Master of Martial Hearts – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
August 2, 2010 by Dennis Amith
In first glance, “Master of Martial Hearts” appeared to be more of a perverted fighting anime OVA series featuring all-female fighters who happen to lose their clothing while fighting but by the final episode of the five-episode OVA series, the writers manage to do a convincing job by throwing a major twist to the story that a viewer will not be expecting. “Master of Martial Hearts” is still a perverted anime series that has a lot of fan service but story-wise, this anime series ends literally with a bang! Fighting game fans or “Ikki Tousen” fans, definitely give this series a try!
Image courtesy of © Master of Martial Hearts Committee/FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Master of Martial Hearts – The Complete Series (Zettai Shougeki: Platonic Heart – 絶対衝激〜プラトニックハート〜)
ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2009
DURATION: Episodes 1-5 (110 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, Japanese Dolby Digital, English Dolby Digital, English Subtitles
COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment
RATED: TV MA
Release Date: August 10, 2010
Directed by Yoshitaka Fujimoto
Series Composition by Hideki Shirane
Music by Masaru Kuba
Original Character Designs by Jin Happobi
Character Designs by Naomi Miyata
Art Director: Yoshihiro Hiramure
Anime Production by ARMS
Featuring the following voice talent:
Kaori Nazuka /Anita Neukar as Aya Iseshima
Ai Nonaka/Alexis Tipton as Miko Kazuki
Satomi Akesaka/Cherami Leigh as Natsume Honma
Akemi Kanda/Luci Christian as Azusa Suma
Ami Koshimizu/Lindsay Seidel as Emi Daimonji
Hiromi Hirata as Izumi Hayakawa
Kana Ueda as Ryu Geturei
Ryoko Shintani/Brittney Karbowski as Yu Daimonji
Shiho Kawaragi/Tiffany Patterson as Saki Daimonji
Ui Miyazaki/Kristi Bingham as Rin Hiroishi
Aya Iseshima’s carefree existence takes a bone-crushingly violent turn when she wanders into the midst of a sadistic, girl-on-girl martial arts tournament. Her freshly pressed school uniform doesn’t stand a chance of surviving this pugilistic peep show, but Aya’s out to prove that she can take a pounding just as well as the other knock-outs in this clandestine competition.
If she manages to survive a series of fabric-shredding fights with titillating teachers, sultry stewardesses, and mesmerizing maidens of the moe variety, Aya’s every wish will be granted by a mysterious jewel known as the Platonic Heart. But if she goes down for the count, she’ll join the growing ranks of brutally bruised yet resiliently buxom beauties that are never heard from again!
For those who follow fighting video games and anime series, the concept of all-female fighters is nothing new. We have seen popular female fighters such as “Street Fighter” character Chun-Li, “King of Fighter” and “Fatal Fury” fighter Mai Shiranui and even the well-endowed and shapely fighters of “Dead or Alive” have its share of fans in the US. But it also goes farther in Japanese culture from “Ranma 1/2”, “Sailor Moon”, “Arcana Heart”, “Asuka 100%”, “Rumble Hearts” and even more fan service type of anime street fighting series such as “Ikki Tousen”.
And with the popularity of these series which appeal to anime fans and gamers, you will occasionally run into series that are created for the purpose of giving viewers cheap thrills through women fighting while wearing next-to-nothing and I admit that when I first started watching/reviewing “Master of Martial Hearts”, I thought this would be a kitschy anime series that was designed to be more fan service as we do get the female fighters but with each punch, it appears that a character loses their clothing and each shot reveals the character’s underwear or other body parts that would necessitate the adult rating for this five episode OVA series.
But fortunately, the writers did take the liberty to give us one freaky twist for the final episode and for that, it made this series much more interesting.
“Master of Martial Hearts” known as “Zettai Shougeki: Platonic Heart” is an anime OVA series produced by ARMS Corporation known for producing the fan service anime fighting series “Ikki Tousen” and also series such as “Queen’s Blade”, “Kite”, “(La) Blue Girl Returns” and “Nakoruru”.
The series is directed by Yoshitaka Fujimoto (“All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku Dash!”, “Arjuna”, “Galaxy Angel”, “Nuku Nuku”) and features a story written by Hideki Shirane (“Dual! Paralle Trouble Adventure”, “Spider Riders”, “Potemayo”). Music is by Masaru Kiba, original character design by Jin Happobi (“Girl Next Door”, “Resort Boin”, “Hooligan”), character designs by Naomi Miyata (“Lost Universe”, “Fortune Quest”, “Slayers” series) and art direction by Yoshihiro Hiramure (“Haibane Renmei”).
“Master of Martial Hearts” revolves around two best friends Aya Iseshima (played by Kaori Nazuka) and Natsume Honma (played by Satomi Akesaka). While on their way home, they encounter a fight in progress. A girl in traditional garb and an airline stewardess in a battle in what seems like to the death. The stewardess looks to be overpowering with her clothes and accessories being used as weapons and is about to defeat the other girl until Aya comes out of hiding and comes to the rescue and defeats her.
