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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ring ni Kakero "104" + Extra Credit: An Overview of Volume 4 & Final Thoughts

Well, Volume 3 sure was nothing but fighting, much like what the focus will be when the anime starts adapting.  We're now at Volume 4, and this will be a short overview, as the anime starts adapting pretty early into this volume so I'll only be covering the chapters that feature pre-anime story.  Afterwards I'll give my final thoughts on what should be taken from these early chapters and how important they really are when it comes to the anime.  So here we go with Volume 4:

-Chapter 24: Tada Hitotsu no Shousan [The One and Only Chance of Success]
Ryuji's liver blow to Tsujimoto comes in hard, but Tsujimoto looks to be unharmed and just laughs it off.  No one can really understand how Tsujimoto can seemingly take all of Ryuji's punches with no real harm or reaction.  Akira then steps on the gum Tsujimoto spit out and Kiku realizes what Tsujimoto's weak point is...  But the referee stops the match before anything happens, due to five kids appearing at the ring.  One of them runs into the ring, calling Tsujimoto "Anchan/Brother" and another one saying that father has died.  Tsujimoto responds by laughing and seemingly celebrating the fact that his father has died, resulting in the audience hating on him.  Tsujimoto shuts them up and then talks trash about how he'll be the one who will take on Kenzaki in the finals, but Kenzaki calls him an idiot.  Kiku then tells Tsujimoto that she knows what his weak point is and brings up the gum as proof.  Tsujimoto calls her bluff and she reveals that his weak point is the chin, which he admits is the truth.  Tsujimoto then tells everyone the story of how his father forced him to run in front of traffic so that he would get hit by a car; then the father could coerce the driver into giving them money so that they can pay medical fees for the mother, who was sick at the time.  Unfortunately, after Tsujimoto is hit the driver just continues driving away, leaving Tsujimoto with a busted jaw.  The referee considers ending the match due to Tsujimoto's revelation, but the audience wants the match to continue and Tsujimoto agrees.  The match resumes and Tsujimoto unleashes a flurry of punches that Ryuji is able to avoid, but when he gets the chance to counter Ryuji pauses, letting Tsujimoto get a right cross off and knocking Ryuji down.  Kiku screams for Ryuji to get up [similar to how Danpei Tange would tell Joe to get up in Ashita no Joe], but Ryuji is visibly hesitant.  Kenzaki offers a towel for Kiku to throw in, but she hits it away.  Kenzaki argues that Ryuji could win it with an uppercut, but Kiku feels that a straight is the best way to go.  Kenzaki ignores that idea until he knocks over a Coca-Cola can, and then he and Shinatora realize that Ryuji can win with a straight.  Ryuji gets back up but Tsujimoto just starts punching him again.  Tsujimoto mentions how he'll become a boxer to help his family out, giving Ryuji pause since both of their goals are the same, but another punch knocks Ryuji down again.  Kiku tells Ryuji to get up, but Ryuji feels that it's useless to win with a straight.  Kiku then stops Rock-san from drinking his Coke and tells him to stand the can on his hand.  She then delivers a jab-straight combo to the can, showing Ryuji how to do it and sending the can at Shinatora, which the can seemingly just passes through.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ring ni Kakero "103": An Overview of Volume 3

Well, Volume 2 was pretty heavy in story and characters in the middle, not to mention some of the chapters were kind of long, but now that all of the recurring characters have been introduced Volume 3 should be pretty easy to get through.  Also, as we could tell from Volume 2, Kurumada was fine with using stereotypes for Japanese people as well, especially when it came to delinquents.  Now let's get to Volume 3, which is mostly fighting, fighting, and more fighting.

-Chapter 17: Kutsujoku no Round 2 [A Disgraceful Round 2]
The referee starts a ten-count for Ryuji while he's out of the ring.  He gets himself back into the ring in time and the match resumes.  Kenzaki is about to hit Ryuji with an uppercut when the bell rings, signaling the end of Round 1.  Akira and Sachiko give Ryuji some water and and a funnel to spit into, and they notice a tooth inside the funnel, showing the damage Ryuji has taken already.  The seconds leave the ring and Round 2 starts with Ryuji continually clinching onto Kenzaki.  Angered over this tactic, Kenzaki punches Ryuji the first chance he gets, knocking him down again.  Ryuji gets back up and clinches yet again, angering the Seika audience and Tsujimoto.  Kenzaki yet again beats down on Ryuji when he gets the chance, knocking him down again in the same round; there is a three-down TKO in effect, so if Ryuji goes down one more time in this round he loses.  Ryuji gets up again and clinches yet again, resulting in Kenzaki uppercutting him.  Ryuji is sent flying with the audience cheering for a third down.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ring ni Kakero "102": An Overview of Volume 2

So after giving an overview of Volume 1 we can already see that Ring ni Kakero 1's beginning is pretty different from where the anime starts adapting.  It's definitely more character, story, and drama-driven than what the title would turn into.  Trust me, there's a lot of talking and boxing explanation in these early chapters; stuff that I can't fully translate nor would I do so if I could.  Again, this is an overview.  With that in mind, let's continue.

