After events involving a home invasion, a house cat, an ancient artifact, and an unpaid electrical bill, martial artist Ryo Sakazaki and his best friend Robert Garcia must fight their way into the Southtown underworld to save Ryo's sister Yuri from the crimelord known as Mr. Big.
Video game to anime, especially fighting based has never really been anything above average. Usually, these types of movies will mostly appeal to fans of the franchise and give nothing to the non fans. But could it actually be possible to create a video game to anime that appeals to absolutely no one? Well, after watching Art of Fighting, the answer is yes. Surprisingly, it does have a cult following but only for mocking reasons. However, I wouldn't recommend it even for that. I've seen my fair share of train wrecks, and I can say without any doubt that Art of Fighting is the worst
anime I have ever seen.
Directed by Hiroshi Fukutomi, Art of Fighting is based on the Neo Geo fighting game of the same name. It was one of the arcade fighters competing with Street Fighter II for arcade supremacy, and with the exception of the anime featuring the characters of the game. The movie has absolutely nothing to do with the game at all.
When watching an anime based on a video game. I don't think it's very important to follow the source material to the very last detail. Especially, when the video game doesn't have a great story to begin with; but there's one key element that should never be neglected and it's characterization. In regards to fighting games, there will always be a character with at least a handful of fans. Therefore, fans will be looking for someone specific.
I have to beat on the characterization. The two heroes come off as total dimwits, and I couldn't find a single reason to care about them. They had no charisma, they weren't funny, there was nothing cool about them at all. There also isn't a single interesting villain either. Everyone is completely one dimensional, very corny, and just plain boring.
When these types of movies are released fans want to see their favorite characters going at it with special moves included. Something Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and even Fatal Fury 2 did a pretty good job at. Art of Fighting doesn't even deliver there. The battles are completely unimaginative with the poorest choreography I have seen in an anime since Voogies Angel, and the characters don't pull off any of their special moves, which is a no-no on the highest level. That's like watching a XXX porno with no sex.
I doubt anyone is expecting high art when coming into a martial arts anime, especially when it's based on a game; but the plot really doesn't have anything going for it besides a few non entertaining fights with incredibly bad dialogue to boot, and I'm almost lost for words when trying to describe the horrendous production values. Art of Fighting isn't even good to look at. The animation is choppy and very poor on its delivery. The artwork and character designs are also just as bad despite the characters being somewhat faithful to their video game counterparts. Except for Ryo, whom for some reason is sporting black hair instead of blond. Fatal Fury which is also a Neo Geo release turned anime makes a similar mistake, yet it's nowhere near as awful as this on any level.
The soundtrack is non engaging and uninspiring with bad voice acting to top it off. The movie is seriously bad on every level one can think of and good grief that ending. Ryo uses a diving board to leap about 30 feet into the air in order to pursue an escaping helicopter, which explodes for a reason I still haven't caught.
Art of Fighting accomplished the impossible by doing everything wrong. Unlike other really bad anime titles that could have been a lot worse; Art of Fighting really couldn't be any worst. I do not recommend this to anyone. I still do not think I'm qualified to put together a top 10 best or worst list because there's still more things I need to see, but I'm definitely sure this will still be sitting comfortably at number 1 on the worst, since its still been there for over a decade.
Whenever I get through a very bad anime I always say to myself, "well it's not Art of Fighting". This golden turkey is a 46 minute long waste of time. Give this a try if you love to waste money and time, or love to search for some type of enjoyment in very bad movies. Me, I'll just try to forget its very existence but the alcohol has been failing.
Long story short: everything about this anime is just awful. That said, this is an hilarious anime that anyone who needs a movie for a drinking game should partake in (suggestions for the game included in this review!). So if you're in the mood for something so bad it's good you should partake immediately.
Ok, so the story is basic enough to make sense for sure, it's just really stupid. Perhaps the dub is inducing problems, but they constantly changed one girl's age from underage to of legal age for no apparent reason. Even then I can barely remember the story, something about finding a
diamond and the one guy's sister so the other guy can go back to dating her in opposition of her brother. It ends with a pool party and an exploding helicopter. No, it doesn't make sense and no one who was working on this seemed to care because this was just made as a tie in for a Neo-Geo game that no one probably played anyway (especially not in America where that system didn't exactly sell).
