Sometimes you watch a TV series and can’t help but wonder, ‘who makes this stuff?’ (you can substitute the word ‘stuff’ depending on your opinion of what you’re watching).
Certainly, that was on the mind of many viewers when the anime series Ikki Tousen first premiered. Ikki Tousen is about seven high schools whose student bodies are at war with each-other. The kids, who trained for this battle their entire lives, have near super-human martial arts abilities.
There’s nothing odd about that (at least as far as anime is concerned), but what set Ikki Tousen apart was the endless panty shots, bouncing breasts, torn clothing, and near nudity that filled the screen every single second of every episode. The combination of fighting and sexiness proved popular, and the series spawned six sequels; not to mention inspiring other series like Queens Blade and Qwasar of Stigmata to use the same formula. But who came up with this brilliant concept? Well, the third volume of the original DVD release from Geneon Entertainment included a ‘behind the scenes’ feature which introduced us to the man himself.
It begins with a young actress named Manami Fuku leading us into some darkened storage room in the back of an anime studio, where a girl dressed in a high school uniform and brightly-colored underwear is high kicking as a number of men take close-up pictures.
We’re then introduced to the director, Takashi Watanabe, who looks every bit the creepy okatu stereotype, bit like the stalker in Perfect Blue. He explains that this photo shoot is ‘research,’ done in the interest of realism (he’s a practitioner of cinema verite, apparently). The director also mentions that the model is a ‘real high school girl,’ though I sincerely hope that isn’t true. I should note that while the girl may be a genuine high school girl, she’s definitely not a martial artist, which is obvious when we watch her stumble and trip her way through the fighting poses (well, it doesn’t have to be that real). Watanabe goes on to say that he wants to excite men (who seem to be the target demographic of a series such as this) with both the action and the sexuality. At least he knows his audience.
Fuku then sits down with the director, who looks down at the floor the entire time, since he’s unable to look a pretty girl in the face. To be fair, he is talking to her about panties and swinging breasts, which would be embarrassing for almost anyone.
Fuku remains professional and positive the entire time, despite being left alone with this man. At one point, she asks him what his favorite costume from the photo shoot was (so, they made the ‘real high school girl’ dress in a number of costumes, but we only see one in the video. I wonder how long they kept her in that storage room?). Watanabe answers that he preferred the ‘China dress,’ because of the slit in the side which exposed the girl’s thigh (though I can’t imagine her thighs being any more exposed than they are in the short skirt), at which Fuku laughs, though it’s unclear if it’s with Watanabe, or at him.
So as it turns out, the kind of person that would make a series like Ikki Tousen turns out to be exactly the kind of person you’d expect to make a series like Ikki Tousen.
And for the record: yes, I did buy every volume of Ikki Tousen.