Ikki Tousen (一騎当千, Ikkitōsen, lit. "Strength of a Thousand"), known in North America as Battle Vixens, is a manga series written and illustrated by Yuji Shiozaki, based on the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The series revolves around an all-out turf war in the Kanto region of Japan where fighters known as Tōshi (闘士, meaning "fighting soldier") from seven schools battle for supremacy. The story centers on Hakufu Sonsaku, a fighter who transfers to Nanyo Academy, one of the seven schools involved in the turf war.
The manga started serialization in the seinen manga magazine Comic GUM, and the first tankōbon was released in October 2000, with a total of 19 volumes available as of February 25, 2012. The manga was licensed in North America and the United Kingdom by Tokyopop with adaptation from Keith Giffen under the title Battle Vixens, and in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment.
A 13-episode anime adaptation produced by J.C. Staff aired between July and October 2003 on AT-X and other channels. A second anime season produced by Arms aired on AT-X between February and May 2007, spanning twelve episodes. A third anime season, also produced by Arms, aired on AT-X between June and August 2008, spanning twelve episodes and featuring an all-new plotline and characters. A fourth anime season produced by TNK and Arms aired on AT-X and other channels between March and June 2010, spanning 12 episodes and introducing new schools and characters. An anime OVA was announced by Media Factory, and premiered in Japanese theaters on November 12, 2011.
The first anime season was licensed in North America by Geneon Entertainment, but it is now licensed by Funimation Entertainment after Geneon withdrew from the anime market. The second anime season is licensed in North America by Media Blasters. The third anime season was also licensed by Media Blasters, but it is now licensed by Funimation Entertainment. The fourth anime season is also licensed by Funimation Entertainment.
In the Kanto region of Japan, seven high schools take place in a turf war for territorial supremacy: Nanyo Academy, Kyosho Academy, Seito Academy, Yoshu Academy, Rakuyo High School, Gogun High School, and Yoshu Private School. The fighters of each school bear the sacred jewels called magatama, which contains the essence of warriors from the Three Kingdoms era of Ancient China 1800 years ago, as well as their fates.
Hakufu Sonsaku, the descendant of legendary conqueror Sun Ce, is a highly skilled fighter with a strong sense of personality who goes to Nanyo Academy where her cousin Koukin Shuuyu attends under her mother's request. Her destiny, as with her predecessor, was to conquer all of the schools. But there is a darker and more dangerous side to her fate, one that may change the entire course of history forever.
Magatama (勾玉, lit. "Sacred bead")
Magatama are jewels worn as earrings by all fighters which contain the spirits and essence of warriors from the era of the Three Kingdoms in ancient China. How they found their way to Japan is a mystery. Magatama impart their power and fate upon each fighter (regardless of age or gender; all of the characters from this period are male, but most of the cast are young girls), which range from average to incredibly powerful, but come with the will of the spirit within and ultimately their fate, which usually tends to be tragic and painful. However, a few characters seem to be able to overcome their fate, even though the cycle has played over repeatedly for 1800 years. Not every fate is the same however; numerous important characters are missing, and some relationships and obviously personalities have been drastically altered, but the end results are significantly analogous. Some magatama are very selective; others can switch their magatama, increasing their own personal power. They also indicate a fighter's skill and power by a distinctive color related to the Olympic medal system, which often tends to be misleading with certain characters. The ambiguity of this is further enhanced by the anime's introduction of Hakufu's jade magatama (which was briefly replaced with a red when she was possessed by Totaku).
The Imperial Seal supposedly found by Bundai Sonken, Hakufu's father. It is a large jade seal that serves a role similar to a Royal Crown. Whoever carries it is granted authority over all the other nations, but it expectedly becomes a big target for everyone. Seito Academy originally held it before Toutaku stole it, but it eventually went to Ryomou from Ryofu, who passed it to Saji before it finally returns to Seito.
Dragons of Haou
The Ruling Dragon, or Shōryū (literally Dragon Lord), is an enigmatic entity or entities resembling a massive oriental dragon conferred uniquely upon the three destined rulers of the Three Kingdoms period: Hakufu, Sousou and Ryubi. It is proof of their birthright as conquerors. They confer massive power onto each of them, putting them well above A-rank regardless of their own skill, though each manifestation varies. Ouin managed to stop Hakufu's first manifestation fairly easily but his arm was broken in the attempt, however Koukin was only able to subdue it the second time with both a Hyakuhekitō and Ukitsu's help.
They do, however, create terrible destructive impulses that differ for each character. Hakufu's manifests a berserk, sadistic, psycho-sexual monster, but less so than Ryubi and Sousou. Sousou's dragon is psychotic and the most malicious but otherwise completely in control, while Ryubi's is completely out of control to the point of suicide and self-mutilation. It is also the most evil, radiating deathly energy that consumes the life around it.
