Akira Yuki has spent years honing his Bajiquan skills under the guidance of his grandfather. He yearns to see the constellation of the eight stars of heaven, which are only revealed to those with real strength. This burning desire urges him to embark on travels, so as to learn more about how to see the stars.
Meanwhile, a nefarious robotics scientist, Eva Durix, desires to create the perfect soldier. Eva's group, Judgment 6, tracks down and kidnaps Sarah Bryant, a college student and close acquaintance of Akira who is investigating a mysterious accident concerning her brother. Akira must now fight his way to Sarah to save her from the clutches of Judgement 6, a perilous path sure to be paved with countless challenges.
I feel with a traditional martial arts story in relation to anime, I feel it could go in certain specific ways and I felt it was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation with what your typical martial arts movie or series could be. Allow me to explain, in the games, Akira is portrayed more as a serious old school style martial artist and tends to really have no sense of humor. While in the anime, his behavior is juvenile, sarcastic, and has an appetite like Gokuu from Dragon Ball. Despite that, he still has a deep respect for the martial arts
and is always willing to defend the weak. So I guess in some ways, this is a good thing just to prevent Akira from having a one-dimensional and too cliché personality for the time. Pai is also portrayed as child like, but has some skill of her own. I enjoyed the portrayal of the other characters since most of their personalities are more faithful to that of how the game portrays them and are expanded in this anime, and each character has their own unique use and development.
But unfortunately, the series does tend to move a bit slow and tends to rely on sci-fi mechanisms at times which isn’t really what I like in traditional martial arts media at times. Even though there are some accurate portrayals from the games, there are some ret-cons such as Dural, who is really Kage’s mother. While in the anime, Dural is a robot soldier project from the Kouen-kan. And even though Lau serves as the primary antagonist, we also have the use of Eva Durax, who is the company’s chief scientist who is hungry with power and to destroy her enemies. So you’re getting something more original in story, but for the most part in characters, tend to be faithful which both have their pros and cons.
Well, the art and resolution is very flat and I feel that the character designs are childish. Despite my criticisms of calling it childish, I still can see how on the other hand, the designs can possibly symbolize the more campy nature this anime may have intended to have. But in most cases, the costumes, hairstyles, and the fighting styles of the characters are dead on perfect. The fights are ok. You know how some people have criticized the fights in Record of Lodoss War of mostly having still shot like paintings for the fights? Well, personally I have to say that this anime also serves that exact same problem showing the budget of this show. But they are dramatic and still have good angles and colors.
But what really makes this anime stand out is when they do show the fights in motion and whenever a character does a trademark move or to introduce some kind of fighting style like Jeffery’s pankration, the anime will re-cap to that move and explain how the move works and what its purpose is, which I found entertaining. Also, what I also can’t stand is the recycle footage of Akira preaching that martial arts shouldn’t be used for evil blah blah blah. It gets older than Jesus after the first episode and it gets somewhat annoying after awhile.
The Japanese voice cast has some very good names such as Miki Shin’ichiro as Akira, who still continues to play the role in the Virtua Fighter games to this day. He does an excellent job of being childish when it comes to food, and mature when he has to explain that he can’t stand the unjustness of what he sees sometimes. Pai Chan is played by Gundam veteran Matsui Nanako, and Matsumoto Yasunori, the voice of Niijima in History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi and Takagi Wataru in Initial D does a great job of being the all out no nonsense Jackie Bryant. The English dub on the other hand, I find to be very terrible. Especially when Leon’s voice in the games is not at all represented. Yes, Leon does sound cheesy, but it’s what defines him and I just felt that lack of presence alone in the English version was what ruined it for me. I know that some people may not like that, but as a fan, it did upset me.
Before giving the final score, I have to talk about the music. This was the anime that made me a fan of Vivian Hsu, who is Taiwanese, but yet is singing Japanese music. Vivian Hsu also sings Moment, one of the songs from Gundam SEED and plays the frail girl in the Jackie Chan movie, The Accidental Spy. She sings the ending songs to this anime Kuchibiru no Shinwa, and Kyouhansha. I just love how multi-talented she is with these songs. With Kuchibiru no Shinwa, the song is very innocent and carefree, but with Kyouhansha, it’s very seductive and much darker and I felt both songs really represented some of the female characters such as Pai and Sarah. The opening theme Hot Wild Vision is also a pretty sweet song itself. It’s very calm and energetic. But I do have to give the English staff credit for making these songs into English. Granted the singing is not the best, I have to tip my proverbial hat off for their efforts.
Well, unfortunately, Media Blasters cut this anime series 11 or 12 episodes short and I can’t find the rest. If you do, PM THEM TO ME!!! It may not be the best game to anime adaptation, but I do like how in some ways it does try to stand on its own. I felt of this anime came out to America in the mid-90s after the series was over, I felt it could have had better success with the market at the time and people could have caught on. But the style of fighting and the fact that Virtua Fighter in general isn’t really that popular outside of Japan and Korea would prevent this anime from getting any popularity. Still, I don’t think you need any familiarity with the game series to give this a try because it does a great job of explaining things to you, though as I said before, it does detract from the games to some extent, but for all the right reasons and done pretty well. Granted I still don’t think it’s something special, or top 10, I felt it did expose me to new things such as Vivian Hsu, and it had some concepts which I would say later influence Naruto in explaining stuff to see it paved way for other things for myself in the long run. Then again, I could be wrong. But I feel confident on how I overall feel about this anime, nothing really outstanding but still descent.