Ikki Tousen

Ikki Tousen

ikki1In Ancient China, there was war within the seven kingdoms, and many legendary heroes were slain throughout the conflict. Their warrior spirits became trapped in sacred stones, called Magatama, and give those who wear them enhanced fighting abilities reflective of the warrior in question. These magatama have been passed down through generations to the present day. Now the seven kingdoms are seven schools. Enter stereotypical big-breasted bimbo Hakufu Sonsaku, possessing a very troublesome magatama. If she awakens the spirit within her it will spell destruction for everyone, regardless of their school, kingdom, or the warrior they possess.

I have been dipping in and out of Ikki Tousen for years. A volume would seem to pop up everywhere and I would stop to have a read. When I was younger, I never really had the time for what I saw when flicking through the first volume: battlescenes, big breasts, and an absurd amount of fanservice (Hakufu has an orgasm from her first fight, and declares that she is now a woman). But as I got older it was still around, with new volumes being published all the time. Seeing it became familiar, and I decided to give it another chance. Thankfully, after a couple of volumes, the slapstick fanservicce fades in favour of plot intrigue and character development.

ikki2On the whole, what you see is what you get with Ikki Tousen, and it really isn’t the kind of manga I would normally read. But there is something about it – something that I can’t quite put my finger on – that has me coming back to it time and time again, picking up yet another volume.

Despite its strong action/comedy overlay, there is an undercurrent of rather rich cultural history, with the true backstory on some of the warriors in the magatama, their powers and their personalities. There is also the question of destiny: can the warriors of today defy the destiny set for them by the original fate of their ancient warrior, or are they doomed to repeat a grisly end over and over?

ikki3The reason why I feel I have to take breaks from this series is because of the sheer overwhelming cast of characters. Seven schools? A potentially endless case of historical warriors? It’s often a struggle to decipher the how’s and the why’s. Plus, there are so many big-breasted blondes that I’ve lost track of what they are all meant to be doing, what school they’re from, who their allies/enemies are, and everything else. But, as I progress, I realise that this information is secondary to the battle scenes (some of which are amazingly detailed), and it doesn’t really matter where things end up, as long as you enjoy the ride.

Ikki Tousen has quite the franchise, even though the reasons behind its popularity don’t ring immediately clear to me. Perhaps I still continue to underestimate the power of fanservice, or maybe there’s something deeper that, as I mentioned before, I’m just note seeing. It really could go either way, or maybe I’m just over-analysing when I should just be enjoying, The jury’s still out on this one.