Anime Review - Master of Martial Hearts

Madman have just released Master of Martial Hearts, a 5 episode OVA produced by ARMS Corporation and based on a video game. ARMS is responsible for other animation such as Ikkitousen and Elfen Lied. In the same spirit they bring us Master of Martial Hearts (絶対衝激〜プラトニックハート〜), the story of High School Girl and secret warrior Aya. While walking home with her school friend Natsume she stumbles upon a street brawl between a bladed handbag wielding flight stewardess and a young priestess named Miko (Miko is the Japanese word for Priestess, no points for originality there!). When Aya intervenes she learns that she has just disrupted a battle an underground tournament. Those who win the tournament gain the Martial Heart and their greatest wish granted while those who lose are sent to The Dark Realm.

Before watching this series you should be forewarned, what Master of Martial Hearts lacks in story it gains in fan service. In fact, fan service is pretty much all it has going for it.

The formulaic fighters tournament storyline holds true until the very last episode at which time plot twists come every two or so minutes. Each fight takes place in a slightly different setting against a slightly different foe. All of Aya's opponents are made up in cosplay varying from Police Officer to Mechanic and even a weird Super Chemistry Teacher. The clothing of each fighter, as with a true fight, tends to get torn while battling. Unlike a true fight a different piece of clothing gets shredded with each and every strike culminating in at the very least a knocked out foe in underpants. More often than not, however, exposed breasts are the flavour of the day.

The English dub features a number of veterans such as Brittney Karbowski (One Piece, Air Gear) and Cherami Leigh (One Piece, Baccano!) while the main role goes to newcomer Alexis Tipton. I can't fault the dubbing in any way with Tipton performing up to the high standards of her more experienced counterparts.

The animation in The Master of Martial Hearts isn't exactly award winning, but by the same token, there isn't anything specifically deficient in this department. This series simply doesn't live up to the high standards of other series released in 2008 such as Soul Eater and Birdy the Mighty Decode. The character designs are quite good and do a good job of differentiating each enemy both by look and demeanour. 

One concerning factor in this release was the noticeable compression artifacts visible during episodes one and five. It's not known whether or not these technical issues took place during Madman's transfer or the original transfer from Funimation. 

A highlight of the release is a special feature which features an audio commentary by all three of the main seiyuu (voice actors). This feature gives a good insight into the preparation and execution of the art of voice dubbing.

Overall, The Master of Martial Hearts has its place in the bigger scheme of things. Fanservice is a welcome and inextricable part of anime culture, panty shots and bra flashes are an expected part of the industry. This series takes it to another level and blatantly so, it doesn't pretend to be anything that it's not. It is an enjoyable paint by numbers fighting tournament series that will well and truly fill your fanservice quota for the year.

Master of Martial Hearts is available now from Madman and selected retailers.


  1. Have you seen Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero? I've heard it's quite similar and from the same studio and I'm trying to decide whether or not to give it a watch!

  2. I have watched it. If you're big into fan service, you'll love it. It's very heavy handed but still quite funny at times. Thanks for reading, David!


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