Firstly, before I proceed, it’s worth noting that I originally chose to drop this series in account of the lewd imagery, bordering on hentai territory, that was present throughout the first episode. This was supplemented by the weak premise, which didn’t inspire much hope, seeming more of an afterthought than anything worthy of attention. However, in spite of this, the production was surprisingly good, or more precisely, was noticeably better than the majority in its broadcast season. The animation was detailed and attractive, with each character design possessing individuality and distinction. The studio responsible, Arms, are no stranger to risqué material, producing the similarly themed Ikkitousen, along with a slew of explicit hentai, so I naturally deemed Queen’s Blade to be no different. Unlike the past, where I would happily pick up something of this ilk, I’m unable to delegate that much time to anime nowadays, resulting in being rather selective in my viewing, certainly for what I choose to watch weekly. Therefore, Queen’s Blade was placed on the drop pile, never to be seen again…
So, why the sudden change of heart? With the frequent mention of how misunderstood and understated the series is, and that it does indeed bear some notion of substance in its story-line and characterisation, this prompted my reconsideration. After all, with the likes of Atsuko Tanaka, Ayako Kawasumi and Aya Hirano at the helms of the voice cast, it can’t be all that bad, right? By this point, the first season, Runo no Senshi, to which this review is intended, had finished airing, meaning it was just a simple matter of marathoning through it. This was probably the best thing, in my case, for had I followed this weekly, my tolerance would have likely snapped again, banishing Queen’s Blade to the drop pile once more. Because I was able to watch each episode together meant that I was able to digest the series in one lengthly serving.
And you know what? At the end of it all, it was not that bad. Sure, the scripting was lacking in depth, with erotica aplenty, but the characterisation, while somewhat contrived, did in fact deliver something of merit in its portrayal. I came to like Reina and her search for purpose in this harsh world, with the turbulent relationship she shared with her sister Claudette. This was supported by the subsequent introduction of each character, all of whom were amusing in their own way, but ultimately, lacked any notable background story. Melona has probably the most ridiculous character design I’ve seen, and with her appearance in the first episode, is probably why I chose to drop this series initially. A Playboy bunny-girl gone wrong (I’m still slightly disturbed by the acid coming out of her bosoms). Furthermore, Echidna, the sadistic snake-seductress, and Nanael, the ditzy but oddly likable angel, added to my enjoyment, but served not much more beyond that. As mentioned, the only set of characters that had any genuine depth was that of Reina and her relationship with her sister Claudette, but even this was marginal at best.
What Queen’s Blade did excel in was its production. Overlooking the shininess of each character, with their suggestive appearances, everything was animated fluidly, with lush terrains to capture the world they lived in. The fight sequences, although short, were entertaining to watch. Were they a tad longer, I’d imagine my overall rating would be higher. I can’t speak for the second season because I have yet to watch it fully, placing it on hold until it finishes airing, which won’t be long now. The voice acting was solid, on all accounts, nothing I can fault. Given how generic each character is, in addition to the superficiality of the script, there’s not much room to deliver anything more than they did. I can’t really remember the soundtrack, but it was of the orchestral variety, serving well to maintain the intensity of each scene. The opening, Get the Door, by Rie Ohashi, on the other hand, was pleasant to listen to. The ending, Omiode to Yakusoku, was not bad, sung collectively by the voice cast of Ayako Kawasumi, Mamiko Noto and Aya Hirano. Not something I’d actively listen to, though. I often found myself skipping this.
Queen’s Blade succeeds in what aims to be, a pseudo-hentai that delivered exceedingly well in its presentation. Borrowing from the shounen stereotype of having a fighting tournament (that had yet to begin during this season) for its action element, while giving its viewers copious amounts of explicit ecchi and yuri, which, let’s face it, is what this series is really about. The series is not without its sexual undertone, which is constantly present throughout. At every given opportunity, a character is subject to some sort of lewd situation. I’ve often said, had this series gone all the way, it probably would have been a top hentai series. My only slight problem with this, bearing in mind that I’m clearly not its intended audience (26-year-old female), is that this was not your typical ecchi or yuri series, which I can happily overlook (a perverted panty shot or two is something I can accept), but with Queen’s Blade, it really was explicit. There were multiples instances throughout the series where it crossed the line, without showing it directly. In the first few episodes of the second season (which I’ve postponed shortly after), one such character has a tentacle monster attached, of which pumps its ‘liquid’ into her. Need I say more?
With everything considered, I’m giving the first season of Queen’s Blade (Runo no Senshi) 3.5, largely in account of its production, but credit is also due for its attempt at character development.