Kick-Heart is a love story between Romeo, a successful pro-wrestler, and Juliet, a nun who lives a secret double-life as a female pro-wrestler. Romeo's secret is that he enjoys taking a beating in the ring, while Juliet feels invigorated when facing her opponents as a wrestler. When the two meet in the ring, the fireworks fly. Their story is set in the colorful backdrop of the professional wrestling world. Will Juliet reveal her true identity to the one she loves? Will Romeo be able to share his secret to the world?
Pain and pleasure. They are two sensory feelings that are central to the experience of living as a human being. Although they are typically distinct from one another, it is certainly something else when the two feelings merge: something that may seem strange to some, enticing to others, or perhaps strangely enticing to the rest.
Masaaki Yuasa, the acclaimed director of titles such as Mind Game and Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, drew the idea for the main theme of Kick-Heart from this concept of pain and pleasure. He watched a French man getting tortured, and then amused himself at the thought of what it would be
like if that man experienced pleasure simultaneously. Also noteworthy is that he also drew inspiration from Tiger Mask, which is where the idea for pro-wrestling came from. Eventually, Yuasa’s ideas developed into this short film, which is notable in itself for the fact that its production was funded through a Kickstarter crowdfunding project. It is thanks to Kickstarter that this delightful tale of sensual wrestling was made possible.
With that said, Kick-Heart’s story is a simple one. At only twelve minutes, it would be unreasonable to expect an in-depth exploration of the human condition. Still, Kick-Heart, with its theme of pain and pleasure, focuses on a romance that is created between a “Romeo” and a “Juliet.” The Romeo in this case is a pro-wrestler who goes by the name of “Maskman M.” In the wrestling ring, he faces off against the Juliet, “Lady S”. As the letters in their names might suggest, Romeo enjoys taking the beatings in his job, whereas Juliet enjoys dishing them out. The romance appropriately kicks off (pun somewhat intended) during a match when Romeo takes a kick from Juliet, hence the title “Kick-Heart.” Just enough information is given about these two characters so that they firmly represent the different sides of the film’s theme. While the characters themselves are not the focus, the short movie format makes this work well, as attempting to flesh out a character in a limited amount of time would instead detract from the narrative focus. Despite the fairly simple premise, the film’s monomaniacal focus on its theme of sensual pain and the contrast between the two main characters is one of its strengths.
Another one of the strengths of this short film undoubtedly lies with Yuasa’s directing. Those of you who are familiar with his works will recognize his dynamic and fast-paced style and composition, coupled with some over-the-top scenes and quirky humor. And Kick-Heart is indeed funny and entertaining, putting the main character in strange and awkward situations. Dialogue is somewhat sparse and is only used when it absolutely needs to be, or to deliver the humor. Kick-Heart is ultimately a visually-driven work, as is the case with Yuasa’s other titles.
Accordingly, the aesthetics of Kick-Heart are perhaps its greatest treat. Yuasa’s works are often known for their art styles that are significantly different from the norm, and this film is no exception. This is mostly evident in its use of vibrant and vivid colors that emphasize its lively atmosphere. The character designs are eccentric, reinforcing the quirky humor that is used throughout. A bright color palette becomes more prominent during the wrestling sequences, in which the film’s climax lies. Of course, the colorfulness of the film is not limited to the art style alone, as the use of animation is just as lively. Of particular note are scenes that are depicted in a unique and peculiar manner, such as Romeo falling in love and his heart visibly pounding to show that. As an animated film, Kick-Heart uses the visual medium to great effect, making it both a pleasure to watch and to simply look at.
The soundtrack for the film may not be outstanding in comparison to its visuals, but it emphasizes the robust nature of the film nevertheless. The track used in the opening credits sequence is an excellent indication of things to come, establishing the atmosphere in an upbeat and energetic sort of way.
Kick-Heart’s length alone makes it a difficult title to simply pass up, as it is only about half the length of an average anime episode. It is a definite recommendation to anyone who watches anime or animation in general. Fans of Masaaki Yuasa will enjoy his familiar style in this film, and others will find it a great introduction to his growing list of works. Kick-Heart may not have the scale of a feature-length film, but it certainly packs quite a punch.
Masaaki Yuasa has a reputation on MAL SO high that it's actually difficult to find parallels. Old school, film snob magazines like Sights and Sounds will talk about François Truffaut, Federico Fellini, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, and Jean-Luc Godard in the same way that MAL and 4chan talk about Yuasa. That should give you a hint of just how highly he's regarded among part of anime community. However, there is ONE Yuasa anime that nobody talks about. The one black mark on his record that MAL apparently hates. Kick Heart is that anime!
