In 4 years’ time the competition that will decide who the next Queen shall be will start. The strongest warrior will continue to rule the country according to tradition and expand it. The contestants need only be older than 12 years. They need not be human, intelligent or even of that country. The rules for the tournament are simple: murder is allowed. Any weapon can be chosen. The winner is decided when one of the participants flees or can’t move anymore. Such event is broadcasted trough a crystal sphere by the court’s magic teacher to all population to see and enjoy.
So the overall plot is straight forward: there is a tournament to determine who will rule the land every four years. The winner becomes the new queen and will rule the land as she sees fit. In the first half of the series, we are given the run down about this tournament but is never fully explained why it happens. In the second half, it is explained as to why the tournament was created in the first place, though this should have been sooner rather than later.
As a character driven show, the cast needs to be developed and not one-dimensional. Queen’s Blade for the most part does a good job of developing the cast. With Leina being the main character, she gets the most development throughout the show going from the, “I am not sure what I am doing this for,” character to the name that she is called in the show. While not everyone does get developed in Season 1 of Queen’s Blade the other members that do get some development do round out nicely and make the cast more likeable. Since this is a fighting tournament, everyone has a reason for taking part. With that in mind, those reasons are not above what you would expect from a fighting show. The standard clichéd reasons are there such as fighting to protect the nation, fighting for the ones I love, etc. We have heard these before, but they are not eye rolling bad. In a way, they do feel enjoyable to watch because you really do want to see them succeed.
Art and Animation:
The character designs are one of the high points of the series. Each of the characters has a distinct look to them. The clothing designs are nice and some great detail was put into them.
The fight scenes as whole are also exciting to watch and are animated well. They are not as the same level as some of the fight scenes from Cowboy Bebop, but they do provide an enjoyment while they happen and none of them feel boring. That being said the biggest fight scene in the last episode is somewhat of a letdown. It just does not flow the way it should for the grand battle. It is far from unwatchable but could be better.
One of the more dubious honors that Queen’s Blade has is its fan service, which is heavy overall. Characters walk around in skimpy clothing and during the fight scenes it is common for the armor and clothing to be torn off exposing bare breasts and on occasion buttocks. That being said the fanserivce falls under the Your Mileage May Very trope. It may be enough to turn some people from this series, regardless of every other aspect of the show.
Music and Audio
The background music for the series is good and the one of the stronger points of the series. The OP “Get to the Door” is a solid music piece, which is sung by Rie Osh and fits the series overall tone. The ED “Memories and Promises” is also a nice fit for the series. The music that appears during the show is strong overall and while they are a few times where it falters, this is a minor issue. It uses several different kinds of music such as full-orchestrated numbers, hard rock themes, and even some traditional Japanese instruments for the thinly veiled Japan stand-in known in the show as Hinomoto. The music is enjoyable enough to listen to that I would recommend the series just to hear the music that is played.
The Japanese dub is much stronger than the English dub. A cast of veteran seiyū provides the voices to the cast of characters. Well known voice actors such as Ayako Kawasumi (Leina), Aya Hirano (Nanael) and Rie Kugimiya (Melona, non-loli tsundere voice for once) provides some of the roles in the Japanese dub. Most of the Japanese cast provides better voices than their English counterparts. The strongest performances in the Japanese dub are Echidna (Yuki Kaida), Risty (Yuko Kaida), and Claudette (Atusko Tanaka).
The English dub on the other hand is not as great. The dub consists of veteran and new voice actors and there are some shockers as to who does well and who doesn’t. Debora Rabbai (under the name Angora Deb) provides the voice of the Lenia and is one of the stronger roles in the English dub, doing just as good as her Japanese counterpart. The other strong roles are Setora the talking scepter of Menace, whose dirty man talk fits better in English, Echidna whose is voice by Lisa Ortiz (under the name Tina Hilbe) and Risty (voiced by newcomer Jessica Paquet). The weakest performances in English dub are Menace who sounds too plain compared to her Japanese counterpart, Ymir, who sounds too old, and a tie between Aldra who does not sound like royalty and Nanael (voiced by Jessica Calvello) who sounds way too hyper active for her role.
Queen’s Blade is not a show for everyone. While the fight scenes are fun to watch, the amount of fanservice present in the series along with a weak English dub may turn some fans away from this show. Those who do however stick around will get not only a great looking show; they will also get to listen to great soundtrack.
Pros: Character designs, great music, great fight scenes
Cons: Weak English dub, the excessive fan service fan turn potential viewers away.