at first because it plays so many of its cliches straight that it can easily be mistaken for one of the very shows that it mocks. And, if you've seen enough of those kinds of shows, this one may already turn you off by the intro scene; after all, it involves the played out scenario of two rival samurai battling to
the death. It's all very serious, but things do start to feel odd. If you continue watching, small absurdities will build up until the show's true nature is revealed. The creators actually expect their viewers to be as savvy as they are when it comes to this genre, which is how they have the freedom to play around with it as much as they do.
While other protagonists of similar anime would be all too eager to accept their given role as the hero of the story by the end of the first episode, Nanohana Jiyu on the other hand won't be motivated at all by the desperate begging of a stranger—the stranger, in this case, being the 300 year old samurai, Odago Koinosuke, who urgently insists that she must fight as the reincarnation of his clan's ancestor, Yagyuu Jubei, in an ongoing feud with a sinister rival clan. If that all sounded like boring exposition to you, Jiyu would agree. She'll need more than that to convince her to change her life completely. It isn't fear or anxiety that ever holds her back: it's pure indifference. She just does not care about this conflict thrust upon her from seemingly nowhere. After all, why should she? She's happy with her life the way it is, and it's the creators' success in subverting this classic trope of the typical selfless protagonist that proves just how self aware they really are.
Jiyu refuses to comply by consistently casting aside the show's McGuffin, the Lovely Eyepatch, and refuses to acknowledge or even understand the importance of it. But she's not dumb, and she's certainly not a ditsy air-head either. You'll notice that there's a lot more going on in her head than what's first implied. In fact, one of the most endearing things about Jiyu is seeing how she reacts to the situations in her life in surprisingly realistic ways, and how she eventually comes to find her own reasons for fighting. She's also just plain adorable, and her relationship with her father is both a central driving force in the story and something amusing to see in its own right. Sometimes they get along, other times they fight, but you can always tell they really care about each other.
The same can be said for most of the characters in Jubei-Chan when it comes to the chemistry they have together. The aforementioned Koinosuke's attempts to convince Jiyu are hilariously futile, but there's a charm to his desperation. Bantarou, the school's self-proclaimed "Banchou," has fallen in love with Jiyu at first sight, and as such, is on a never-ending quest to confess to her. And as for Shiro, Jiyu's other schoolmate...well, it's the same story for him. Yes, it's quite common for characters in this series to fall in love with Jiyu at first sight. I guess who could blame them, right? But this actually plays into one of the show's greatest comedic strengths: repetition.
This show loves to find humor in repetition, which is a tricky thing to do without running jokes into the ground. However, this show really understands what kinds of things are worth repeating. For example: The first time a character gets lost in a particular forest, you might only smirk, but by the end of the series, once almost every character has managed to do this, you may just laugh out loud at what is essentially the same gag. And this repetitive humor comes through most noticeably in the recurring ways that characters always introduce themselves. They do so with such conviction even at times when it would be absurd given the contexts of their situations. There's also a peculiar pattern that begins to develop where the characters find themselves mixed up in various bike chase scenes, if that's what you could call them, where their sillier quirks really have the opportunities to shine.
But if it wasn't enough that this show's humor takes time to show itself, it also comes in multiple unexpected and unusual forms. There are long pauses that sometimes last for almost half a minute reminiscent of those from Evangelion, except that in this case the pauses are used for humor rather than for dramatic tension. Characters frequently make exaggerated faces, but not of the typical chibi anime variety. Their limbs, too, are freely distorted and stretched to fit the context of the joke or scene, and the laws of physics need not always apply. These exaggerations are even funnier in contrast to the relatively realistic proportions that the characters usually conform to. The show also has a funny habit of showing characters exit or enter scenes in deliberately strange ways. Yet, throughout all of these visual character gags, the animators at Madhouse still pay lots of attention to detail.
Even at its goofiest, the animation quality is well above average, and characters are rarely off-model—that is, unless intentionally so. The show is just great to look at, from the smooth animation to the mellow but inviting color pallet. Characters are animated with such subtlety in even the smallest of movements that they really come to life. Even the fight scenes, while hardly ever the main attraction, are nonetheless choreographed beautifully. Unlike in shounen fighting series whose fights rely on slow calculative strategy, the fights in Jubei-Chan are short and sweet, relying on the natural flow of the sword fighting itself—of which Madhouse certainly put in their research, evident in the sword fighting's relative authenticity when compared to other anime. And, because of this adherence to flow, the fights are usually over before you know it, neither being boring nor overstaying their welcome.
