Ayane's High Kick Anime Review
High Kick, Ayane!
US Release By
Kickboxing Action Comedy
2 30-minute episodes
1997-01-21 and 1997-04-25
Ayane Mitsui is your average high school girl; she's pretty, athletic, a little lazy on the studying, and dreams of becoming a pro wrestler some day. Ok, so she isn't so average, but she's got knockout legs (literally), and lots of drive. She's even got a mask. Only problem is, she's not too good at impressing the judges (then there's her school's policy about having a part time job).
Things change when Ayane runs into a shady looking fellow impressed by her legs (no, not like that) who offers to become her coach. He may not have the facilities, but he does seem to know what he's doing, so all's well until Ayane finds out it's not wrestling, but kickboxing he's been training her for...
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If Rocky were middle class, you replace Sylvester Stallone with a cute Japanese High School girl, and you change boxing to kickboxing, you've got Ayane's High Kick. Yes, it's a pretty silly premise, and though it obviously doesn't amount to much in terms of depth or realism, combined with surprisingly hard-hitting, realistic (at least relative to the premise) action and some fun characters, this partially-finished OAV series turns out to be a fun diversion. Toss in decent art and a worthwhile voice cast to round out the picture.
An anime-weird plot and fun characters combined with semi-realistic fight scenes make Ayane's High Kick lots of fun, and worth watching for fans of either action comedy or just good silly fun.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Basically, Ayane's High Kick is Rocky, if Rocky was middle class, you replace Sylvester Stallone with a cute Japanese High School girl, and you change boxing to kickboxing... er, wait, that's supposed to be pro wrestling. It obviously doesn't amount to much in terms of depth or realism, but it is a fun diversion, and is actually more interesting than I was expecting.
The plot is good fun; silly enough to make for some amusing situations, but still solid enough to keep you interested in the characters. Bringing us to point two: The oddball coach, Ayane, and the rest of the small cast make up in fun what they lack in originality. Plus, Ayane and her friend have one of those sweet relationships that's fun to watch no matter how many times you've seen the same thing before.
Sadly, this is also one of the many OAV series cut short after only two episodes, so it doesn't go anywhere. The intro credits hint at plenty of fun that was never capitalized on, but at least it doesn't leave you hanging, so the unfinished story isn't that frustrating.
Another noteworthy feature of Ayane's High Kick is that, fight-wise, it's more realistic than I was expecting. Ayane's training isn't one of those "I find my shining thing, and suddenly I can kick serious butt" deals--there's a lot of sweat and knocking around. The fights are a lot more down-to-earth, too; some people may find them a bit slow, but I kinda liked seeing people who punch at speeds that don't create sonic booms, and who aren't able to jump over moving vehicles or shoot large energy blasts from their hands. In fact, the pummelings that Ayane receives more than once (her biggest skill seems to be an inability to be knocked unconscious while repeatedly blocking flurries of kicks and punches with her face) are surprisingly brutal, and she isn't looking quite so cute by the end of her matches.
Don't take any of this to mean that the whole thing is realistic, just that the fights are not superpowered jump-fests, nor is the kickboxing silly or cute. This might seem a little at odds with the concept, but the whole thing ends up fitting together quite well. Basically a good combination of nonsensical plot, solid action, and fun characters.
Visually, Ayane's High Kick isn't much of a standout, but it's not half bad, either. The art is sharp, colorful, and generally quite nice, as are the character designs (they reminded me of Slayers). The animation is also relatively good, and again, surprisingly realistic in the fight scenes.
The Japanese acting is solid all around, if lacking any particular standout performances, and the dub is passable, if a bit weaker. The music, on the other hand, isn't so hot, although the painfully cheesy opening theme is the worst of it.
Overall, an anime-weird plot and fun characters combined with semi-realistic fight scenes make Ayane's High Kick lots of fun, and worth a shot for fans of either action comedy or just good silly fun.
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The Battle Athletes OAV series is probably the most similar, though a wildly different setting and somewhat more serious. Also has some things in common with Ranma 1/2 (though no real romance).
Notes and Trivia
It's worth mentioning that the Japanese Pro Wrestling scene is a little different from the one in the States. Pro Wrestling, at least the women's version, is relatively popular, and has a little more validity than the American version--it's not a given that the whole thing is (to quote Minnesota's Governor Jessie "the Governing Body" Ventura) "Ballet with violence." Of course, a lot of it is every bit as over the top as the WWF, and this is also not to say that all high school girls aspire to be the next masked queen of the ring; most of the champs look more like somebody who should be named "Helga the Destroyer" than a Japanese school girl. Women's Kickboxing, on the other hand, is not (to my knowledge, anyway) so well known.
US DVD Review
The DVD includes the English and Japanese stereo soundtracks, and an English subtitle track. The disc is about the same as USMC's other releases; it has an illustrated (but slow-navigating) menu that provides access to a chapter index, character introductions with links to appropriate introductory scenes, language controls, and cuts of just the action stuff (sadly dubbed only). As with other early USMC releases, the transfer is decent, and the color and sharpness are quite nice on this title. On the down side, also as with other early releases, there are no Japanese cast credits on the disc. It comes in a plastic keepcase with notes on the back of the jacket insert.
Nothing other than some in-the-ring-brutality to find offensive. Probably in the 10-up range.
Violence: 2 - Nobody dies, but people get beat up pretty realistically.
Nudity: 1 - Just wrestling outfits.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Zip.
Language: 1 - Nothing of note.