Brave 10 is a historical fiction, fantasy manga series written by Kairi Shimotsuki. I originally read the first volume back in 2014, shortly after watching the anime. The premise intrigued me enough to see if the manga called for my attention. I do remember not being impressed with it at all and decided to drop it. However, I returned to this series again today because I felt that I did not give it a real chance, and because I have been buddy reading a lot of manga with my nephew and it was simply his turn to choose the series.
The premise of Brave 10 revolves around Sanada’s Brave Ten warriors from the Sengoku (Warring States) Period of Japanese history. You have ten specific warriors, some are samurai and others are ninja, who come together to work under a lowly lord towards one common goal (at least in this manga): to protect a priestess named Isanami from falling into the hands of Tokugawa Ieyasu for mysterious reasons.
The story in and of itself has nothing sublime or truly distinct about it. At its core, it is about a bunch of bishōnen young men who are helping a damsel that is constantly in distress. All of them have badass fighting capabilities with unique sets of skills to set them apart from one another, as well as issues that they all tend to bicker about amongst each other, and there is a small air of political intrigue native to this period of history that has not been revealed in its entirety. The damsel is also annoying and very much not good for anything other than falling on her ass and shouting for help. It is as clichéd as it sounds. Regardless of its banality, there is something about the story that has me entertained enough to want to read more, and I have little to no fucking clue as to what that is.
I am fond of stories that have a bunch of bishōnen that fight and bitch at one another all the time. For me, it is hilariously pleasant, however it is not something that I can read/watch all the time. I can only enjoy it in small doses, otherwise it would get old quickly. So, this part of the series contributes to my interest. Aside from that, I am stumped as to what is drawing me in.
The illustrations themselves are of average quality. The fight scenes are stylised, and the details tend to blur together, which can be slightly off-putting. When the characters are not battling it out, the designs of the people are also vastly typical. Most of the guys look so much alike that I often have difficulty differentiating them.
Ecchi is also utilised quite heavily. All the women are big-breasted and most of the time they are scantily clad, or naked from the waist up. There is a lot of flirting and provocative interaction between the two genders, and about every villain that encounters Isanami wants to sex her up. The overtly erotic nature of the series is exaggerated on purpose to give the story an appeal for seinen readers. That much is obvious. It is also used a means to set the manga apart from others like it. Other fantasy historical fiction serials that I have read involving ninja and samurai are created for shōnen folks, or middle-grade to young adult readers, and ones that are not, rarely ever have mature tension/romance in them.
I will be honest, as someone who tends to enjoy things that are perverted, this could one of the reasons why the series amuses me. No shame. *shrugs*
The actual plot for Brave 10 is also quite one-dimensional and lacklustre. But it does have a ton of action and some weird as hell creatures and characters in it. Some of the unique capabilities that ninja are rumoured to have in Japanese cinema/literature fascinates me. It is also virtually different in every narrative that I have come across. While there is not anything extravagant about the skills portrayed in Brave 10, I do find it fun to see how it will play out against each other as the characters all engage in ass-kicking shenanigans.
So… Brave 10 is not a great manga series. Heck, I would not even call it a good manga series (at least not from what I have read so far, which is the first volume. This could change as I read on). At the very least it is funny, perverted, and entertaining. I would not recommend this to anyone in search of something with a serious tone, or flowing narrative with layers of depth. You will not find that in Brave 10. Nevertheless, if you are in the market for a mindless, action-packed, potentially okay-time that you do not need to invest yourself in, then I say check it out; more so if you like ecchi things. Overall, it is about as average as you can get.
2.75 snakes outta 5.