Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny
Bound to the destiny of souls long since passed on in Chinese history, schools battle for supremacy. Three kingdoms will rise, and many will fall as the conflict that ensues. It's a good thing none of these students have to worry about stuff like... studying.
Ikki Tousen follows the epic tales chronicled in the Romance of the Three Kindoms, but reincarnated as high school students ... who still want to kill each other. Knowing some history adds an interesting angle, seeing historical figures reincarnated as anime characters. Guan Yu still has the epic presence and spear, but with a huge rack and short skirt. One of the greatest strategists in Chinese history has been reduced to lolicon fodder. (Note in Japan the characters have completely different names - you can figure it out with some effort). Not knowing the details isn't a big deal as the story is still put together badly enough that you'll be confused no matter how much homework you do.
The first series had issues with unlikable characters, especially with Hakufu. This time she's much less annoying. Her screen time is also reduced which helps a lot. Ikki Tousen doesn't have a main character, which makes it hard to follow, and this is aggravated by characters being "announced" who play no role and are quickly forgotten. The good news is that most of the ones that matter stay long enough to keep them strait and at least understand which side they're on. This time there are three factions, and the rivalry is clear.
The story improves by tossing aside the lame "fighting tournament" stuff. Instead of using the Three Kingdoms story for fighting anime scaffolding, this time it's focused on the destiny of characters mirroring those from the Three Kingdoms. Everyone wants to escape their fate (the bad parts at least) even though all that's required is for them to STOP KILLING EACH OTHER, but I guess that wouldn't be much of a story would it? Things are changed up with an orb allowing fighters to change their fate. Needless to say, characters that did their homework know they'll have a bad end (which is most of them) and want that orb. Out of all the dumb things they could be fighting over, the orb makes sense. The story plays out in the random way it did before, but this time at it least has a direction. It's resolved with an typical "we combine our powers to save the world" anime ending, but I was alright with that.
Just about everything has improved since the first series. The character designs changed, but weren't bad to begin with. Visually it's cleaner if nothing else. Dragon Destiny is better animated, has more violence, and yeah, it's a little more raunchy too. That annoying background music seems to have mostly gone away.
The dvd release also comes with short OVA episodes that cover the girls going to a hot springs. For most series "hot springs episode" means "increased fan service", but as Ikki Tousen is already all about panties and risque chest shots; when Ikki Tousen goes to the hot springs it basically becomes a softcore porno. My main gripe with this release is that they had a prime opportunity to give supplementary history in the extras that would have been the perfect compliment to the series but didn't do so. At least the dub is pretty good.
If you hated or loved the first series, you'll still love or hate Dragon Destiny. If you're a fence sitter, I'd give this one a shot. I have no idea why decided to watch more Ikki Tousen since I wasn't hip on the first series, but I think this set turned out well enough. Provided you're okay with a shaky plot, excessive panty shots, and mostly revolving around nonsense fighting, it's a fair watch.
Hafuku: This will be your final resting place old armored dude!
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