Saori OnishiShizuka IshigamiJuri KimuraQueens Blade
Queen's Blade: Grimoire
Medium: OVA, series
Year: 2016
Director: Kinji Yoshimoto
Writer: Kinji Yoshimoto, Masashi Suzuki
Actor: Juri Kimura, Manami Tanaka, Saori Goto, Saori Onishi, Shizuka Ishigami, Shizuka Itou, Yoko Hikasa
Keywords: Queens Blade, anime, boobs, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 2 OVA episodes
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 14 May 2019
queens blade
It's quite an interesting experiment that didn't work out. I enjoyed it, though, and I think it's a shame that the OVA series didn't sell enough to justify making more. (The second episode ends on a semi-cliffhanger that will never be resolved.)
The principle is "fairy tales and folklore, but with the stories and character designs redone to be Queen's Blade." The original gamebooks are from 2012, but then in 2016 they started turning them into anime. These episodes' reinventions are Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood and The Little Mermaid, with a cameo for Princess Kaguya from a Japanese story called The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. If they'd continued, though, the gamebooks also draw on Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Snow White, the Snow Queen, Arthurian myth, the Japanese folk tale of Kintarou, the Chinese tale Journey to the West and Cinderella (whose outfit is extreme even for this franchise).
It starts out as a fun take on Alice in Wonderland. Alicia is a magic-user and swordswoman from Gainos (i.e. the main continuity). She wants to fight in the Queen's Blade tournament, but unfortunately her magic spells went wrong when an angel called Kyuel appeared. Hello, new universe!
Suddenly Kyuel is the White Rabbit and Alice/Alicia is stuck in a world where giant singing skull-faced tulips keep popping out of the ground to be unhelpful for a few seconds. This is quite funny. Alicia's quite a grumpy, arrogant girl, which is good because this world seems to exist to annoy her. We visit the Mad Hatter's tea party, but this Mad Hatter is a dressmaker. (This is Queen's Blade, after all. Continual clothing damage requires a source of replacement clothing!)
Alicia accepts a drink from the Mad Hatter. Now then, boys and girls, what do you think would happen to the clothes of a woman who suddenly became giant-sized in the Queen's Blade universe?
Leina appears, of all unlikely people. Airi does too, plus... oh, bloody hell, it's Pirate Captain Liliana and she's still saying things like "number 2 on the code of the pirate: what's taken can't be returned" and "number 5 on the code of the pirate: use whatever means necessary to get the treasure". Appallingly, it looks as if Liliana was the breakout character of Rebellion. Ugh. In fairness, I suppose she does have the best character design of all the Rebellion newbies (although Luna Luna deserves points for outrageousness), while her flying sailing ship is memorable too.
We then discover that Alice in Wonderland isn't actually what the episode's about. Alicia's the show's heroine, but that just means she goes into other people's stories and meets them. Instead, the episode's about Little Red Riding Hood. Things I hadn't known about this fairy tale include:
(a) Red Riding Hood's grandmother is a sexy warrior with a sword and cleavage. (But also grey hair and an older lady's voice.)
(b) being attacked by a wolf might make you wet yourself. After the urination scenes in Vanquished Queens, I'm starting to wonder about this franchise's target fetishes.
(c) after her grandmother got eaten, Red Riding Hood had a startling (and super-gory) way of not getting eaten too. What happened after that was even more unexpected.
It's quite good. It's trying to tell a proper story about Red Riding Hood, with emotional weight and inner demons to overcome. (That's both metaphorical and literal.) I enjoyed it a good deal and was looking forward to ep.2.
2. ROUND DANCE, THE DREAMING MERMAID PRINCESS (29 minutes, September 2016)
It's okay, but it's not as good as ep.1. It's doing The Little Mermaid, which sounded fantastic to me, but unfortunately its mermaid (Tiina) is a bit of a limp reed. Admittedly that's the point. The episode's all about helping her grow and become more assertive, but that's from the starting point of a royal airhead with slightly unhealthy fixations. "I want to turn my fish tail into legs!" Uh-huh. "This is so that I can dance!" She doesn't actually do a deal with Ursula the Sea Witch, but circumstances still mean that her transformation really wasn't a good idea.
She also has a stupidly high-pitched voice and much less personality than Disney's Ariel, while in addition being less attractive. (Ariel didn't have huge boobs and a transparent top, though.)
The episode's okay, though, even with a plot role for Captain Liliana. I didn't dislike it at all. King Neptune is a grumpy old sod, while Tiina's story works reasonably well and is a lot more sincere and emotionally based than one might assume from a fanservice franchise like this. You'll also get to see a mermaid squirting attack. (Tiina gets annoyed when Liliana assumes it's more urine.)
It's Alice in Wonderland with topless sword fights. It's Red Riding Hood with more of the red stuff than you've seen before. It's The Little Mermaid with... well, believe it or not, with all the mermaids wearing tops. (It's just that after a while you'll decide that they might as well not have bothered.) There are other anime versions of these stories, some of them even also being dirty ones. Queen's Blade still manages to be different, though.