Reviewby Theron Martin, Jun 23rd 2011
Queen's Blade 2: The Evil Eye Series
DVD - Part 1
All of the female warriors intent on participating in the Queen's Blade tournament have now assembled in Gynos, the capital of reigning Queen Aldra. There they are joined by Nyx, a normally-timid woman who possesses both a demonic staff and a serious grudge against Elina, and Nanael, who has been assigned by Heaven to participate in the Queen's Blade herself so that Heaven can ferret out what, exactly, Queen Aldra is really up to. (Instead she winds up mooching off of the priestess Melpha, who has an odd notion about what constitutes a holy text.) And the Queen is certainly up to something, too, which includes corrupting one of the fighters to serve her will, hunting down one of her wayward assassins, and trapping various individuals in amber. Individual combatants also have their own issues, including Cattleya's efforts to find or attract the attention of her missing husband, Echidna's efforts to reconnect with former student Irma, and Airi's vain efforts to keep cohorts Melona and Menace on the task set for them by the Swamp Witch. The tournament must progress, though, and with the match-ups and settings at the whim of Queen Aldra, some of the first round and early second round matches seem to serve additional purposes.
Although the first series featured plenty of battles, its main purpose was really just to introduce the cast and set the stage for the main events: the actual Queen's Blade tournament and the machinations of Queen Aldra which surround and pervade it. With only one more character introduction to be done (Nyx) and the background on one other to be revealed (Irma), this series can instead primarily focus on those main events, and through the first six episodes it has done exactly that.
Of course, the main emphasis of the franchise is still on its pervasive fan service, and director Kinji Yoshimoto, whose directorial career spans regular titles (Genshiken 2, Legend of Lemnear), heavily ecchi fare (Plastic Little), and outright hentai releases (Another Lady Innocent), does not even try to pretend that the series doesn't focus on its prurient content. Two characters have obscenely large busts, most female characters wear racy costumes, bounciness is emphasized in the animation, one character regularly refers to giving other characters “night lessons,” the priestess Melpha uses erotic poses to activate her powers, and panty shots, crotch shots, and partial or total nudity are so frequent that the series rarely goes more than 3-4 minutes without some such content. New character Nyx even has a betentacled demon staff whose actions to “embolden” Nyx strongly smack of tentacle porn. All of it is lovingly drawn and animated, too, and there is a sufficient variety of body styles amongst the girls/women present to suit virtually any taste. Nearly any fan service fanatic should find a lot to like here.
For all of the series' perversity, though, Yoshimoto and his staff at ARMS do not depend entirely on fan service for the series' entertainment value, and that is what puts the first half of the second season a full head above most other heavily ecchi titles. These six episodes do have a distinct action component and stage several flashy one-on-one or two-on-two battles, but a fairly intricate story is also actually transpiring here, one which involves both the competing interests of major powers (Queen Aldra, the Swamp Witch, Heaven) and the varying priorities of each participant. Granted, those individual motivations are typically not complicated: some are out for revenge, others want to advertise or spread their religion, still others want to prove themselves or better the world, and so forth. The most amusing one involves Elina, who becomes convinced that her sister/love interest Leina only respects power and so must be soundly defeated in a battle in order to be turned into (essentially) a love slave - and yes, that's as creepy as it sounds. Even so, those varying motivations provide a lot of room for character development, and several characters do, indeed, get healthy doses of it; the way one of the more villainous ladies starts to change is the most surprising of such developments but far from the only significant one.
The visuals limit their animation and rendering quality when not focusing on major characters but still provide sumptuous, elaborately-conceived character designs for warriors, good design of both mundane and exotic settings, and decent combat scenes. As with the first season, the soundtrack is still a major strength, as Masaru Yokoyama's occasionally soaring orchestral score gives the series a legitimate epic feel and heightens the tension in the battles beyond what the story and animation content alone can accomplish. New opener “Ochinai Sora” is ordinary, while closer “buddy-body,” which features the three servants of the Swamp Witch and is sung/spoken by their respective seiyuu, is one of the odder entries in recent anime. It has three different versions, each of which uses the same jazzy music and has the same basic structure but features a different one of Menace, Melona, and Airi talking about who they are and what they do as they strut across the screen.
Media Blasters originally released the first series in three four-episode volumes, but they are apparently using only two volumes for this series, as this part contains six episodes split across two disks. The second disk also has the Extras, which include episodes 7-9 of the “Gynos Academy Gone Wild” shorts seen in the first series releases; they are as fan service-laden as ever and most notable for revealing what Nowa has to do to get a score of 100 from Alleyne. (Yeah, think dirty on this one.) Also present are various promotional videos for the series, a clean opener, and the censored versions of the three closers used in the T.V. broadcast. The episode content is, of course, completely uncensored.
This season also gets a dub, which is done by the same people, and with the same voice actors, used in the first season, with one exception: a voice actress apparently new to anime has taken over the roles of Allyne and Aldra. Not surprisingly, the latter is the weakest performance in a dub that is otherwise both satisfactory and a slight overall improvement from the first season; Aldra simply sounds too gentle in English for some of her lines to be credible. The highlight dub performance continues to be Trina Hilbe's deliciously wicked interpretation of Echidna, which is one of the finest female English dub performances of the past year. The script varies a lot in some places while staying very tight in others.
If you liked the first series then you will probably like this one just as much if not more, as the story and characters see better development while all of the factors which made the first series a big draw – action scenes, sharp artistry, rousing score, and plentiful displays of T&A – remain. As dedicated fan service series go, this is one of the better ones, and it even rates at least average as a straight-up fantasy series.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : B-
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Musical score, plentiful nudity, six episodes per set instead of four.
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