Jubei-Chan: Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch

A few centuries ago, the legendary swordsman Yagyu Jubei, on his deathbed, entrusted the “Lovely Eye-Patch,” containing his prowess with the sword, to his follower Koinosuke, to give to Jubei’s successor. Koinosuke would know the right person by the “plump, bouncy bon-bons.” Jubei died before he could explain exactly what he meant.
Three centuries later, Koinosuke finally spots the bon-bons. They belong to Jiyu Nanohana, nickynamed “Jubei,” who has just begun high school after moving from Tokyo. As she walks home though a bamboo grove after the first day of school, she is startled by Koinosuke, who insists that she wear the Lovely Eye-Patch. To get rid of him, she eventually agrees to try it on — just once.
Unfortunately for Jiyu, once she tries on the eye-patch, she has no choice but to use it again and again.Whenever she puts the Lovely Eye-Patch over her left eye, Jiyu transforms into Yagyu Jubei II, a swordswoman of awesome ability. Yagyu Jubei’s enemies have been waiting 300 years to seek revenge, and thus every day Jiyu faces a new swordsman eager to defeat Jubei. However, she doesn’t want to be a fighter at all. She’s much rather be just an ordinary girl, and she exasperates Koinosuke by leaving the eye-patch at home or throwing it away.
Jubei-Chan: Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch was written and directed by Akitaro Daichi. Daichi’s other work ranges from the amazingly silly Elf Princess Rane to the horrific Now and Then, Here and There. Jubei-Chan, an eccentric blend of farce and drama, is much nearer the former. Most of the characters are ludicrous, from the dutiful, loyal but not-terribly-bright Koinosuke, to the “ruffian” Bantaro and his quasi-simian sidekicks, to the series of swordsmen eager to challenge Jubei Yagyu. One of the last looks like a deranged Mickey Mouse; another, “Tenchi Muyonosuke,” is little more than a screeching scribble (fortunately, he’s not around long). Jiyu, however, is consistently sane and reasonable.
Underneath the samurai/magical girl spoof is the more serious story of Jiyu and her father, Sai, a writer of samurai fiction. Initially he’s presented as just another buffoon. As the series progresses, though, his anxiety to be a good father to Jiyu becomes increasingly important. In the final episodes, he becomes the central character as he struggles to free Jiyu from Jubei and the 300-year-old grudge that threatens her.
Although Jubei-Chan does get more serious in the second half, it’s still liable to slip into absurdity at any time. Even at the most dramatic moments, Daichi often inserts a quick sight gag or wisecrack. These sudden shifts of tone can be disconcerting to those who prefer their genres straight, though I think this form of hybrid vigor is one of the strengths of the series.
Most of the males in Jubei-Chan: Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch are very much aware of women’s chests, but nevertheless there’s no fan service beyond occasional close-ups of those fully-clothed chests. Jubei’s swordfights are intense, but they’re also brief and bloodless. Jubei-Chan is probably okay for viewers high school age and older.
(2005)