Review: Master of Martial Hearts

If only this were the Master of IMPARTIAL Hearts instead…

While they are rare, there are shows that are produced that simply shouldn’t be made. Titles so horrible, so offensive that they manage to both insult the viewer, and shame their creators. Master of Martial Hearts joins this long, not-so-proud lineage as a sleazy, misogynistic excuse of a fighting show that will do just about anything to push footage of a naked coed.

In Tokyo, there are rumors of a magical jewel of mythic power. This jewel, known as the Platonic Heart, will grant any desire for its owner, be it money, fame, or even love. However, there is a catch: only ladies can possess the Platonic Heart, and they must endure a fierce fighting tournament. If one is to fail in her search, then she will be banished to a realm of darkness to never be heard from again. High schooler Aya is roped into the tournament after she and her friend are caught in the middle of a Platonic Heart battle between a shrine maiden and a stewardess. Aya mistakes the battle for something far more insidious, and steps in to save the shrine maiden from the stewardess. After the fight, the shrine maiden introduces herself, as Miko, and explains the rules of the tournament. The girl mentions that she joined the tournament in the search of a true friend. Aya offers her friendship, in hopes that it would convince the young maiden to quit the tournament. That night, Miko disappears without a trace, and Aya finds herself placed in the tournament in the maiden’s place. To rescue her new friend, Aya doesn’t have a choice: she must fight in the tournament, and win the Platonic Heart.

If this whole concept sounds stupid to you, then you’re right. Master of Martial Hearts is a mindless, offensive piece of garbage that would have been better off existing as wank material for some depraved 4chan dweller. The paper-thin story serves merely as a backdrop to force two fetish objects into “battles”, be they schoolgirls, stewardesses, cops, mechanics, or any of the other Japanese porno stereotype one can think of. These “battles” consist of the two girls punching or kicking each other hard enough to knock their clothes off. Literally – garments fly off with every single punch, to the point where the girls’ comically huge bare breasts bounce around like beach balls, and panties are the only clothes remaining. There’s no excitement, no tension, and I frankly died a little inside every time they squared off.

Between these horrible segments, viewers are given insight into Aya’s daily life. Since the writers are clearly in tune with the female mind, Aya’s mood has three settings: chirpy, angsty, and bitch. When she’s chirpy, Aya is the stereotypical happy anime high schooler – she’s cheerful, pleasant, and prone to blushing around her crush (and her best friend’s older brother), Haruki. When she’s angsty, Aya will mope and whine about how she hates having to fight and having to deal with the tournament, and just how hard the everything is, and how her life simply sucks. When she’s Angry, Aya hulks out, and attacks anyone around her in a blind rage, with no remorse for their life or their safety. For most of the feature, she will be stuck in angsty and bitch modes. The rest of the cast is similarly one-dimensional, be it Haruki serving as the “older brother” stereotype, Natsume as the “always happy super best friend”, or Miko as the “clumsy maid” character. An attempt is made to legitimize this tripe with a mystery storyline that digs into the organization holding the Platonic Heart tournament. Unfortunately, the conclusion is so clear, so obvious that it falls flat. The entire mess builds up to a conclusion that could be seen as a massive “screw you” to the audience. Incredibly heavy use of deux ex machina, and circular reasoning (mixed with sex trafficking – this IS a deviant’s wet dream, after all) try to explain a situation that is simply muddy and unclear. The final sequences do little more than to enrage the viewer as, well… I won’t spoil it. However, the very idea that this tripe could have a pleasant, sensible, or even sensical ending is pretty much nonexistent.

Because it wouldn’t be a steaming pile without offending every sense, Master of Martial Hearts features a soundtrack that is horrifically bad. the show’s opening is loud, shrill, and annoying, and features a vocalist that, I gather, was the cheapest girl in Roppongi. She is constantly off-key, and the wailing guitars in the back only amplify the annoyance. The ending theme is similarly terrible, with off-key singing and angry, thrashing guitars. and a severe lack of consistent tempo. The show’s general background music is forgettable at best, and adds nothing to the show’s atmosphere. On the note of forgettable, the actors for this series clearly phoned their roles in. The character acting tends to be half-hearted at best, and atrocious at its very worst.

Master of Martial Hearts is, without a doubt, one of the most offensive, vile pieces of crap to pass through my DVD player. It makes Ikki Tousen look like The Gentleman’s Guide in comparison. There are absolutely no redeeming qualities to speak of, and everything just seems to go to extremes to repulse the viewer. Frankly speaking, this is the type of show that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

About the author

Samantha Ferreira

Samantha Ferreira is Anime Herald’s founder and editor-in-chief. A Rhode Island native, Samantha has been an anime fan since 1992, and an active member of the anime press since 2002, when she began working as a reviewer for Anime Dream. She launched Anime Herald in 2010, and continues to oversee its operations to this day. Outside of journalism, Samantha actively studies the history of the North American anime fandom and industry, with a particular focus on the 2000s anime boom and bust. She’s a huge fan of all things Sakura Wars, and maintains series fansite Combat Revue Review when she has free time available. When not in the Anime Herald Discord, Samantha can typically be found on Bluesky.

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