I started this one as a random roll on Crunchyroll and went in more or less blind. Yukimura Sanada is gathering ten warriors that will be known as braves during the Warring States era in Japan. And that’s pretty much all I knew before watching.
Brave 10 is one of those odd little series that doesn’t really tick any of my usual boxes for enjoyment but is still perfectly watchable providing you don’t object to the occasional bit of swearing and fairly revealing costumes on both male and female characters. That said being perfectly watchable isn’t exactly being good and Brave 10 never really rises above watchable.
In it’s favour it does have a truly great sound track for what it is doing. The music picks up at just the right moments, the sword and other weapon sound effects are suitably over the top, and even leaves and other natural sounds come through really well. While it isn’t going for orchestral masterpiece each bit of music perfectly conveys the right mood for the right scene and it is all very enjoyable. Of course, given my first positive point for a series is the music doesn’t exactly bode well for the rest of it.
Continuing with positives, despite there being eleven characters of significance, the story really focusses on Saizo and Isanami for the most part (Isanami having fled her shrine when it got attacked and roped Saizo into escorting her to Ueda where she met Sanada). All things considered, and given the focus of the climax, that’s pretty much where the focus needed to be. While a lot of the side characters get almost no development, these two remain relatively entertaining and their relationship grows throughout the series fairly well, provided you accept in the first instance that Isanami has inexplicably imprinted on Saizo despite absolutely nothing happening that should convince a girl that he’s a good choice for a friend. I guess the whole supernatural/destiny thing that comes into play during the climax might explain their ridiculously fast attachment but after that, the rest of the relationship develops fairly logically.
This is also a pretty fun series. Other than a few moments toward the end, it doesn’t take itself overly seriously with over the top action, outfits, and of course the music, so you don’t feel like you are being dragged through a history course or a blood bath. While not every bit of comedy lands cleanly, the general tone is one of entertainment and you rarely finish an episode on a low note.
Onto the less fun side of the show and the first criticism I have is that this story introduces way too many ideas that it does nothing with. Sanada is involved in some political manoevering but nothing ever really comes of that. Masamune makes an appearance to kidnap Isanami and later to try to kill Yukimura, and even at the end is about to ride out to plunge the world into war, but he basically serves no purpose in the central narrative and his actual goals remain totally unclear. Even Saizo, who arguably gets reasonable treatment as a character, is apparently some well known, prodigal ninja, but after the first few fights is kind of just ordinary and then we never get back to his back story or his own goals (I guess he found the power of friendship or something).
However, worst plot thread of the whole show goes to Hattori Hanzo (who also gets an award for worst outfit – see above). He actually seems like a pretty cool villain in that he is an incredibly over powered fighter (which given who he is facing is kind of necessary) but we never know what his goal is. He openly admits that they needed more information toward the end of the series but then he shrugs it off, says they have enough, and go to claim their prize, only he has no idea at all how to use it so you have to wonder what he was actually going to do. His cackling and laughing declarations would have you believe he just wants to destroy stuff but that doesn’t quite click with some of his earlier statements. Ultimately, he gets swept aside as completely irrelevant because this is Saizo and Isanami’s story even if they don’t know it.
If we then look at the sheer number of scenes that seem to exist only to show off various female characters in revealing outfits (although in fairness the outfits on some of the men are pretty revealing as well), and just some random side missions they go on while recruiting the ten braves in the first place, for 12 episodes there’s a lot shoved in and very little of it seems focussed enough to get us to a satisfying final.
And there is a final episode that seems to be an attempt to bring some resolution, however there are so many character motivations and plot thread just left either unexplained or insufficiently explained, it ultimately doesn’t feel particularly satisfying. Not to mention the plot armour every character we’re supposed to care about seems to be wearing.
I’m not really going to recommend this unless you happen to be a major fan of any anime set during that time period. But, if you are bored and looking for something to kill a few hours, you could do worse than Brave 10.
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