Video Game: Senran Kagura
Being born into this world, living to protect it to the end, so is the way of the ninja
Beautiful and brave, pushing our bodies to their limits, confusion blooms
Our days are nonchalant and full of laughter
Our nights filled with fear and uneasiness
Hidden from sight in the shadows, to prove that we are alive we rise, toward a vivid light.
— Shoujô-tachi no shinei
(Portrait of Girls
is a series of fanservice-filled Beat 'em Up games
by Marvelous Entertainment. The premise involves different schools of ninja
(commonly referred to as "shinobi" in this series), generally split into two factionsnote
, facing off against each other, as well as against entities called "Yoma
", as they deal with the rigors of ninja training and their daily lives as a shinobi
. The ultimate goal of most of these schools is to produce the best shinobi they can, as well as to eventually raise the ninja who will become a "kagura
, a high-ranking shinobi who specializes in Demon Slaying
, however, is on the large amounts of equally large breasts on the majority of the gals
, so much so that the series prides itself on this facet
, calling its genre "the
Hyper-Battle of Bursting Breasts" (emphasis theirs
). The games, of course, include copious amounts of bounciness
, Clothing Damage
, and Male Gaze
, among other relevant fanservice
Yet, despite of all the attention the series garners for its well-rounded, bouncy aspects
, Senran Kagura
also blends the elements of school life comedy, cute girls doing cute things, and the drama of the harsh world of shinobi, sometimes to great effect. Of course, this leads to the series having somewhat of a schizophrenic presentation
, as the director likes to flaunt the fanservice, while the writer is known for writing material darker
than what one would expect from a series like this (see the Trivia tab for more information).note
As for the gameplay, most games in the series have a focus on attaining high combos while mowing down groups of foes. Missions set up the stages, while the action is broken up by the occasional Visual Novel
-styled cutscenes and narration, which provide more details on certain parts of the storyline. During battle, characters are able to perform a "shinobi transformation
", changing them from their regular attire to their shinobi form, which gives them more varied combos and the ability to perform devastating special moves called "Secret Ninja Arts". Taking too many hits, however, induces Clothing Damage
, causing costumes to lose their HP and defensive bonuses. Costumes can eventually be completely removed by taking too much damage, leaving a character in her swimsuit and with no defenses
. However, players can choose to activate "Frantic
" mode, which discards all clothing (except the swimsuit) and defenses in order to boost offense significantly. Be warned though, it's much easier to die while in Frantic mode
The early 3DS titles were side-scrollers, but the Vita game Shinovi Versus
branched the gameplay out into a fully 3D battlefield, akin to games like Dynasty Warriors
. The sequel to the 3DS games carries over some of this aspect from Shinovi Versus
, while introducing new concepts such as tag teams. The sequel is also the first in the series to have playable male characters (earlier games had male characters as NPCs).
When Marvelous later desired for the series to be brought to international markets, XSEED Games
took up the call. Senran Kagura Burst
was localized and sold in North America as an eShop download title in 2013. Burst
had sold well enough that XSEED decided to continue localizing the series, with Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
for the PlayStation Vita
being their next title to work on, along with, interestingly
, the Rhythm Game
of the series, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit
The official Japanese site can be visited here
, but be wary of NSFW content, given the premise. The official site for the localized Senran Kagura Burst
Aside from the video games, two manga adaptations were released, and an anime
aired in the Winter 2013 Anime
Games in the Senran Kagura series:
- Senran Kagura: Portrait of Girls (2011; 3DS; Japan-only)note
- Senran Kagura Burst: Crimson Girls (2012 in Japan, 2013 in North America, 2014 in Europe; 3DS)note
- Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (2013 in Japan, 2014 in North America; Playstation Vita)note
- Senran Kagura: New Wave (2013; Mobile Phone Game; playable through GREE and Mobage)note
- Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit (2014; Playstation Vita)note
- Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson (2014; 3DS)note
- Senran Kagura: Estival Versus (2015; Playstation Vita & Playstation 4)note
Tropes presented by Senran Kagura:
- Action Bomb: Rat Shinobi in SV are the this on hard difficulty.
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: The Lingerie Lottery in Shinovi Versus has a system where the player's luck decreases the more lingerie the player purchases, forcing him/her to pay more for a better chance. It doesn't help that there are 98 pairs though.
