Year In Review 2012: A Sengoku Collection Episode Collection

Sengoku Collection is a 26-episode TV anime. Read this review for a good idea what it’s about. Actually, given I have yet to come across a Sencolle review that I disliked, you can read any review out there as long as it’s written by someone who has seen the whole thing.

The pure episodic nature of this series makes it difficult to characterize on a level where the typical anime-viewing, English-speaking public can relate to via another series–most people haven’t seen Seraphim Call or Kita E. Regardless, the nature of the show enables selective viewing where you can jump around and hit the “best” episodes without much of a loss. Here’s my list. The idea is that, yes,  you can just watch any of these episodes at your fancy with total disregard of the previous ones. I would even go farther than other people who enjoy this show and say that you can even ignore episode 1.

I tried to write this post about 3-4 times. It started this summer and it did not finish until winter. I don’t know why it took this long, but I think part of it is that there were some grand ideas in the show that I had a tough time getting a handle on, and at this point someone else would have already written about it at some point. Like this awesome write-up. So I don’t have to. It goes over not only the films Sencolle cops from, but the whole epic structure, the Greek chorus, and all that jazz.

Also, go read the staff interview, generously translated by 8c, here.

Sengoku Collection and the films it copies from

TL;DR – this guy wrote the kind of post I wanted to write, all that lead-in with < 200 words. However, the following are my own take. List, yes, the list. Bolded episodes are the ones I recommend, if you must pick and choose. But really, anything is fine. If you ask me, I’d say just watch everything; skip this list and let the show surprise you. If all else fails, click on the image above and watch the corresponding episode to the film you like.

  1. Sweet Little Devil — This episode would be nice to watch if it wasn’t the first one. As is, it’s a play on first impressions, which hopefully I have completely ruined for you by this post. Skip, but you might appreciate watching it going into the series blind.
  2. Peaceful Empress— I’m not sure why people hate on this episode (or episode 3 for that matter) because I think it’s one of the best, because it gets at the point with subtlety. I think it’s also the sort of bias that people who went into the show blind might have, because nobody knew what the show was about by this point yet. Anyways, one of my favorites.
  3. Pure Angel— This episode is great for people who like yuri, but otherwise it’s kind of dull. I enjoyed it because of the strong seiyuu bias, but also the story is kind of the Sakurasou-esqe thing you find in a lot of eastern lit (eg., Hyouka).
  4. One-eyed Dragon — There’s a follow-up to this episode, but otherwise it’s pretty okay. Definitely the first episode that changes the tone. Watch it if you like sengoku genderswap noir swap-in where a good guy is tied to a criminal gang.
  5. Sword Maiden— This is the episode that clued me in, since it plays on Bowling for Columbine. I’d recommend it just to get a sense of how silly things can get–it gets worse later. And of course, you should watch it because it is an anime about Bowling for Columbine. Com’on.
  6. Knowledge Master — I didn’t get this episode after initially watching it, but it made a nice revelation later on. It’s not a great one by itself but it builds some foundation in terms of the attitude of the generals, and it kind of deviates from the previous few. Also, great for Back to the Future fans.
  7. Refined Bard — This is probably the best overall episode in the show, hands down, because it talks about haiku all throughout the episode. The idea is how poetry transforms the lives of the people who live with it.
  8. Regent Girl — The Alice-in-Wonderland … homage, although it is more about putting imagery into visuals, the practice in making sense out of the absurd is always fun to see.
  9. Ambitious Princess I — The first episode of the first two-parter. It’s kind of so-so because the story doesn’t quite wrap up by the second part. Instead, it wraps up in the very last episode. Watch it if you plan to watch episode 25 and 26.
  10. Ambitious Princess II — See above. Rough school factions fight each other, et cetera.
  11. Brutal Maiden — If you enjoy that slinky noir stuff. Fun episode about fallen people.
  12. Dancing Blossom — This is more of a straight-up homage than most, but it is kind of fun. Nice one-shot about a night rider.
  13. Silver Hornet — Introduces Ageha, which is probably my favorite side character in this series, and the 2nd best side character.
  14. Novel Deciders — If you can handle the inane comedy. And, yes, they’re the Shinsen Gumi.
  15. Annihilate Princess — It’s a follow up to a previous episode in a way, but short of spoiling it is about a haunted house.
  16. Blade Adept — More inane comedy, but easier to follow this time.
  17. Sunshine Ruler — It’s another nice one-shot, a little touching. And yes, that “sengoku general” is Chinese, I think.
  18. Four Leaves — Great visuals (well, low-budget) in this episode, aside from the touching story. Also a quality one-shot.
  19. Vengeful Fang, IS — Second two-parter, sets up the turning point for the main plot with Nobunaga and Mitsuhide. You can skip it, but it’s a pretty good example of the Japanese murder mystery genre.
  20. Vengeful Fang, OS — See above.
  21. Cavalry Queen — Not only it’s the 2001 Space Odyssey homage, it introduces the best side character in the series, if not this year.
  22. The Splendor — Follows up on Masamune’s episode 4, with a nice ending. Only watch if you’ve seen episode 4.
  23. The Dune — Children manipulates children in a sandbox analogy, where the analogy is the reality. It’s the one that stayed with me the best.
  24. Peaceful Empress – EX — Related to Ieyasu from episode 2, but also a stand-alone media-in-media homage to an 80s french film.
  25. Marshal Princess — A warlord goes fishing, but also is related to episodes 9 and 10, as well as the final episode in a way. I’d say watch it for sanity’s sake, since it explains some things.
  26. Sengoku Collection — Helps to wrap things up, definitely worth it if you’ve seen any of the episodes that are not pure stand-alone.

