Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Queen’s Blade - Hide and Seek - A manga review

After reading Sundome i was in need of something new to spend my bus trips with and I was glad it took me no time in found Queen’s Blade: Hide and Seek. If you are familiar with anime you should know by now that Queen’s Blade, together with Ikkitousen and Seikon no Qwaser are probably the paramounts when comes to erotically charged anime.

I know that there is a lot of people who is taken aback by this constant nudity and never even give a try to the series. And that’s a pity because Queen’s Blade has a decent story and some cool character designs, created by renowned japanese illustrators.

Thankfully Hide & Seek fills the void to provide the best of Queen’s Blade to a Teen rating audience, changing eroticism into comedy.
Elina is paired with a dubious crew on a new revision of the story.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Sister

For those unfamiliar with the series Queen’s Blade story revolves around a fantasy land where every 4 years a new queen is elected to rule the kingdom. Such Queen may be a girl from any race or class condition as long as she manages to win in singular combat the actual Queen.  However, to earn the right to fight the Queen, the aspirant must first win the Queen’s Blade, a tournament where the strongest girls from every part of the kingdom gather to earn that honor.

Aldra, the reigning Queen and champion . Though in this series her role is secondary.
Hide & Seek is set during the events of the first season of the anime. Unlike the main series, who follows the ascension to power of the wanderer warrior Reina, daughter of the Vance Earl. Hide & Seek accompanies the story of her little sister Elina as she searches for Reina to bring her back to her duties as heir to the Vance household.

During her journeys, Elina herself will meet some of the cast of the Queen’s Blade tournament like the Iron Princess Ymir or the Dark Elf Mercenary Echidna, as well as some new characters created exclusively for this series like the knight apprentice Florelle, that will aid Elina on her quest, as she gets dragged to participate on the tournament.

Claudette and Ymir form the relationship that will lead to the events in Queen´s Blade: Rebellion.


I must confess that when I thought of Elina as the main character I wasn’t really thrilled about it. She was one of my least favorite characters in the series universe, mainly due to being very plain character (in a place already filled with one-dimensional personalities).

Elina was vicious since child.
This manga though, while not increasing much the character deepness, looks at Elina with an augment glass, magnifying all her extreme personalities into comical exageration, especially her catlike behavior. She is short-fused and arrogant, prone to mindless aggression and with almost zero consideration for any other than herself and her family… basically, a cat in girl dress…or a cat dressed as a girl dressed as a tiger to be accurate.

The rest of the cast mostly enacts their same roles of the main series with the notable exception of Ymir that is quite childish and a weakling; though through the series she will evolve to fit their anime persona.   
Claudette, and Echidna get a lot of scene time too, so if you are fan of this two you should probably look forward to read Hide & Seek.

Less nipples, more chibis.

Hide & Seek breaks the norm of the house by reducing the nudity considerably. While there are some ecchi scenes, specially once the perverted Echidna tags with the group, you won’t be seeing the usual cloth tearing and gratuitous panty shots that are a stapple of the anime.

Instead humour and chibis are all over the place introduced by some recurrent gags, like Elina’s unhealthy passion for sausages, or her ability to snap into a trance state where her mind becomes one of a cat for a certain period of time when conditions are met.

Ymir also is part of most of the jokes during the first volumes, as she is treated like a child until she gains strength to make herself respected. It is true that some of the jokes are still sexually oriented, but being otherwise would deny the very essence of many characters inside jokes (like the pantylessness of loli half-elf Nowa).
We caught a glimpse... of something secret.
Despite this, this change of perspective opens the series to a whole new target audiences, and I know for sure that some girls have given this a chance and liked it. It kinda leaves me wondering if the anime was done like this would have hit higher demographics and wouldn’t be discriminated as sick otaku material.


The manga features fights aplenty and they grow in number and intensity as the Queen’s Blade grows near at the apex of the series.

Unlike other manga protagonists, Elina is not a fair fighter. She is ruthless and savage in combat, with no mercy even for her friends, and always fights at her best, never holding back. This makes her combat scenes some of the best of the manga, as she pulls moves you wouldn’t expect from more “noble” characters like Nowa, Reina or Claudette.
Another one bites the dust!
While some minor fights of the tournament are played on the background most of the important fighting is given attention. Those are well narrated and illustrated in detail, so you can actually feel the rhythm of combat as swords clash panel after panel, and the clean artwork let’s you clearly understand what is going on without having to look twice.

Also, unlike the anime, Hunt & Seek is more interested in showing impressive fights than clothes being torn so no more bizarre camera angles or nipple-shots.


Be it that you are a Queen’s Blade fan or not, I really recommend you to check Hide & Seek if you are into shounen manga.

You will like it:
If you are looking for a light shounen with sexy girls, but you are not into mindless fanservice and hentai.
If you are a Queen’s Blade fan (a must read if you are into Elina, Claudette, Ymir or Echidna)

You won’t like it:
If you thought the nipples and pantyshots were the best Queen’s Blade could offer.
If the idea of lesbian incest does not seem like a valid plot hook to you.


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