Even for a 90s anime where everything was still cell animated and they couldn't just ask the computer to do everything, you can still tell they put minimal amounts of effort into this. Animation appears to be minimal during action scenes and the laws of physics were broken on a regular basis. It only ads to the enjoyment though! And oh yeah, you'll see some loop animation, don't worry. Ok, so the special effects and animation aren't Gundoh Musashi bad, but it's nothing to be proud of.
Well, the voice acting is terrible, this was dubbed at a time when companies snatched up cheap licenses and just shoved stuff out the door before it could brush its teeth, but the sound effects are sub par and the music is annoying and stupid too. I suppose it's no nails on a chalkboard, but my god is the sound suck. Even for it's time, you could tell they had better voice recording technology than they used for the dub.
The characters are just terrible, and I partly mean that they're terrible people. On more than on occasion, not to spoil anything, the two main characters stand and watch as some random guy is killed [i]before[/i] jumping into action in the opposition of physics. Not that they're well explored either, not in this short amount of time. And the two characters, despite being friends, attempt to do playful banter with each other but it more comes off as them just hating each other's guts, who the hell wrote these characters?
Yeah, everything is so bad here that it becomes enjoyable. It's one of those things! Awful dub and script add to the enjoyment of a terrible story with two terrible lead characters who break into apartments and drink random people's scotch and go "oh we broke into try and find this cat we were chasing", an awful story, and the great animation with moments of Engrish to complete the whole package.
Here's how you play the drinking game, take a drink every time:
-someone defies the basic laws of physics
-everytime someone laughs a horrible scripted and stilted laugh, take two drinks if two characters laugh in unison like this with each other
-the two mains act like blatant jerks to each other
-you see a word of blatant Engrish or misspelling you see on the screen
-everytime the viewing audience all bursts out laughing
And there you go, you'll be good and drunk with your friends in no time! Enjoy!
This should've been one of those moments where a parent should have crushed their child's dream of being a cartoonist. For all the titles I've reviewed so far, even with the ones I didn't like, Art of Fighting has to be one anime that did everything you could possibly do wrong. At least Battle Arena Toshinden has riffability to it, and I've watched Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture numerous times long ago. After ten years, I decided to revisit this turkey and purchased the US Manga released DVD for $2.00.
This might be on par with World of Destruction, Fight! Spirit of the Sword,
and MD Geist: Death Force for being the worst anime title ever made. It's just a mess from start to finish. I've mentioned how big of an SNK fan I am in previous reviews, and even Samurai Shodown (Which I liked, for all of it's cheesy glory) didn't do such little justice to it's video game counterpart. If you changed to title from Art of Fighting to Cops and Robbers, I doubt anyone would've had an inkling that this was supposed to be based off anything. Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia, much like Ken and Ryu in the SF2V anime, are potrayed as martial arts lunkheads who can barely produce enough brain cells to breathe right, accentuating the point that unless these guys are punching something, they're completely useless. After about two sentences, I wanted both of them to die in a fire. Now granted, in the AOF games, they weren't the brightest crayons in the box, but there's a difference between writing a charming goofball and clinically brain dead. Padded rooms are too dangerous for these imbeciles.
When talking about a plot for a video game-based anime, you'd think it would be very easy. Even something as simplistic as "rescue the girl" gets bungled up by this drivel. It's all triggered by kung fu Ren and Stimpy here (They don't deserve the names Robert and Ryo) when they happen to stumble on JUST THE WRONG PLACE to witness the murder of some guy we don't know hiding something we can't care about. To make a short story even shorter, Ren and Stimpy are suspected by the crooks to have what they're looking for leading to probably the best scene in this. King brings up a profile page of the 'heroes' that I assume she had to break into county hall records or steal birth certificates in the eight minutes between scenes, and it lists their names, height, weight, and PERSONALITY TRAITS!! It's like eHarmony '96 or something and I howled with laughter. Did Mr. Big keep tabs on every single citizen in Southtown to know if people are meek and shy? This seems useless for these relatively small time crooks.
"Alright, he's from a rich family! He'll be our next hit!"
"But Boss, he has an outgoing personality and is very witty in conversation!"
"Drat, that's way too charasmatic. Type up a search for an upper middle class, soft-spoken female!"
