Samurai Harem is the 2009 anime adaptation of Yū Minamoto’s manga series Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi, a title formerly licensed in North America by Tokyopop. Anime International Company (AIC), known for series such as Ah! My Goddess and Persona 4: The Animation, handle the adaptation and it is directed by Rion Kujo (Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero). This release itself from MVM Entertainment is DVD only and features no English dub.
“His skill with a sword is magnificent but his social skills still need a lot of work!
After many long years perfecting the art of fighting, 17-year-old Yoichi Karasuma is sent down from the remote mountains where he has been raised thinking that he’s going to study some new martial arts techniques… but what he’s really going to learn about are some slightly more practical things, like electrical appliances, modern clothing and, most especially, how NOT to make girls to want to kill you!
Unfortunately, that last lesson is one Yoichi may not survive, as his new dojo is infested with the infernal creatures in the form of the Ikaruga sisters, and they don’t really seem to understand how “proper” girls are “supposed” to behave! Will Yoichi’s bushido blade be struck down by the fearsome charms of Ibuki, Ayame, Chihaya, and Kagome? Or will the equally lethal girls from the rival Tsubame school be his undoing?” – MVM Entertainment
With a name like Samurai Harem, it’s fair to expect that’s what the series is going to be firmly based around. I’m generally not a fan of the harem setting within anime and was all set to dislike this series that so blatantly states its aim in its title. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the first episode that focused more on comedy elements and little on the fan service side. Of course, the fan service does pick up throughout the series for those that look for it.
The saving grace of the series is easily its comedic moments that without would leave the series on the wrong side of generic. With characters such as Ryo Washizu who come complete with their own inner vision, aptly named “Washizu Vision”, that distorts the reality of a particular moment the laughs continue to flow throughout. He’s easily the star of the series for me personally and you can always count on his arrival to turn an ordinary situation into something hilariously weird. Yoichi Karasuma does get thrown into some rather funny situation himself but as the centre of this harem, they’re all common to the genre and anticipated.
Visually, the series isn’t very note-worthy; our main character’s design being rather generic and the female cast having a very common look of that era. By no means is it a bad looking series, just a little on the bland side. This release only features a Japanese audio track; not a big loss as I could only imagine how bad one for this show would probably be. We have another round of generic with the opening and closing songs, neither doing much in the way of boosting the show’s enjoyability. The opening theme is “Egao no Riyuu” by meg rock and the closing is “Life and Proud” by Misato Aki.
Disc one features a collection Sentai Filmworks of trailers including Living for the Day After Tomorrow, Tayutama ~Kiss On My Deity, Eyeshield 21, Gintama, Hell Girl: Two Mirrors and Brighter Than the Dawning Blue. Not forgetting the all-important DVD credits that everyone looks for in the extras section. Whenever I see DVD or disc credits listed under the special features or extras section my excitement is always soured. It’s akin to expecting sweets but only receiving the wrapper. It makes zero sense to me why they would be included under that heading, why include them at all? Disc two comes with the standard clean opening and closing animations.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Samurai Harem; the series is saved by its use of some good comedy and a select few characters. The series could have easily found itself on the wrong side of generic given that most of its elements fit that mould. If you’re a fan of the harem genre this series won’t steer you wrong and if you’re on the fence, give it a go; you may just be surprised.