For years I’d heard the name “Queen’s Blade” spoken through giggle-filled whispers in the import isles of video stores but I never really understood the reason for its infamous reputation. Looking at the Blu-ray cover you’d think its just another unspectacular medieval Shōnen romp along the lines of Record of Lodoss War. Sure, the women on the cover were wearing far less than our fair maiden Deedlit did back in the day but surely that alone wouldn’t command such an enthused reaction from the
pervs fanboys. For years it irked me until eventually, curiosity got the best of me and I picked up a copy of this 12 episode OVA. Two minutes into episode 1, the reason for their giggles became wildly obvious. Insanely brazen fanservice.
Throughout my travels in the Anime kingdom I’ve seen my fair share of fanservice but nowhere have I seen it with such frequency and fervor as it appears in Queen’s Blade. Take the first episode, in 22 minutes they manage to pack in more tender white breast meat than a thousand lifetimes of Thanksgiving dinners while still saving time to run you through a gauntlet of bizarre sexual fetishes including but definitely not limited to; rope bondage, molestation and fear induced urination. At times it almost felt like this series was daring the viewer to get all the way through an episode without
furiously masturbating getting a nose bleed. I marvel at the fact that this was a TV show in Japan. My far eastern counterparts could flip through the channels after school and see things like a spectral maid feeling up a 12-year-old Elven girl while I was stuck channel surfing through hours of Sailor Moon re-runs hoping catch a glimpse of some outline nudity. I definitely can see how some could be turned off by this exceptional level of fanservice but I for one applaud any show that whole heartedly commits to being as trashy and exploitative as QB is at any given moment.
Usually, shows of this nature usually are not known for their stellar writing but the boys at ARMS actually managed to give these d-quipped characters some dimension by spending just as much time on their backstories as they did on their backsides. The series mainly revolves around royal daughter Leina Vance’s quest to make her own way in the red hot world out from the shade of her family’s name. Kinda like Princess Jasmine from Aladdin, but with less singing and more cleavage. While Jasmine’s real-world character building encounters were mostly limited to of a few stern words and a hand grab from a merchant; Leina’s character is forged through a seemingly endless volley of violent and humiliating encounters where she’s strangled, beaten, molested and even bitten in the tit by a snake who moonlights as underwear. The end result of all this, well other than the viewer needing a cold shower, is our hero Leina levels into a tougher person and increasingly capable warrior. There are side plots galore with the huge cast of other equally underdressed female warriors but they mostly serve as a chance to show just how well the animators can draw circular objects in a variety of sizes.
While the Arms Corporation, the animation studio responsible for fanservice heavy shows like Queen’s Blade, Ikkitousen and a host of other much less subtle Hentai titles could certainly be accused of being low-brow, their work is definitely not low-quality. Queen’s Blade features all the great linework and intoxicating digital coloring you’d expect from thousands of hours of
underpaid painstaking work. I especially liked the the character costumes and designs with Echinda, Menace & Melona being my favorite. While there are a couple of exceptions like Nowa the pedo-bate forest Elf and axe wielding loli dwarf Ymir, most of the cast in Queen’s Blade have some rather generous measurements. If you’ve been lucky enough to have had a female friend kind enough to show you their 4th letters of the alphabet or if your the proud owner of your own pair, you know the wild impracticality of carrying around that much extra weight around on your upper torso. If ordinary things like jumping rope or running down stairs are painful activities for the well endowed and carrying all that glorious weight around causes back pain, the women of QB should be screaming in agony during their unsupported acrobatic fights and rubbing their sore backs the rest of the time. Cattleya & Melpha should be wheelchair bound by that logic but I guess in Anime the laws of gravity only selectively apply when dealing with certain parts of the fairer sex’s anatomy.
As is the case with most Anime, the original language version is much better. There is an elegance to subtitled translation thats just lost in the English dub. Occasionally, however, the “westernizing” of the script is hilarious. Take this line from the Echinda during the Leina training fight in episode 10. In the subtitled version she says “You think the enemy is going to pity you?“and in the westernized dub she says the infinitely more absurd “Doing it with a corpse might be kind of sexy“. Look, its not that the dub is horrible, its just that aside from the gag dub moments its just unmemorable. I have the same feelings for the music, its perfectly appropriate and well done, just unmemorable. I couldn’t hum a single line from the score and I clocked about 4.5 hours on this series.
FUN FACT Actress Trina Hilbe AKA Lisa Ortiz who played Echidna was also the voice for the
sexy aforementioned Deedlit in Record of Lodoss War.
If you were to strip away the fanservice elements you’d have a fairly dull but beautifully rendered medieval warrior series that would have long ago faded into obscurity. The absurdity of the fanservice is the central appeal of this show and its where most of the fun of watching it comes from. To me, all shows fall into just two categories; entertaining and boring. Queen’s Blade definitely lands squarely in the former. I respect that they make no apologies for the gratuitous onslaught of salacious images that fill this 12 volume series and its a solid watch if you don’t mind getting more blue balls than a McDonald’s ball pit.