"Grenadier The Senshi of Smiles" is a twelve-episode Japanese anime series directed by Hiroshi Koujina and produced by Studio Live and Group TAC, with its original run starting from October 14, 2004 until January 13, 2005. It had first aired on the network WOWOW. This is a mix of the genres of: historical, adventure, comedy, ecchi, and shonen. It is classified under ecchi for a very good reason due to the appearance of the female protagonist. But, it's a light-hearted ecchi in which no sex let alone graphic sex is involved.
It is unknown what time setting Grenadier takes place in. Due to the environment, it looks to be taking place in an alternative Feudal Era Japan. However, the firearms use look to be a mix of twentieth and twenty-first century style. But, the pistol that belongs to the female protagonist looks to be far-futuristic. Still, Grenadier has as an interesting storyline to it.
For a moment, I thought Grenadier had something to do with grenades. But, that is far from the case. The story of Grenadier follows the travel of two individuals: Rushuna Tendo and Yajiro Kojima. The both of them are two polar opposites yet fighting for different ideals. However, the two of them have been drawn together. This series is adapted from the 2003 manga of the same name which ended circulation in 2006. If you are into anime titles with attractive females and gun battles, Grenadier is a series you may want to take a look at.
The first-time meeting between Rushuna Tendo and Yajiro Kojima with the former comedically saving the latter from capture and eventual execution. Upon the first meeting at the hot spring, Rushuna tells Yajiro about her strategy about defeating enemies not by killing but by taking away their will to fight. In this respect, when applied to practical strategy and tactic in warfare, it becomes more effective than killing which incites hatred causing more people to want to kill you. Due to being a noble and chivalrous person, Yajiro likes Rushuna's view and strategy. This aligns with Yajiro's goal of uniting the world. He feels that Rushuna's strategy is the right course to take when uniting the world. Afterward, the two of them become traveling companions to each other going from one place to another to promote peace without any killing let alone needless killing.
However, those actions get the attention of Jester who is the series' main antagonist. Jester represents the opposite of what Rushuna and Yajiro are doing; while the travelers are promoting good, the Jester is promoting evil. To make matters more complicated, Rushuna is betrayed by her superiors who have put a price tag on her head. In short, the story comes off as being rather simple. That is understandable as the series is only twelve episodes long. The traveling takes the two all the way to Tento where they both square off against the Jester.
I felt the story was rather simplistic. However, the story seemingly did its job in promoting an overall moral lesson: acting without needless bloodshed is the way to go. It's one of those types of plays that promotes peace over violence; however, there's the irony and entertaining hypocrisy due to Rushuna wielding guns and Yajiro wielding a katana. The story was pretty much plot-driven in order to show that moral lesson.
This story really reminded me of the series “Rurouni Kenshin” due to somewhat having a similar plot. In Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin Himura (the main protagonist) uses a reverse-blade katana (the blade being on the other side) as a non-lethal way to dispatch foes. This is due to Kenshin not wanting to cause anymore bloodshed in redemption for the many lives he has taken in the past. The main difference is that Kenshin uses a katana while Rushuna uses a pair of six-shooters.
I found the setting quite interesting; Grenadier's setting is a mix of Feudal Era Japan and the Wild West United States. It seemingly reminded me of the two Asian movies “Sukiyaki Western Django” and “The Good, The Bad, and The Weird” as they both took place in the seemingly Wild West but with the East Asian flare added. I did feel that the setting could have used a bit of European steampunk. The setting itself complimented the story.
Grenadier's story would be good for children; but, the main problem would be Rushuna's very big breasts. In that respect, the makers of the anime seemed to be more focus on fan-service than storytelling. At least the story's not complicated.
Grenadier focuses on two characters; eventually, a third main character gets introduce who accompanies the two. For a main cast of three characters, I felt they were really balanced out. All three of them complimented each other within their respective capacities. However, I found two of the three main characters to be the most interesting. I felt Yajiro to be the most mediocre of the three characters as he was the stereotypical warrior archetype. He was interesting; but, not that interesting for the most part.
Rushuna Tendo – Rushuna is the female protagonist of the group. Despite only being a teenager, Rushuna definitely doesn't have the body of one. When I first saw Rushuna, I thought she was in her early 20s; but, I was wrong. She's still a minor; though, she's a well-endowed minor. Of all the characters, Rushuna was the most appealing. One obvious reason was the big bust size which she uses to pacify people from going the violent route by pushing their faces into them. That especially goes if her breasts are bare due to spending time in the hot springs.
She dresses like a very sexy cowgirl which suits her role just fine. So far, she plays the archetype of the sexy female gunslinger. While utilizing two guns, she doesn't use her guns to kill people. It shows how well her technique is. Meaning, Rushuna is a force to be reckoned with. She doesn't kill because she chooses to grant mercy. If she was vengeful, then a lot of people would be dead. So far, Rushuna reminds me a lot of “Samurai Zan.”
Yajiro Kojima – Yajiro is the archetypal swordsman. He represents the warrior with no secrets who opts to go the direct route rather than the back route. One could call him a true samurai. Detesting guns, for ideological reasons, Yajiro prefers to use the sword. While Rushuna is skilled with guns, Yajiro is equally skilled in using the katana. But, nothing's really special about Yajiro. He comes off as the warrior wanting world peace.
Mikan Kurenai – Mikan is a young girl that appears almost halfway into the series. Upon Rushuna and Yajiro meeting Mikan, she becomes their traveling companion. While Rushuna is skilled with guns and Yajiro is skilled with the katana, Mikan is the “artist” of the group using her skills as a balloon artist. She is the archetypal surrogate “sibling” or “daughter” to both Rushuna and Yajiro. Thus, she helps complete the group of heroes.
The characters were interesting enough. Most of the major characters present in the series are female. It seems that the characters are mostly fan-service which makes Grenadier an ecchi title. It makes me think of “Ikki Tousen” or “Tenjho Tenge” with the use of firearms.
Asides from a decent story, visuals are very important. This is because you are watching Japanese anime. I enjoyed the visuals for Grenadier as it came off as a light-hearted action series with lots of comedy and ecchi. When looking at the looks of the characters, especially Rushuna's appearance, it seemed that Grenadier was more about fan-service with chicks having big breasts and taking hot baths.
I felt the visuals made the anime PG-13 while having that ecchi feel. Keep in mind that Grenadier had come out in 2004. Since then, anime production technology has advanced. Perhaps it might be time for Grenadier to get a high-definition (HD) remastered re-release.
I found Grenadier to be rather entertaining. To me, it seemed to be a lighter version of Rurouni Kenshin with firearms. While there is seemingly intellectual value of not shedding blood, it seems to be amiss with the amount of fan-service (in the form of Rushuna's big breasts) there is available. While it is good, there are other titles to watch. If I wanted to watch something funny with a lot of gun battles, I'd probably watch something like “Trigun” due to the comical nature of Vash The Stampede who loathes killing. Still, Grenadier is a decent title to watch. If you want to watch something relaxing after watching something intense such as “Psycho Pass,” something on the lines of “Tenchi Muyo,” you could watch an episode of Grenadier.