We learn that Aya is an experienced fighter who learned from her mother, who was a former professional fighter. Her father has been deceased for several years and is being raised by her mother. Aya has memories of her past when she defeated a group of boys who were bothering the female students but because she hurt them so bad, no girl at her school wanted to be associated with her. But despite her ability to fight, her best friend Natsume is there to stick close to her no matter what. Also, it helps that Aya has a crush on Natsume’s older brother Hiroki, so hanging out with Natsume is a plus.
The two high school girls befriend the girl Aya saved, her name is Miko Kazuki and she is taking part in a martial arts tournament known as “Platonic Heart”, a subject that is mostly a children’s tale about finding a jewel which will give a person a wish that will come true. But in this case, the jewel is sent as an image to a fighting contestant. Miko explains that whoever is able to fill the jewel gets to have there wish come true and for Miko, her dream was to have friends (something she has never been able to have). The two end up being friends with her and Miko is ecstatic because she will no longer need to fight.
Aya thinks the contest is fake but when she receives an anonymous text message on her cell phone that because Miko’s wish came true and that she interfered, she will be now taking her place in “Platonic Heart” competitions.
At first Aya thinks the whole thing sounds fishy until the airline stewardess who was fighting Miko earlier comes to fight against Aya to the death.
Due to unfortunate circumstances, Miko ends up missing and Aya suddenly learns that she is now part of these fighting competitions and that each battle she fights, she is fighting for a way to save her new friend from whoever kidnapped her.
Is Aya prepared to fight to the death?
“Master of Martial Hearts” is presented in 16:9 widescreen. The character designs are well done and it helps to have a veteran like Naomi Miyata (known for her work on “Slayers”, “Revolutionary Girl Utena”, “Sakura Wars”) working on the character designs but also designing the character during their fighting battles and emphasizing the fan service, may it be the nude scenes to the shredded clothes. You have a female character designer responsible for these designs.
Because this is an OVA series, there is more time for the character designer and background artists to work on the series and production is fitting for an OVA series versus an animated TV series. Colors are vibrant and the compression artifacts and edge enhancement are not distracting or very visible for this DVD release.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the audio, “Master of Martial Hearts” is presented in Dolby Digital English and Japanese. I watched the series in both languages and the primary difference is that in the English dialogue, it’s quite appropriate during the arguments between the female characters to see the female rivals speak to each other with nasty comments ie. “You are such a slut!”, “You are a bitch!”, etc. The dialogue is different from its Japanese counterpart but the English dialogue definitely has an edge to it and for those who prefer English dubs will probably enjoy that more edgier tone to the English dialogue.
Subtitles are in English.
“Master of Martial Arts” comes with an audio commentary featuring the three Japanese voice actresses Kaori Nazuka (Aya), Ai Nonaka (Miko) and Satomi Akesaka (Natsume) watching the first episode of the series (which is ala picture-in-picture format with the primary screen on the voice actresses) and commenting on the first episode. Also, trailers for FUNimation Entertainment is included.
I have to admit that when I first started watching “Master of Martial Hearts”, my first impression was that this anime series is a series that was created for the sake of fan service and the fact that the series is from the company known for “Ikki Tousen”, the series is going to be violent and have an enormous amount of scenes with panty shots.
And I was right.
In each fight that Aya gets involved in, each time a hit is connected, a piece of clothing is ripped off exposing a woman’s breasts and there is a perverted theme as the camera tends to focus on the female character nude breasts, their rear and somehow everyone is sporting scantily clad clothing. And to go along with that fan service is perverted humor. In one scene, Aya is late to school and her P.E. coach who happens to be the gate guard tells Aya that he will let her in if she promises to run 100 laps in her t-shirt, wearing no bra and wearing tight short-shorts. Needless to say, writer Hideki Shirane really has a perverted sense of humor, especially director Yoshitaka Fujimoto who really wanted to focus on the panty shots, under-skirt shots and some interesting sexually suggestive shots as well.
But what I was not expecting from this series (which despite has its share of violent scenes but also humorous and uplifting scenes) was the way the series ended. Despite the first four episodes having its share of fan service, nudity and female fighter vs. female fighter, the screenwriter was definitely setting the viewer up for an ending that is not only dark, it’s pretty twisted.
And because of that, what could have been a very kitschy anime fighting series that is about boobs, panty shots and martial arts becomes more about family, relationships and a destructive and tragic past that you just don’t see coming until you reach the final episode.
Needless to say, you get something different and entertaining and for those who are fans of “Ikki Tousen”, you are treated with the fan service but a fitting way to end the story literally with a bang!
Overall, this is strictly for the fans who enjoy fighting video games (especially with scantily clad female characters) and anime series. I’m glad this series was an OVA series and not extended to a full-on TV series. Five episodes was enough and for the most part, action-packed, engaging and most definitely, perverted.
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