In addition to the three Ruling Dragons, other characters in the series have been shown to harbor dragons as well. Because of the qualities of Ryubi's dragon, Kaku believed Totaku may have possessed a dragon of his own. As a result of Ryubi's dragon first awakening three years ago and the ensuing battle its presence caused, Ryomou possesses a dragon as well. However, only Saji, Teifu, and the main characters of Seito (excluding Ryubi) are aware of this fact. Koumei is believed to harbor a dragon as well, as Ryubi witnessed it for a brief instant.
It has also been hinted several times in both the anime and manga that Cho-un also harbors a dragon, as whenever she opens her eyes, her pupils are cat-like and yellow in color, very similar to those of the awakened fighters. Likewise in the manga, Kanu displayed identical pupils after Gakushin's aborted attempt to invade her mind, during her fight with Kyosho's Three-Pillared Gods.
Typically when a dragon manifests, the eyes of the fighter either glow red or turn yellow with cat-like slits. The forearms manifest bulging veins, which can sometimes extend over the entire body, and fangs are also sometimes shown. In the second season of the anime, each dragon is of a different color; Hakufu's is blue, Sousou's is red, and Ryubi's is gold. Unlike the manga, Ryomou's dragon appears to be her own and not Ryubi's, and is black. Koumei is also shown with a silver dragon, referred to as the Crouching Dragon.
A set of 5 legendary Chinese jian made of jewels. Supposedly made by Cao Cao in ancient China, they are each named after an animal: Dragon, Tiger, Sparrow, Bear, and Horse. Incredibly evil and powerful swords capable of beating even the Dragons of Hao. Originally all five were embedded in a large boulder on Chosho's property and sealed with chi, making them impossible to remove. Toutaku extracted an unnamed sword while studying and failing under Chosho. Kanu also trained under Chosho and extracted one of the blades, but broke a sword named Kusanagi in half, leaving the remaining half of the blade still embedded in the rock. It is unknown which of the five it is. Teni had Dragon likely passed to her from Chiba, and Hakufu managed to remove Tiger completely intact, but Saji recovered it and entrusted it to Koukin so he could stop Hakufu's dragon. Toutaku later destroyed the boulder, freeing the remaining two and the other half of Kusanagi which he brought with him to his grave. Sousou recovered all of them and two of the intact blades were seen under high security at Kyosho.
Saji had a sword made of jade, and it is also an ancient sword. It is unknown if it is one of the five, as it is named Dragon, but Teni had Dragon distinctly named as a Hyakuhekitō, so it is likely another ancient sword. On a sidenote, a katana named Muramasa lies in Gogun Academy. All of these are so far absent from the anime.
Seiryutō (青龍偃月刀, lit. "Holy Dragon Blade")
Guan Yu's legendary Green Dragon Crescent Blade, accurately depicted and carried by Kanu at all times. Supposedly made of jewel rather than metal, this may in fact be allegory, as a particularly high-quality type of steel in Japan is known as tamahagane, or "jewel steel". Extremely powerful and possessing massive chi, it was melted during a battle against Ryuubi's dragon 3 years prior to the start of the series, but was apparently repaired at some point.
A new artifact introduced in Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny. It is a gold oriental dragon coiling around a gold orb sealed in a glass orb. It is said that the Dragon Jade has the ability to tame a dragon (though has failed to do so yet) as well as change the destiny of any fighter, something otherwise impossible. It is extremely mythical, and up until Ryomou found it, everyone thought it didn't exist; in fact, very few even knew about it in the first place. A mysterious monk (who is presumed to be the same one who was with Kaku earlier on) told Ryomou about who proceeded to find it. Ryomou, however, was ambushed and badly injured by Teni, who was finally defeated by Shiryu who stole it and brought it to Kanu. According to the monk, it will only activate when all three dragons are roused and brought together, but Ryomou is seen holding it and activating it, creating a blue aura, making her left eye glow blue, then summoning a black dragon.
Towards the end of Dragon Destiny, the Dragon Jade truly activates due to the presence of all the three dragons (Sousou's Red Dragon, Ryubi's Yellow Dragon, and Sonsaku's Blue Dragon) in its vicinity and causes the change of fate, that it was destined to do in the first place.
Ikki Tousen began serialization in the seinen manga magazine Comic GUM. The first bound volume was published by Wani Books on October 2000, with a total of 20 volumes available as of September 26, 2012. The manga was licensed in North America and the United Kingdom by Tokyopop under the title of Battle Vixens, and sold fifteen volumes between April 6, 2004 and April 27, 2010. The manga is also licensed in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment, in France by Panini Comics, in Argentina by Editorial Ivrea, in Germany by Carlsen Comics (under the tile of Dragon Girls),in Taiwan by Sharp Point Press, in Brazil by Nova Sampa.