- Adults Are Useless: In the first game, Kiriya initially refused to involve himself in his students' conflict with Hebijo: as shinobi students, he expects them to be able to fight and survive by themselves if they want to become full-fledged shinobi. Averted in the anime adaptation, though it makes little difference because he arrives late to the final showdown.
- Affectionate Parody: You have some of the most serious tropes generally associated with a ninja work of fiction... in an high-school setting and with a lot of humor, cute and sexy girls, hot-bloodness and the power of friendship. See also Pastiche below.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: The player can unlock different types of clothing and accessories as they progress through the game.
- Animal Jingoism: The emblem of Hanzō Academy is a frog; Hebijo and Crimson's emblems are... well, snakes; Gessen's emblem is a spider. No slugs to be seen, though.
- Animation Bump: The opening, Headed by A-1 Pictures but outsourced to Toon City (better known for its work for Disney).
- The Anime of the Game: Airing in Winter 2013. It was simulcasted by Funimation.
- Arc Words: A couple pop up across entries in this series:
- Shinobi, written with the kanjis meaning "The Beauty in Death". Mainly used by Daidouji-sempai. Has since become a term for describing the girls' unyielding fighting spirit.
- The word "dance" is used quite a bit in the series, most notably to refer to battles. Even the word "kagura" can be translated as "god of entertainment". Considering that the bloodshed between shinobi is the thing what draws out yoma, it could be seen as that the shinobi are the performers, and the yoma are the audience.
- Ass Kicks You: Hibari has a prominent hip throw as the finisher to her aerial combo, and uses her butt with her aerial smash. Her aerial special even involves her using ninja magic to grow giant, then drop butt-first onto her opponents. The Crimson Girls opening even shows Hibari and Haruka trading butt blows so powerful it literally shreds their clothing.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Hibari sometimes plays into this.
- Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson's Hipster DLC, not that kind of hipster, is a Shoot 'em Up non-canon story where Hanzo city is being attacked by the Hebijo girls using the “bursting boob power”. The problem? The power makes them gigantic. It's up to the Hanzo girls to defeat the Hebijo girls and save Hanzo city.
- Awesome but Impractical / Desperation Attack: Ultimate Secret Ninja Arts in Shinovi Versus. Unlike the previous ninja arts that require one or two ninja art scrolls, the Ultimate art can only be performed if the player has five ninja art scrolls. The catch? The player's health must be at a dangerous low. Most of the time you'll only have one or two shots to pull this off because you can only hold ten ninja art scrolls. On the plus side, they do look pretty kick ass and your opponent gets completely stripped if they're KO'd by it. However, it's better off being used as a last resort.
- Bathtub Bonding: Katsuragi is very big on it. Same goes for Haruka.
- The Battle Didn't Count: In the Hanzo storyline of the first game (and Burst), Hejibo academy spends the first few chapters pulling this out of their asses. After Homura's first fight, it's implied she's lying, and Haruka at least has the excuse that she's body surfing into a lifelike doll of herself, but the rest of the girls will just infuriatingly run off, claiming that you didn't deal any damage, neverminding that Clothing Damage in this series is practically evidence in a court of law that you took substantial damage.
- Katsuragi even lampshades this after her battle with Imu.
Katsuragi: Let me guess. You "weren't really trying, and it didn't count?"
- Battle Strip: What Frantic mode is. A shinobi will discard her clothes to greatly boost her offense and movement speed, at the cost of defense and being forced into her swimsuit.
- Beach Episode: Episode 4 of the anime.
- Estival Versus has this as it's whole premise.
- BFS: Ikaruga's nodachi (a two-handed katana whose blade is between 1m and 1.50m long); Yomi (her opposite number) has a claymore as large or larger than she is.
- Big Bad : Orochi. And Dougen.
- Bit Part Bad Guys: The delinquents from early in the original game and the Hanzo story of Burst. Not remotely dangerous, and more or less disappear entirely once Hebijo becomes an issue in the plot — they're there both to ease you into the game with enemies less threatening than even the Mook Hebijo students, and plot-wise as an example of what the Hanzo students had actually been facing prior to their clash with Hebijo.
