Arcade Gamer Fubuki

August 6, 2010

Watching Arcade Gamer Fubuki brings back nostalgic memories prior to my anime days when I was playing games on my computer. Not to say I was an avid or addicted gamer, but at least I had a fair share of interest in it, especially those fighting games. Although this anime OVA was produced in year 2002, the games that featured in this series felt like mostly from the 80’s, 90’s and the turn of the millennium.
 
For those of you who aren’t born in the noughties, remember the times when we had to go to arcade shops and play those huge arcade machines if we ever want to get our kicks off video games? Ah yes. I remember the wildly and hugely popular Street Fighter 2. Who doesn’t? This anime features gamers who play those big arcade machines unlike those consoles we have now in our living rooms and even portable palm size ones. Look at how far the industry of gaming has come. So the in this series, the Best of Arcade Gamer (BAG) Tournament is held once every 4 years where the best gamers of the world gather and compete to be the best players in the world. And as the title suggest, it focuses on a gamer, Fubuki Sakuragasaki.
 
Episode 1
A building is under fire as a weird beaver tooth cap guy, Arashi, rushes in to save the president. The latter warns that ‘they’ are back before passing out. The scene changes to a crowded Tokyo Tournament stadium. Fubuki seems to be a well known gamer among the crowd. The regional finals pits her against some boxer dude, Glassjo. The arcade game they will be competing is some wall climbing game called Crazy Climber. As soon as the referee gives the green light, Glassjo immediately makes headway but Fubuki fumbles and drop her coin (yeah, remember those days where you need to insert coins to start playing). And when she finally does, Fubuki mentions she doesn’t even know how to play! How in the first place did she become a famous player? Her best friend, Hanako Kokubunji, shouts out to her about the game spirit. This prompts Fubuki to remember her past whereby that Arashi guy consoled her and gave words of encouragement when she lost a game. He also gave her Passion Panty and with this, she will always have the game spirit in her. Wait a minute. Panties? Now all fired up, Hanako helps activate Passion Panty. Well, this is how it powers Fubuki up. The mini fan blows Fubuki’s skirt up and reveals her Arashi emblem panties. With that, she becomes invisible with her Ichigeki-de-Clear move. It’s like she’s doing a handstand position in mid-air while button mashing the controls at lightning speed. Am I supposed to be impressed? Glassjo sees her panties and recognizes her. I’m not sure if it’s his perverted nature that got him to nose bleed, knock out and lose the game. With Fubuki’s win, she advances to the National Finals.
 
However some masked wrestler with a flat face, dubbed Mr Mystery, makes his ‘grand’ entrance, that is, falling flat on his face at first. No pun intended. He wants Fubuki to do better or else she won’t stand a chance at the Finals. Moreover, he advises her not to play more than an hour a day. So what’s a couple of gamers to do after an event? Why, play more games! Hanako takes Fubuki to the arcade whereby they hook up to an international network of players via a game called X. They recognize Fubuki but she lost upon knowing everyone saw her panties via that flashy move. Hanako suggests to practice more so that she could win without using it. Meanwhile the leader of an evil organization, Gyurashikku-dan, isn’t pleased with Fubuki’s development. Thinking she will be a formidable enemy if left alone, he despatches his minions, led by Miss Alka to finish her off.
 
Fubuki wakes up from a dream about her missing dad. As she heads to school, she receives an anonymous SMS to beware the Gyurashikku-dan. Hanako soon joins them but they are suddenly encountered with rolling obstacles you see in video games, courtesy from Alka. After all that dodging, they safely arrive at their school and meet an obnoxious girl on roller blades, Chizuru Jumonji. Seems Hanako and Chizuru don’t get along well. To make things worse, Chizuru is the new transfer student in their class. During PE, Hanako and Chizuru challenge each other to baseball. While Fubuki is more like a klutz, Chizuru wins via homerun. She hit 3 balls away! Hey, is that legal in the first place? Later Alka and her minions are reviewing a replay video of that baseball match and she thinks Fubuki is too much of a doofus to be a threat but a girl warns not to jump to conclusions yet and not to judge a book by its cover. Doesn’t she look like Chizuru?
 
