animefringe july 2003 / reviews

Virtua Fighter: Round One
Format: bilingual DVD, 300 min.
Production: Anime Works
Comments: Watch this! Hilarious and entertaining! Will keep you rooted to your seat till the end!
Animefringe Reviews:
Virtua Fighter: Round One

I hear your scream of horror. "Not another fighting game turned anime!". Ah, so you've treaded the murky waters of the Street Fighter TV series and movies, Fatal Fury, Powerstone, etc. etc. And you're looking at this and wondering, "Why on Earth does she even bother reviewing this piece of crap-looking anime?!"

Ladies and gentlemen, crappy-looking it might be, but crap anime it is certainly not!

If you've played Virtua Fighter, then you'll probably be familiar with all the characters here. Our hero of the story is the Hakkyoukuken fighter from Japan, Akira Yuki. Like most traditional anime heroes, Akira:

a) eats a lot
b) kicks ass
c) never gives up
d) whines, moans, and can be really dumb sometimes

All in all, though, he makes one lovable character that you'll probably end up respecting. Taught martial arts by his grandpapa, Akira learned that only the pure of heart would be able to see the mystical eight stars in the night sky. As he grew up into a brilliant fighter, racks and racks of tournament trophies had squirted arrogance upon his soul, and so, as tragedies go, he lost his ability to see the eight stars. Thus, the stage had been set for what would be the Virtua Fighter

Ah, but don't be misled, this series is not just about Akira's journey for the purity of heart, it is also about Pai Chan, and the Bryant siblings, Jacky and Sarah.

Pai Chan, daughter of the legendary Koenkan fighter Lau Chan, had been betrothed to her father's top pupil, Ryu. However, as you may have guessed, Ryu is an evil villain who is controlling an underground organization of Koenkan fighters and needs Pai so he can marry her and gain absolute control of the Koenkan empire. Obviously, our heroine Pai Chan wouldn't put up with this. So not only does she intend to destroy the whole Koenkan organization by herself, she also intends to kill her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother's death. Now, is that a twist or what?

In episode one, we are graced by the chance meeting between our heroine and our hero, as a little accidental kiss sealed the future of Akira and Pai in the most hilarious fashion ever. You've really got to watch this scene -- it's unbelievably funny!

Jacky and Sarah's fates later become intertwined with Akira and Pai's in episode three after Akira accidentally groped beautiful Sarah Bryant in front of her overprotective brother (read: I am bad-tempered and am currently suffering from an extreme case of a sister-complex) Jacky. And so, the two-circus act of Akira and Pai expanded into a whole circus troupe of Akira, Pai, Jacky and Sarah.

But I'm giving too much away. This is a series that you shouldn't miss. It's light, funny, sad and happy. It'll make you laugh until you fall off your ass, and it'll make you jump up and down rooting for Akira as he beats up the bad guys with a punch to the face. But most of all, this series has a story. It's a simple story really, but an engrossing one. All the episodes are inter-linked, and there are no filler episodes, no recap episodes.

On the minus side, if you're looking for a deep and thinking anime, then you're in the wrong aisle. Also, this series has a certain 'kiddy' feel to it, and from time to time, you might be wondering if you're watching a series meant for twelve year olds (but aren't we all twelve inside?).

Anime Works has done a nifty job of putting the first twelve episodes into a double disc-set. You may already own the Virtua Fighter VHS that they released before, but I would suggest investing in the DVD set. I honestly think that it's a good deal (12 episodes for a normal DVD price of 3-4 episodes), plus it also has the original Japanese with subtitles. Fans of Miki Shinichirou will eat this DVD up!