The animation and character designs are putrid. I've seen Highlights books in the dentist's office waiting room with better coloring. Backgrounds are poorly drawn, you can get better fight scenes out of Rock'em Sock'em robots than trying to watch these clunky, almost flipbook-like kicks and punches connect. Certain shots are disproportionate and you can't tell what you're looking at or whose striking from what angle. The English dub is impressively bad, as voice actors and I use "actors" in the loosest sense of the word, actually shouting "Hiyaaa!" and "Hawh!" in the most wooden way possible it makes english dubbed hentai sound more realistic. If there were special moves from the game, I didn't recognize them. Maybe two, but that's giving it way more credit than it deserves.
IN CLOSING: If you are on a mission to see just how bad anime can get, you can stop and check this out at tyour own risk. It's a little over a half-hour, so you won't waste much time, but there is just nothing good about this one at all. I'm not even pissed that another of my favorite fighting games have been bastardized, I'm pissed as to how little effort was put into it. The fact that after the final cut, the director looked at this product and said, "this is exactly how I wanted this to look.", is inconceivable. And I can't even blame Masami Obari for it!
ENJOYMENT: 2 (Go build a snowman in August, you'll accomplish more)
OVERALL: 2 out of 10
PROS: It isn't Linebarrels of Iron
CONS: Ryuhaku Todoh as a chief of police. Come on, this the Dan Hibiki of SNK, he deserves better than this! He produced Kasumi Todoh, for crying out loud!
Battle Spirits: Ryuuko no Ken is an animated spin-off based in the universe of the classic 90's arcade game "Art of Fighting". It has some good parts and some not quite as good parts, but I enjoyed it overall. Let's go over the different aspects of this OVA.
The story is a pretty standard buddy cop action movie tale. The two main characters, Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia get themselves into a jam when they're mistakenly accused of taking a gem from a crimelord named Mr. Big, despite being entirely innocent. Luckily, they both know martial arts, so they're able to fight their way out,
but things soon get more complicated and they have to face off against the gang some more. The story is mostly an excuse for the action to happen, but I didn't really mind it that much. It tells a simple tale, but it's not a bad one by any means. There are some well presented scenes, and some pretty decent humor mixed in there, to really give it that classic 80's action movie feel.
Art: 7/10 (Art Style: 8/10, Animation: 7/10)
The artstyle is pretty decent, but feels a bit dated considering the time period this came out in. It looks about on par with late 80's TV anime, but this came out as an OVA in 1993, making it much less impressive. Still, I didn't hate the look of it, and it fit the story and the characters pretty well.
The animation itself is a mixed bag. Consisting mostly of low budget shots that look like they were made for TV. However, there are a few moments here & there that I thought looked really cool, and there was a noticeable improvement in quality during these shots. The animation isn't horrible, but I'm guessing it would have likely felt a bit dated, even in 1993.
Sound 8/10 (Music: 7/10, SFX: 6/10, Voice: 9/10)
The music isn't anything special, but it does a good job of setting the tone for each of the scenes. It's a pretty basic soundtrack, but I didn't have any problems with it. The ending theme bumps my score for the music up a bit, as that was pretty great, and really nailed that classic 80's action movie vibe.
The sound effects were fine. Nothing special or incredible, but not noticeably bad or dated, everything was mixed pretty well.
Voice acting was pretty great. I watched it in Japanese, and the actors all portrayed their characters perfectly. Some of the acting might sound a bit cheesy here and there, but I feel like that is somewhat intentional and adds to the fun of the film, and the fun of the characters.
Speaking of the characters, I feel like they're well represented. We have a handful of the roster from Art of Fighting, and their personalities really shine through well. The two main characters are fun to watch, and they riff on each other pretty well throughout. The supporting cast is perhaps a bit weaker, but I still thought they were all pretty decent. King and Ryuhaku Todou are probably the two standout characters in the supporting cast; however, in King's case, I feel even though she's interesting, they tend to not really do much with her. Still, though... definitely a solid, if somewhat simplistic cast of characters.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. It's got a handful of flaws, but I feel like it's positive elements tend to outweigh them, making them rather easy to ignore. If you're a fan of classic 80's action movies, or a fan of Art of Fighting or even KoF, I'd recommend you check out this OVA. It'll be time well spent, for sure.