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Manga / Ikki Tousen

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Romance of the Three Kingdoms WITH PANTY SHOTS! But seriously...

The souls of the greatest warriors, generals, and strategists of the era of Chinese history immortalized in Romance of the Three Kingdoms have continued on beyond their deaths, sealed within magatama beads handed down from generation to generation. For 1,800 years, the gems have dominated the destiny of their holders - the "Toushi", or "Fighters" - increasing their bloodlust and fighting skills while forcing them to re-enact the lives and deaths of their counterparts.

Now, the newest generation of Fighters has gathered around seven high schools in the Kanto region around Tokyo, re-enacting the battles as something in between a semi-organized street fighting tournament and an all-out gang war.

At Nanyou Academy (read: Nanyang and eventually the Wu kingdom), Idiot Heroine Sonsaku Hakufu has arrived ...and she has no clue about anything in the last two paragraphs. All Sonsaku knows is that she likes to fight, and her mom not only gave her a necklace with a pretty magatama, but also told her to make a good impression by beating up fifty Fighters on her first day. She definitely doesn't know that she's the "reincarnation" of Sun Ce, the ruler of Wu known as the "Little Conqueror (Shou Haoh)" - the one who it's said might have united the Three Kingdoms himself if not for his untimely death.

Ikki Tousen (Roughly "Strength of a Thousand") is a manga series by Shiozaki Yuji that was serialized in Comic Gum from 2000 to 2015. It has been adapted into four anime seasons to date, as well as a Fighting Game. The Tokyopop English release of the manga, called Battle Vixens, is notorious for its Macekred translation (similar to CMX's version of Tenjho Tenge). There was also a controversy about several panels from early in the series that seemed to be traced from Oh! Great's Tenjho Tenge manga. The whole thing originated as story-less PVC figurines in the very late 1990s.

Interestingly, the second through fourth seasons were directed by, of all people, Koichi Ohata.

Compare Koihime†Musou, another series of Romance of the Three Kingdoms Gender Flip spoof.

This series is now available on Hulu. It is, however, rated TV-MA, and thus, you need an account to view it. And has a character sheet.

The series has had a (sort of) crossover with Senran Kagura, with Hakufu, Kan'u, and Ryofu being available as DLC characters for Senran Kagura: Estival Versus. They were unavailable in the English version for some time due to liscensing issues, but a loophole was eventually found that let them be in the game with their original ROTK names instead.

In January 2016, a sequel manga titled Shin Ikki Tousen began serialization, continuing from where the original run left off. An anime adaptation by Arms Corporation, the last production completed by the studio before its 2020 closure, was released in 2022.

