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Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series(TV) (2011)
Takeru enrolled in Tenbi Academy because the girl-to-guy ratio is, like, 3 girls for every guy. But this bevy of bombshells is actually a school where teens beef up their combat skills using a magic power thingy called a Maken. Redheads with wicked high kicks, shocking blonde bullies, and aggressive brunettes are EVERYWHERE. And every time there’s a brawl, their clothes tend to disintegrate.
For more about Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series and the Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series Blu-ray release, see Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on December 2, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tomoaki Maeno, Noriko Shitaya, Iori Nomizu, Sayuri Yahagi, Misuzu Togashi, Mina
Director: Koichi Ohata
» See full cast & crew
Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series Blu-ray Review
Magic is the Breast Defense
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, December 2, 2013
Let's just put it this way: You won't watch Maken-Ki! for its plot. Nor will you watch it for the artistry of its animation or the growth of its characters or even the magical power-assisted battle scenes. No, you'll watch Maken-Ki!—if you watch it at all, and I'd like to convince you not to bother—for one reason only. The fan-service. The pervy, ecchi, utterly gratuitous fan service. Actually, I'm not sure gratuitous is the right word considering that if you removed all of the smutty content—the upskirt shots in every scene, the physics-defying breasts, the peeping-tom horndoggery—you wouldn't be left with much of anything. Maken-Ki! exists only to fulfill male junior high fantasies about harems and girls locker rooms and the desperate want to be wanted. It's not sexually explicit—that is, it never veers into outright hentai territory—but it's got one thing and one thing only on its mind. Look no further than the opening theme song ("Fly Away" by Misuzu Togashi), which features at least eighteen panty shots. I lost count after that. If wink-wink animated softcore is your thing, have at it. Just don't expect anything else from Maken-Ki! And, honestly, don't expect much from the ecchi stuff; it's far more comically ridiculous than titillating.
Stock characters and overused premises are par for the anime course, but Maken-Ki! is more formulaic than most. Our hero—if you can even call him that—is the orphaned Takeru Ohyama (Tomoaki Maeno, dubbed in English by Ian Sinclair), a dorky and hormonal first-year student at Tenbi Academy, a private high school which is basically a Japanese Hogwarts. Only, instead of practicing spells and potions, the magically gifted students at Tenbi learn to harness "elements" and do battle using semi-supernatural weapons known as maken. (Orphaned hero? Check. Magic school? Check. Elemental battles where the characters get to show off their specialized abilities? Check, check, check.) The answer to why the students are taught these skills, and for what purpose they'll inevitably use them is dribbled out over the course of the 12-episode series—it involves a shadowy government organization, a gang of mercenaries, and a magic mountain—but this overarching plot is next to meaningless, a clotheslines of a story on which to hang one pair of panties after another.
Far more important to the series is the fact that Takeru—despite being a bland weakling—becomes the instant object of interest for a group of female students with enormous breasts and five-inch skirts. There's Takeru's elementary school pal, Haruko, who doesn't want to admit how much she likes him; there's Inaho, who claims to be Takeru's fiancé—they made a childhood pact he apparently doesn't remember—and fiesty Kodama, who's here to bust Takeru's balls for his being a lech. The four inexplicably share a coed dorm room, so you can expect Takeru to often "accidentally" see the girls in the shower or in various states of undress. (Likewise, there's lots of "accidental" boob-touching and panty-grabbing from the clumsy Takeru, whose nose bleeds profusely whenever he's "accidentally" turned on.) There's also a huge cast of ancillary characters—a sexy school nurse, a sexy principal, sexy antagonists and sexy allies—who are so numerous and inconsequential that it's hard enough to keep track of them, let alone care about them. The show invests more creative energy into the design of its characters' undergarments than into the characters themselves.
There are a few key episodes that seek to advance the nominal plot, but they arrive far too late in the series to make a difference. The bulk of the episodes are precision-engineered to simply get the female characters into revealing outfits. One episode is centered around Kodama inviting Takeru on a lingerie shopping excursion at the local mall. Another features a team-building field trip to a hot springs, where Takeru gets to gawk at his fellow Security Council club members in their bathing suits. Yet another has them going to a tropical island for barely clothed fun in the sun. And then there's the episode where, in order to raise money for the club, the girls work at a maid cafe and are subjected to dopey visual double entendres, like having whipped cream shot in their faces.
If there's an opportunity for ogling, Maken-Ki! takes it, every time. Usually, this means lingering shots of cleavage and camel toe, with the occasional topless scene. (Censored with blinding bars of light on television, but completely uncensored in this Blu-ray release.) The fan-service is so pervasive that it quickly loses the novelty in would have in a comparatively "straight" series. There's something to be said for being left wanting more, but that's a lesson they obviously don't teach at the Tenbi Academy.
Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series Blu-ray, Video Quality
With over four hours of material on the first disc—and nearly that much on the second, when you factor in the high definition bonus content—you might expect Maken-Ki! to look heavily compressed on Blu-ray. However, while Funimation's 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation is not without its issues —most notably, some occasional banding present in fine color gradients—there are no outright distractions here. At least, nothing that will pull your eyes away from the kind of non-stop ogling the show encourages. The series has what appears to be a soft-by-design look, with somewhat hazy colors and lines that are less than crisp, but the HD transfer definitely benefits the material, which looks clean and true-to-source. (And much more refined than would be possible in standard definition.) The animation itself is functional but well-short of impressive; fight scenes are often herky-jerky—with freeze frames and artificial-looking slow motion—and the characters in general are stiff, only moving when absolutely necessary. The exception, of course, being the ridiculous breast physics.
Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Funimation has provided two audio options, both in the Dolby TrueHD codec. The default is a 5.1 English dub, while the original Japanese mix is relegated to a 2.0 stereo track. I would bemoan this last fact, but the sound design, like the series' characters and story, is something of an afterthought. Language purists won't miss much here. The multi-channel dub puts out some rear-channel activity during fight scenes—swooshes, electric crackles, etc.—and the weirdly sentimental music is often bled into the surround speakers, but none of this is central to the experience. Dialogue takes precedence, and in either language, it's always clear and easy to understand. Not surprisingly, the Japanese track is more authentic and better performance-wise—the English voice acting can seem a little over-enthusiastic—but whatever your preference, you've got a decent lossless option. The only oddity here is that it's impossible to switch spoken languages or subtitles mid-episode using your remote. You have to retreat to the main menu and confirm your choice there. Do note that there are no subtitles for the English mix, while the Japanese track has forced subtitles.
Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A non-stop fan-service series with better panty animation than character development, Maken-Ki! has little to offer those looking for a well- written anime. The show's story is strictly routine—an orphaned hero, magic abilities, a harem of mightily stacked female students protecting their school from outside forces—and what drama there is takes a back seat to the never-ending ogling and groping and general perving out. Funimation's 12-episode Blu-ray release is certainly well-endowed, featuring two commentary tracks, isolated title sequences, and a series of over-the-top "secret training" videos, but making it through the series is a tough slog. If you must check Maken-Ki! out, you'd be better off using one of the online anime streaming services.
Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Other Seasons
Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series Blu-ray, News and Updates
• FUNimation Announces November 2013 Slate - August 20, 2013
FUNimation Entertainment has announced its November 2013 release slate, which includes five titles on Blu-ray: Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition, Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Limited Edition, Binbo-gami ga! Good Luck Girl!: Limited Edition, One Piece: Strong World, ...
Maken-Ki! Battling Venus: Complete Series Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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