The Nationals Finals is here as Fubuki manages to win her match. Then she and Hanako spot the Osaka champion manning the controls like a pro. No, super cyborg. How can somebody hit the buttons 30 times in a second?! She wins and is revealed to be Chizuru. She gets straight to the point. She wants to challenge Fubuki who is the best player. Before that she summons Gyurashikku-dan as they take everyone hostage and the tournament under their control. Seems Chizuru is using her Osaka champion title as a disguise and is one of the four kings of Gyurashikku-dan whose goal is world domination (what’s new? Say what? World domination via video games?). The battle starts as they play a shooting game. Mr Mystery is rushing to the spot and hopes Fubuki won’t use her Passion Panty move. But too late. Chizuru also unleashes her Black Passion Panty move and it’s obviously weird to see 2 girls playing the arcade in mid-air handstand position. In the end, Fubuki lost. However Fubuki doesn’t seem down or upset. Motivated, she tells Chizuru that she will work harder to beat her before the Gyurashikku-dan disappears. Will she win? You bet she will. Because world peace depends on her! Isn’t that too heavy a responsibility for a gamer? What the heck has world peace got to do with it anyway?!
 
Episode 2
Fubuki prays to her dad’s photo about her recent loss when Mr Mystery crashes into the room via the window (seriously, could he have just used the door?). He hands her a card and says if she intends to know the reason why she lost, come to Jigokugawara for some special training. Despite its name, it’s some hotspring resort area as Hanako is also there. She tells Fubuki that due to Gyurashikku-dan’s interference, the previous match is declared invalid and will be replayed. Thus, a chance for Fubuki to regain her status as they go play some arcade games as practice. The area is soon crowded as they see the crowd amazed a busty American, Melody Honey (is she taken from Keroro Gunsou?) doing perfectly in a dance game. Honey soon takes Fubuki and dance together. The crowd is pleased with their performance so Honey hopes to enjoy another game together in the future. Meanwhile Alka reports the elimination of Fubuki but the leader Gyurashikku-dan isn’t pleased because the match is going to be replayed. Chizuru is confident she will finish the job as long as he keeps the end of his promise. But Alka isn’t happy that the cocky brat doesn’t know her place and plans to teach her a lesson and get back at her.
 
Chizuru arrives at an old arcade game shop run by her Occhan at the hotspring area. Chizuru talks about planning to repay his debt by getting back some Tranquillizer Gun to prevent this nostalgic childhood place of hers to be closed down. Fubuki and Hanako just came in and because of the latter’s remarks of this plain and rusty place, Chizuru keeps them out and throws salt at them. The duo go take a bath with Honey and when they finish, Fubuki is shocked to see her Passion Panty is missing. Alka and her minions barge into the old arcade game shop. She tells her Chizuru isn’t needed anymore and that since they’re an evil organization, they aren’t going to fulfil their promise to her anyway (something to do with the Tranquillizer Gun). This upsets Chizuru as the minions get hold of them and prepare to trash the place. Soon, Hanako and embarrassed Fubuki (running around town without anything underneath). They are ready to fight but Alka is confident Fubuki can’t do anything without her Passion Panty. Yup, she reveals she was the one who stole them. Thinking she has the ultimate power in her hands, she puts them on but nothing happens. Feeling embarrassed and pissed, she rips Passion Panty, much to Fubuki’s dismay. However Mr Mystery was playing nearby and he is thrilled with this place because it has rare games and the arcades are in tip top condition. The minions pound on him but he blasts them away. Mr Mystery gives Fubuki a new pair of Passion Panty. When she puts it on, she gets a new power and move, Ten Chi Jin, which sends all those baddies flying away. Alka calls for a retreat. Though Chizuru still remains cocky, Occhan hopes for them to forgive her because he believes she’s a nice girl beneath that exterior. Just that she hang out with the wrong crowd.
 
The Nationals Finals semi-final replay has Fubuki being pitted against Ruriran Leila. As expected, Fubuki wins and faces a rematch with Chizuru. Both go into battle mode and unleash their Passion Panty technique. I don’t know if it’s the panties or what because it’s like so powerful that they could control a tornado to support their arcade machine and move it here and there. Absurd or awesome? Fubuki seems to be losing but when she sees Mr Mystery giving her the thumbs up (his thumb lights up on fire!), Fubuki got a feeling that he may be the person who first gave her the Passion Panty. The intense battle to outwit and outdo each other soon turns into more of fun rather than competitive. In the end, Fubuki wins with a score of 99,999,990 points! WOW!!! I can never get that high score in my entire life! She beats Chizuru by just 10 points! Though Chizuru apologizes to Occhan for her lost, he doesn’t mind because he knows she did her best and looked so happy while playing it. Chizuru congratulates Fubuki and so does Mr Mystery. He notes she is now on par with the top gamers of the world before going away. The place is so crowded that Fubuki had no chance to go after him because she thinks he is her father.
 
