Queen's Blade

The production of a Queen's Blade anime builds on the fighting-fanservice genre championed by titles such as Ikkitousen and Tenjou Tenge and takes it to the most logical next step. The series, like the "visual combat books" preceding it, is a cynical marketing ploy, a multifaceted brothel catering to every fetish and deviance able to be safely sold to lonely, lewd or lascivious males. Discarding the comparatively coy allusions to naughtiness used in other series, Queen's Blade takes every opportunity to disrobe it's bevy of disproportionately curved females with frequent trips to hot springs, dunkings in hot oil or scattering any other liquid liberally on their persons.

This cavalcade of banality permeates the series from characters to plot

The series is perverse at it's best and represents the most saleable pornography possible: only just restraining itself from full-frontal nudity or explicit sex acts, still hiding behind outlandish situations or judiciously angled shots to retain the microscopic shred of dignity the protagonists may have. Eager not to be branded as cheap smut, there is a certain grotesque inventiveness to just how far character designs and scenes will be taken in order to eke out the most obvious innuendos or exploitive implications.

Please note: the remainder of this post contains images of nudity, if you are offended by these or are otherwise unable to view these images within your municipality due to laws or moral obligations, please do not proceed.

The premise for this cornucopia of exposed flesh concerns the titular "Queen's Blade" tournament, a battle royale where ladies of all nations take to arms in order to become the queen of, one assumes, the largest landmass in the world, Gainos. Ostensibly this tournament happens every four years which is difficult to believe given the bedlam a single tournament creates however the competition and rules are ordained by heaven which is even more outlandish but explains the presence of angels. Lead character duties are split unevenly with the majority going to Reina, sporting the typical shounen raison d'etre of discovering their own strength, while a minority is given over to the prim do-gooder Tomoe who embodies the Japanese spirit of justice, swordplay and remaining dressed unless under duress. It's mildly obnoxious that the blue-eyed, fair haired western warriors shed their clothing with little provocation in comparison to the bathing-while-dressed eastern combatants; although given the other material present in the show, nationalism is hardly the most egregious issue.

Given how frequently the women expose themselves, what starts as titillating quickly becomes routine and then it's only the most obscene or freakish elements which shock. The list of absurd details in the series is a document unto itself whether it's Reina's armour which is made entirely out of belts, Cattleya's monstrously large chest or Echidna's live reptilian underwear; there is a Freudian dissertation on almost every artist responsible for inflicting these designs upon the world.

It's not the inclusion of such casual nudity that is most surprising, but that of blood. Kindred shows such as Ikkitousen show blades and fisticuffs but, with the exception of frayed clothing and occasional undergarments, little else is shown giving an overall feeling of childishness despite the content. Freeing itself of a puritanical outlook allows it some leeway to show wounds and death, however more often this is squandered and the audience is left with yet more bland, poorly choreographed fights which offer little more than protracted dialogue. Even given such freedom for a brand new world, free from a voluminous manga or ancient Chinese texts, the result is a collage of contextually ridiculous and insipid locations: Reina travels from castle town, to desert, to elven forest, through geothermal swamp and across mountains with no sense of adventure or hints at the time taken.

This cavalcade of banality permeates the series from characters to plot, never bad enough to be laughable but never good enough to hold more than a passing interest. Sparks of effort glint at times such as the overwrought interplay between Reina and her sister Claudette which, if handled correctly, could offer both characters much more depth than is otherwise on display. Likewise the razing of Tomoe's home and the withering of her Kingdom are given little more than passing comments after the fact. Perhaps the expectancy of any kind of pathos should have been left with the first episode along with the loss of bladder control and acidic lactation. At times it seems like the series is a parody but this would be gifting it with too much credit and the flat dialogue and abject seriousness of it all is devoid of anything resembling intelligence.

With home video sales doing well a second season was almost a certainty and if the breasts and fists combination continues to sell, there is a high likelihood that more will follow. Queen's Blade fails resolutely to justify it's existence by only ever exposing enough skin to be embarrassing while the story, characters and settings are stale facsimiles of existing clich├ęs. It is only through chance or force of will that the series hovers above the borderline between base entertainment and monotony.