Iron Virgin Jun

Could it possibly be? Could a show based on something by Go Nagai be anything but terrible? Amazingly enough, despite the terrible title and a few nagging problems, Iron Virgin Jun is actually pretty good. Go Nagai has a particularly bad reputation among more "enlightened" Western anime fans, such as myself, because he's immensely popular in Japan yet creates some of the least enjoyable material in the anime canon. It's a cultural divide that's hard to explain, but if there's any appeal to be found in Go Nagai's work, some of it appears here. It's not a great show, by any stretch, but it's certainly better than most of his other work.

On to the synopsis, then...Jun has just turned 18, and as per tradition in her family, she is to become a bride at that point in time. Being a modern, fully capable girl in her own right, she doesn't take to this well, and she runs away in an attempt to escape her fate. A loyal servant, Kurata, accompanies her on her journey; though he attempts to persuade her to return home at first, he soon takes her side and starts to fall for her. And it's no wonder that Jun is running--her mother is an uber-witch so determined that her daughter will marry that she sends a cretinous group of villains to bring her back...once they've had their way with her. As the show unfolds, we find out why Jun's marriage is so important and why it is that her mother is so evil. Violence and female wrestling that makes the WWF look puny follow.

The artwork here is shaky at best. In some places, it's great; in others, it looks really pretty awful. The character designs are certainly Nagai's, and some of them look hideous. Thankfully, though, he made his protagonist pretty cute. Meanwhile, the story itself works pretty well--it's not much more than an extended chase, but it's done well, and the growing friendship between Jun and Kurata makes for a well-rounded plot with a bit of romance. There is some ugliness here, particularly surrounding the rape gang that wants Jun for themselves, but they are never successful...still, this will certainly turn off easily offended viewers. Still, there's a mix of action, comedy, and horror that is entertaining while hard to categorize. What's obvious is that it has the needed spunk and heart that is lacking from most of Go Nagai's other work. It also has mature themes (though no nudity), but it doesn't descend into the truly grotesque stuff he's known for.

Do I truly recommend Iron Virgin Jun? Mildly, yes. It's not great, but it's decent. If you like Go Nagai, there's no question that you should see this; if you hate his work, this might give you something to think about. It's second tier, to be sure, but it's better than some other choices out there.

Iron Virgin Jun -- violence, profanity, mature sexual themes -- B-