In the Han dynasty, turmoil, bandits, and civil unrest are plaguing the land. However, Kan'u Unchou (Aisha) is a young girl who goes across the land wiping up the evils around her, after bandits killed both her parents and her older brother. She is accompanied by several other companions on her journey, including her "sister" Rinrin, Sei, and Shuri.
There's nothing more frustrating to me when I watch an anime than to watch one that should have been good or even great, only to have the writers of the series fail to go the extra mile to make that happen Koihime Musou is one of those shows.
At first glance, it sounds like a stupid concept: a re-telling of the nnovel Romance of the Three Kingdoms with (nearly) all the men replaced with busty girls of various ages, ranging from adults to kids. Still, most of the main characters are likable and somewhat appealing to look at, the art is good, and the battling (when actually animated) is fairly competent.
Sadly, Koihime Musou isn't so strong in other areas. For one, the animation, much like in K-On!, is lazy in all the places it shouldn't be. Aside from one well-animated fight in the first episode, the series relies a lot on stills, speed frames, and recycled footage for many of its fights. Heck, one episode has a fight canceled because one character sensed the aura of another one and felt that she couldn't compete with her. Can you say "cop-out", kids?
Fortunately, the main characters fare a little better. For the lead we have Aisha (Guan Yu), a large-chested girl with long, black hair who goes around defending people in need. And as the main protagonist of the series, she's often lead into situations where she must right the wrongs around her. (She also has a figure that would make even Rushuna Tendo feel insecure about her chest size.)
Aisha is accompanied on her travels by her "little sister" Rinrin (Zhang Fei), a little girl who used to be the leader of a gang of thieves in her hometown. She ends all her sentences with "no da" in an attempt to sound cute or have some sort of an accent. She also has a little tiger clip in her hair that changes expressions alongside her. (Aw, ain't that cute?) She's not nearly as annoying as you'd think she is, though her childish bickering with Aisha gets old after a while.
We also have Sei (Zhao Yun), the third person to join the group. Her character initially starts off as an amusing, sarcastic pain in the ass until she's left for dead for no specific reason half-way through the series, making cameos as a Tuxedo Mask rip-off until the final episode for reasons unexplained until then. (Yeah, I don't get it, either.) Taking her place after that is the gentle Shuri (Zhug Liang), the youngest and smallest of the main characters, as well as the group's strategist.
There are also two characters who made several appearances in the series: Bachou (Ma Chao), a warrior who wants to get avenge for her father's death who's somewhat good friends with Rinrin, and Shion (Huang Zhong), a mother who also doubles as a kick-ass archer. (Sadly, she doesn't appear much in the series.)
Most of the side characters in the series fall into three categories: stupid, obnoxious, or creepy. And almost all of them are female, too.
In the "stupid" category we have Enshou (Yuan Sho) the spoiled blonde with drill hair, and her (very) devoted underling advisers: the somewhat smart Ganry (Wen Chou), and the not-so-smart Bunshu (Yan Linag). One episode of the series has Enshou trying to convince Rinrin and Bachou to join her as her new bodyguards, upsetting Ganryo and Bunshu, who are forced to partake in a rather stupid "tournament" of sorts. Another has them going on a treasure hunt for some reason. Like I said earlier; it's stupid.
In the "obnoxious" category we have Shaoren (Sun Shangxiang, one of the very few characters from the Three Kingdoms era represented in this series who originally was a female), a spoiled brat of a princess who follows Aisha and the others around for no reason other than the writers making it so. She also doesn't get along with Rinrin (surprise, surprise). She also has two older sisters and an adviser who thankfully aren't nearly as annoying as she is, but they come so late into the series it doesn't really matter.
And then in the "creepy" category we have Karin (Cao Cao), a ruler who likes pretty girls, causing friction even among her subordinates. Her gag is that she wants to sleep with Aisha and have sex with her. (Which we almost actually do see on-screen in one episode, albeit under a blanket. Ew!)
So yeah, Koihime Musou is fairly sexist in both its protagonists AND antagonists. With one major exception in the final two episodes, virtually all the male characters in this series are either townsfolk, evil bandits, or scheming politicians. It's like some alternate reality feminist China.
So how is the humor in the series, you might ask? Well, let me ask you this; do you like random chibis? I hope you do, because they're in every episode. There's also a series of dumb running jokes, such as people making fun of Aisha not being as pretty as the rumors were of her saying she was, or that Rinrin is her biological daughter. There's also the idiotic Tuxedo Mask-parody scenes with Sei, which get old before even the first time. And the less said about the innuendo-laden jokes, the better. It's also weird that despite that the Han Dynasty was in the 2nd century, there's things like karaoke and Mickey Mouse references in this series. I guess it's supposed to be funny and/or cute, but more often than not it's moronic (much like everything else in this show).
Normally I talk about the musical aspects of this show at this point, but there's not much here to talk about; it's mostly stereotypical Asian music. The opening theme is an energetic, bland J-Pop number, and the ending theme is an obnoxious, cheerful pop song with squeaky, fast-paced vocals. It's like a bad Ranma 1/2 ending theme sped up to 174 BPM.
It's a damn shame Koihime Musou copped out in the places that mattered most, because it could've been a whole lot better than the final results show. If they stuck closer to the source material and animated the fights better, this series might have at least have been enjoyable camp instead of mediocre material only fit to make fun of with a group of people. Even Ikki Tousen treats the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel better than this!
One of the most frustrating anime I've ever seen. Add a star or two if you like female eye candy and can stomach the terrible jokes. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: With a cast as well-endowed as this, it shouldn't be much of a surprise to know that there's quite a bit of fan service. There's also female nudity once in a while, really low-brow humor, and even almost a glimpse of on-screen sex! Older teenagers and up only.
Version(s) Viewed: Pre-licensed fansub
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Koihime Musou © 2008 BaseSon / Koihime Musou Production Committee
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