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Kengan Ashura

The opening theme tune tells you all you need to know about this anime. Pounding, energetic, thrilling and giving everything its got, “Let’s go!” shout MY FIRST STORY over heavy guitar and loud drums. And go we indeed do.

Based off of Yabako Sandrovich’s Manga of the same name and directed by Seiji Kishi and written by Makoto Uezu, with animation by Larx Entertainment (and watched on Netflix), there isn’t much beating around the bush here. We get provided with a little bit of background to what is happening and what the main outline of the story is but mostly we are here for the action and violent confrontations and it doesn’t take long for these to rise to the surface. All of what is going on here builds towards a crazy fighting tournament, with huge consequences (any excuse for a fighting tournament, eh?). Tying together huge corporations and their chosen fighter, of a variety of styles and sizes, it mostly boils down to influence, control and money. Shady deals go on in the background between the rival corporation presidents, pinning their hopes (and their money) on their champion.

As Season 1 progresses into the tournament, the story disintegrates as the fighting begins, which is a shame. But the increased action does try to compensate for this with a wide variety of fighters, styles and abilities. Add to this you have no idea how each one of these bouts will go, keeps your interest in proceedings and the bouts themselves are thrilling and inventive and, as the action kicks off, you get an info-dump on each of the styles and its history which is a nice touch. Whereas Season 1 is mainly the path to the tournament, Season 2 is basically all tournament but ramped up even more: More fighting. More detail. More violence. And a little extra plot, but not too much.

There is a much larger proportion of CG anime than in previous anime series that I’ve watched to date, and at times it stands out from the rest as it makes things seem superimposed and like a late addition. However, when this is overlooked the action (mainly the one on one fisticuffs) is thrilling and impactful and has blood liberally spraying everywhere. There is another issue that you need to try to bypass and it becomes more evident the further you go and that is the use of stereotypes: Overly (ridiculously) muscled men alongside ridiculously figured women and arrogant bosses. There are a few nice touches here and there in terms of characterisation and visual style but for the most part it conforms to standards. That being said, the odd couple relationship between our main protagonist, Tokita Ohma, and his “boss” the over-promoted nervous-wreck Yamashita Kazuo, is a nice change to the rest of the power-dynamics on display.

Even with the reliance on the action, I am very much looking forward to what comes next from this series.

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