The real reason for the original run ending (with no conclusion, right in the middle of an all-out fight) and another starting shortly after is Shiozaki's departure from Wani Books, the original manga publisher. He brought his series to Shounen Ganosha, then beginning serialization in Young King Ours, home magazine of some known manga such as Hellsing and Trigun.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Action Mom: Hakufu's mom Goei (Lady Wu) isn't a frontline fighter, but can handle herself well if needed. Especially if you hit her Berserk Button by calling her old.
  • Adaptation Distillation: While the first season of the anime was in-line with the early volumes of the manga, the later seasons and specials that followed went in their own direction; only using events from the manga as inspiration. At times they ignored the source material completely and even created an original character or two. The tone of the series was also subject of some changes. The Anime doesn’t take itself too seriously and greatly exaggerates some relations between girls into something that could be a Cast Full of Lesbians and Bisexuals, while the manga actually has more women commenting and lusting after men than the inverse; even Kan’u has expressed her idea on what a man of valor should be. Finally, unlike the anime, the pacing of the manga becomes much slower, the setting takes itself more seriously, and the violence is much more graphic.
  • Alliterative Title: Each successive TV adaptation has done this in its subtitles, making Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
  • Annoying Arrows: Subverted in Ryoumou's fight with Ten'i, as the arrows nearly end up killing Ryoumou, who probably only survives because of Chouun's interference and the fact that she woke up her dragon.
  • Art Evolution: This was the series Yuji Shiozaki polished his artstyle drastically, he improved so much that the first Ikkitousen Volumes just can't compare to recent ones. The anime though still kept mimicking his earlier style, thus remaining unchanged throughout all seasons, not counting the obvious increases in background art quality and general improvements that come with an increased budget and technology.
  • Ascended Extra: The first season gives Ukitsu (Yu Ji) more scenes and more interaction with Hakufu, who she's destined to kill.
  • Back from the Dead: Ryofu (Lu Bu) in the third season (Great Guardians). Only to die again in the end.
  • Bathtub Bonding: Hakufu does it with Koukin in season one and in Great Guardians with Chuubou.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: So averted, since the girls and the guys get beaten up real hard. As you see, not only their clothes get ripped. Heck, in the manga, poor Ten'i is so brutally mauled that she loses an arm.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Its never really explained why people keep passing on those damn magatama beads and consigning their loved ones to brief and violent lives.
  • Berserk Button: Both Sousou and Ryuubi released their Superpowered Evil Sides upon seeing their friends get badly beaten to protect them.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dragon Destiny has at least three. First, Chou'un intervenes in Ryoumou's fight with Ten'i. Later, Kan'u rescues Ryuubi from Gakushin (Yue Ji) and Chuukou (Xu Chu) as she joins the final battle. And in the end, Hakufu pulls the last one during Sousou and Ryuubi's fight.
  • Bland-Name Product: In Chapter 126, Sonsaku is playing a PSP-style handheld while surrounded by junk food, including a can of pringles, a Coca-Cola bottle, and a drink cup from WcDonald's.
  • Blood Knight: Hakufu just wants to fight people. However, unlike her Superpowered Evil Side, she doesn't want to really hurt anyone. Permanently, anyway.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Several, specially Chouhi (as the expy of Zhang Fei), Kakouton and Hakufu.
  • Bowdlerise: The UK release of Dragon Destiny required to have one of the mini-OVAs edited to remove sight of an animated naked child presented in a sexualised manner, within a sexualised context, and which has the potential to encourage a sexual interest in children.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Lots of people in Great Guardians. Ryoufu, Hakufu, Myousai, Ryoumou...
  • Car Fu: Shiba'i does this in desperation in the last episode of Dragon Destiny.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Ryoufu and Chinkyuu were a Les Yay version before Chinkyuu bit the dust.
  • Clothing Damage: The female characters' clothing seems to disintegrate at the drop of a hat. Somehow averted by Chou'un (Zhao Yun), who practically is the only female who never had her clothes torn in a fair fight (the only time her clothes was torn was due to an interruption), this possibly being a symbol of her Lady of War status.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: In Dragon Destiny, Kaku Bunwa (Jie Xu) and Kakuka Houkou (Guo Jia) discuss strategy... while doing the nasty.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Bachou Mouki, who in the first episode of XX finds nothing wrong with shots to the groin and using pastries to pad her chest, then turning right around and using the filling of said pastries to blind her enemies while she kicks the crap out of them.