Yep… I’m recommending half of the series to you. Why even bother? Just watch everything. If you just want a synopsis, there’s Wikipedia.

The other note most people left out is the seiyuu ensemble behind this show. It’s nuts. You know how some anime have a huge cast? This one has a huge cast. It’s a bunch of independent people that has little or nothing to do with each other, but there they are. I mean, Aipon had a great role in episode 7; Kugyuu and Mariya Ise were a riot in episode 23. I already mentioned Ageha. Ai Shimizu goes finishing? LOL. Ayumi Tsunematsu is great as usual in those sulky voiced roles. You get the idea.

To end this I’d like to quote my favorite anime shill:

…there were some fantastic episodes in here overall with striking and appealing animation throughout. I really enjoyed this show thoroughly and hope to explore it again some day.

And isn’t it true? And on the subject of endorsement, here is a better one:

Sengoku Collection is a hidden gem. On the surface, it’s a story of cute girls living their lives in an ordinary fashion. And it is. Upon deeper inspection, it gets its warring states history right, and expresses it in unique ways, like turning the steed Matsukaze into a motorbike. Upon further deeper inspection, it’s a cinephile’s dream, covering every conceivable genre of fiction in the last fifty years. It’s science fiction. It’s fantasy. It’s comedy. It’s drama. It’s allegories and dreams and arthouse and mainstream all in one, and every element reinforces the other.

Perhaps more importantly are these:

You should watch Sengoku Collection! Yes, you!

I decided to include this Sencolle post as a part of my year in review because, well, I could. It also deserves the honor for the singular 2012 title that I keep bring up as an example that fulfills a lot of specific requirements. Which anime had a car chase? Sencolle. Which anime had gambling? Sencolle. Which anime had Russia? Sencolle. Which anime referenced Kafka? Sencolle. Which anime had a strategic map? Sencolle. Which anime had a hot water bottle? Sencolle. Which anime had strong female characters? Sencolle. Which anime had underboobs? Sencolle. Which anime features time travel? Sencolle. Which anime featured after school teatime? Sencolle. It is the Swiss Army Knife of anime.

Up next: Which anime had fishing? Sencolle, of course!

Year in review 2012:

5 Responses to “Year In Review 2012: A Sengoku Collection Episode Collection”

  • Stef

    I guess that’s why I couldn’t enjoy that series. I was looking for an overarching plot when I should have realized it was an anthology! I think I’ll get back on it.

  • DiGiKerot

    I’d have probably bolded the Alice episode as well, just because I like the surreality of it. I don’t really get the Ieyesu episode hate either.

    I liked SenColle quite a bit in the end. It’s not especially epoch-makingly amazing or anything, but it’s remarkably solid entertainment, with some really stellar background art. Not necessarily something I’d rank in my top three of the year, but certainly far less of a waste of time than a few of the higher-profile, more popular shows of recent times.

  • omo

    I agree with all yall.

    It’s a fine show, and I think it stays with me better than most shows. Even shows I think that are really quite excellent…

    • DiGiKerot

      Kind of interesting you say that. A lot of these episodic shows tend not to stick with people as much as even mediocre narrative-driven shows, simply because they don’t have the high or impactful moments that tend to linger in mind. Guess it’s just evidence of how much they overachieved with SenColle.

    • omo

      Sencolle is just more of a talking piece I guess.

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