Episode 3
Alka is playing a crane game to take out some insect trapped in amber for Gyurashikku-dan’s leader’s evil plan to stop Fubuki from further evolving. Meanwhile it is the final BAG World Tournament and the place is at Mt Fuji, Japan. I know it’s bloody crowded that every darn gamer in the world is there to catch the World Cup of video gaming but did the announcer exaggerate by saying that there are 100 billion gamers worldwide?! How many humans are there on this planet again? Chizuru makes her way through the crowd and isn’t pleased to see Hanako sitting comfortably in a room of her own like a princess. Well, her dad is the main sponsor of the event. Plus, he is that president we saw way back in episode 1. Hanako allows her to be in if she becomes her special pet. She does. How cheap. We see several BAG champions of the world and you wonder if this is a cosplay gathering. Hey, isn’t that Keroro Gunsou’s Kururu? I wonder which country that bear comes from. Clumsy Fubuki makes her entrance but trips so she gives the whole world a ‘free service’. The rule of this game is simple. It is a battle royale till the last one is left standing. Of course Alka and her minions are there as she reveals that the American champion Honey is one of the four kings. Unfortunately for her, Honey and Fubuki are getting together like as though they’re best friends. Then Mr Mystery makes his appearance. Supposedly the defending champion, Fubuki barrages him lots of questions like if he’s her dad. But he tells her if she wants to know, fight and beat him. I don’t know how but the announcer said the fight escalated into a mask match. Which will be taken away? His mask or her panty? WTF?!
 
The game starts as the gamers dash into the woods around Mt Fuji where the matches will take place. Fubuki tries to keep up with Mr Mystery but slides down a cliff. She meets her first contender, Honey. Their match will be a fighting game in the form of Virtua Fighter. Because Honey is only good at rhythm games, Fubuki wins but Honey isn’t upset over her lost and instead you could say their friendship blossom further. Something Alka isn’t too happy about that ‘wimp’ and thinks the next fighter will finish her off. Fubuki, determined to catch up with Mr Mystery, fights and defeats other gamers one by one. She’s on a roll! How did they become champions anyway? Finally she comes face to face with him but he invites her to drink tea first. Must be thirsty from all that fighting, eh? Suddenly a velociraptor appears from behind Mr Mystery and swallows him! OMG! It is revealed that this Raptor is one of the four kings, revived and reprocessed with better DNA (I guess that’s what the insect amber is for). So Fubuki accepts Raptor’s challenge to another fighting game. This time it’s Fighting Vipers 2. I don’t know if a dinosaur with 3 fingers on each hand could play an arcade game so well but he’s so damn good that he even uses his tail! WTF?! However Fubuki is just standing there and getting whipped. No, she’s not in shock but rather quite upset that the person she believed to be her dad was swallowed by a dinosaur. With her rage reaching maximum limit, she pulls off a new move called Game Spirit’s Typhoon to knock out Raptor.
 
Then to everyone’s surprise, Mr Mystery breaks out of Raptor’s stomach and soon after Ruriran emerges. Why is she here? Ruriran apologizes to Alka saying that she really wanted to join this tournament and had replaced the real one. So where is the real Raptor? Sleeping soundly and probably had eaten too much junk food in the locker room. Some Raptor. I thought he would prefer meat. With Fubuki the winner, she and Mr Mystery are the only ones left standing. The deciding game is Moon Crester. As it begins, Fubuki isn’t her usual self as she has her doubts. So Mr Mystery pulls off his Moonsult Plus Fire Top move. OMG! His fists are on flames! Why is he bashing the controls?! The move seems familiar so Fubuki’s worse fears come true. She breaks down saying she can’t fight against her father and did not want Fashion Panty in the first place. She did not want to be the best gamer in the world so why must she fight him. Mr Mystery tells her to trust her powers and it doesn’t matter who he is now but what her heart tells her. Fubuki feels hard and concludes that the game spirit wants her to fight more. With that, she gets her confidence back and battles it out with Mr Mystery. However their game is interrupted when a bright beam of light emits from their arcade machines towards Mt Fuji. The mountain starts to crack and a ferocious character stands before them. The final boss?
 
