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File:Senkou-no-night-raid 4413.jpg

The second anime series from Anime no Chikara (see Sora no Woto), Senkou no Night Raid (English title Night Raid 1931) is a 2010 anime set in China in 1931. It tells the story of a covert unit of the Imperial Japanese Army, the Sakurai Kikan, who use their various super-powers to protect Japanese interests. Intrigue abounds, both political and personal, since it seems everyone has their own reasons for being there. The team consists of Sonogi Yukina and her manservant Kagiya Natsume, who are in China to look for Yukina's brother, who disappeared after seemingly defecting from the Imperial Army; plus stern Military Brat Iha Kazura, and laid back hero Miyoshi Aoi.


Senko no Night Raid provides examples of:

  • Aloof Big Brother: Isao
  • Anime Chinese Girl: Fuu Lan.
  • Attempted Rape: In the prologue episode, Yukina almost got raped by a drunk movie producer who is also one of the ringleaders of a human trafficking group
  • Backstory: all main characters have one, revealed through flashbacks.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Kazura
  • Badass Longcoat: Kazura, most especially in the epilogue
  • Battle Butler: Natsume to Yukina
  • Beauty Mark: Yukina has two, one under each eye.
  • Beware the Honest Ones: Isao.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Aoi in the epilogue episode where he saved Kazura from the Kempentatai
  • Bittersweet Ending: The series. So the gang manages to avert the imminent danger of first Isao then Sakurai using the A-bomb, but Natsume dies, Aoi disappears, Manchukuo is established and history goes on... and of course we all know what happened at the end of the war.
    • The OVA epilogue Panther in the Snow as well, bordering on Downer Ending. Turns out Aoi is alive and is happily married to the love of his life, but Natsume's relatives are suffering from poverty, Yukina is lonely and Kazura's life is empty and aimless... until he ends up joining a rebellion that eventually gets crushed. We never learn if he survived or not.
  • Blessed with Suck: Shizune. Having powers to see the future caused her to abandon her normal life and leave Aoi heartbroken. Said powers also drove Towa (Isao's fiancee) to suicide after she foresaw what would happen 14 years later.
  • Blood From the Mouth: Natsume, after he got shot in the last episode
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the picture drama Natsume and Yukina lampshade how easily identifiable they are (Natsume with his height and peculiar hair, and Yukina with her beauty marks), and Yukina wonders what good they are as spies.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 4 consists mostly of Aoi and Kazura taking pictures of food and chasing a cat.
  • Code Name: The names of the main characters are all pseudonyms. Their real names are mentioned every now and then. (The real names: Aoi: Ono Souichirou, Kazura: Kishida Takuma, Yukina: Takachiho Setsuko, Natsume: Tanaka Kichizou.)
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The opening
  • Did Not Do Research: Despite doing extensive research on the historical events in 1930's, there are some minor errors such as the book entitled, The Little Prince, which Kazura read when he was young. Said book was published in 1943.
  • Doing It for the Art: Fictional example. A master violinist has been convinced to do spy work and forward information by encoding it in his music. Once the broadcast of his performance has been cut, he keeps playing anyway, for the music's sake.
  • The Dragon: Kuze to Isao. Isao to Sakurai.
  • Dramatic Irony: Used to great effect. Pretty much everyone's ideals get trampled on by history.
    • The point gets hammered home when Kazura, in a fit of optimism, tells Aoi that the vision of the future seen by Shizune is perhaps just one of many possibilities, and only time will tell if it comes true or not. It will come true.
  • Dreadful Musician: Aoi really sucks at playing the violin, but that doesn't stop him from playing it. He probably doesn't realize how awful he is.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: How Aoi and Kazura infiltrated the warlord's base in episode 1.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: Aoi and Shizune except Aoi sucks in playing the violin
  • Face Heel Turn: Kazura got easily persuaded by Isao to join his side. But he had a Heel Realization when Natsume dies.
  • Faking the Dead: Shizune
  • Fan Service: Episode 8's Sentou Scene. *nosebleed*
    • Yukina is almost always depicted wearing sexy qipaos in official art. She never wears one in the series itself.
  • Faux Action Girl: Yukina. Throughout the show, we rarely see her do any action on her own since Aoi, Kazura and Natsume did all of it.
  • Faux Fluency: Every foreign language that appears, especially on part of the main characters. (Natsume's Chinese is pretty good, though.) Averted in case of most native non-Japanese speakers (except for Fuu Lan), most of whom get to be voiced by native speakers of their language, even Chinese walla.
    • At least they put some effort in it: the credits show that they had Chinese and English/German speech coaches.
  • Flash Back: Used to reveal the characters' back stories and motivations.
  • Food Porn: Episode 4, in which Aoi and Kazura spend a lot of time photographing delicious-looking Chinese food.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Once it becomes clear that the series is not going to diverge into an Alternate Universe history.
  • For Science!: Ichinose.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine (Aoi), Choleric (Yukina), Melancholic (Kazura), Phlegmatic (Natsume)
  • Friendly Sniper: Natsume
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Sakurai Kikan
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: So far, Chinese, Russian, German, and English. Used for realism purposes and to emphasize the cosmopolitan setting, but tends to be rather poorly performed on the main characters' part.
    • On the other hand, they had real foreigners (often native speakers) voicing most European characters, and also had native Chinese speakers voice native Chinese characters (except for Fuu Lan). Though why they are speaking Mandarin rather than Shanghainese is still a mystery.
    • One should note that in context they're often doing a good job, as the characters are speaking foreign languages and it's natural that they have thick accents (although as spies, the main characters are supposed to be good at Chinese enough to blend in seamlessly). The only egregious example is Fuu Lan who is supposed to be a native but plays this trope straight. Apparently it's easier to have a Japanese VA fake Chinese accented Japanese than train Chinese VA's to do Japanese lines and have the accent come naturally.