  • Cooldown Hug: Used by Chuukou, on Sousou. And by Sousou himself, on Myousai (Great Guardians only)
  • Damsel in Distress: Ryuubi is in this position at first, due to her klutziness and lack of fighting skills. Until her ultra powerful Superpowered Evil Side shows up, that is.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Hakufu often befriends those she defeats
  • Delicate and Sickly: Ryoufu has a fatal illness and knows her days are numbered. Whereas Teifu is crippled and blind, and Kakuka is ailing in the manga.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Ryofu Housen (Lu Bu) skirts the line, especially in the first season of the anime. She rapes Ryoumou after rendering her helpless during a fight (only in the anime, in the manga Ryofu just gropes her), has had sex with Saji and Toutaku, even claiming at some point that Saji raped her in Battle Vixens and is also in a relationship with her best friend, Chinkyuu (Chen Gong). The last relationship actually counts as Pet the Dog.
  • Dub Text: Battle Vixens features several examples, such as the subplot about Saji raping Ryofu, Kan'u and Ukitsu showing interest in Koukin, and making Ryuubi into a Transparently Closeted homophobe constantly worrying about Kan'u lusting after her.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first anime series has several differences between it and the later series for several reasons.
    • The animation style was done by a different studio than the following seasons.
      • The Ecchi while present, are not as exaggerated as the later seasons.
      • The female cast was much smaller than the male cast, which contrasts the very large female cast of later seasons.
      • The supernatural elements are much more subdued compared to later seasons, with one of the few overt instances being the Grand Theft Me performed by the Big Bad of season 1. And as a result, the fights are much more grounded street brawls with various martial arts rather the escalation of supernatural powers and weapon abilities.
  • Evil Cripple: Shiba'i (Sima Yi) is one of the more ruthless strategists in the series and she's confined to a wheelchair. It was all fake, though: she can walk, but uses her supposed disability as Obfuscating Stupidity
  • Eye Catch: In season 1, it's Hakafu kicking into the camera for the "going to commercial" eyecatch, and her skirt lifting for the "back from commercial" eyecatch. Both eyecatches feature a karaoke snippet of the OP, "Driving Through the Night". In seasons 2-4, it's a still image of a character, often in revealing attire, set to a brief rock music cue.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Ryomou (Lu Meng) wears a medical eyepatch to Seal Her Inner Evil In A Can. Later, Kakouton (Xiahou Dun) starts wearing one as well, after messily losing his eye during his and Sousou's fight against Koushaji (Hu Che'er).
  • Facial Markings: Koushaji has a small flower-shaped one on her left cheekbone
  • Fan Disservice: Koushaji has a pantyshot-laden battle against Sousou (Cao Cao), which she loses. She then gets killed by having her head crushed against a wall by Sousou, who went absolutely APESHIT after she injured Kakouton's eye with a throwing needle.
  • Flanderization: Happens to most characters in the third anime season.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: One the covers, the girls wear dresses so fitting we can even make out their belly buttons.
  • Gecko Ending: The first two seasons (Ikki Tousen and Dragon Destiny) each have an original ending. The third season (Great Guardians) is 100% Filler.
  • Genre Savvy: The characters are all aware of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and even try to use that knowledge to their advantage. Yes, even Hakufu breaks out the Cliff Notes when things get serious on her.
  • Gentle Giant: Gakushuu (Yue Jiu); he even has a sweet tooth. Also Kouchuu Kanshou, who blushes intensely when he touches Kan'u and Chuhi's clothes which he had to wash per instructions of his master.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Kanshou and Chouhi, Kaku and Kakuka. In a platonic sense, Gakushuu and either Hakufu or Ryoumou.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Kyouchu Chuukou. In the manga, she was even bullied for her huge size by the boys in her and Sousou's ex judo club. And the first time Sousou's dragon ever appeared, it was to protect Chuukou from said sempais when he thought they tried to rape her.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Alliterative Title style for the anime seasons after the first: Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny, Ikkitousen: Great Guardians, Ikkitousen: Xtreme Xecutor, Ikkitousen: Western Wolves
  • I Have Your Wife: In Episode 12 of the first series, Toutaku tells Hakufu to kill Ryoufu. When she refuses, he grabs her teammate Ryoumou and forces her to fight. Later, Gakushuu and Koukin are captured and held hostage to force Hakufu to fight Saji. And in Dragon Destiny, Kan'u surrenders herself to Kyoushou when Ryuubi, Chouhi, Koumei and Kanshou are threatened by practically all the Kyoushou fighters.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Ryuubi tells Chouhi and Kan'u that, even when she knows she's the reincarnation of Liu Bei, she'd rather live normally like she always has.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Used quite often, with varying results.
