Ikki Tousen Great GuardiansCurrent anime kings of fan service, panties, impossibly bouncy boobs and just titillation in general returns, yes, Ikki Tousen is finally back on the silver screen.

For those of you not familiar with the Ikki Tousen (or Battle Vixens as it is known in the States) brand, then essentially all you need to know that it is a generic student battling anime where the hook is that the students are all reincarnations of the souls of the great Chinese warriors of lore, marked by the magatama jewel that each one wears as an earring on their left ear. Of course, what made Ikki Tousen stand out just that little from the rest was its unrelenting assault of extremely short skirts, tight shirts with an affinity for tearing into shreds at the slightest of touches, impossibly big, bouncy boobs and an unfathomable amount of unforgiving panty shots and poses. Oh, and it always just happened to feature some of the most awesome and well put together fighting sequences that you have yet to see on the silver screen (well for the original series anyway).

Anyway, the franchise makes its third return to the screen with Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians, a tale that once again focuses more heavily on the grappler Ryomou Shimei than on the original series’ protagonist, the air-head, fun-loving and hard-hitting Sonsaku Hakufu. This time around it is the girl-groping playboy Saji that seems to have mysteriously disappeared, taking with him Ryomou’s heart (feelings that she really isn’t accustomed to), as well as the appearance of a mysterious character who seems intent on disrupting the lives and power balance of the great fighting schools. Added into the whole mystery is the seeming revival of the enigmatic Ryofu Housen, back from the grave but without any memories of her brutal past self. Oh, and an unknown, Sun Tzu-quoting girl also appears into the mix, claiming to be Hakufu’s long lost sister – and who also seems pretty capable of stealing the unusually bashful Koukin’s affections in the process as well.

In other words, it looks like Hakufu once again has one hell of a lot of work cut out for her!

It must be said that Great Guardians story line certainly does come across as convoluted and confusing as the last series, which I’m afraid isn’t a good thing at all. Sure it can be followed, but it really isn’t very strong and hardly able to be taken seriously at all, especially now that the series seems intent on following a more ridiculous, super-hero-like power system that completely defies all laws of physics and in my mind, quite frankly ruins the good work put out by the original anime series.

Oh well, guess it isn’t actually the story that director Koichi Ohata is pushing to sell the series with anyway.

(Oh, and if you are wondering now that I think about it, the amount of fighting and battle sequences do take quite the back seat once again and to be honest, even when we do get to see some action, it isn’t particularly as well done as it has been in the past. Pity really).

The animation and character designs are quite colourful as always, and once again a lot of effort has gone into designing the girls with impossibly big, gravity defying boobs that seem intent on being nestled in the tightest of tops. And of course, there are plenty of panties and short skirts to be seen as well. However, note that the animation itself isn’t actually that bad, with some good flowing lines and action sequences that get pulled off really well. The imagery overall really is pretty good, and equivalent to anything else that you can currently seeing skipping about on the anime channels of the moment.

Voice actors have remained loyal to their characters and most of the original cast return to voice their respective anime counterparts, with everyone putting in a good job, even if for some of the characters this requires pretty much just a lot of heavy breathing and gasping. The sound track also remains pretty fun with some good numbers pushed through by Ami and Rio Asaba who are responsible for the opening and closing tracks respectively.

Overall, Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians really doesn’t offer anything new and in fact is an even further step back from the enjoyable series that was the first Ikki Tousen outing. Unless you really enjoy your fan service and the idea of half-naked girls beating the crap out of one another, I really can’t recommend this one.

Skip it, you really aren’t missing anything apart from some poor writing, titties and a well designed panty or two.

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Related link: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=9439