A 13-episode anime adaptation of Ikki Tousen produced by J.C. Staff and directed by Takashi Watanabe aired on AT-X from July 30, 2003 and October 22, 2003, with subsequent runs on TV Kanagawa, Mie TV, Chiba TV, TV Saitama, and Sun Television. Seven DVD volumes were released by Media Factory between November 22, 2003 and May 25, 2004. A DVD box set was later released on January 25, 2008, and a Blu-ray box set was later released on April 27, 2011. The series was licensed in North America by Geneon Entertainment, who released the series on four DVD volumes between August 10, 2004 and March 1, 2005. A box set was later released on July 19, 2005 by Geneon. The series is now licensed by Funimation Entertainment after Geneon closed its doors to the North American market, and released a box set of the series on May 26, 2009. The series is also licensed in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment, and in the United Kingdom by MVM Films.
A second season, called Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny (一騎当千 Dragon Destiny, Ikkitōsen Doragon Desutinī), produced by Arms and directed by Koichi Ohata, aired 12 episodes on AT-X from February 26, 2007 to May 14, 2007, with subsequent broadcasts on Chiba TV, KBS Kyoto, TV Kanagawa, Tokyo MX, Sun Television, TV Aichi, and TV Saitama. Six DVD volumes were released by Media Factory between July 25 and November 22, 2007, each volume containing an original video animation called Dragon Destiny: Great Battle at the Red Cliffs Hot Springs (Dragon Destiny 赤壁温泉大決戦, Doragon Desutinī: Sekiheki Onsen Dai Kessen), featuring the female cast in a hot spring setting. A DVD boxset was later released on December 22, 2009. The anime is licensed in North America by Media Blasters, who released the series on three DVD volumes between November 24, 2009 and April 20, 2010. A box set was later released on August 31, 2010. The anime is also licensed in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment, as with the first season.
A third season, Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians (一騎当千 Great Guardians, Ikkitōsen Gurēto Gādianzu), produced by Arms and directed by Koichi Ohata, aired 12 episodes on AT-X from June 11, 2009 to August 27, 2008, with subsequent broadcasts on Chiba TV, TV Saitama, TV Aichi, TV Kanagawa, Sun Television, and Tokyo MX. The series features an all-new storyline featuring Chokyo, Hakufu's younger sister and the Japanese counterpart of Xiao Qiao, introducing another Genpou Saji as an antagonist, and the return of a character who previously died in the first series. Six DVD compilation volumes were released by Media Factory between September 25, 2008 and February 25, 2009, each volume containing an original video animation called Battle Tour Club: Sexy Cosplay♥Dangerous Jobs♥ (バトルツアークラブ･セクシーコスプレ♥危険なアルバイト♥). A DVD box set was released on March 25, 2010. The series was also licensed by Media Blasters, as with the second season, and was scheduled to be released in a complete box set on March 31, 2012. The series was originally planned to be released in two half-series sets on August 30, 2011 and October 25, 2011, respectively, prior to its rescheduled date. Media Blasters later announced on February 3, 2012 that the North American release of Great Guardians is currently placed on an indefinite hold. At Anime Expo 2012, Funimation Entertainment announced that they have acquired the licensing rights to Great Guardians. Funimation Entertainment released the DVD box-set of Great Guardians on December 31, 2013.
A fourth season, called Ikki Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor (一騎当千 XTREME XECUTOR, Ikkitōsen Ekustorīmu Eguzekutā), was announced. Produced by TNK under the directorship of Koichi Ohata, the series aired twelve episodes on AT-X between March 26 and June 11, 2010, with subsequent broadcasts on Chiba TV, TV Kanagawa, TV Saitama, Tokyo MX, TV Aichi, and Sun Television. The series introduces two new schools, Nanban High School and Ryoshu Academy, and introduces Kentei, the Japanese counterpart of Emperor Xian, as an antagonist. Six DVD and Blu-ray volumes were released by Media Factory between June 25 and November 25, 2010. The DVD/BDs contains an original video animation called Ikki Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor - A Dream's Six Views (一騎当千 XTREME XECUTOR 〜ユメ六景〜). At Anime Expo 2012, Funimation announced that they also acquired the licensing rights to Xtreme Xecutor alongside Great Guardians.
An original video animation, called Ikki Tousen: Shūgaku Tōshi Keppu-roku (一騎当千 集鍔闘士血風録) was announced by Media Factory, and a promotional video was posted on their YouTube channel. The OVA was released in Japanese theaters on November 12, 2011. It was later released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 22, 2012 by Media Factory.
