This anime is ok. Maybe it was a pilot of a TV series that couldn’t really take off. Who knows. I felt if this was developed in the same way Hajime no Ippo is, then it could have really worked. The series leaves you wanting for more because Ayane just wins fights out of luck and not really on skill. Watching this makes you realize it does have a lot of potential if they went on with it. But I felt it had some flaws, like we don’t see Ayane taking her kickboxing license exam. I mean, shouldn’t she have realized that by then? I
would have liked it if they showed us that just to see how she handled it and how she got her license to fight. It’s a major plot hole and doesn’t really make any sense. Then again, Ayane is portrayed to be a student with bad grades, so we are to assume she is a total ditz to some extent I guess.
And the rest of the cast is really generic. Like I’m assuming the Tange name is paying homage to Tange Danpei from Ashita no Joe, another anime I have reviewed in the past. They do develop some sort of relationship, but not really a father daughter relationship that could have worked like you see between Kamogawa and Ippo in Hajime no Ippo since you really don’t see Ayane’s father in this. It maybe would be cliché, but it works and feels natural. Sometimes clichés are a good thing in some animes. And then you got Miyagawa, she’s practically Ivan Drago and Floyd Mayweather packed in one. She’s like Ivan Drago with her training methods minus the steroids and how she’s a machine, and she’s like Mayweather flashing her wealth and how she publicly trash talks. So it’s your typical sports fight story but with a female perspective.
The design first of all is just typical of what you saw in most animes in the mid-1990s. It had the brighter resolution, and sharper faces and bigger eyes then you’re use to seeing. Pretty much what you see in other animes like Slayers, Tenchi, and Sabre Marionett J is what you see in this anime. So in comparison to most mid-90s anime out there, the art design isn’t really anything distinctive, but in no means what I consider un-tolerable.
The fights themselves, though only 2 are descent, just wish the anime could have taken the time and give the viewers an educational insight on kickboxing like how Hajime no Ippo does for boxing. Plus, the rounds are like 30 seconds each. It’s just the first round, Ayane is getting beat, 2nd round, she has her rhythm going on, and 3rd round, it’s even and Ayane gets lucky and wins. It’s too basic and one-dimensional and you don’t get different kinds of fights as you’d see in the other anime I’ve been somewhat comparing this too. It’s not about comparing boxing and kickboxing, but overall executing the concept of the central sport in relation to this anime. But I like how Kourakuen Hall is accurately represented from inside and out. I’ve been there three times and have fought there as an amateur once, so I feel like I can relate to it in that aspect.
For the dub, it’s actually not that bad. It’s nothing special, but nothing to a point where they’re intolerable or you don’t feel they have no representation to the personalities or the traits of the characters. I’m not familiar with too many dub actors with the exemption of like ocean studios so this is as far as I can comment on. So you can watch this anime whether you prefer Japanese or English and you’ll still get the same fulfillment.
But on the Japanese side, you got big names like Miyamura Yuko, the voice of Asuka from Evangelion playing Ayane; Ohtsuka Akio the voice of Snake from Metal Gear playing Tange, the trainer; and Yamaguchi Kappei the voice of Ranma and Inuyasha playing Ayane’s fight fan friend, Kappei. So seiyuu buffs such as myself should give this a shot. The music itself is very energetic. The theme songs give a fighting spirit feel to it, but also have a feminine touch. You also got the theme songs remixed into guitar for it to go with the training montages so nothing much to say.
By the time we get to this point of my review, you already get the idea that overall to the anime community. This is nothing too special. Which I’ll admit, but it’s still nothing really downright awful either. But I say if you like Hajime no Ippo and Ashita no Joe, Tough, or any martial arts action anime that doesn’t excessively defy the laws of physics, then this anime is for you. Despite the main character being female, it’s still appealing to both genders because of the action appeal though I wouldn’t really call the quality of the action high octane. People will probably love it or hate it for all the right reasons, or think it’s ok, also for the right reasons. It’s definitely worth a rental.
Today I am going to revisit an uber obscure anime. How obscure? I've never met another person in my life offline that has actually seen this one, yet it somehow got an English dub! This OVA lost funding due to lack of interest and only 2 episodes were ever made, even though it was clearly intended to be a running series. Consider this a pilot for a TV show that never took off. Why would an American dub studio bring over an anime that only had 2 episodes and simply ended?!
The answer is because CENTRAL PARK MEDIA! This infamous dub studio plagued American Otaku
during the 1990s and is now fortunately bankrupt. Central Park's leader was a guy named John O'Donnell, who was a Texas multi millionaire. He founded an anime publisher and dub studio basically for the sole purpose of trolling. He either brought over and adapted the worst titles known to man, or titles that only had a few episodes and left you wanting more... which of course you were never going to get. Sometimes he used his own money to create sequels to obscure anime, but only titles that NO ONE asked for! If people actually wanted to see a sequel, he refused to fund it. Most leaders are driven by rational self interest and make decisions that will benefit them personally. However, you occasionally get that one guy that frequently does stuff that doesn't actually benefit him, but he does it anyways JUST to piss people off and give the whole world the middle finger!