The music of this series is nice as well, particularly Jiyu's theme which is always a pleasure to hear at crucial moments. A different arrangement of this theme also serves as the series' opening theme, although this somehow manages to be one of the strangest openings that I've ever seen for an anime: For just about 15 seconds this music plays before cutting out prematurely, after which Jiyu continues to ride her bike towards the screen for a few more seconds of dead, awkward silence. Perhaps that is the joke.
If I had to point out a real flaw of Jubei-Chan, it would be that its repetition isn't always used to great effect; this is most apparent in the second half of the series when certain lengthy monologues reiterate exposition that feels more like filler, rather than opportunities to create humor. You may get tired of hearing the details of Yagyuu Jubei's backstory. However, if you're already invested in this show's strengths by this point, then sitting through these occasional scenes shouldn't bother you too much—especially when it all leads to a satisfying conclusion.
For a comedy, you usually wouldn't expect a conclusion to matter too much considering the episodic nature that most of them have, but this show does have a linear plot that runs though each episode. In the later episodes this plot starts taking up more and more of the screen time, and it does take itself pretty seriously at times, but don't worry: the comedy never completely goes away. That being said, the show's attempts to deliver serious character development, most notably for Jiyu and her father, are not in vain. Their story arc is genuinely touching, albeit not the most emotional thing you've ever seen. It's just something extra to make the show a little more memorable.
At its core, though, this is a comedy, and it's one that slowly reveals its genius as it goes along. It may not have you laughing at first, but there's an odd repetition to it that lulls you into its rhythm over time, and before you know it, scenarios that you've been seeing over and over again throughout the series become absolutely hilarious. I recommend that you at least give Jubei-Chan a try, especially if you've already seen a fair amount of other anime series.
For the most part, I was expecting it to be something else entirely.
What I got instead was a comedy that felt really refreshing for some oddly satisfying reason. Maybe it was how often Jubei said "huh" or maybe it was how they actually did not take the time to draw the unimportant characters when they appeared in a scene. But, the enjoyment level, for the most part, was pretty great.
Most of these reviews, I imagine, took it seriously. Well, this anime has both seriousness and comedy, but more heavy on the latter. And for those that took it
in as the former, have a completely off perception of this anime.
Nothing about Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl is bad when it began (by the way, they messed up the title) and it slowly got better as it went on.
If you take it with a comedic attitude, you are getting a very, very solid comedy. It strives for simplicity, and unfortunately repeats a lot of things here and there. But, the way it did its comedy was not bad at all.
As I said before, everyone whom has given this a bad review has not really looked at it in the same light I have. I assume they immediately took it seriously, making sense since the first episode did kind of have her transform into that samurai and have a serious sword battle. But, finding out what all those fights led to at the end was very satisfying.
I would not say this one was bad at all, but I would not say it was too good, either. But, for SURE it is well above average; enough for me to want to buy it on DVD and I only owned one other anime on DVD until this point.
Truth be told, I might have bought it in hopes it got a lot better; and it was more on impulse. But, I still do not regret it; because in the end, I still got an adequate amount of enjoyment from it. Not what I anticipated, but not disappointing; for sure.
Do I recommend it? Only if you take it with a grain of salt and realize what it is. If you are expecting it be an extremely epic "Middle School Prodigy" kind of deal, your best to be leaving this article right now and looking for a new show to satisfy your epic samurai desires. This show only has that in a very minimal fashion of good fights.
Laohoam- This anime started out kinda fun in the beginning, but the nonsense seemed to take over more in the end. The end game started to become more serious delving more into her past and a lot more character development, but it seemed at each crucial part they would botch it by throwing some weird scene in or just destroying the plot. Overall it was ok for a quick watch but not so sure the second season will be worth the effort.
Tadgh: This was kind of a throw away anime for me. It was ok, and I'd watch it again, but
I'm not sure it really added anything to my life either. I liked the art style (the main one at least, it jumped around a bit) and it made me laugh a couple times, but it was by no means great.
Dr R Dash: This anime was very funny , cute at times and down right odd and surprising. So many things about the episodes just did not interest me , the same repeated style for episodes 1-10? yeah it was almost all the same . I probably wont re watch this one but if i do its to learn all the different symbols that are on the ruffians boss shirt. :)