We’ve had the token boob anime, the popular franchise ripoff, the bland shounen, the dreaded 4-koma adaptation, the Shaft, the sequel to that show you’ve been meaning to watch since forever, and the anime that starts off promising but devolves into wacky harem hijinks and completely loses sight of what made people like it in the first place. Now it’s time for the bishiefest of the season. Boy, don’t you just hate it when bloggers boil everything down is to tired tropes?
There’s something slightly wearing about anime that stick so tiringly to formula. Our female lead is the good-natured yet ditzy stand in for the female audience, for whom said female audience would prefer she wasn’t in anyway. Then there’s the pile of beautiful bishies, all of whom spend their time trying to out-cool each other by appearing aloof and manly. I will at least give the show the credit for the bishie actually looking like men, rather than flat chested androgynous sparkle-machines. What’s more surprising is, despite these characters falling into these same old tired archetypes, I still kinda fell for them.
You see, the set up is very reminiscent of my old favourite Samurai Champloo. A good-natured, slightly ditzy yet fiery young woman enlists the help of a wandering warrior. Said wandering warrior isn’t too keen to help and generally tries to get rid of her, but her persistence keeps them together. Our Mugen lookalike, who in this instance is called Saizo, actually gets right what made Mugen an interesting character. He is unfailingly harsh and any time he does defend the female lead, it’s normally by chance that she happened to be in the same place when he was attacked. There’s a heart hidden under that harsh exterior somewhere, but it’s difficult to unearth and any glimpses of this side are very rare. Descending back into tired trope terms, it’s tsundere done right. Where the heartfelt side is hidden, but that side doesn’t seem like a completely different character, and is hidden because he has something to hide.
Comparisons to Champloo can’t be made without some caveats. So while Brave 10 gets the characterisation right, it doesn’t have Champloo’s great animation, funky soundtrack, unique atmosphere and take on the genre or, well, pretty much any of the other aspects that made Champloo great. In fact, all it really does right that Champloo did is the characterisation, but that’s such a massive plus that it’s enough to keep me going. I even have praise for the female lead. The incessant clinging onto Saizo isn’t annoying because there’s a hint of desperation to her. She’s not doing this because she’s a braindead moron. Like Fuu in Champloo, she has something she’s trying to accomplish and will cling to anything that might help her achieve this.
Also…ummm…well, I think I have a crush on her.