A direct sequel series to Ikki Tousen, Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny continues the story of rival battling high schools, where the students are known as Fighters and carry with them the souls of ancient Chinese warriors re-enacting the Three Kingdoms era of China, we follow the lives of a number of students, trying to change their destinies.
This is direct sequel to Ikki Tousen, you can read our review here, but instead of focusing on Hakufu Sonsaku and Nanyo Academy, we shift to mainly follow Seito High School and Unchou Kanu trying to protect their bookworm leader, Gentouku Ryubi.
The crux of the series is about the extremely powerful spirits of the warriors that are carried by Hakufu, Gentouku and Motoku Souso, leader of Kyosho Academy. While conferring great power upon the three, they also cause them to lose control as the spirits take over, leading to a conflict for the Dragon Jade. The Dragon Jade is an orb that supposedly can control the dragons and allow the fighters to escape the same fate that befell the spirits they now harbour.
One of the few themes in the series that holds any interest is that each leader has people who desperately want to get the Dragon jade in order to save their leader from their grim destiny. The backdrop for the series is the increasing violence of Souso as he loses more and more control to the deranged and powerful dragon within and how events are moving towards a recreation of the historical battle of Red Cliffs. The series tends to swing between characters and schools a lot and so feels less than coherent at times.
Almost everybody from the first series returns and as a by-product of the series not focusing on anyone as much as the first focused on Hakufu, we actually get a much better feeling for a number of side characters from Ikki Tousen. Characters such as Kanu who had very little screen time in the first series get explored a bit more and we learn of the friendship and deep affection between the main characters at Kyosho Academy who mainly just stood around last time. A few of the newly introduced characters are quite annoying, but most play bit parts so it’s not a huge issue.
For this series it feels like they wanted to do everything bigger than the previous one. The fanservice is stronger and the mythology of the series, based on the historical battles fought in China, feels better explained and more robust this time around, however it also seems to shift events towards being overblown and ridiculous. Whereas the fighters portrayed in the original seemed to just be really strong fighters and martial artists with dubious healing abilities and only the odd totally unbelievable moment, in this series half the characters cross into ‘magical powers’ territory. Whilst most of the more powerful fighters suddenly seem to be taking notes from Street Fighter and hurling what I can only assume (it’s never explained) as chi blasts all over the place and displaying dexterity and agility leagues ahead of reality, the worst offenders are the leaders of the three schools and their dragons.
The three leaders when in an awakened state and usually taken over by the spirit they carry, bypass the merely audacious chi stuff and just go right ahead and apparently physically manifest their dragons to tear people to pieces, or make them fly, or teleport or just generally ruin any sense of believability the first series was going for.
The violence itself is also cranked right up. One of my complaints for the first series was that everyone kept talking about killing each other, but practically nobody did. Well Dragon Destiny throws caution to the wind and portrays some extremely brutal fights, with both maiming and multiple on screen deaths. Ironically one memorable scene in a graveyard is incredibly intense and gratuitous, but destroys any suspension of disbelief as everyone somehow survives, including injuries that would clearly kill a person.
Having been animated far more recently than the first series (and by a different studio) the quality is a lot higher. Within the new style everyone is recognisable, but some have received a slight visual overhaul that makes them fit better with the overall styling. The fight scenes are very nicely realised and also suffer the same issue as the original by occasionally focusing a bit too much on the fanservice aspects in the middle of an intense battle.
The extras start with the standard textless opening/closing and also include a line art galery, TV spots, a promotional video, trailers and 6 mini OVAs, the first of which is amusingly 24 seconds long, which is essentially opening titles before it ends due to being censored by the BBFC. Considering the OVAs deal with all the main female characters meeting in some baths with the fan service level reaching absurd proportions at times, and some of the younger characters involved, you can understand why.
I wasn’t overly enamoured with the first series, and whilst I appreciate the improved animation, this series seemed to lack focus and spent too much time swinging between different characters and their stories, making this a somewhat unfocused mediocre affair.
Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny is being released 7th November and is available to order now at Amazon.
Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny Collection [DVD] – £17.99 (£1.49/episode)