- Bleached Underpants: Yaegashi Nan, the artist of the series, has drawn some pretty risqué NSFW artwork before he helped with Senran Kagura.
- Bloodless Carnage: Despite the majority of the cast fighting with blades, hammers, kunai, etc, the main tell that they're doing any damage comes in the form of Clothing Damage. Outside of the third manga, blood is rarely shown.
- Subverted, however, in that the in-game "novels" frequently describe characters bleeding (most notably when Yagyu attempts to find the Hebijo school), and the insides of Orochi heavily showcase blood dripping everywhere.
- Bonus Boss: For the Hanzō storyline, we have Daidōji, and for the Hebijo storyline, we have Suzune-sensei, aka Rin. Both of them need to be defeated with all 5 characters in a row. The former focuses on pure power at the expense of speed. Once her HP is in the red, if she catches you on the ground, she will use an unavoidable, unblockable dragon punch that kills you in one hit. As for the latter, good luck even catching her as she dashes around the battlefield at lightspeed slashing you up and throwing Fuuma Shurikens.
- Boobs of Steel: Although many of the characters have large breasts, the best example of this trope is Daidouji, being significantly more muscular, older, and more physical, than other characters.
- This is actually a fairly accurate measurement of a characters physical strength... the larger a characters bust is, the more likely they'll fight with slower, but harder-hitting strikes. This extends in the other direction, where the girl with the smallest bust fights almost entirely with ranged weapons with few actual physical attacks.
- Bound and Gagged: Hibari when she's kidnapped in episode 9 of the anime.
- Breast Expansion: The third Deep Crimson DLC allows players to invoke this to jarring proportions. It can also be inverted and give the girls flat chests instead.
- Cast from Hit Points: The Limit Break, which creates an explosion around the character to knockback surrounding enemies, a la the Mega Crash from Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. It costs 10% of the the character's health to use.
- Catch Phrase:
Hanzō students before battle: Let's dance! and I'll show you a dance cloaked in shadows!
Hebijo students before battle: I dance for the honor of evil!
Gessen students before battle: Sink into the dreams of sleeping souls!
Crimson members before battle: I sacrifice myself to the will of evil/our dance!
- Charged Attack: Breach Arts
- Child Soldiers: Students are asked to throw off their student mentality when entering a ninja school; from now on, they are expected to conduct themselves as shinobi.
- Justified Trope: The harsh rules of the world of shinobi exists for a reason: to prepare shinobi students for their principal duty, fighting against youmas. During Rin's first mission, her group of 50 (including a kagura) were slaughtered by 10 youmas in a few minutes.
- Clothing Damage: Taking damage (regardless of how much health a character actually has) wears down a girl's clothes and will eventually leave her in a defenseless bikini if too many hits are accrued. It's also the only visual way to tell that the characters are actually trying to kill each other, as actual bloodshed is rare.
- Code Name: Every shinobi student is assigned one.
- Combat Pragmatist: Shinobi tends to be.
- As Yumi puts it in SV, their combat is not for sport. Shinobi fight to kill.
- Same can be said when Miyabi scoffs at Asuka for complaining about Ryōbi and Ryōna assisting her.
- Common Ranks: Shinobi have their own ranking system. It applies for shinobi students, too.
- Lower-level Shinobi : Hibari, Mirai, Minori.
- Middle-level Shinobi : Asuka, Yagyu, Yomi, Haruka, Ryōbi, Ryōna, Murasaki, Imu, Shiki, Yozakura.
- Higher-level Shinobi : Katsuragi, Ikaruga, Homura, Hikage, Miyabi, Yumi, Murakumo.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Interestingly, this applies to both Hanzo and Hebijo. When there are tons of Hebijo mooks the Hanzo gals defeat them easily. When the Hanzo gals try to gang up on a single Hebijo girl, the Hanzo gals are in danger of losing badly.
- The five Hebijo snake girls are far from being on the level of your ordinary Hebijo mook, though.
- Justified Trope: It is explicitly mentioned that the light faction handpicks the talented while the dark faction accepts anyone.
- Cooking Duel: The entire premise of Senran Kagura Bon Appétit.
