Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl – The Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch

Another quick review today – feeling less than stellar after some dental work!

Jubei has so much going on re: the levels of parody and satire, and even a fairly constant stream of sight gags and absurdist stuff too – I recognised some but basically couldn’t keep up at all, and I’m sure I missed dozens and dozens of cultural allusions.

Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl – The Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch (1999)

But the comedy aspect almost always still worked for me!

The series holds the overarching, action-based storyline within the fairly sophisticated comedy framework nicely, it was usually pretty funny and on top of which, featured some great action sequences throughout its 13 episodes – with some of the more intense ones happening during the closing eps.

Here’s the premise, adapted from Wikipedia:

Jubei-chan follows Jiyu Nanohana, a modern junior high school girl and unwilling heir to the Yagyu Jubei school of swordsmanship as she deals with a mystical artefact, the Lovely Eyepatch, and all the enemies who seek her power.

Now, rather than dissect the plot, I’ll leap in to some dot-point highlights before finishing up the review:

  • The kanji changes on Bantarou’s t-shirt were a fun extra layer to his scenes
  • (And his song was pretty funny too)
  • Sai, Jubei’s ghostwriter father, was an interesting character… for positive and negative reasons
  • Visually, there were plenty of ratio changes or dramatic close-ups of objects like candles etc, that really helped to sell the parody of Chanbara
  • The tropes of the Shounen anime also get a bit of good-natured ribbing too
  • I also enjoyed seeing certain characters (without spoilers) cycle through good/evil roles
  • Poor old Koinosuke
  • Visually there’s a great range of styles within the show as well
  • The charming and resolute innocence of Jubei is a great counter to the action + comedy, even as it works on its own comedic level
  • Bonus points for a cool transformation sequence!

Having mentioned all of the above, I did grow weary of everyone’s obsession with Jubei’s breast-size.

And also, can anyone explain to me what the hell Jubei’s father is supposed to be doing when saving Jubei from the fever? Anyone?

And finally, there’s a sequel series available but I haven’t checked it out just yet, might do so one day, not sure.

For fans of comedy, satire and samurai stories.

3 Stars (4 without the creepy shit).

As a quick, closing example to show a touch of the humour – there’s these two shots one after the other during a dialogue scene, which I really enjoyed.

Now and Then, Here and There (Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku)

Now and Then, Here and There (Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku) 1999

This was no walk in the part – equal parts compelling and disturbing.

And if you want to see a fictional narrative that explores the brutal horrors of child soldiers then look no further, since Now and Then, Here and There wipes the floor with something like Children of Whales for instance.

With that admittedly dramatic opening paragraph, I won’t actually do a long review but instead mention something connected to the show first.

Not too long ago, actress Hiroko Konishi (who played Boo) revealed awful, abusive behaviour by NTHT director Akitaro Daichi. I doubt the animation industry got as much attention as Hollywood in terms of exposing abusers, so I hope things can start to change there too.

If you do take a look at this short series, expect some tough moments but you’ll be moved throughout.

Maybe the animation is not endlessly flashy, but it doesn’t need to be at all. The story and characters are the stars – and there are some real heroes here, like Shu and Sis (to name just two), based in part on how they try to solve their problems. They contrast perfectly with the villains too, from the psychopath Hamdo to the brainwashed/cowardly Abelia.

No easy answers to complex problems in this anime.

And thanks to Curtis for the rec 🙂