Tom Smith bares all for Master of Martial Hearts… all in the best possible taste.
There have been points in my life where I wished reality was more like an anime. I could have insanely ridiculous hair, both in terms of colour and gravity defying style – and no one would bat an eyelid. There would be a chance that I could accidentally phone a goddess and be granted a wish. And there would still be samurai, some of which would favour the Afro look. All fine things in my book.
Yet, after experiencing the world of Master of Martial Hearts, I’m quite happy with the way our world works. Firstly, I don’t have to worry about my clothes disintegrating every time someone hits me – a very important quality, especially when contemplating the Tube at rush hour. I’m also glad that if, for whatever reason, I decided to stroll around town in a skirt, I could get by without exposing my underpants to the unwitting public at every given opportunity. And, if I had a mighty pair of breasts, I most definitely would not be caught with them on the loose, as I battle with a female shaman under a bridge. It’s just not ladylike. These are just a few of the lessons I have learned in just the first episode of Master of Martial Hearts – and there’s much more to come.
The series centres on an underground fighting tournament. The prize is the coveted Martial/Platonic Heart, a jewel that can grant any wish to its holder but, by some mysterious twist of fate, only works on females. Cue all manner of girl-on-girl action as clothes, hair and lady lumps are torn and swung around. And, as an added risk, those that fail in the tournament are banished to the Dark Realm. In other words, it’s an excuse to see an array of girls fight until their given costume is nothing more than a distant memory.
Fan Service is equally central to the series. The F word has a long and twisted history and is usually used in the context of anime and manga for scenes of pure titillation. For example, remember the shower scene with Chun Li in Streetfioghter II? Unadulterated fan service, and Martial Hearts goes toe to toe with the best (worst?) of ’em. It’s no surprise, either, seeing as ARMS is the animation studio behind it. They’ve been producing some of the seediest shows in anime, including the dubiously titled G-spot Express, Slave Nurses and Crimson Climax – classy.
Martial Hearts is only a 15 certificate, so don’t be expecting g-spots, slaves or anything crimson. Although you can look forward to nurses… alongside air stewardesses, schoolgirls and all manner of uniforms; each character has their own ‘cosplay’ type, meaning that whatever your taste in outfit, it’s most likely in there, ready to be ruined.
Master of Martial Hearts is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.