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Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash! Blu-ray Review

senran-kagura-bluray-coverU.S. Release

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The Series

[Rating:4/5]

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Senran Kagura is an anime series based on a video game series by Tamsoft. The story revolves around a group of five buxom high school girls in training to become top secret, supernaturally powered ninja at a secret section of the Hanzo Academy. Over the course of the series, the girls, centered on Asuka, the granddaughter of the school’s founder, Master Hanzo, find that they are being targeted by a rival group of evil ninja girls from Hiritsu Hebi Girl’s Academy who want to steal their Secret Ninja Scroll.

The series is a fun romp full of action and an involving story arc that evolves in an engaging way. The girls of Hanzo Academy are also all rather likable, even with their individual quirks. Asuka may be one of the least compelling of the bunch, being the privileged girl expected to live up to her family legacy but with a latent ability she can’t quite seem to tap into. A less understandable character is Hibari, a kawaii, pink-haired girl whose secret ninja ability is to summon a giant bunny and is heavily reliant on her much stronger friend Yagyu. The idea that Hibari would be in this secret society of ninja defies reason, given how she squirms and retreats in fear every time she gets into a bind, but her purpose is finally revealed very late in the series, which sort of allows her presence a pass. Ikaruga and Katsuragi are the two upperclassmen and they started out alone in the Academy and bitter rivals. Their chemistry together offers up some of the best of the series. They’re competitive with one another, but great friends, and each has something in their past that drives them to reach for more, Ikaruga in particular.

The Hanzo Academy girls’ rivals also seem interesting, but they are not given as much time to develop until the very end of the series. It’s not until then that it becomes clear that, each of these top-five girls from the evil ninja school are mirrors of their ‘good’ ninja rivals, and that this will come into play in the grand scheme that is playing out in this overall story arc.

For those who like action, cute girls, and fan service, Senran Kagura delivers, although the fan service is mild (read: there’s no explicit nudity). The action sequences are riveting, with fantastic animation, and the character designs and backgrounds are quite beautiful. All of these things combine for a fun romp.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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The AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement on Blu-ray of Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash! From FUNimation is one of the better looking releases to come from the publisher recently, but it does still have some minor issues. There are some slight issues with softness and color banding, which seem to be the number one issues with many anime releases. None of these are very distracting in full motion, however, and are far more obvious in these still captures.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

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We get stereo only for both the original Japanese and English dubs for Senran Kagura, both in Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The sound for either sounds somewhat limited in dynamic range, but it is clean with relatively distinct stereo imaging. The English voice cast also does a rather good job in comparison to their Japanese counterparts.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

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  • DVDs
  • Episode 4 Commentary
  • Episode 10 Commentary
  • Promotional Videos (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:25)
  • Japanese Commercials (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:34)
  • Textless Opening Song “Break Your World”
  • Textless Closing Songs:
    • “Shissouron”
    • “Fighting Dreamer”
    • “Yamiyo wa otome wo hana ni suru”
  • U.S. Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:10)
  • FUNimation Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

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While Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash! doesn’t quite break any new ground as far as anime series go, it’s a fun ride with gorgeous characters, a story that’s easy to follow, and great action sequences.

Additional Screen Captures

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