Senran Kagura: Skirting Shadows, Vol. 1

By Kenichiro Takagi and Amami Takatsume, based on the game by Tamsoft. Released in Japan as “Senran Kagura – Shoujotachi no Shinei” by Media Factory, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Alive. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

As I’ve noted before, I try not to let this review blog be entirely “wow, this is really terrific”, so sometimes I get a first volume of something that I’m wary of or suspect may not be for me. And yet, looking at the basic premise of Senran Kagura without actually seeing the character designs, this should be quite appealing to me. Five female kickass ninjas battling against the forces of evil. No major male characters to swoop in and save them. Some plotlines that show the attempt at character development. And yet…


Even though I read it last, the afterword of this volume really sums up the mindset of the creators. Not only do we have several references to “boobs”, but we get at least three to “mega boobs”. The artist, who seems to draw herself as a bell pepper, also pledged to keep drawing the characters’ boobs for the happiness of the audience. And, doing a little research about the game itself, I see there’s nothing out of place about this at all – the game is a side-scrolling platformer whose big selling point apparently is using 3D technology on the lead females’ breasts. You can tell this is the point by the fact that the manga stars five different girls, and even the least endowed of them is still a double-D.

In amongst all the lovingly detailed breasts, we get the girl whose main habit is sexually harassing the other girls, and we also get the girl (named Yagyu, and wearing an eyepatch – we never get first names of these girls, but it’s clearly Jubei) who has a repressed but obvious yuri crush on her best friend. (I had hoped this might actually go somewhere, but again, checking the game work notes that it’s due to “she looks just like my dead sister” rather than, y’know, just being a lesbian.) There’s the cute clumsy one, there’s the stoic class president type, and there’s our naive yet filled with purpose heroine. It’s like they were ticking boxes off a checklist.

I’m no stranger to fanservice, of course – I read Negima, and Cage of Eden, and Excel Saga, and Higurashi. But all of those titles use fanservice as a spice, something that is there to attract the male reader flipping through the magazine to check out the story. The entire volume of Senran Kagura involves the ninja plot being secondary to showing these girls in as many titillating scenes as possible. Honestly, you’d think there’d be MORE here than there is – for all the attention to the bosoms of the leads, there’s no nudity at all. Just lots of busty women running around hitting each other.

In the end, the audience for this is, I suppose, those who played and enjoyed the original games, or saw the anime that also came with it, like most Japanese media franchises. But if you’re just coming to this series cold, and wanted to see a lot of huge-breasted women molesting each other… you’d probably get a better payoff getting a Project H book or something.

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