A few questions for the director of Occult Academy, Silver Spoon and of course, the smash hit series Sword Art Online.
Reviewby Christopher Macdonald, May 10th 2002
Real Bout High School
DVD 1: Enter the Samurai Girl
Real Bout High School is a must see for fans of fighting games such as Street Fighter and Tekken. Unlike your garden-variety fighting game based Anime however, Real Bout is a blast to watch.
Right from the get-go Real Bout's fighting game heritage is abundantly obvious, the DVD's main menu features a layout that is completely reminiscent of the standard fighting game screen. While two of the main characters duke it out in the background, a timer counts down the seconds and their health bars move according to the "damage" they take in the fight.
As a menu, it works; it is both functional and fun to watch.
Fighting games aren't the only thing that Real Bout takes influence from and pays homage to. The main character, Ryoko, is a Samurai movie Otaku! Samurai movie references, from dialogue to sound effects, make many appearances in the series. These aren't quite as blatant as the fighting game references but they are distinctive and fans of Samurai movies will notice and enjoy them.
The series is rife with fighting game and samurai movie stereotypes, but they all work extremely well, creating a part of this series' comedic relief. There's even a semi-cameo by Chun-Li and Cammy (actually two minor characters cos-playing as the Street Fighter characters) and a scene that is very reminiscent of a scene in the second episode of Ranma ½.
Real Bout's opening scene is somewhat misleading of the series as a whole; it features art, animation and action of a very serious tone reminiscent of shows such as Fist of the North Star and Berserk. In fact Nagumo, the character featured in the intro looks a lot like the protagonists of the previously mentioned shows.
The Opening and ending credits, along with their music are similar to the openings and endings of magical girl shows, except that this heroine carries a wooden sword instead of a wand. Beyond this, and the loud techno music of the menu however, the rest of the series' music leaves little impression on the viewer.
Ryoko's character design is a bit out of the ordinary for an Anime high school girl. Unlike the usual character design, Ryoko's legs aren't ultra thin and ridiculously long; in fact her legs are actually quite thick, reasonable for a person of her athletic nature. Still her design is very cute, and her cuteness is expertly brought out by her actions, mannerisms and speech.
English dubbing on this title is very, very good, although not quite perfect. One shortcoming in the English dub is how Wendee Lee says "Sempai" when referring to Kiribayashi. In the Japanese dub she clearly does not like addressing Kiribayashi with the honorific title and therefore "Sempai" comes out more as a mutter. The English delivery does not make Ryoko's dislike of using the term quite as blatant. With this complaint in mind, the English dub could otherwise be said to be almost perfect, a very impressive accomplishment. It's also very cool that they decided to keep the Japanese honorific in the script; many English dubs chose to remove Japanese honorifics.
Throughout the series the art and colors are very nice, top quality. The animation, while not quite the quality of a good OVA, is very good when compared to other TV series. The first episode looks astounding, and although the subsequent episodes are weaker, in terms of animation, they are still very well-done.
All in all, if you're looking for an amusing series and are a fan of fighting games or Samurai cinema, the first couple episodes of Real Bout are very entertaining and the series looks to be very promising
+ Hilariously funny, great in-jokes
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