Well we had 3 episodes of fanservice and only a slight amount of drama, so let’s have ourselves a very serious episode with only light fanservice. In the build-up to the Shinobi Masters Tournament, we get an episode which serves as setup for the girls and their academies as the tournament gets underway. This episode served to act as setup for future plot twists and to kickstart the first main focus of the anime.
As the different academies prepare for the tournament, the Yoma slayer Kagura is confronted by a mysterious shinobi named Fubuki. It revealed the Gessen twins Gekkou and Sekkou are in cahoots with the bandage wrapped shinobi, and set out to gather the other competitors. The Gessen elites travel to the academy, hunting down the twins, where they engage in a small but crushing fight. The episode ends with Hebijo Academy and Gessen Academy preparing to face off, with Asuka nearby, ready to save her friends. This episode’s purpose was clear, to act as a segway into the tournament and to give us a final demonstration of power that the villains wield. Overall I did find it enjoyable in some places and in others I felt it somewhat lacked, but we’ll get into why later.
What I Liked
The stuff with the Gessen Girls was really fun to watch. We’ve seen little snippets of the other girls throughout the series so far and this was their episode. I enjoyed them skulking around the academy hunting for the twins, with Minori, Shiki and Murakumo getting sidetracked by cake. I liked seeing them try to sneak around and play off each other was funny, and there were a few good jokes as well from Shiki, who does an entire aerobics fake out with an obvious but funny pay off. I liked the segment with kagura and Fubuki at the start, it really worked at hyping up Fubuki as this complete beast of a villain and it did leave us with a lot of questions about her, why is she so strong? Why the bandages? Why are the Gessen twins with her? I liked the addition of sprinkling scenes of Asuka throughout the episode, as it indicates she’s still around and isn’t going to take a backseat in this event, her backtracking to her old academy was a nicely somber touch and really does tell you that her friends are gone and need to be saved. So overall, this episode did deliver one some decent jokes, some fun set up for new characters and even snuck in some fun easter eggs in the form of other Senran Kagura girls from other games like New Wave and New Link.
What I Didn’t Like
Ok aside from those positives I did find this episode to be the worst so far, mainly for one reason. It feels pointless and seemed to act mainly as padding. We already got padding in the form of the last 2 episodes, we don’t need another one to clog up the series. I also didn’t appreciate the lack of proper fanservice. I know that seems like a petty complaint but considering we just had two fanservice filled episodes, the lack of any here, with the exception of a few buttshots, really is jarring and felt really sudden and without much subtlety. I also didn’t really like fight with Gekkou and Sekkou vs. Yozakura and Yumi, I know it served only to show the villains power to these girls, but other than that it amounted to nothing. Finally, the animation quirks strike back with a vengeance. There weren’t too many in this one, but the ones that did come up were the worst by far, one of them involving Haruka in such a poorly drawn way I couldn’t make out where she started and where she ended. I try to ignore this fault because I am enjoying this show a lot, but sometimes it sticks out more because I’m so impressed with everything else. I also have a slight concern that this tournament is going to take up the rest of the series, which if it’s going for the full 12 episode series length, is going to be a serious case of padding and drawn out if not done right. This episode just feels like a waste, nothing is new, interesting or fresh aside from some minor setup. The could have tacked the start of this episode on to the last one and the last five minutes onto the next one with the tournament starting after the halfway point. I don’t hate this episode, it just feels pointless, almost like filler but too short to be considered such.
I know I had a fair amount to complain about with this episode, but it’s not bad. I’d say it delivers on some things, seeing more character interactions is always nice and for the most part its limited fanservice was pretty tame but still kinda enjoyable and I do like some of the little winks and nods to other characters towards the end. I have a theory that the Crimson Squad will attempt to break the Hanzo girls out of their prison and maybe be joined by Asuka, with the tournament acting as the B plot for the time being. Would I recommend skipping this episode? No I wouldn’t, but if you aren’t one for time-wasting I’d say watch the first segment with Kagura and then skip to the last 10-5 minutes.
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