If you were to ask me in another year whether I had seen Sengoku Otome ~Momoiro Paradox~ (Battle Girls ~Time Paradox~), I would most likely say no. It is not that Sengoku Otome is a terrible anime—although it is certainly not good—the series is simply just so bland and so full of tiny flaws that the anime ends up in the weird lukewarm limbo between being hilariously bad and barely decent.
Sengoku Otome follows the adventures of Hide Yoshino, a normal high school girl who has been spirited away to a past Sengoku Period, only that it is not really the era or the world we knew—women are the only sex in this universe. Hide Yoshino, through some odd twists and turns, acts as the “historical” figure, Hideyoshi, and assists the female Oda Nobunaga to collect pieces of the Crimson Armor, an armor rumored to allow its wearer to conquer all of Japan, from the other female warlords of this odd Sengoku Period.
Already inherent in this premise are several challenges. I have never been much of a fan of sex-bent retellings of history. Whenever a story involves significant historical characters and events, the past will come with its set of baggage, ideas, and connotations that must be addressed. Thus, without compelling reasons and explanation, most of these alternative historical stories tend to feel very lazy. That is exactly what we see with Sengoku Otome. While there are some loose interpretations of known events, for the most part, the characters’ only connections to our history are their names. The cast thus feels extremely awkward and their relationships shallow. This begs the question: Why not just tell an original story instead of unnecessarily forcing historical references down our throats?
Even more egregious are the thematic explanations for this parallel, exclusively-female universe. Sengoku Otome is a confusing and sloppy blend of half-ideas. The anime starts as a fantastical adventure; Hideyoshi is somehow transported into a past fantasy world. Though there are some interesting moments of Hideyoshi with her modern mindset in an olden time, the anachronism-driven scenes are quickly pushed into the background within an episode or two, and I find myself forgetting that Hideyoshi came from an alternate future. The story shifts completely to a fantasy setting, where the warlords scheme and battle with magical powers.
Furthermore, somewhere along the way, Sengoku Otome reveals that another character, Date Masamune, has come from our world along with Hideyoshi; she is, in fact, Hideyoshi’s teacher and the reason they are both in this world. This introduces yet another jarring sci-fi element to the world that never gets any explanation, along with a poorly developed side arc about Masamune’s lineage. Not content with the number of loose ends, Sengoku Otome threads the series with a talking dog, whose purpose is never given, and who ends the last scene with a huge question mark. This only makes the already hastily wrapped-up ending to Hide Yoshino’s minor detour to the past worse.
I left the series scratching my head and wondering if I somehow missed a few episodes that should have smoothed out the exposition, or whether there are more episodes. But no, Sengoku Otomoe really does have such terrible flow and focus, as if the writers each has an idea that has to be shoved into the story without any editing.
It is quite a shame because the series does have its upsides. The pace is decent, and the plot twists are interesting. Some of the characters are fun to watch, and many are lovable. (I especially love Tokunyan~) The anime also has fairly nice animation; it is nothing stellar, but some elements are fascinating enough: the textiles, the decorations… etc. Still, the positives are not enough to make the anime memorable.
True, there is yuri. And I do like yuri. However, the yuri in Sengoku Otome is mildly amusing at best, and slightly distasteful at worst. While it is admittedly fun to joke around with such blatant yuri fan service in Sengoku Otome, actually having to sit through it is not so exciting.
Then again, all the weaknesses are not so offending either that I hate this anime, and that is an issue. Sengoku Otome does not leave a strong impression at all—good or bad—except maybe a sense of just how unnecessary most of it feels: the historical references, the thematic elements, the side plots, and even many of the characters.
Unnecessary, it would seem, sums up this series quite well.
- While I rolled my eyes at most of the yuri moments, I did enjoy some of the cuter scenes.
- As a fun aside, I actually had another review I have planned, but published this one today instead, because I am sure that in a few more months, even I would not remember what happens in Sengoku Otome.
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