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This is a good series to get into if you like all kinds of things. You'll like it if you enjoy ecchi anime, fighting anime, or yes, So Bad Its Good series. I enjoy it for being a good show myself, but I can see how people would watch it out of sick fascination. The fact of the matter is, most people haven't read, and quite a few probably haven't even heard of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, so the story details it takes from that shouldn't matter. It's a fun series that knows what crowd is is trying to appeal to. I got into it through the English manga, and I enjoy the macekering done to it; but I would suggest wary viewers start with the subtitled version of the anime, because the English voice acting is subpar, but does get a bit funnier because they can throw in more jokes with the script changes. If you're the kind of anime fan who can enjoy all kinds of shows and will give anything a chance, give this a try. If the anime doesn't get you into it, try the wackier English manga version for a bit. If you still don't like it, that's fine, but it won't have ruined your world forever because you watched/read it for a while.
If approached correctly, Ikki Tousen isn't entirely bad. Make no mistake, Ikki Tousen is brain poison. I can't stress that enough. But its dedicated to being exploitation schlock in a way few other shows can match. And lets be honest, if you've put enough serious thought into watching to both read the article and this review, you've already abdicated any right to judge it. Sit down and enjoy your stupid.
Where to start. Plot. As somebody with a college education and a detailed understanding of Han dynasty Chinese history I can authoritatively state that the plot to Ikki Tousen is pants on head retarded. Do not keep track of the school affiliations, do not reference to the source material, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Give up. Its about as faithful to the source material as Diao Chan was to Dong Zhuo and under no circumstances should you try to understand it. This is fine except the anime is doggedly committed to pretending it has a plot, which seems a rather cruel trick to play on uninitiated viewers. I couldn't say if the manga's plot is better since I haven't read it, and I wouldn't trust the mutants who actually did as far as I could throw them.
Its all academic anyhow since the actual purpose of the plot is as a vehicle for the fanservice. As fanservice goes its honestly more funny than titillating. Watching what contrived plot device they come up with to remove clothing or what camera acrobatics they will employ next to exploit it is probably the most entertaining part of the experience. I'd recommend a drinking game if I weren't so afraid it would cause hundreds of deaths. Moving on, sound. The dub actors know exactly what kind of show they're in and pitch their performances accordingly. Hakufu especially turns in a remarkably felicitous performance playing the queen idiot in a cast that is a veritable Idiot Ball league. Music is remarkably unremarkable for a series that skews to extremes in every other way.
All in all its really hard to recommend Ikki Tousen on any level, even as So Bad Its Good. But it might be worth checking out just for its sheer audacity. That a show this horrendous not only got green lighted but survived for four seasons earns it a special place in anime infamy. Good viewing and god help you.
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