Now we shift from a classic, kid-friendly franchise to a far more recent, far more violent, far more saucy and (surprisingly) far more boring one.
SENRAN KAGURA: SKIRTING SHADOWS (Senran Kagura: Shoujo-tachi no Shinei), adapted from the video game by Kenichiro Takagi & art by Amami Takatsume. First published in 2012 and first published in North America in 2013.
For generations, Hanzo National Academy has served to prepare young ladies to become deadly ninjas. Nowadays these future warriors may wear short skirts instead of identity-concealing uniforms and fight for the government instead of feudal lords, but they are still committed to defending the nation in the name of justice and striking down the forces of their dastardly rivals at Hebijo Clandestine Girls' Academy. That doesn't mean that there isn't time along the way for friendship, trips to the beach, family issues, and lots and lots of bouncing boobs.
I wasn't expecting much out of this one. After all, it's based on a franchise that was literally created only because the developer wanted to bring Dead or Alive-style boob physics to the 3DS in the form of an ecchi-filled ninja girl brawler. This is not a franchise with a deep and complex lore. Hell, most of the girls here could be summed up with a single quirk. Some of them are the kind of quirks you expect from these kinds of stories: the moe baby, the prim and proper rich girl, and the blandly nice protagonist. Then there are some that are pervier, such as the girl obsessed with boobs (not girls, mind you, just boobs) and a sadist girl. Then there are just the weird ones, like the girl obsessed with bean sprouts or the gothloli who springs giant guns out from under her skirts. They all have names, of course, but they're just as forgettable as the girls attached to them.
As for the story proper...well, there isn't one. At least, there isn't any sort of major, continuous plot thread. Surely the game this is based on has one! Instead, it's just a bunch of scattershot, slice-of-life vignettes, each more unoriginal and inoffensive than the last. That's right - the series that's marketed entirely around bouncing boobs and punching your opponents' clothes off has a manga that's surprising chaste. Yeah, there are boob gropes and panty shots, but they are so infrequent that it barely registers. As a result, the whole boobs just kind of drifts by without making much of an impression on the reader. It's not outrageous, it's not funny, it's not sexy, it's just there.
Naturally, most people don't read these sorts of manga for the story, but instead for the cute girls and fanservice. If so, then the joke's on them here because the artwork here is positively lazy. Takatsume turns these mostly ridiculous, bouncy character designs and renders them in the plainest, stiffest (and occasionally off-model) manner possible. He can't draw a fight to save his life, relying mostly on head shots and speed lines to hide his limitations. He doesn't add much in the way of fanservice, but what is present has all the charm and sexiness of a tuna-fish sandwich. Even his paneling is sloppy and confusing. The artist's note at the end notes that they were a newcomer to professional manga when they made this, and every page makes it evident that they were simply not ready for primetime.
There are countless other manga out there about sexy girls fighting one another, so save yourself some time and don't bother with this lazy cash-in of a series.
This series is published by Seven Seas. This series is ongoing in Japan with 3 volumes available. All 3 have been published and are currently in print.