Onechanbara is a series of third-person hack-and-slash games developed by Tamsoft, originally appearing as part of Simple Series budget game line released only in Japan and Europe. The games involve a team of sisters, Aya and Saki, who are among the few survivors of a zombie outbreak. Complicating matters, both sisters suffer from a curse known as "Baneful Blood", which drives them crazy when they come in contact with the zombies' blood. They have vowed to use everything in their power to drive back the zombies so that they can once again live in peace.Two games from the series have been released in the United States: Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad (for Xbox360) and Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers (for the Wii). There's also a live-action movie based on the game series.A new game called Onechanbara Z: Kagura was released on 1/19/2012, in Japan for Xbox360. Instead of Aya and Saki in this game, we have Kagura and Saaya: a pair of vampire sisters. The game was the first of the series that was not a budget game like its predecessors, and the marketing has been rather big. However, due to its Xbox-exclusivity, it failed to attract a wide audience (not that it was making any pretense to). The game is slated for an Updated Re-release on the PS3 (release date: Oct. 24, 2013), featuring NoNoNo, a character from D3Publisher's other franchise, Dream Club series.
The Onechanbara games use the following tropes:
Action Commands: Onechanbara Z: Kagura uses this for finishers against bosses, and later, Degraded Boss(es). This is not only for show however, Action Commands that has you slicing off wings, hands, limbs, or what-have-you do decrease the monster-du-jour's attack repertoire, making it easier (theoretically) to finish them off. For bonus points, whomever between the two sisters performs the finishing move gets to have the Boss's power for the rest of the game, so strategic thinking is there, if a bit limited. Oddly, the game insists on the term "Quick Time Kill", rather than the usual QTE.
Onechanbara 2 ends up with Eva being killed and EATEN by Reiko which makes a Face-Heel Turn.
In Bikini Samurai Squad Himiko is killed, but Annna's brother David dies and it is hinted that Saki may lose control over herself in future.
Bloody Hilarious: The amount of blood in the game just turned up to 11 in Z. It really is bordering on fetishistic, such that the soundtrack album cover is of the two characters holding hands on a thoroughly bloodied floor◊.
Cast From Hitpoints: Vamp Skills in Z are skills that you obtain from draining the blood of bosses that decreases hitpoints when used. Fortunately, they do not decrease the maximum recoverable HP, so using Blood Recovery to regain lost HP is simple, if time-consuming.
Chainsaw Good: Saaya. Her ultimate version of it combines it with a V8 engine.
Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Kagura and Saaya are not Romanians. They come from there, yes, and their later ex-headquarters were there, but Romanians they are not. Some gaming news outlets decide "eh, close enough" anyway.
Cute Bruiser: Saki, later Saaya and her more innocent-looking face and her tendency to get scared. Not that she is any less badass, mind you.
Deadly Upgrade: The "Baneful Blood" curse induces a rage-like state when they come in contact with zombie blood. It greatly increases their strength and agility, but slowly burns away at their life force until they die. Under certain conditions, a second, more powerful rage state can be induced.
Defeat Means Playable: In Bikini Zombie Slayers, you have to win the end boss battles against Reiko and Misery (i.e. complete Story Mode as Aya and Saki, respectively) to unlock them as playable characters.
Subverted in Onechanbara Z. The new duo main characters never conclusively defeat Aya or Saki, and they are never playable. That is, until the Aya & Saki DLC came out.
Dueling Games: Of the inadvertent variety. On top of being niche as all heck, Onechanbara Z's initial Xbox 360 release pits it up against the more known Lollipop Chainsaw. Now, only the most hardcore of fans know this game exists.
Early-Installment Weirdness: Keeping with the whole budget game theme having the word "The" in the beginning, the first Onechanbara was actually titled "THE Oneechanbara". Needless to say, this naming convention has since fallen into disuse.
Epic Flail: The misleadingly-named Morning Star, Saaya's special weapon, is actually a heavy flail. Rather good for crowd control, but not as effective as Kagura's Hydra Blade, and doesn't have combo abilities.
Excuse Plot: Scantily clad young women slice up thousands of zombies, spilling gallons of blood and Ludicrous Gibs in the process. What did you expect? If you answer "a deep plot with complex characters", you will definitely get that, although that certainly isn't the main drawing point...
Expendable Clone: Reiko; all those encountered so far are merely eyes and ears (and lab rats) of her real self that is wired into a supercomputer somewhere far away.
Expy: In Bikini Samurai Squad there are zombies that look nearly like Hugo Andore
Info Dump: Quite unfortunately, most games often dump text as plot rather than integrating it to the gameplay. It isn't until Z that they tried something different and they still did ended up doing a text dump in the middle of the game. To be fair, with the exception of Z, Onechanbara games really were budget games, and so most resources went into the gameplay and not plot. VorteX and Revolution can really be adequately summed up as an interactive novel interspersed with bikinis, zombies, and hack and slash to break the boredom.
Katanas Are Just Better: Aya's weapon of choice. She can use two of them at once if things go south. Ditto Saki, once she thinks that fists aren't cutting it (no pun intended) anymore. Also ditto Kagura, who uses two of them exclusively.
Knife Nut: When not using her swords, Aya can use her throwing knives/kunai instead.
Made of Iron: Both the Baneful Blood and Vampire sisters are shown to have far greater strength than an ordinary human. Case in point, when Kagura's parachute fails her and she crashes so hard it makes a crater, she simply uses her Blood Recovery and she got off none the worse. Kagura's more concerned about dying from blood loss instead of internal organ failure or broken bones, and this is all Played for Laughs.
Mini-Game Credits: Taking a page out of Devil May Cry, the ending of Onechanbara Z has Kagura and Saaya face off Aya and Saki for the last time. This time however, you are invulnerable while they aren't, to give you a chance.
Nice Hat: Really, half the appeal from Aya and Kagura is not only their outrageous bikini, but from their cool as all hell cowboy hats.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Apparently, the vampire clan's decision to backstab and kill Kagura and Saaya along with Baneful Blood sisters wasn't the most thought-out plan. Thanks to that, Kagura and Saaya discovered their employers' true plan and joins the Z.P.F in a mission against them. The icing on the cake? Aya and Saki ended up surviving anyway.
One-Winged Angel: Carmilla from Z essentially morphs from her human form into this.
Also a case of Our Zombies Are Different - Reiko in her story arc within Bikini Zombie Slayers mentions that most zombies encountered during the outbreaks are in fact not former humans (although contact with zombie bodily fluids can still cause zombification) but made of the very stuff of Earth itself, leading her to wonder if the zombie crisis is merely nature's revenge against the greed of humans.
Portmantitle: The title, 'Onechanbara', is a portmanteau of 'onē-chan', an affectionate Japanese term of address for an older sister or a young woman, and 'chanbara', a word referring to the genre of samurai films, particularly the classic ones (much like Wild West films over here in the West). note Note that for the pun to be retained in romanization, one has to use modified Hepburn (or another romanization scheme like Nihonsiki - indeed, since these romanization schemes tend to drop the hyphen used for honorifics like 'Onē-chan', this might be better anyway) rather than traditional Hepburn, which romanizes the kana ん / ン as 'm' rather than 'n' before an m, b or p (since that's closer to how it's actual pronounced).
Press X to Not Die: Early in Z, Kagura's parachute malfunctions, sending her slamming to the ground at terminal velocity. At this point, you must press the button combination for Blood Recovery shown on-screen. Failure to do this results in an early game over. Survive, and you can press the button combination again whenever you like as it has an in-game usage.
Shower Scene: The opening to VorteX/Bikini Samurai Squad is of Aya having a shower before being interrupted by news of zombie attack while her sister Saki hands her a Modesty Towel.
Sleeper Hit: Out of all the dozens upon dozens of Simple Series games that D3Publisher cranks out, Onechanbara is one of the few that really became sort of a sleeper hit. Not bad for budget games.
Shorter Means Smarter: Averted, Kagura's technically shorter than her younger sister Saaya, but she's hot-headed and would rather strike cool poses spouting Engrish before kicking ass than think about what they were doing. This gets lampshaded by Saki during their fight, and comes to bite Kagura in the figurative ass when Bullard, their employer backstabs them.
The opening theme of Bikini Zombie Slayers/Revolution, Danger in Disguise, is sung in perfect English. For some reason though, the vocalists sound like a gospel choir.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Kagura & Saaya to Aya & Saki; but more so Kagura because she wears an outfit similar to Aya and carries twins swords. Though Kagura seems to have a cockier attitude compared to Aya going by the first trailer.
Swipe Your Blade Off: An overarching gameplay mechanic, as blood accumulates on weapons quickly as you slice through the zombie hordes, and getting too much blood on it will cause them to get stuck. This also holds true even for fists (Saki and Saaya), even though blood on fists is less of a problem than a blade. This is essentially a rare example of a reload mechanic for swords.
Sword and Gun: Reiko can switch between a regular sword and either a shotgun or SMG.
Unexplained Recovery: Both Kagura and Saaya recovered really well after their employer sent missiles to their faces to rid them with their quarry, the Baneful Blood Sisters.
Updated Re-release: After a year, Onechanbara Z is finally coming to PS3, which means there is no need to import an Xbox 360. To sweeten the deal, they are also throwing a free Canon Immigrant to boot!
Vampires Are Rich: The main villains of Onechanbara Z Kagura are the ruling cadre of a vampire clan that raised Kagura & Saaya, sent the pair to fight the new zombie crisis, and then proceed to double-cross the heroines mid-story.
Virtual Paper Doll: Bikini Samurai Squad allows you to customize the appearance of your characters. Ditto Onechanbara Z, with the ability to change costume, accessory, hat, hair, glasses, etc.
Whip Sword: Eva's weapon which is later used by Misery. Kagura uses an elastic rope dart-like variant consisting of two knives with long ribbons tied to the handles called Hydra Blade.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The new zombie crisis in Onechanbara Z is in fact the doing of the vampire clan that had sent Kagura and Saaya, aimed at luring out and then exterminating the threat of Baneful Bloods (i.e. descendants of the Baneful Blood, with Aya and Saki deemed to be the most dangerous of them all). When they find the heroines in the middle of a duel with Aya and Saki, they decide that the dhampyr sisters must be disposed of as well.
Zettai Ryouiki: Saki used to sport some before changing to gothloli dress.