Episode 4
That guy calls himself Mr 20 and is not only one of the four kings of Gyurashikku-dan but its leader. Oh yeah. The big boss has finally appeared. Seems he has hacked the entire world’s computer and communication system with the supposedly perfect game he created, X. He challenges the duo to defeat X. If they fail, the entire computer network will fall into his hands. That’s like taking over the world, right? Fubuki throws Mr Mystery a challenge to decide who among them will be the true BAG champion by being the first to defeat X. The duo combine their powers and show the world why they are the best gamers in the world by clearing the early stages easily. Meanwhile the other girls want Alka to reveal where Mr 20’s location but her lips are tightly sealed. So they try to ‘persuade’ her by making her becoming Raptor’s meal. All that junk food not enough, eh? Yeah, need solid meat!
 
Before she could spill the beans, President reveals that Mr 20 was his colleague and vice president during the days when they were trying to create the best games in the world. One day, they spot a couple of kids fighting in their arcade but they were just acting out fighting moves from the video games they were playing. Mr 20 got saddened that they’re supposed to make games that kids are supposed to enjoy and not beat each other up. To make things worse, a news report a missile using their computer gaming technology was used to end some rebellion. That’s when he snapped and couldn’t take it anymore that they’re using games as murder tools. Mr 20 felt guilty and left on a journey, supposedly his way of taking responsibility. While travelling through a war-torn country, he tries to save a couple of kids from an incoming missile. WTF?! He’s trying to hold back the huge missile with his bare hands! Where does he get such power?! In reality it should’ve exploded upon contact. Anyway, he lost (duh!). The missile exploded and the next thing he knew, he was revived. Though his body was destroyed, his soul was transferred into a machine server. He did lots of thinking and decided to create this secret evil Gyurashikku-dan in order to reset the world and have no qualms in becoming a demon of revenge. Mr Mystery isn’t happy about that because he remembers he didn’t revive him for that purpose. So if you haven’t guessed by now, Mr Mystery is Arashi. I just wonder how his physical body ended up so vastly different. Because Mr 20 has changed, Arashi didn’t give him Passion Panty and ran away with it. According to him, Passion Panty will reveal its true powers only to how pure your love of games is. Hey, what about if somebody like eroge and H-games…
 
Fubuki and Mr Mystery manage to reach the final stage, a stage where nobody has reached before. As expected, Mr 20 is the final boss. He shows them how the X network is ruling every computer in the world. Mr Mystery makes a naughty remark that he will have free access to all the porn sites in the world but he ignores him. Mr 20 is confident they will never beat him because he is God. Pfft. Another guy who has such thinking. Unless he has God mode on lah. The heroes combine their powers once more and pull off flashy moves to fight Mr 20. Keep in mind that they’re just tapping and mashing the button controls while their in-game characters do all the flashy fighting. Mr Mystery takes a direct hit in the head meant for Fubuki. His mask is nearly peeling off so before he disappears, he tells Fubuki she has to beat him before he finishes rewriting the game data or else it’s really game over. That’s right, she must attain the true ending of the game with her own hands. Create your own ending, eh? Fubuki refuses to be defeated when her friends managed to hack into the system. Hanako reminds her of how they first met at the crane game machine and Hanako was a real pro. She offers to give Fubuki her doll but the latter insists she wants to win one on her own. That’s when their friendship began. Hanako wants Fubuki to stop so that she don’t have to get hurt any further and return home to play more games together but Mr 20 cuts the transmission.
 
However Fubuki isn’t cowed. She tells him about the wonderful experience of gaming and the many people she has met. Suddenly everyone is connected to X and starts cheering Fubuki on. Their support is so overwhelming that everybody has got an Arashi emblem flashing on them. Not only that, Fubuki’s Passion Panty evolves and changes into its own emblem. A single yellow star with the initials PP below. Hey wait a minute. Doesn’t this look like Vietnam’s flag? I hope they’re trying not to imply communism here. Just kidding. And with her new move, Super Nova Trinity, she defeats Mr 20. Before he disappears, he sees a flashback of how he was playing video games with improving little Fubuki. Oh I should have seen this coming that he was her dad. He promised how they should have a serious match that put all their souls in it once she becomes much better. As Fubuki and Mr Mystery is transported back to the real world, Mr 20 congratulates her for using X to bridge and connect people’s heart to defeat him rather than a network he created originally to spread hatred across the world. That’s when Fubuki realizes who he really is. She calls out to him but to no avail. Back on ground, Fubuki is overcome with emotion and cries in her mother’s bosoms.
 
