Reviewby Theron Martin, Aug 26th 2011
Queen's Blade 2: The Evil Eye Series
DVD - Part 2
The second round of Queen's Blade battles begins under the watchful eye of Queen Aldra, who seems intent on arranging the battles to weed out potential competition. Each of the remaining contestants has proven herself to be a formidable opponent, none moreso than Risty, who remains under the influence of the Queen's companion spirit. Strange things can happen in a tournament, though, such as a threat to the Queen coming from an unexpected source, a weaponmaker taking an enemy's weapon and making it better, a former villain forming a bond with a boy who has lost his parents, a threat which seem to have been neutralized escaping, and a warrior who was once at the mercy of others gradually growing in power as she learns her own ability. In the end only one can face Aldra – Warrior Priestess or Wandering Warrior, Thundercloud General or enslaved minion – for the right to be the next Queen.
Queen's Blade has always been a franchise firmly rooted in its fan service, and it remains so to its end. Each remaining contestant gets multiple chances to expose her assets, the camera never misses an opportunity for a crotch and/or panty shot, and Nanael discovers how invigorating Melpha's “holy poses” can be. The included bonus shorts follow the pattern of those seen in earlier installments in the franchise by being racier still. When it comes to wanton, sexy fan service in a non-hentai title, studio ARMS has no current equal.
And yet ARMS understands one important thing which often gets forgotten in projects dependent heavily on fan service: even in something like this, a story and some degree of character development are still necessary. The story doesn't have to be a great one for the series to succeed, nor does the character development have to be particularly voluminous, but both have to at least be there, and the final stages of Queen's Blade do have them. For instance, Leina's story is, at essence, a classic coming-of-age story. She does not have the compelling purposes that others have, but she is trying to discover herself and see just how far she can push herself in the process, and that is a struggle that most viewers can relate to. Sure, this happens over the course of the series with improbable speed, but that is little different than in any of the major shonen action series, and there is something satisfying about seeing her rise up from such a pathetic start to become such an accomplished warrior. Less predictable, and surprisingly sweet, is the effect that looking after Cattleya's son has on Airi, and the businesses involving Tomoe and Shizuka's struggles or Baron Vance's feelings towards his daughter and lost wife are hardly taken lightly. The truth behind Queen Aldra is much more disappointing, as is how easily Risty's story gets resolved, but the storytelling hits the mark as often as not.
That is not likely to be enough for the series to appeal to those who normally detest or only tolerate concentrated fan service, though. The fan service elements are simply too pervasive, even in the most serious scenes. The upgraded storytelling is merely a complement for those who already appreciate a goodly amount of nudity rather than the other way around.
The visuals and soundtrack remain the highlights of the series. ARMS knows how to draw attractive women and make nudity of sufficient quality to entice in most any fan service devotee, but the settings, the costuming, and the visual effects beyond that are all sharp and appealing, too. The battles may not be the most finely-choreographed affairs and only a couple could actually count as thrilling, but they do show off the ladies well and that is what counts most. The animation retains the same standards seen earlier in the series, as does (fortunately) the music; whenever the series needs a dramatic boost, the soundtrack capably provides it. The final episode gets an alternate closer, but otherwise the opener and rotation of closers remain the same.
The dub for the franchise, done by Headline Sound Studio (which also did the Genshiken and Comic Party franchises) was gradually getting better, but it sees a bit of a regression in this final quarter. Some performances that had seemed fine now sound tentative, which can include failing to adequately hit a proper dramatic effect. Granted, the English cast had some big shoes to fill, as the Japanese cast is exceptionally heavily on big-name talent, but it has done better than this. The English script does, however, stay reasonably tight.
Media Blasters has spread the six episodes for this part across two disks, with all of the Extras accompanying the final two episodes on the second disk. The Extras include clean versions of both all of the normal rotation of closers and the special closer used for the final episode, the final three episodes of the salacious Gynos Academy shorts, and a 21 minute live action piece featuring the seiyuu for Leina, Tomoe, Nanael, and Shizuka which was filmed at the 2009 Autumn Festival. It apparently happened around the time that the first episode of The Evil Eye premiered, so nothing that happens later in the second season is described in any detail. The highlight is a segment where the four seiyuu act out a scene featuring their characters stuck somewhere during a blizzard with their food running out.
The ending for the series is definitive in some senses but leaves room for further storytelling in others. That storytelling does continue in a series of six follow-up OVAs released between late 2010 and early 2011, which go into more detail about what happens afterward to certain warriors. Those have yet to be licensed as of the time of this writing, though, so for now this is the final official Region 1 release.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : B-
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Quality fan service, good visuals and musical score, some characters get a satisfying resolution.
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