Walking home from school Aya Iseshima stumbles upon a brutal brawl between two girls fighting over something called the “Platonic Heart”. Being a martial arts master herself Aya interferes in the fight to break it up. Afterwards Aya befriends one of the fighters and finds out the Platonic Heart is a jewel that can grant one wish for any girl that possesses it and there is a battle royal tournament going on for its control. Unfortunately for Aya it seems her interference has now registered her as a participant in the fight and it looks like there’s no way out but to win.
Upon reading, the description above you might get the impression that this OVA series is along the lines of other shows such as Ikki Tousen and Queen’s Blade. Two shows that have young busty females fighting each other and sufferering clothing damage during battle. To some extent this is true; however, Master of Martial Hearts is not like Ikki Tousen or Queen’s Blade.
All of the females fight for specific reasons however; the reason why the females fight not initially explained. The females all fight to obtain pieces of an object called the Martial Heart (Platonic Heart in the subs) which upon getting all of the pieces will grant a wish. Like with the fighter’s wishes it is not explained at first why it grants wishes or why it exists.
The biggest problem that comes with a short OVA series is how to deal with character development over the course of the series. An example of how to do character development right is the OVA series Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket. This six episode OVA develops the main cast fully over the course of the series and it turns out to be a quality albeit short series. Master of the Martial Hearts on the other hand is an example of how not to do this. With the exception of the last episode, nobody gets any type of development what so ever. The stock personalities that everyone starts with continues until the end which, because of what happens, makes the core cast completely unlikeable in every way.
As stated above the plot does not really go anywhere for the first four and half episodes. The last seventeen or so minutes of the last episode goes into what I like call the most jammed packed seventeen minutes in anime. Everything that happens in the series is explained here, what the purpose of the tournament is, what the dark zone is, what the girls wishes are etc. This is fine to explain what is going on, but doing all of it at the end of the last episode is just outright nerve racking. I will not spoil the ending but I will say that whoever wrote the series must have been a fan of The Sopranos.
Art and Animation
While the series was animated by ARMS, (the same group who did the later seasons of Ikki Tousen and Queen’s Blade) I do have to give credit where credit is due, and ARMS did not make the characters all look the same. The characters have a distinct look and the same face is not used multiple times like it can be in some shows. The fight scenes, while not on the same level as Cowboy Bebop, are fun to watch. However, the people who created this series must have not had any idea how a real fight happens.
Like Ikki Tousen the clothes rip during the fight scenes however they rip at rate much faster than Ikki Tousen. Someone just gets touched and the clothes start tearing apart. Clothes rip sometimes when they should not rip (an example is when someone is kneed or kicked in the stomach and the back of their pants or skirt rips).
The overall fan service in the series is high. Panties shots occur in just about every fight scene, and breasts are also exposed in every fight. While the breasts when exposed the are consistent in size, when the females where clothes the breast size is inconsistent. The animators could not decide how big or how small the bust sizes should be. There are even times where one breast will be a different size than the other (I know this can happen in real life, but if you are trying to show this in a series make it consistent, not changing all the time.)
One of the biggest offenses that this series in the art is the indoor scenes that occur near any window. In every shot that is during the daytime the windows will be either bright orange or white as white can be. No outside scenery, just super bright light. Upon seeing this, you might think a nuclear bomb has exploded in the background. Normal backgrounds when shown are nothing to write home but they do serve their purpose.
Music and audio:
The OP without the singing involved is pretty cool and fun to beat along to. Once you add the singing, however the OP is just about ruined. I am not a music critic, a singer, or musician by any means however; the singing for this OP is down terrible. It is ear grating and I assume no one had the guts to tell the person singing that she is horrible. The ED on the other hand is more somber and has great singing. That being said, the person who sings the ED is unlisted.
Funimation provided the English dub of this series, which includes their usual cast of regulars that are usually heard on a variety of dubs from themalong with some new voice actors. It is not terrible and some of the English VA’s fit their roles nicely but overall it is not the best work Funimation has done. That being said there are some standout performances with the English dub. Cherami Leigh (Natusmi Hinata in Sgt. Frog, Yoshika Miyafuji in Strike Witches) who provides the voice Natsume Honma does a good job with her role especially in the second half of episode 5. Alexis Tipton (Musubi in Sekirei and Yomi Isayama in Ga-Rei: Zero) does an imitation of Monica Rial and does a good job with her role. Of course there are some misses as well. Newcomer Anita Neukar (Benitsubasa in Sekirei) provides the English voice of Aya Iseshima and while she does a decent job overall there are times where her emotional response should be shocked and surprised but it comes out as almost dead pan. Again, it is not terrible and dub fans should find it listenable.
The Japanese dub is good as well and there few standout performances overall. Kaori Nazuka (Lynette Bishop in Strike Witches and Kaoru Yagi in Sket Dance) provides the role of Aya Iseshima and is one of the strongest performances in the Japanese audio track. The three sister which are voiced by Ami Koshimizu (Tenma Tsukamoto in School Rumble and Charlotte Yeager in Strike Witches) Ryoko Shintani (Akira Miyata in Pani Poni Dash and Sae in Hidamari Sketch) and Shiho Kawaragi (Sekai Saionji in School Days and Aki in Aki Sora) are also some of the better roles in the Japanese cast.
Master of Martial Hearts is a show that tries to be like Queens Blade or Ikki Tousen that in some areas, it succeeds, but the whole OVA is a deeply flawed for a show that could have been good.
Pros: Characters do not look the same, the breast sizes when exposed, the OP without the singing, and the ED as a whole
Cons: Bare bones plot, little character development, inconsistent breast sizes when covered up.