Geneon // 2004 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // August 4th, 2005
"You imposter! I am the true Yagyu Jubei the second!"
Good action scenes or not, you should stay far away from Jubei-Chan 2. I wish I had.
This series reeks of being an unintended sequel. Across the first few episodes, characters are awkwardly reintroduced, dead characters are replaced by others, and those who have never seen Jubei-Chan (like me) are given a crash course on what the series is all about. To the extent that I understand, it goes something like this: 300 years after the death of samurai legend Yagyu Jubei, he has been reincarnated into a 13-year-old named Jiyu (though she goes by the nickname Jubei). She transforms into a hot samurai babe when she puts on the "lovely eye patch," which is bright pink and shaped like a heart. In this second series, a young girl named Freesia has arrived, claiming to be the daughter and true heir of Yagyu Jubei. She transforms through a blue spade-shaped eye patch, but she seems to be jealous of the pink one for some reason. There is also a young man who claims to be the son of Yagyu Jubei's rival, Kita Retssai. He wants revenge against one or both of the girls.
Of course, in true anime fashion, most of the series doesn't actually focus on this main plot. There is also nonsense about boys who love Jiyu, follow her around, and who suddenly can't decide between her and Freesia. Jiyu's father is trying to write a novel on his own, and finds it a great struggle. He is distracted by this ninja woman who was in the first series and has been awkwardly thrust into this sequel as well. None of these parts of the story are particularly exciting, and some of them are downright dreadful. The zany misadventures of the schoolboys are shrill, never make any sense, and distract from the samurai battles that we really want to see.
Without question, the strongest part of the series is the fighting. The samurai battles are drawn with creativity, and they are intense and exciting. The opening sequence showing the original battle 300 years ago is worthy of comparison to Ninja Scroll, and the others are almost as well-crafted. The action moves quickly, though it's always easy to tell what's happening. There is one solid action sequence in each episode.
Unfortunately, that leaves about 18 minutes for everything else. I don't mind a few mysteries at the beginning of a series, but there are so many baffling facets of Jubei-Chan 2 that I have to wonder what the director was doing during production. Why is Freesia still a young girl after 300 years? Who are the monkey guys? How can anyone be so annoying? The massive script gaps and holes are a serious problem as well. In one episode, the main characters are all standing in Jiyu's house. In front of their eyes, a samurai bursts through the door, smashing it to pieces. Jiyu jumps from the second floor to pull him outside. All of this happens right in front of her father, but then he believes them when they tell him that she just went to the bathroom -- outside in the middle of the night. What? Surely they could have found a better way to work around the fact that her father doesn't know about her secret alter ego. The rest of the script has the same level of tact.
Perhaps Jubei-Chan 2 will be more enjoyable for fans of the first series. They will understand a number of details that come from the original run, and may have become numb to the annoying tone of half the series. They will also be more familiar with the characters, and may understand some of the details in the premise that weren't explained here. I'm not making any promises, though.
At least the disc has been well produced. The animation is very clean, and has been presented in a sharp anamorphic transfer. Color and contrast are both excellent. The sound is on par with most of Geneon's efforts, with 2.0 English and Japanese tracks. They are both shrill and annoying. There are no real extras on this disc, just the usual clean animations and a few trailers.
Should you check out Jubei-Chan 2? If you are a 13-year-old girl who likes cutesy high school anime but also enjoys samurai stories, make sure you check it out. Older anime fans will need a very high tolerance level for super-deformed characters and inane storytelling to make it to the cool action scenes. The anime industry has no shortage of ninja/samurai series, and many are a lot more entertaining than this.
Jubei-Chan 2 is guilty of being a cheap sequel and a crappy series in its own right.
Review content copyright © 2005 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated