Ayane’s High Kick

March 1, 2019

After watching the hilarious Jashin-chan Dropkick, for some odd and weird reasons I could not even remember (yes, seriously), I wanted to find another anime that has some sort of ‘dropkick’. I don’t know. Any kind of anime that has the main character landing some awesome kick. Not to say that Jashin had such an awesome dropkick in the first place but more for comical effect. And whether by coincidence, fate or luck, I stumbled upon a very old school anime, Ayane’s High Kick. So reading the synopsis got me interested to at least take a look at the 2 episode OVA that came out way back in 1997. Damn that is over 2 decades ago! I’m feeling so old…

Episode 1
Ayane Mitsui is taking a women’s pro wrestling audition. She looks very flashy with all those moves. Too flashy in fact that she crashes into the judges. It is safe to say that she didn’t get past the qualifiers and doomed are her dreams to fight the current women’s pro wrestling champion, Manami Toyoda. On her way back, this creepy guy starts admiring her beautiful legs. Naturally she kicks him but he blocks. Apparently Kunimitsu Tange is an indie trainer can make her dreams come true if she trains with him. Still desire to be a world champion of women’s pro wrestling, she eagerly joins his shady gym. Well, it’s under the bridge and you have to make the ring yourself. But Ayane’s dreams have a further obstacle as mom wants her to give up this silly pro wrestling dream and concentrate on studying. In class, fellow classmate, Kappei Inagagi has tickets for her to go see a kickboxing show but she dismisses she is not into this kind of combat sport. As Ayane continues to train, doesn’t she find it strange she is doing kickboxing training? Yeah, whatever the coach says, right? Heck, her friend, Kayoko Nakajima is worried that she is being duped but Ayane doesn’t think so as she wasn’t asked to pay anything. Still worried, Kayoko decides to go see for herself. Too bad Kunimitsu makes Kayoko become her training partner. Damn Kayoko isn’t going to last as a punching bag. Soon, Kunimitsu relays the good news that Ayane will be making her debut soon. Shouldn’t Ayane be baffled when he mentions her opponent is a kickboxer? Oh well, she’s going to make her debut so that is all that matters, right? Hence more ‘special’ training as she is made to wear heavy accessories that make her look like a fool in school. Are the teachers this lenient in letting such students get away with their odd clothing? Her mom thinks she has been studying and her brother almost ratted her out unless she buys him some video game to keep his mouth shut.

On the day of Ayane’s debut, Ayane finally realizes she has been duped after entering the ring. Yeah, Kunimitsu never said she was training for pro wrestling and she had numerous chances to check. She wants out but he won’t let her. The match is about to start. She promises to beat him up once she is done with this match. But too bad she gets owned by her more seasoned opponent in the first round. Making things worse, she won’t listen to Kunimitsu’s advice after being deceived. She even tries to do a supplex on her opponent but this illegal move earns her some points deduction. I wonder if Kayoko will get a heart attack watching her friend get beaten up like that. Kappei is here and although surprised to see Ayane, quickly supports her. Also, surprisingly the school’s principal and vice are also here. Old geezer principal is really supporting Ayane, huh? Ayane may have put up some fight but eventually her opponent is better. On the verge of giving up, she realizes she can’t lose here and vows to stay true to her pro wrestling dream. It is then she unleashes her special high kick right on her opponent’s head. Instant KO! Ayane wins in this major upset! The first she do is to beat up Kunimitsu. Here’s to her pro wrestling dream! Meanwhile a top kickboxing b*tch, Sakurako Miyagawa is unamused with Ayane’s performance. Because she stand out a lot before her match. Like, WTF?!

Episode 2
Ayane’s face is on the front page of the kickboxing magazine. She’s literally a mini celebrity now. Kappei wants the autograph of this future kickboxing champion but too bad for breaking the news: Ayane quits kickboxing! But will Kunimitsu let her go? Yeah, he is even seeing trying to bug her to go back to training but she won’t be deceived anymore and runs away! Meanwhile Sakurako has got a bone to pick with Ayane. Although she won her match and extended her consecutive wins (was it 4 or 5?), she is not happy the media hogged Ayane’s match. As Kunimitsu sees a sponsor to set another match, he is told that Sakurako wants to fight Ayane. Kunimitsu adds more fuel to the fire as he says Ayane will only fight those who are strong. This has Sakurako riled up and will call a press conference to challenge Ayane. Kappei bringing a kickboxing magazine to school almost lands Ayane in hot water. Because the vice sees it, he takes this as a chance to expel her (it is against school rules to work part time or appear on TV). Can Ayane fool him it is just someone who looks like her and has her name? Well, principal says you gotta trust your students if they say it isn’t them! But it gets worse as Sakurako organizes a flashy caravan outside the school to challenge Ayane. Ayane is not pleased that Kunimitsu has put words in her mouth and runs all the way there to give her piece of mind. As usual, he twists his words in his smooth talking way. He claims all he said to Sakurako that she needs to fight her. If Ayane isn’t interested, she can tell her she quitted. With the vice having solid proof that Ayane is related to kickboxing and will have her expelled, the principal decides to give her a chance. She will be suspended for 2 weeks and during that time she will fight Sakurako. If Ayane wins, they will let this slide. If she loses, she gets expelled.