Mr Mystery then tells Fubuki her dad is still alive and brings them to see him. I’m not sure where this server place is but everyone gets to see his computer self. He wishes for mommy to take care of Fubuki because he’s going for another trip. I don’t know if that means crossing the universe. Where else can his soul go? I know Fubuki says she’ll wait forever but her dad’s already dead physically, right? Unless she meant seeing him in the afterlife. Just kidding. Next day, we see a BAG tournament trophy rightfully belonging to her in Fubuki’s house. She goes out with her pals as they try to buy X2 before it’s being sold out. Hmm… Alka is tanned and tad friendly and hey, Raptor is still around! Won’t anyone get frightened to see it running around with a Ruriran in its tiny arms? Well, she did made friends with it. Mr Mystery continues to watch Fubuki from afar and hopes they’ll meet again in part 2. Wait a minute. There’s a part 2? Maybe he was talking about the game sequel.
 
The future of gaming
I can forgive the feel good ending since it’s an old anime anyway. I did a little research and found out that this OVA is a spin-off from 1982 video game themed anime Game Center Arashi. No wonder that weird looking Arashi makes cameo appearances here because he was the main protagonist in the original version. Something about the drawing and art about this series. Yes, it is old school but they somehow reminded me of 2×2=Shinobuden and especially Keroro Gunsou. I’m not sure if they’re produced by the same company but you know, the characters’ face looking a little round and cute and since I did notice a few characters from the latter said series. That Honey girl, I faintly remember that accent and personality but Keroro Gunsou anime was produced much later. Hmm… There are quite a number of retro video games and video game parodies that appear in this anime. And I think they used real screenshots of it. Unfortunately, I’m not that old enough to recognize many of them unless they’re those of the fighting genre.
 
It amuses me a lot to see the characters pulling off very absurd and exaggerated moves when they’re hitting the controllers. Why do you need to flip, twist, somersault and a bunch of other acrobatic moves when it is the game characters that need to be doing the action? Maybe that’s how it works. You can’t pull off a super move without the usual process. It’s like you need to hit the right buttons to activate a cheat code, right? Right. And the names they give their moves too… Mr Mystery is such a mysterious character, if not a funny one. Besides his physical change from Arashi, I wonder what he sees in Arashi to be the best gamer. Maybe he felt she is the chosen one to save the world? And why did he first tell her not to play video games for more than an hour daily earlier on? Why is it the game spirit is in the form of a panty? Does it really give Fubuki power? I know, fanservice. But since this is old school anime, so-so only lah. Then there’s this guy called Sanpeita. He’s some sort of a Fubuki-maniac who is always seen holding a video recorder and hiding in some gym box equipment. He’s like so annoying that’s why I left him out from my blog. Just like everybody else who doesn’t know who he is because they don’t care and just let him hang around since he isn’t a threat. He doesn’t really contribute anything much except for revealing how stuff works and to provide comic relief. And I guess with Mr 20 gone, the evil Gyurashikku-dan is disbanded too.
 
So what are your thoughts on gaming now? Sure it has come a long way and it is still debatable whether it has positive or negative effects on our children. With the various types of games and methods to play them, well it depends on the nature of the game and how susceptible that person is to be influenced by it. But as you can see that some are so good that they literally make a living as video game testers or as professional competitors with major tournaments organized worldwide every year. You don’t need flashy moves or Passion Panty to win. Lots of luck, skill and love for the game. While I am not inclined to take out my old games to relive those button mashing, don’t-understand-what’s-going-on (some games were too confusing for me to comprehend back then) and repetitive platform games (oh the horror of dying thousands of times and replaying to inadvertently master it), but at least I can say I didn’t turn into a violent delinquent while playing fighting games, a trigger-happy riot with shooting ones, a bloodthirsty loser with action games, slay harmless animals to practice and increase my RPG level, a sly and cunning fraud with strategy games or a road bully-cum-speedster with racing simulations. Which means to say I won’t turn into a pervert or a rapist if I ever lay my hands on eroges, H-games and adult content simulations, right? Maybe I should try them one of these days and back in my own room… Hey, have you seen those arcade shops around anymore?
 

Arcade Gamer Fubuki