Battle Girls: Time Paradox Collection (Cert 15)
2 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 305 minutes approx.
It’s a good thing we in the west don’t rely on anime to teach us about Japanese history as we would end up very confused indeed, thanks to the way that distort and play around with it for the sake of good comedy and fantasy adventures. It’s probably just as well that we don’t take it seriously either.
Which brings us to Exhibit A – Battle Girls: Time Paradox, a show which almost literally puts the mother of all spins on a major historical period. The story revolves around schoolgirl Yoshino Hide – nicknamed Hideyoshi – who is struggles to keep up with her studies at school. Prior to a history exam Yoshino stops off at a shrine to pray for a pass but drops her coin. While trying to retrieve it, she notices a flashing light inside the shrine and, in true anime fashion, clumsily falls into the shrine and gatecrashes what appears to be a bizarre magical ritual.
A blinding flash of light later and Yoshino awakens in a forest and sets off to get her bearings, encountering what she thinks are a group of cosplayers. Instead they are genuine Sengoku period warriors who are fought off by a couple of tough looking ladies, one of whom resembles Yoshino’s friend Akerin. But she isn’t Akerin, she is Akechi Mitsuhide, chief retainer to the legendary feudal lord Oda Nobunaga. But wait, I hear you cry – Oda Nobunaga wasn’t a woman! Well, in this series she is!
It had to happen sooner or later but one of Japan’s most famous historical figures some is given a gender overhaul – complete with massive boobs, naturally – for a Pachinko (a popular Japanese arcade pastime) game which TMS Entertainment adapted into an anime series, following in the footsteps of Rio: Rainbow Gate and other shows born out of similar origins.
To the credit of screenwriter Touko Machida, there is something of an overarching storyline running through these thirteen episodes, albeit one that often suffers from the usual anime distractions of comedy shenanigans and fan service frivolities. Nobunaga may be a feared warlord (warlordess?) but she has a vision to restore unity across the land, which she believes can be achieved by donning the fabled Crimson Armour. Purported to give the wearer unparalleled power, the armour is currently scattered across the land with individual parts in the hands of the various clan leaders. With some parts in her possession, Nobunaga seeks to bring all the parts of the armour together, by negotiation of through brute forc
The latter method is the prominent as the other leaders are equally enamoured with the idea of supreme power and are willing to put up a fight, but Nobunaga isn’t one to back down easily and her formidable reputation is easily backed up physically. The problem is that Nobunaga is just a tad invincible and wins all her fights with ease, while causing plenty of structural damage in her wake. This is less a spoiler and more a fact which denies her character any real sense of crisis or drama, although the real story is in how Yoshino’s presence sees her learn to embrace her softer and charitable side.
Which brings us to the inevitable Sapphic subplot of Mitsuhide’s lifelong crush on her mistress, which she believes is threatened when Nobunaga begins to pay to much attention to Yoshino than Mitsuhide would like. As much as this is to keep the easily pleased viewers with the tease of girl on girl action, it raises an interesting point about the all female concept, i.e: with no men about how do they reproduce? There are young children in the show so how did they appear? Did a stork bring them?
Other legendary names from this period surface in busty babe form, such as Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hattori Hanzo and Date Masamune who resembles Yoshino’s teacher; in fact this becomes an important factor in the show’s finale. The only male presence in the Sengoku era is a talking dog named Shiro, who adopts the role of resident pervert thus becomes the token harem comedy punch-bag and nosebleed sufferer – with all the impressive cleavage straining against such skimpy outfits who can blame him?
Yoshino makes for an amiable and endearing protagonist, serving as a proxy explorer for the viewer into the past but occasionally is relegated to mere catalyst for the next plot development. Often the damsel in distress, Yoshino is the moral centre of the show, encouraging Nobunaga to supplant violence for discussion, or replace swords for fun and games! She may bring a modern perspective and hindsight knowledge to the proceedings but Yoshino finds herself adapting to the Sengoku Era lifestyle – perhaps not the food – thus growing as a person in the process.
The comedy is presented in the broadest of strokes as expected for the genre and premise but doesn’t jar with the serious moments, allowing each situation to work itself out satisfactorily and jot suffer from unexpected tonal shifts. The action is what you would expect, suffused with fantasy elements over regular samurai swordplay, but works within this alternate world. Animation and character designs aren’t particularly distinguishable from others but nonetheless consistent.
In what may or may not be a deal clincher, the BBFC have ordered a cut of eight seconds from this title, claiming a minor is portrayed in a “sexual manner”. Unlike the egregious cut to Paranoia Agent, there doesn’t seem to be any signs of excising detrimental to the flow of the narrative, so unless you desperately need to see this alleged perversity, I’d take this cut on the chin and not be concerned about it.
For what could have been a shamelessly prurient, tacky and unsubstantial piece of fluff, Battle Girls: Time Paradox is a surprisingly enjoyable fantasy romp that may not strike the blow for feminism it wants to, but is a fun diversion for a rainy day.
English Language 2.0
Japanese Language 2.0
Disc 2 Only:
Rating – ***
Man In Black