Plot and characters: 5/10
The plot is that there is a girl obsessed with pro-wrestling, who is reluctantly drawn into the world of kick boxing instead after a gruff old boxing manager notices her strong legs and perfect figure for kick boxing. It is sort of combination of Rocky meets Happy Gilmore. In the style of Gilmore, it is a zany comedy about someone who really wants to be good in one sport, but they suck at it and are absolutely amazing at a sport they initially dislike. Like Rocky, it features a naturally talented, but low ranked boxer going through a ridiculous amount of training montages with a coach that is basically an anime clone of Mickey from the first 3 Rocky movies. "Chase the chicken!" "YOU'RE GONNA EAT LIGHTNING AND YOU'RE GONNA CRAP THUNDER!!!" This series is cheesy, amusing, and I am kind of sad that it didn't get any love from anime fans at the time. The only thing this series needed was a Survivor soundtrack, Mr. T being a badass, and wildly inaccurate geography featuring 14,000 ft snow capped mountains just outside of Moscow!
Art and sound: 5/10
The art is pretty good for an old anime with close to zero budget. The soundtrack is forgettable, so just mute it during the training montages and play the Rocky theme! FUCK YEAH!
This was an amusing little 2 episode pilot that could have been a hit series if it was marketed better and found the right audience. Obviously it is WAY too late to start a kickstarter and demand that the animation studio make this series, but when I was done watching it I almost felt the temptation to try. If Seikon no Qwasar could get 2 separate 26 episode seasons and Ikki Tousen and Kodomo no Jikan could each somehow get 3 fucking seasons, why did this only get 2 episodes? This is an underrated series that deserved a LOT more than it got.
Ayane-chan High Kick is a sports comedy from the late 90s. It was written by Shizuya Isao and put out by Nikkatsu & Rikuentai. I've reviewed a lot of semi obscure OVAs so let's delve into this one.
We open with our heroine, Mitsui Ayane, skipping school in order to try out for wrestling. Unfortunately for her, throwing herself into things carelessly doesn't work out and she isn't signed. But things look up when she's approached by Tange Kunimitsu who sees championship potential in her. She eagerly takes him up on his offer to train her, not realising that he actually wants her as a kick boxer
rather than as a wrestler.
The biggest issue with the OVA comes down to the humour. To explain it in simple terms, it can't decide whether it wants over the top, absurd comedy or more subdued dry comedy. Which basically results in it giving you kind of absurd, over the top situations and then reeling things back and giving you a subdued punch line that usually proves a bit disappointing. Having Ayane woken up when she's sleeping in class by her friend doing a countdown could be really funny, if she let loose and decked the student in the desk next to hers. Not so much when she just stands up awkwardly and shouts. That's just a little funny. Having the antagonist bring a van to her school and challenge her would be really funny if she gave a kind of exaggerated challenge speech like the Ultimate Warrior but it's not really funny when she's just a bit haughty.
Another issue is with how much time they spend on training montages where nothing all that amusing happens. I get it, you have a sports thing so you want to show some training and progression. However, this OVA has two episodes and runs for a little less than an hour. So, spending a bunch of that time showing training doesn't seem particularly prudent when you could have some jokes for your comedy or character development if you want to take it semi-seriously. Or both.
With those critiques out of the way, I will credit the series for being kind of entertaining and having jokes that might not be uproariously funny but are a bit funny. And there's nothing in the OVA's writing that's actually bad or even boring. Its main problems come down to trying to do too much with limited time and a general unwillingness to commit to the more absurd elements. And the worst that's going to lead to are some scenes that are a bit "blah."
I've often said that a comedic work doesn't need characters with all that much depth so long as it has characters that have strong comedic interactions, although it is a bonus. That being said, this OVA isn't solely comedic. It takes its sport elements somewhat seriously and, because of that, I would say it needs some depth. Which it really doesn't have. Even if this were purely comedic most of the characters aren't all that funny in their interactions. So, you ultimately end up with characters who are a a bit too flat to make for a good cast in a sports work that's taking itself somewhat seriously and not animated enough for a strong comedic cast.
The artwork isn't all that good. It's not bad either it's just kind of average 90s fare in terms of character designs, backgrounds and the like. The biggest issue I had with it were with the action sequences. The OVA opts for more pulse pounding action rather than absurd, over the top action. Which is a perfectly acceptable choice but the problem is that it's not good at it. The action sequences mostly involve Ayane taking hits with flashes and recycled footage before she pulls it together and delivers her devastating titular high kick and it's just not that exciting or interesting to watch. And when it tries to illustrate injuries, there's really no detail so it just doesn't work. I get not wanting to show too much blood or detailed gore in a comedic sports work but at least give us some bruising or anything that can actually convey the damage they're supposed to have taken.