*WARNING: There's a lot of story and character introduction in this volume, so the chapter overviews here might be very long*

-Chapter 9: Hajimete no Shouri [The First Victory]
The first round is over and Ryuji is flat on the ground.  Kiku brings Ryuji into his corner and both sides take the time between rounds to strategize.  Ryuji is able to come around, but Kiku feels that Ryuji only has one chance to win and Ryuji has to wait for the right moment to take it.  Round 2 starts and Kenzaki returns to beating up and knocking down Ryuji, even launching him out of the ring at one point.  Ryuji crawls back into the ring and Kiku sees that the club members just want Ryuji to stop, feeling that it's useless to continue.  Kenzaki continues his assault and focres Ryuji against the ropes.  Kiku sees that this is the chance and tells Ryuji to counter, who hits Kenzaki with a last-chance left straight that brings him to the mat.  Kenzaki, though, is launched over the ropes and crashes into some of the club members, and the heap of bodies crash into a giant mirror on the wall, shattering it [Ep 1 & OP].  Kiku is ecstatic to see that Ryuji's counter worked and explains to the confused club members that Ryuji's left straight was a perfect counter to Kenzaki's right hook.  Kiku picks up her bloodied and bruised little brother and takes him home while Kenzaki remembers something: "He who rules his left rules the world." [OP]

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ring ni Kakero "101": An Overview of Volume 1

Those who read my review of the Ring ni Kakero 1 anime series, specifically the first season, might remember that I had mentioned that the anime doesn't start from the beginning.  In fact, the anime skips over the first 24 chapters of the manga and starts adapting half-way into chapter 25.  Now in the review I mentioned that this early part of the story isn't fully important in the overall scheme of things, or at the very least not knowing about this part won't keep you from understanding who these characters are and what is happening, partially because the most-important parts are brought up through flashbacks in season 1.  But, naturally, there will be people who are curious about that early part of the story and with Season 4 debuting on April 10 I think it's probably best to cover these first 24.5 chapters of Ring ni Kakero.  Now before I start, let me state these things:

-I will be using the 2001-2002 reprint of the original manga, which was the first time the "Ring ni Kakero 1" name was ever used.  This reprint collected the manga in 18 volumes while the original print lasted 25 volumes, so my volume counts will vary with that of the original print.  It also changed some terminology, like Ryuji's weights going from being called the "Power Wrist" & "Power Ankle" to the "Dragon Wrist" & "Dragon Ankle"; also, Kenzaki's "Apollo Exerciser" becomes the "Galaxian Exerciser".
-My knowledge of Japanese is limited (read: one semester of Japanese in college + listening to Japanese with subtitles) so I can only explain so much...  But that's fine as I don't want to go into every line that's being said.  This is simply an overview and nothing more.  Wikipedia and's translator will help whenever possible.
-Parts which the anime does adapt will be typed in bold font, with a mention as to when they are shown (if it's a quick shot from the opening sequence I'll say "OP").

So let's get started with Volume 1 (note: I will try to mention and translate the chapter titles if possible and to the best of my abilities):

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Psychic Force: A Fighting Game-based Anime? That's Absurd!

In the mid-90s fighting games went through a big change with the advent of the third dimension.  Virtua Fighter, Tekken, and Battle Arena Toshinden all revolutionized the genre in some way, but there was another game from that time that also was very different from the others: Psychic Force.  Created by Taito in 1996 for arcades and then ported to the Playstation the same year, Psychic Force had two characters, who each had some sort of psychic or elemental power, fight in a floating transparent cube.  Because of this the fights could easily happen in vertical and diagonal directions rather than the usual horizontal plane and overall it was an enjoyable change of pace.  A sequel was made in 1999 called Psychic Force 2012 which added more characters and some new game mechanics, but that was the last of the series (the PS1 did get a updated version of 2012 simply called Psychic Force 2 and there was a Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move game that used the characters).  In North America the series was mostly a second-tier series that never went far, but in Japan the series was a slight hit...  And every hit fighting game needs an anime!

Released in 1998 the Psychic Force anime is a two-episode OVA that, oddly enough, was recorded in Los Angeles.  No, I don't mean that the dub was from L.A. I mean that the original Japanese voice cast actually traveled to L.A. to record their lines!  But that's not important in the long run.  What is important is whether or not this OVA is any good, because fighting games haven't had the best track record when it comes to anime adaptations; most people tend to ignore the Tekken anime movie (not to mention the recent live-action movie), for example, while the Virtua Fighter TV series is considered enjoyable but is pretty obscure (not to mention North America never got the last 11 or so episodes, which was a second season of sorts).  So let's take a look at Psychic Force...