Have you ever seen anything so horrid that it was strangely magnetic? Something so weird, stupid, and hilariously screwed up that it was kind of amazing? Queen's Blade is like that.
Queen's Blade is a classic hero's quest, following Reina Vance, the second daughter and heir of Count Vance, who wishes to participate in the Queen's Blade. The Queen's Blade is a great big battle royale held every four years in Gainos, the capital city of a fictitious continent, in which warrior women in hideous, itty-bitty outfits beat the stuffing out of each other in order to become Queen.
Season 1 covers Reina's journey to Gainos, during which she encounters a motley assortment of Queen's Blade contestants- like the warrior-priestess Tomoe and her ninja partner (heh) Shizuka, who wish to save the Heian Japan-like land of Hinomoto; a bandit named Listy who helps Reina escape castle Vance, where she is kept under a tight watch by her older sister Claudette and creepy little sister Elina; an evil bunnygirl who shoots acid from her boobs; an evil flying maid; the evil undead princess of a lost kingdom; the utterly non-angelic Angel of Hope Nanael; the famed weaponsmith Cattleya who is searching for her missing husband (and will no doubt have crazy back problems when she gets old); dwarf princess Ymir; and two badass elves, Allean and Echidna (and one infallibly chipper one named Nowa), who don't wear any underwear- just leaves and snakes. Sounds pretty great, doesn't it. There's also the assassin Irma, who wants to kill the current Queen. Season 2 covers the actual Queen's Blade, introducing two more contestants: Nyx, a former servant of the Vance family who wants revenge for Elina's past mistreatment of her, but can't really do anything without her demonic tentacle rape staff, and Melpha, a priestess who could give Cattleya a run for her money. As expected from the beginning, Reina jiggles her way to the top and defeats Queen Aldra (and her mighty dildo of doom)
with help from Nanael's (cough) holy milk.
My two chief reasons for following this series were A) the shock/crack-entertainment factor (where else can you regularly hear lines like "In terms of strength, that maid with the giant scythe clearly has the upper hand!") and B) the seiyuu. The creators of Queen's Blade managed to round up some of the biggest fan-favorites working in the industry right now, like Kawasumi Ayako (Reina), Noto Mamiko (Tomoe), Nabatame Hitomi (Shizuka), Tanaka Rie (Nyx), Hirano Aya (Nanael), and Kugimiya Rie (Melona). And yes, I'm a seiyuu-nerd.
Queen's Blade never ever allows an opportunity for service to pass by without seizing on it with gusto. There is a plot, but most of it is conveyed like this
I grew more accustomed to it after awhile (pretty scary, eh?), although the second season still had its fair share of sputter-inducing moments (like the new ED animation sequences). If you took a shot of alcohol each time a topless woman appeared on screen, you would be hammered halfway through just about any given episode. Justified or not, though, I liked the second season better than the first. It was still trashy and laughable, but it had more action, some character development, and (dare I say) some improved writing. I like battle royale-style action stories, a la Mai-Hime, so I would probably like this more if it weren't so softcore.
Despite Queen's Blade's dubious improvements, numerous questions are still left unresolved by the end: How did Melona's acid burn through Reina's clothing and metal sword, but not her skin? (A friend of mine helpfully calls it "otaku acid.") Why doesn't Nanael just buy a cork to keep her holy "milk" from spilling? And why bother holding Queen's Blade fights on the way to the capital, when all of the losers were able to fight again in season 2?
As for the yuri content- aside from Elina's crush on Reina and Echidna's random come-ons to women (mostly Reina and Irma), the yuri in Queen's Blade is subtext only.
The most prominent "pairings" are Tomoe and Shizuka, Reina and Listy, Allean and Nowa, and Irma and Echidna. My favorite pair is Tomoe and Shizuka (even if it, uh, didn't really work out) and the characters who I liked the most were Tomoe and Allean- not that it matters.
The art's average, although it seems to get a small boost in season 2. (Could just be me?) Character designs are distinctive from one another (not merely in terms of varying hairstyles and eye color), but largely look like they belong in a hentai title. Of course, that's right on the money for what this series is intended for.
Story: Season 1 = D, Season 2 = C
Art: Season 1 = C+, Season 2 = B-
Overall: See Story.
The series that I'm following this season are:
- So-Ra-No-Wo-To: The first episode was good, but the second episode was extremely good- with a small uptick in the yuri.
- Durarara!!: The first episode was good, but the second episode was sublime.
- Nodame Cantabile Finale: More Nodame goodness. It'll be interesting to see how the final season plays out. :)
- Kimi ni Todoke: If you haven't started this excellent romantic-drama yet, do so NOW.
- And of course, more To Aru Kagaku no Railgun: It seems to be going in a different direction than the original manga did after the Level-Upper arc, which is completely fine by me since the "original" material has been good so far (episode 15 was hysterical) and, judging by the awesome new OP, Kiyama's coming back (which doesn't happen in the manga)! Yes!! ^__^ (A friend of mine- the "otaku acid" one- recently perspicaciously commented, "You always like the crazy villain ladies, don't you?" Muahaha. :-) )