    • Subverted: Koukin tries this on Hakufu, who's being used by Toutaku as his Soul Jar. He fails and she brutally beats him up, but then Ukitsu appears and is the one who hits Hakufu's Berserk Button and lets her get free of Toutaku's grip.
    • Played straight: When Ukitsu and Hakufu fight and Hakufu is dominated by her Superpowered Evil Side, Koukin tries again despite Ukitsu's warnings. This time, he succeeds.
    • And again, in Great Guardians: Not only the returned Sousou de-brainwashed Myousai like this (plus Cooldown Hug) and Saji did the same to Ryoufu, who then returned the favor by de-brainwashing Ryoumou... Hakufu's "sister" Chuubou does this to none other than the Big Bad, the *real* Saji Genpou, convincing her to abandon her evil ways and stop fighting.
  • I Owe You My Life: Myousai, to Sousou, who took her in when she was a child soldier. Ten'i, to Shibai, who rescued her from particularly cruel school abuse.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In Great Guardians, Chuubou tells this to Hakufu and Koukin so they can hook up.
  • Kinky Spanking: Has a couple of sexualized punishments of adults, starring local mother and Action Girl. Actually, a number of people watched the series because of Fanservice.
  • Kissing Cousins: Koukin crushes on his cousin Hakufu. In the anime, Goei actually approves and encourages it to some degree, much to Koukin's embarrassment.
  • Lazy Artist: It came with Yuji's improving of his artstyle, there are times he blatantly copy-and-pastes his panels more than once, they're small panels with no background featuring some character being shocked, surprised, being emotionally strucken by something & etc.
  • Likes Older Women: Kakouton (Xiahou Dun) is mistaken as being like this, much to his embarrassment.
  • Little Miss Badass: Ten'i is a damn dangerous Archer who wears a Gothic Lolita dress when she fights. Also, the true Saji Genpou, a Chess Master girl who's a powerful magic user.
  • Love Before First Sight: Chuubou was "destined" to marry Koukin per their reincarnations and was pining for him before they even met.
  • Medium Awareness: In Dragon Destiny, Goei complains to Koukin that her screen time has disminished and wonders what's the reason.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Abundant in Great Guardians, as a side effect of characters ending up Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • Mind Probe: Gakushin (Yue Jin) can use her kiss to dive in the minds and memories of her victims. When she uses this power on Kan'u in Dragon Destiny, it does NOT go well; not only she discovers Kan'u's Les Yay crush on Ryuubi, but also has a bloody vision involving Sousou's past self that causes her a huge Freak Out.
  • Moment Killer: Koumei pulls this at least twice towards Kan'u when she wants to be with Ryuubi.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Kan'u in season 3, after realizing that she's been flanderized. She tried to atone with death, until Ryuubi stops her using a slap.
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: In the first series, Genpou Saji fondles the nurse (who wears such an outfit) while in his hospital bed.
  • Nice Girl - You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who is as sweet, nice and kind-hearted as Hakufu; She is able to forgive anything short of rape and befriend anybody, complete with cute-nicknames and regular hugs, when the fight is over.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Good luck finding anyone who hasn't got the words "Sonsaku, Hakufu, Ryuubi and Gentoku" in their names who has the trope in this franchise.
  • Nosebleed: Koukin gets one when he walks in on Chuubou and Hakufu bathing together.
  • Oneesama: Chuubou refers to Hakufu (who doesn't fit the personality at all) as such and Koukin as "onii-sama" (he comments he can easily get used to it).
  • Potty Emergency: Hakufu has one in Episode 4 of Dragon Destiny; Bachou has one in Episode 5 of Xtreme Xecutor while held captive.
  • Potty Failure: Several of the girls pee their panties during fights, and some of them actually consider it an achievement to make their opponent wet herself (however some arguably that this is a case of Orgasmic Combat). This actually became a plot point at one time as Tanfuko could tell his plan to weaken Kan’u was working because of the liquid coming down between her legs
    • At least one time a fighter lost control her bladder was probably fear based, the assassin that attacked Sousou and blinded his best friend Kakouton, wet herself after Sousou's Superpowered Evil Side took over.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: Hakufu and Goei (for Koukin). At least Goei handles the housework and the cooking, so...