With Ayane’s school days on the line, you bet Ayane is going to return to intensive training with Kunimitsu whether she likes it or not. While Ayane’s training are pretty old school, we see Sakurako’s high-tech training. So high tech that their monitors are still using TFT! Haha! Oh my. IS THAT VR TRAINING SHE IS DOING????!!!! OMG!!! That’s 90’s technology for you!!! Kayoko wants Ayane to win because she really wants them to graduate together. And with this, Kunimitsu takes this opportunity to make her the assistant coach. But it does give Ayane more motivation in training. Match day is here and Sakurako starts off with mocking Ayane who is cheaply dressed. In the first round, Sakurako uses her feet to keep Ayane away. Hey, can’t hit when you can’t land a punch, right? Of course this is a tactic to wear her out. So much so, Sakurako’s foot mark is on her belly! For the second round, Sakurako goes on the offensive and lands lots of hard hitting punches. She manages to provoke Ayane so that she could give her the lethal blow. If not for Kayoko screaming about that promise, Ayane might not have gotten up. Ayane continues to take more punches and is only saved by the bell. With Kunimitsu giving crap advice like guts, oh well, what is there Ayane going to lose? In the third round, Ayane is like a different person. So Sakurako tries to get psychological by mocking her pro wrestling dream and Toyoda. Ayane is mad and this is what Sakurako wants. But before Ayane could land her lethal punch, Ayane grabs her hand. She anticipated this. That is when Ayane gives Sakurako her trademark high kick. Not enough to knock her out but before mad Sakurako gets to continue, the referee stops the match. A doctor examines Sakurako and deems she cannot continue and hence it is Ayane’s victory. WTF???!!! I guess that saved her from expulsion. But in the aftermath, Ayane is not pleased because very well knows that Sakurako was the better fighter and she did not actually win the match. No time to sulk because here comes Kunimitsu to get her to train more for her next train. So is Ayane running away from him or is she beginning training? Nah. I think it’s the former.

Rumble Roses: Sekai De Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!
Oh man! OH MAN! DAMN! Actually, I was enjoying this mini series a lot. If not for the sudden abrupt ending, it ruined and left a bad taste in my mouth. Because it was never clear why Sakurako was disqualified and hence giving Ayane the win. There was no reason at all! I don’t know if it was some kind of injury or technicality but it sure was a downer for the match to have ended in that way. Even more anti-climactic is how suddenly it ends with the typically coach-wants-player-to-fight-some-more-but-player-can’t-take-it-anymore-and-runs-away. Like as though they realized they have exceeded the allotted time slot and had to suddenly end it. Yeah, should have made another OVA but I suppose they ran out of budget. Because Kunimitsu said he spent his entire savings on the weird training gizmos just for Ayane. Good thing Ayane turned out to be a good investment, albeit not perfect.

Apart from that, I guess everything else was pretty okay. I mean, it’s the 90’s. What do you expect? Everything felt cheap and cheesy and dated. Yeah, this OVA really feels like it came out from that era and time. Whether it is the animation, the characters, the plot, the flow, the action and even the comedy exaggeration style all reeks of that 90’s style trend. I don’t know if it would have been a hit had it been a normal running TV series. With the limited duration, sometimes it feels like cramming everything because you see the plot setter at the start followed by time lapse of Ayane training and then the match in the final half. Oh well, don’t want to sound like I’m b*tching and wanting a training episode to last 3 episodes, then an episode of flashbacks and reminiscence, finally the fight to last 5 episodes and finishing it off with the epilogue of 2 episodes. Yeah…

The characters feel so cliché and dated. Like Ayane who wants to pursue her dreams but gets duped into something else. But can you blame her? She’s not the brightest and guess what? There’s no internet freely available in the 90’s! Maybe in those times, some may confused pro wrestling with kickboxing or use the term interchangeably. But she not quitting shows that her heart somewhere wants to do kickboxing even if her mouth says otherwise? I bet mom must be blind not to see how ripped Ayane’s body is. And then you have Kunimitsu who is as shady as his exterior tells you. He is not coach from Ashita No Joe and does whatever sneaky things he can but I can’t help wonder his true goal in all of this. Sure, Ayane has the most beautiful high kick (in his mind), but what is the ulterior motive of letting her fight? What is the fight that Kunimitsu is fighting for? Otherwise, it makes him look like a bugging and nagging coach. Oh wait. He is.

The other characters just feel okay and contribute more to the side plot. They aren’t anything that significant. Even if Kayoko is an honour student, she is just there to give her best friend some motivation. Her character can be done without but it helps shows that our main character isn’t a loner and has a friend in school to back her up. And this Kappei dude who is a big fan of kickboxing? I guess it’s just a side plot to inadvertently get her in trouble. Otherwise, negligible character. Oh, on a side note, Kappei is the only character whose seiyuu I recognized. I wonder if they purposely named the character after him. You know, Kappei Yamaguchi. Must be coincidence, huh?

Then we have the typically evil school vice who for some reason in this anime is his life’s mission to expel students. Like, WTF?! Students with bad reputation give their school a bad name. So what do you do? Expel them! HUH?! Yeah, he sounds a lot like an antagonist and acts like one because he is the only one who is sorely disappointed when Ayane won her match. And then you have the very carefree principal who is like a secret supporter or something. I can see him throwing down the money and betting on Ayane if she ever goes international. Don’t forget about the rival b*tch. From the way things have ended, it looks like it isn’t over between Ayane and Sakurako from a long shot. They’ll get more chances to rumble if assuming Ayane hasn’t quit by then.

Overall, this is one of those few hidden gems that I have stumbled over the internet. Yeah, the internet is a great treasure trove if you know how to find. Or just get lucky. Of course there’s the dark side too but… Anyway, I really enjoyed watching this OVA despite its lacklustre ending and if you think about it, it’s nothing all that super extraordinary. It’s a shame that this series didn’t really get any more follow up. But it made me think if it eventually got its ‘spiritual successor’ in that Sekai De Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai (ambiguous scream fest masked as women’s pro wrestling) back in 2013. Nah. I think that is totally different altogether. But for this one, it got high kicked away, never to be heard of again. Ah well. It was fun and short while it lasted. Thanks for the kicks, Ayane!