    • The DVDs and Blu Rays feature a "dubbed" version of the show as an extra, where all scenes where originally foreign languages were used are dubbed over in Japanese.
  • The Handler: Sakurai Shinichirou.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Fuu Lan thought that Yukina and Aoi are couple. But Yukina and Natsume explicitly state that they're not.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Isao. See Taking the Bullet.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!:
  • Hot Chick in a Badass Suit: Yukina
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Kazura and Shizune. For Kazura, he resents using his powers because they are the reason why he didn't get a chance to join the Imperial Army after his graduation. For Shizune, her powers and role caused her to leave Aoi and make him think that she died. And near the end, she got her wish but with the price of losing her memories of her lover. Fortunately, she's reunited with him in the end.
  • The Infiltration: more than once.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Natsume, apparently.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The power of Ichishi, Sakurai's attendant.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Sakurai Shinichirou, to Takachiho Isao.
  • Mind Screw: The OVA episode Devil of the Opium Den, with a good dose of Nightmare Fuel.
  • Misplaced Accent: Historical British diplomat Victor Bulwer-Lytton is in one episode, speaking with a distinctly North American accent.
  • Mission Control: Yukina uses her powers to serve this role for the rest of the group.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Kuze to Isao.
  • Nice Hat: Yukina's. Of course, she wears different kinds of hats.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Subverted. The name of the weapon is never mentioned (mostly because most characters don't know exactly what it is, except for being a "new type of bomb"), but it is made clear in the context that they are talking about the A-bomb.
  • Ojou: Yukina
  • Oh Crap: Aoi and Kazura's reaction in episode 4 when they found out that a cat stole the bag of films.
  • One-Man Army: Kazura, when he's not using his powers. Look at the prologue episode where he single-handedly defeated all the mooks including the Dragon Lady. But again, he did had some help from Aoi's powers.
  • Opium Den: Devil of the Opium Den. Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Photo Montage: The ending credits is composed of displaying four pictures framed on walls one by one in slow motion; the first is a shot of a railway track[1], the second is Kazura's graduation photograph from the military school, the third is a group photograph of Yukina, Isao, Towa (Isao's fiancee) and Natsume and the fourth is a photograph of Aoi and Shizune in wedding attire.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Fuu Lan. The only time that she did something serious is in episode 5 where she witnesses Kazura, being held by the Kuomintang, and warns Aoi about it.
  • Psychic Powers
    • Mind Over Matter - Aoi's power, though his usage has some kind of time limitation.
    • Telepathy - Yukina's power. She reads minds and coordinates the team by projecting her thoughts to them and moving bits of information from head to head. She also seems to have some small measure of psychometric abilities.
      • As it turns out, the power runs in the family: Isao has something similar as well.
    • Teleporters and Transporters - Kazura's power. Kuze also has it.
    • Natsume has X-Ray Vision which works best at full moon and is weak at new moon.
    • Shizune is a Seer.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Happens to Yukina, when she's materializing an illusion of a nuclear bombing to the pepole in Xinjing.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Chief Shin'ichirou. Or so it seems.
  • Recap Episode: In place of episode 7 which depicts the Mukden Incident. Though the end of the recap episode show parts of the episode 7 where they revealed the perpetrators of the said incident.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The dichotomy between Aoi (red) and Kazura (blue).
  • Second Sino-Japanese War: Notably for a piece of Japanese entertainment, the show is far from historical revisionism.
  • Serious Business: Part of what makes the Breather Episode funny is that Aoi and Kazura act as if they are on a serious spying mission despite the mundane circumstances of the episode.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Shanghai: The first part of the series takes place here.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Kazura, when he's not on disguise. Isao and Aoi also dressed in a suit well.
  • Shown Their Work: The staff did some fine research on the historical events most especially the Mukden Incident and February 26 incident and ignoring what historical revisionists had said. But of course, there are some mistakes as well. See Did Not Do Research.
  • Spy Fiction
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Aoi and Shizune.
  • Tear Jerker: Yukina's backstory.
  • Taking the Bullet: In the final episode, Isao takes one to protect Yukina from Sakurai
  • Theme Naming: The Sakurai Kikan members are named after various plants. Aoi: hollyhock, Kazura: kudzu, Yukina: a kind of vegetable, Natsume: jujube, Sakurai: cherry blossom.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: The TV version included a disclaimer at the end of each episode.
  • The Thirties: The series takes place in 1931 to 1932 while the epilogue is set in 1936.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The guys of the Sakurai Kikan like baozi.
  • Throw-Away Guns: In episode 6, Kazura throws his gun at Kuse after it ran out of ammo and to test if Kuse has a limit on his teleporting powers.
  • Tomato Surprise: Ichishi's true identity.
  • The Voiceless: Ichishi utters exactly three lines in the entire show.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Kazura wears one under his jacket usually. But you get to see it in the picture drama.
  • We Can Rule Together: Isao convinces Aoi and Kazura to join his side. Aoi refuses the offer but Kazura, on the other hand...
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Takachiho Isao.
  • With Catlike Tread: Involving an actual cat, at that. Aoi and Kazura are preparing to infiltrate a gang hideout when Aoi steps on the tail of a nearby cat, who causes a ruckus by screeching and running down the alley (knocking over several things in its way) right into the hideout.
  • Would Hit a Girl: In the prologue episode, Kazura throws off the Dragon Lady into the box.
  • X Meets Y: It's Darker Than Black meets Baccano
  • You Shall Not Pass: Kuse in episode 6.

Notes

  1. presumably the South Manchuria Railway
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