  • Psycho for Hire: Kannei (Gan Ning), surprisingly, for all of Ikkitousen's heavy fanservice and great liberals, this is one of the few things they got right for the historical Gan Ning, who was pretty much a Psycho for Hire that caused grief to even his own men for his psychoness. Kannei was pretty much like that and became something of a first boss for Sonsaku to set up her dominance in school.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female:
    • During Ryofu's first episode she rapes one of the show's most popular characters, Ryoumou, after defeating her. This is never brought up again, and she even becomes an Ensemble Dark Horse herself.
    • In Dragon Destiny it was revealed that another character, Ten'i, had been gang raped at her old school by a sadistic Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse. They pretty much used this trope to justify their actions
  • The Real Remington Steele: A BIG Revelation of Great Guardians is based on this. The "Saji" we know is actually Ouin (Wang Yun) Shishi, which we already knew. But what the audience was NOT told is that the big bad of Great Guardians is the Fighter with the real magatama of Zuo Ci, a Little Miss Badass young woman who is the true Saji Genpou, whom the "other" Saji might be in love with.
  • Reincarnation: For all practical purposes, at least.
  • Rescue Romance: Genderflipped. It's hinted that Koukin loves Hakufu ever since, as children, she protected him from bullies.
  • Screening the Call: In the manga, Goei tried to keep Hakufu from picking fights to save her from her fate as a Fighter. In the anime, she goes as far as actually telling Kakouton how to defeat Hakufu in the tournament. It didn't work in any of these cases.
  • Sexposition: Used a few times throughout the four series, such as episode 2 of Dragon Destiny.
  • Shown Their Work: One of the DVD extras for the first season shows a "reference photos" session, wherein the anime staff managed to recruit an actual schoolgirl to do a bunch of panty-flashing high kicks.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Moukaku in Xtreme Xecutor. Her favorite insult is calling people "fuckwit."
  • Skinship Grope: Hakufu seems to like groping Ryomou quite a bit. Same goes to Koumei, when she bathes with Ryuubi.
  • Soul Jar: The ones with the dragons inside. Also, in the first season Toutaku transfers his soul to Hakufu's body as he dies, to settle his score with Saji.
  • Taking You with Me: Ryoufu's ultimate Screw Destiny act in the anime is this. Toutaku survives... only to die few minutes later.
  • Theme Naming: All of the characters have the same names as the Japanese reading of their counterparts from Three Kingdoms. To be exact, their surnames are the full, real names of their Chinese counterparts, and their given names are the courtesy names of their Chinese counterparts. (See Chinese Names for the issue of "real names" and "courtesy names.")
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Hakufu tells this to Goei in the first season, before she goes to face Toutaku.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Hakufu's Catchphrase, when she seriously gets pissed off.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub — Because all translations insist on using the direct Japanese equivalents of the characters' actual Chinese names, most of the international audience don't even know it's based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and those who do have an incredibly hard time following along trying to keep track of who everyone's supposed to be. The official subtitles in particular is a mess in this regard, clearly translated by someone who went into the series not having a clue what all these weird names tossed around are supposed to be. Literally the only non-Japanese name in the entire series written the way an English-speaker would recognize is "China".
    • Likewise, official English descriptions of the series claims that main character "Sonsaku", whom the entire non-Japanese-speaking world knows as "Sun Ce", is the "reincarnation of a person named "Sho Haou". Which is borderline "Blind Idiot" Translation.
  • The Vamp: Kaku often uses her sexiness to get what she wants. Then again, so did Toutaku and Saji...
  • Villains Out Shopping: Toutaku is often seen tending to his small watermelon and flower patches.
  • Waterfall Shower: In episode 9, Hakufu Sonsaku strips off her dress but keeps her panties on to go Skinny Dipping and have a waterfall shower.
  • Weirdness Censor: Hey, nobody seems to notice that hot schoolgirls and schoolboys are beating up each other.
  • Wuxia: Smutty fanservice notwithstanding, the story does bear elements of the ferocious passion plays of honor, romance and tragedy that is staple of the genre. In particular, Yasuhara Takanashi's hot-blooded soundtrack for Dragon Destiny, Great Guardians and Xtreme Xecutor captures the heart stirring heroism of films like Once Upon a Time in China just right.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: There's a season, called Xtreme Xecutor
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Hakufu's "sister" Sonken Chuubou (Sun Quan) or to be exact, Shoukyou (Xiao Qiao). Parodied in Dragon Destiny where the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue has Chou'un trying her hand at ikebana and failing miserably, as she uses the scissors like a katana.