The opening theme for the first season is "Drivin' Through The Night" by M.o.v.e, and there are two ending themes, "Let me be with you" by Shela from episodes 1-7, and "Fate" by Masumi Asano (the original voice of Hakufu Sonsaku) for episodes 8-13. The opening theme for Dragon Destiny is "HEART&SOUL" by Mai Kariyuki while the ending theme is "Glass Flower" (硝子の花, Garasu no Hana) by IORI. The opening theme for Great Guardians is "No x limit" by Ami, while the ending theme is "Kage: Shape of Shadow" (影～shape of shadow～) by Rio Asaba. The opening theme for Xtreme Xecutor is "Stargazer" by Yuka Masuda while the ending theme is "Endless Soul: Endless Warrior" (Endless Soul 〜終わりなき戦士, Endless Soul ~Owarinaki Senshi) by Masumi Asano and Aya Endo, the voices of Hakufu Sonsaku and Bachou Mouki, respectively. The opening theme for the OVA is "FATE ～on the way～" by MAI & AMI.
Internet radio show:
An internet radio show promoting the Dragon Destiny anime called Ikki Tousen DDR: Dragon Destiny Radio (一騎当千DDR 〜Dragon Destiny Radio〜) was produced by Media Factory and aired on MediaFac Radio between November 25, 2006 and aired 31 episodes. The show was hosted by Masumi Asano and Hitomi Nabatame, the voices of Hakufu and Kanu, respectively. A CD of the radio show was released by Media Factory on June 27, 2007.
Another radio show promoting Great Guardians called Ikki Tousen GGR: Great Guardians Radio (一騎当千GGR 〜Great Guardians Radio〜), also produced by Media Factory, aired on MediaFac Radio between March 26, 2008 and March 2009, spanning 23 episodes. Masumi Asano and Hitomi Nabatame reprise their host roles as Hakufu and Kanu. A CD of the show was released by Media Factory on March 25, 2009.
A radio show promoting Xtreme Xecutor called Ikki Tousen XXR: Xtreme Xecutor Radio (一騎当千XXR 〜XTREME XECUTOR RADIO〜) aired on HiBiKi Radio Station between December 25, 2009 and December 3, 2010, spanning 41 episodes. Like the last two radio shows, the show was hosted by Masumi Asano and Hitomi Nabatame reprising their respective roles as Hakufu and Kanu.
A video game of the series, Ikki Tousen: Shining Dragon (一騎当千 Shining Dragon, Ikkitōsen Shainingu Doragon), was developed by Idea Factory and released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan on July 26, 2007 by Marvelous Entertainment. The game has an original storyline with Hakufu, Ryomou, and Kanu as the main playable characters. The game introduces a new character named Chousen, the Japanese counterpart of Diao Chan. Along with Hakufu, Ryomou, and Kanu, Ryubi, Ukitsu, Chouhi, Choun, Ryofu, and Kakoen also appear as playable characters, with Shuyu appearing as an extra character in Hakufu and Ryomou's story arcs respectively.
A second video game, Ikki Tousen: Eloquent Fist (一騎当千 Eloquent Fist, Ikkitōsen Erokuento Fisuto), was developed by Tamsoft for the PlayStation Portable and released on October 2, 2008 by Marvelous Entertainment. The game is a hybrid between fighting and adventure, and it features 15 Ikki Tousen heroines and a new character named Kanpei, the Japanese counterpart of Guan Ping and the protagonist of the game. New characters include Sousou (Berserk Dragon Ruler Mode), Teni, Shokatsuryo, Ryubi, Saji, and Ouin, along with EX-Hakufu (Berserk Dragon Ruler Mode) and EX-Ryubi (whom technically is the non-Berserk Dragon Mode (as the Berserk Mode was a playable character in the first game) (Shining Dragon). Eloquent Fist omits the presence of Ukitsu, and new finishing maneuvers and altered movesets have either been buffed, or have been nerfed.
A third installment based on the Xtreme Xecutor anime, called Ikki Tousen: Xross Impact (一騎当千 XROSS IMPACT, Ikkitōsen Kurosu Inpakuto), was developed by Tamsoft for the PlayStation Portable and released on April 28, 2010 in Japan. It features a new character named Ato, the Japanese counterpart of Liu Shan along with the return of Ukitsu as a playable character, and Chinkyu, Bashoku, Kyocho, and Shibai are added as playable characters. The game adds a "Super Arts" bar, tag-team battles and combos, and the addition of the alternate striker system. The gameplay was also revamped to include an aerial pursuit rave and a Finishing Screen.