Kick Heart is a 12 minute, psychedelic romp about a masochistic luchador who
is in love with a nun and lives at an orphanage as a priest. Basically, Yuasa was eating shrooms while watching Nacho Libre and decided to make this brilliant catastrophe. In Yuasa's defense, he COULD have been inspired by the actual story of Fray Tormenta AKA Sergio Gutiérrez Benítez. I pray for the dignity of anime that he didn't actually do this based on Nacho Libre...even though I kind of liked that movie. Stop looking at me! It wasn't THAT bad!
Anyways, the main battle is between the luchador named Masked M (because he's a masochist) and a sadistic luchadora named Lady S, because of course she's a sadist. The luchadora is actually the nun that Masked M is in love with from the orphanage...because of COURSE she is.
Despite the plot and characters being nothing to write home about, this anime is actually fucking hilarious! This is laugh a minute quality and its worth watching for that reason by itself.
The animation is unsurprisingly extremely fluid and is Yuasa's trademark style. Since this is a wrestling anime, I can say this is VINTAGE Yuasa.
The comedy value of this anime goes through the roof when you learn the backstory. This was kickstarted and funded entirely by Yuasa's fanboys. They thought they were getting another Tatami Galaxy or Kaiba and instead they got this...thing. This anime may be the greatest troll move I've ever seen by an anime director. This is right up there with Inferno Cop and Ninja Slayer. The difference is that Trigger fans have come to expect stupid and over the top. Yuasa's devoted fans must have reacted to this anime like that scene in the Producers with the elderly, mostly Jewish audience reacting to the opening of Springtime for Hitler. The difference is that they didn't leave laughing and loving it. They left it 3s and 4s on MAL. Before this, Yuasa was someone I respected far more than I actually liked. After pulling this shit though, Yuasa is Mah BOI!
With a total of one episode at approximately 12 minutes long, this show is more than worth the time you will put into it. Do you like professional masked wrestling? Do you like characters with secret identities? Do you like S&M? Well, you should still give this show a try.
This show (or episode I should say) actually manages a plot in its short run-time. I've personally seen shows that can go six episodes without developing anything plot-wise, so seeing a show with an extremely brief story, that still makes itself humorous and interesting, was very refreshing.
The animation quality is good, and it fits
perfectly with the tone of the show. The sound quality is even better, with a dub that actually sounds like effort was put into it. Hell, by the time you finish reading this you could've watched the whole thing.
Japan can come up with some weird and wonderful things. This is a country where people can pre-order their Christmas dinner months in advance from KFC, have hotels with rooms that are slightly larger than coffins, and have mascots for literally everything, such as bottled water, train lines, and even prisons. And it's not like the west doesn't have it's fair share of weirdness either, just take a look at wrestling. Throughout the history of wrestling, there have been wrestlers such as Doink the Clown, Xanta Claus, who is an evil Santa Claus, and Perry Saturn, a man who fell in love with a mop
that had a face on it. So naturally there would be some crossover. A demonstration of this is Kick-Heart.
Kick-heart came out in 2013 and is a short film produced by Production I.G. It was fully funded on Kickstarter and was the first anime to be fully funded by crowdfunding and open up the doors to many other anime projects. I was screened at several festivals and first aired on television on Toonami.
The short film has some pretty good talent behind it. The director is Masaaki Yuasa, the person who created Mind Game (2005) , Kemonozume (2006), Kaiba (2008), and Tatami Galaxy (2010), and he went on to direct Ping Pong (2014) shortly after this. So there is a reason to be interested in seeing this short.
It's a love story between two people that have a secret to hide, one a pro-wrestler and the other a nun. There isn't much of a story to Kick-Heart beyond it's initial premise since it's about 12 minutes long, and i don't want to spoil much of it so you can see it for yourself. It really doesn't need to be more complicated than it is.
The short brings you in with it's animation style, and thankfully, it has plenty of style. It shows off it's animation talents proudly. It's animation is fast and energetic, and suits the concept very well.
Unsurprisingly, this has a cult following. Surprisingly though, it got an English fandub while the fans were waiting for the official English dub to get released. Whether it's worth listening to is up to you, but i imagine if you like something on the weirder side like Kick-Heart, the fandub might up your alley.
Kick-Heart is worth checking out for those who like the unusual side of anime that comes out of Japan. It definitely has a great weird energy to it and a unique style, but it's not for everyone, so you have been warned.. It's only 12 minutes, so you can watch it on your lunch break or if you're waiting for something and you need to pass the time.
The internet teaches us that if you want to make something happen, odds are a few thousand other people want the same thing you do. The rise of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter has helped us realize countless innovative projects - and the anime industry has been taking notes!
The director of Ghost in the Shell hasn't directed an anime movie in eight years, but somehow Adult Swim has managed to coax him out of animation retirement for a "micro-series" next year. Let's take a look at his history as a director, and what we can expect from the return of a master.