Linn Suzuki, Warrior Princess
I love the way virgin superheroines in anime announce that they're alone, shy and helpless, then proceed to demonstrate incredible martial arts prowess and lightning-fast wit which enable them to escape evil people, make contact with long-lost relatives, and bend the universe to their own formidable (but always outwardly sweet and delicate) wills.
Linn Suzuki, the title character of The Adventures of Kotetsu, isn't exactly an original. But as variations on a theme go, she's a lot of fun. No sooner has she escaped her 100-year-old mistress in Kyoto to seek her brother in Tokyo than the adorable redhead is harrassed by punks under an evil spell, attacked by an enchanted statue, and nearly seduced by a puppet double of the gorgeous detective Linn has hired to find her aforementioned sibling.
She also meets a nerdy young magician who helps her out of a jam, then shows up at a hot spring spa where excess alcohol and falling towels lead to some pretty silly behavior...until they're attacked by a furious tree-nymph who's working for a shady syndicate leader with a grudge against Miho Kuon, the detective who takes Linn under her protection for reasons even she can't explain. With her magical katana sword at her side, and her minimal clothing protecting her budding bosoms, Linn is ready for anything except the attentions of her befuddled young suitor.
My favorite scene occurs early on when the false Miho comes into the bathroom where Linn is bathing, gets naked in front of her, washes her, fondles her, then tries to drown her before the feisty girl whomps the delectable double and rescues her new friends. Some of the later fights involve more nifty supernatural effects, but they're not nearly as funny.
The battle with the tree-nymph reminded me less of any anime I've seen before (which is admittedly quite limited) than of the scene in the animated Hercules and Xena: Battle For Mount Olympus where the Earth Titan grows spectacular, blossoming limbs. I'm sure the Xena producers got the idea from anime rather than vice versa, but it cracked me up to watch Linn whooshing through the air like the warrior princess.
In general this is humorous anime, as opposed to the horrific variety where the violence and mayhem are distressingly real. People get bloodied and beaten in Kotetsu, but the scars are gone five minutes later. There are jokes about the risque placements of some of the wounds. Linn says things like, "Oh, what's a virgin to do?" right in the face of the geeky guy who hasn't even managed to decide yet whether he's got the guts to hold her hand.
This may be an action series aimed at a young male audience, but the female characters are a lot more interesting than the men - who mostly show up, get distracted by the "demon in the trousers," and are quickly dispatched. The packaging warns, "Brief nudity"; what it should say is, "There are naked women in virtually every scene, but the camera lingers on panty shots longer than bare breasts." Manga's typical fascination with lingerie is quite in evidence, though there are fewer peeks in here than, say, Gunsmith Cats.
Based on the comic by MEE, directed by Yuji Moriyama, this first volume of The Adventures of Kotetsu contains two half-hour episodes and will be released on May 11, 1999.