- Crapsaccharine World: On one hand, death walks with the shinobi. Most of the characters have lost at least one loved one. Training can be deadly. The girls perfectly accept that the fights are No-Holds-Barred Contest which can leave them dead and try in all earnest to kill each other. They know they can be finished by the winner. Failure during a mission can mean death. And then, on the other hand, not only are the generally cheerful girls capable of simply acting like normal teenagers most of the time, but when all is said and done, the level of violence is equivalent to say, One Piece and nobody ever dies outside of backstories or otherwise off-screen deaths (which can sometimes cause ambiguity as to who's actually dead). Overall, it's the seriousness with which the girls take their duty as shinobi and the grim backstories that most of them have which paints a really dark outlook on the franchise.
- Creepy Cool Crosses: If you look at the Hejibo Academy's logo, you notice its an upside-down cross with two snakes wrapped around it.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: In a story sequence, Ikaruga ends up having to fight her resentful brother and never lays a finger on him. ... Because she doesn't have to. He's so hopeless at ninjutsu, and her so comparatively skilled that she defeats him easily without ever having to attack him directly. Which is the reason she was adopted and made a shinobi in his place in the first place, and the reason for his resentment of her.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Anathematic Ninja Arts are ninja arts that give the user tremendous power with huge risk. So much that there are forbidden techniques for reversing the art!
- Dark and Troubled Past: Each character in the cast, even Hibari later on. Being a shinobi is suffering. Check the character page for individual character entries.
- Although to balance things out, she goes through many of the darkest moments in the actual game.
- Darker and Edgier: Induced in the third manga series Guren no Hebi. Despite having some of the lighter moments present in other adaptations of the series, the tone of Guren no Hebi is very bleak and grim and it adverts the Bloodless Carnage the rest of the series utilizes, making all the fights somewhat disturbing to read. Additionally, the storylines of the 3DS games are much more serious (usually with more at stake) compared the ones present in the Vita titles.
- Defeat Equals Explosion: Bosses in New Wave will blow up after being defeated. Exactly why this happens is pretty much a mystery.
- Determinator: True to their etymology, all of the shinobi. But especially Asuka and Homura.
- Dirty Old Man: Averted with Kiriya-sensei, who does his job professionally and doesn't blink when the fanservice presents itself. While Hanzo usually acts like a doting grandpa toward Asuka despite her many shortcomings, he still has shades of this, especially in the anime. However, he's very low-key about it and is never shown to be completely depraved about it either, especially when compared to how Dirty Old Men are usually depicted in Japanese works.
- Disc One Nuke: In New Wave, event cards in with absurdly high stats can be given to the player as early as level 1. This can make it very easy for earning new cards and sweeping through bosses.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Several examples throughout the franchise. The most obvious is the constant image of a girl with something inserted between her breasts, be it scrolls, sushi rolls, or whatever. To say nothing of the random positions some characters take in the anime and the manga, as well as when Clothing Damage occurs in the games. Bon Appetit, being a non-serious Rhythm Game, takes it Up to Eleven due to it being a cooking game as well.
- Downloadable Content: With the exception of Portait of Girls and Burst, the games offer DLC content ranging from clothes to different accessories to even bonus stories.
- Drop the Hammer: Hijikata, Kanon and Hanabi pretty much got this covered.
- Dual Wielding: Asuka uses two Wakizashi.
- Homura hexuple wields Katana! Like Wolverine Claws, no less!!
- Suzune/Rin wields two Fuuma Shuriken.
- Murakumo wields a spear in one hand and a bloody cleaver in the other.
- Then we have Ryōna, who uses two unusual pistols with the butts of the guns bolted on both ends.
- Kagari wields two tambourine shaped knives.
- Tsubame uses two sabers.
- Kisaragi uses two hachiwara.
- Yūyaki dual-wields two Nōdachi.
- Renka uses bachi.
- Dysfunction Junction: All the girls have some malfunction, see Dark and Troubled Past above. It's a miracle that the Hebijo girls aren't at each others throat, if only because their anger is directed at someone or something outside the group.
- While that can be said for Homura's group, Miyabi's group, do self-destruct near the end of their story. They get better though.
