Brave10 – Episode 1
January 13, 2012
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I guess Brave10 is a retelling of some samurai legend of the Sengoku era? When I hear the name I always think of Ben 10, the Western cartoon about a kid who transforms I guess? I haven’t actually watched it. I don’t know how I heard about it, I’m sure I’ve never seen it advertised and I don’t really hang out with anybody in the target audience. But somehow it has wormed its way into my consciousness anyway. The power of marketing is a terrifying thing. Anyway, let’s try and replace those associations with good honest wholesome anime by watching episode 1 of Brave10.
…thirty minutes pass…
Two brave samurai, felled by a woman with her hands on her hips.
This really wasn’t a very good show. It managed to simultaneously be both too anime and not anime enough. On the one hand, it undermines any attempt at portraying its characters as cool serious heroes by including the token female Chidori Kaname-type character of Isanami. She’s got big angelic powers hidden inside her, but she’s otherwise weak, so she has to be protected. But she’s unused to the warrior’s path, so she will often complain to the warriors protecting her in a way that strikes them as selfish! In the example pictured above, she stopped two ninjas from rival clans that were trying to kill each other by jumping in the middle, glaring at them, and saying “excuse me but shouldn’t you both be paying attention to what I want instead of the honor of your clan?” That would a reasonable bit of dialogue as a demonstration of her naiveté, if they had just brushed her off and kept fighting, and maybe she got a cut on her hand or something where a sword nicked her, and she would have had to realize, oh, I am not in Kansas-cho anymore. But in this show it worked and they listened and the next scene was them helping her into the castle.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a Chidori Kaname character, of course. Even Chidori Kaname herself was fine once she was taken out of Gonzo’s incapable hands and put in KyoAni’s capable ones. But Chidori Kaname needs a Sagara Sousuke, she needs a foil that can play into the ridiculousness of the situation. She can’t be the only anime character in a show that’s trying to take itself seriously. Saizou was trying to play the cool ronin, but he just came off as tsundere. And there’s nothing that looks dumber than a tsundere taken seriously.
The story felt a little incoherent, but I’ll cut them slack there. This is set in a setting that would be familiar to their target audience. They would know Tokugawa Ieyasu, and why he would be burning shrines, and why Sanada calls him a tanuki. (Because he has huge balls? Just a shot in the dark.) I lack the cultural context to judge if the story’s incoherent to a native. But that doesn’t really matter. Whatever the reason, if I can’t understand the plot, I can’t enjoy the plot, and I’m not about to spend years studying Japanese history so that I can understand a show that has dumb characters anyway.