The acting is fine. Nishihara Kumiko, Miyamura Yuko, Kawamura Maria & Ootsuka Akio all deliver acceptable performances. I dare say they could've done better if they'd had stronger comedy and/or stronger characterisation to work with. The music is okay. Not anything spectacular or super memorable but it works well enough.
There's a bit between Ayane and Kayoko. When they start talking about graduating together and Ayane realises she has to win her match for that purpose it gets pretty homo-erotic.
Specific Improvement Suggestions:
This is something new I'll probably do from this point on. Namely, I'm going to suggest three specific changes that I think could have made for a stronger work. Obviously, it's going to end up being a lot easier with works that aren't as good and get more nit-picky when you get something really strong, but I think it'll be interesting. So, for this OVA here are my picks.
1. Embracing more absurd humour.
I'm not opposed to drier, more subdued comedy, but with the ridiculous set ups and situations I definitely think going for more zany, over the top japes would have made for stronger comedy.
2. Cutting The Training sequences down, using that time for character interactions.
If the OVA had done a bit more with developing strong comedic interactions, I definitely think the characters would be both stronger and more memorable.
3. More polish for the action sequences.
Whether you want to keep the pulse pounding action, or you want to keep with the general motif and make the fight sequences more ridiculous, the action sequences definitely need more effort.
Ayane-chan High Kick is all right. It's certainly better than some of the random OVAs I've gone over but there are also plenty of better ones out there. If it sounds like it might be your thing, you won't lose much time watching it since it does run for less than an hour and you may enjoy it. But if you skip it you aren't really missing out on anything. I'll give it a 6/10.
If there was ever a title that I would consider to be missed potential then it would have to be Ayane's High Kick. This very short series deserved a much longer run, because inside of this short OVA there's a story just screaming to be let out. Ayane's High Kick begins with a bit of promise, and it soon shows sparks of what it could have been, but it eventually falls victim to the low budget.
Fighting anime will normally follow a certain pattern. 1)Main character trains hard. 2)Main character fights very tough opponent and is driven to the brink of defeat. 3)Main character some how
defeats said opponent that they normally shouldn't with lady luck on their side: This anime isn't really different as it follows that same pattern for the most part, but it's still kind of fun as you watch the main character try to overcome the obstacles.
The characters have very little to no depth and most fall in stereotypical roles, but it's still hard not to cheer for Ayane. Her clumsiness is classic and works well with the comedy. I couldn't help wonder how a die hard fan of pro wrestling did not notice she wasn't training for it. Is this dumb or what? She gives all wrestling fans a very bad name, but her clueless behaviour and excuses to get herself out of trouble adds the cuteness to her.
Ayane's High Kick isn't completely about the next fight. There are also sub plots taking place concerning the vice principal of her school, which furthers the anime stereotype of vice principals being evil. Ayane's school has a rule that forbids violent extracurricular activities. After her participation in a match, the vice principal is dead set on getting her expelled. She also has to keep her training secret from her mother. So there's a little bit extra going on here adding to the suspense. Unfortunately, because of the short length only one is well used.
The animation is decent for such a short OVA. The action scenes are fun, but suffer from the overuse of stills and reused animation. The artwork is ok at times with nice character designs, however it can be inconsistent also. This is very noticeable during the fights because the characters almost appear to be stick figures at times. The soundtrack is ok, and it fits with the personalities of the characters. On the downside, some of the songs are constantly replayed and the over exposure caused them to over stay their welcome. The English cast is alright for the most part, but Rose Markisello whom plays Sakurako Miyagawa speaks with too heavy of an accent when pronouncing her character's name. It actually grated on my nerves quite a bit.
The biggest problem that I have with this series is the very short length. Not only because the series left me wanting more, it also heavily effected the storytelling. Switching from wrestling to kick boxing is a huge transition as well as difficult. There could have been a great story told here with plenty of character development. Watching this character grow and prosper from beginner to pro could have propelled this series into classic status. The best example of a beginner turning pro while dealing with the hardships of a physical sport would be Fighting Spirit aka Hajime No Ippo; but then again, perhaps my imagination is just running wild here.
Ayane's High Kick is definitely wasted potential, and I really hope it gets picked up for a remake up one day. Ayane is an interesting character in a story that could have been very good but a weak anime is still a weak anime. It shouldn't have seen the light of day. The series feels badly rushed and the opened ending will leave everyone wanting more. This is an OVA I can't recommend at all; but the good thing is, the anime genre is over-saturated with action titles. So finding a better one won't be hard at all.
Highs: Decent action scenes and music, light hearted and fun