- Eldritch Abomination: Yamata no Orochi... Where to start? It seems to be one-third humanoid giant, one-third dragon, and one-third Humongous Mecha. Four of its five necks have no heads on them, instead ending in great masses of bloodstained katanas. It has two bizarre mechanical appendages that can only be described as giant tennis rackets covered in bloodstained katanas. On its central neck is the head of a mecha-dragon, covered in bloodstained katanas, and in the head's mouth is a human face, contorted with rage. Oh, and the sound of its roar is mixed with a baby crying.
- The Yoma in general follow this trope to a tee, with many of them combining human anatomy with monstrous designs.
- Eldritch Location: The inside of Yamata no Orochi. It's a weird red version of the normal world with odd features like floating interfaces in the background and rotating gears on the floor. It also has inexplicable grassy meadows and you can hear Orochi's heartbeat wherever you go.
- Elite Mook: In Crimson Girls there is a tall dummy mook with the highest health of any enemy in the game, with two katanas and a gun that shoots shurikens. Unlike the other Giant Mooks these guys are so tough they only ever appear one at a time.
- The game takes off the kiddie gloves with Hebijo's final mission where you have to face Daidouji backed up by four robo-dummies.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: According to Homura, this is the virtue of the Dark Ninjas. Of course, just because they accept everyone doesn't mean that everyone have what it takes to be one. As for Homura personally, she quickly accepts people who wants to be her friend. Such as Hibari.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones/Evil Is One Big Happy Family: The opening of the Hebijo storyline is about how those girls met and formed into their own little group.
- Evil Versus Evil: In Shinovi Versus the former elites of Hebijo Academy (now dubbed the Homura Crimson Squad) are being hunted down by the new Team Hebijo elites because they are renegades, inevitably causing them to clash.
- Excuse Plot: Rampant Ninja-related crimes these days. Are you bad enough gals to save Japan?. Although this diminishes as the series goes on, particularly as the characters deal with their trials, and the Yoma become more of a prominent threat.
- Eyepatch of Power: Yagyū and Mirai.
- And there's also an unlockable eyepatch that can be worn by any girl... including the two girls who already have them. It's especially funny when Yagyu equips two eye patches and says sardonically, "I don't need this..."
- Extranormal Institute: Hanzo, apparently a regular highschool with regular students... save for five of them and the special lessons they take.
- Face-Heel Turn: Hibari transfering to Hebijo school. It was part of a plot to infiltrate the academy and recover an important item stolen by the snake girls. Hibari may seem weak and childish most of the time, but this girl has wits and guts when it counts the most. Doesn't apply in the Hebijo storyline as Hibari is revealed to be brainwashed by Dougen.
- Rin when it is revealed that she is Suzune-sensei.
- Fake Longevity: 100% Completion in Burst requires clearing every mission on each story with the initial 5 characters, getting every character (including the secret ones) to level 50, clearing every mission at least once with an A Rank and once in Frantic Mode (thankfully not with every character) and will take upwards of 70 hours. Beating the main story for both sides combined only takes around 10.
- Famous Ancestor: Hattori Hanzō is the founder of the Hanzo Academy. Asuka is his grand-daughter, and yet she leaves a lot to be desired.
- Fanservice: Let's get counting!
- Boobs-and-Butt Pose: Some cards in New Wave have someone do this. Though it's unsurprising given the amount of fanservice in the game.
- Clothing Damage: Taken Up to Eleven in VS (it extends to even the swimsuits, leaving only some censoring).
- Erotic Eating, according to the trailer. It's also in the manga and happens in the anime, where Kiriya-sensei of all people gets in on it.
- Jiggle Physics: They put the 3DS' computing capability to great use!
- Although to be fair, the jiggles are canned animations and aren't calculated in real time.
- Panty Shot
- Which is followed by, of course, Sailor Fuku.
- Although the focus of the franchise seems to be big-breasted pretty girls, it may be interesting to note that the protagonists are equally as sexually objectified (with the signature blending of clothes ripped and breast jiggling of the franchise) as they are depicted as physically strong, courageous (bordering on reckless; but it's expected of ninjas), and without the need of being protected by a male character.
- Senran Kagura passes the The Bechdel Test. In fact, in the whole franchise there was only a short hint of (straight) romance at the beginning of the first game, but it was more of a Red Herring; to show what the girls are prepared to lose, how much they are willing to sacrifice a normal youth to become shinobi.
Troper, dance in the shadows for justice !