Art of Fighting
Art of Fighting (バトルスピリッツ 龍虎の拳, Battle Spirits Ryūko no Ken) is an action martial arts OVA based on the video game series of the same name by SNK. It was animated by Studio Comet and produced by NAS. This is the third collaboration between Studio Comet, NAS, and SNK following Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf, and Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle with their next collaboration being Samurai Shodown: The Motion Picture released one year later. It was directed by Hiroshi Fukutomi and written by Nobuaki Kishima. It aired on Fuji TV on December 23, 1993 with an English dub being released by US Manga Corps on 1997.
Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia get involved with a missing diamond that Mr. Big and his goons are searching for. They kidnap Ryo's sister, Yuri, in order for the guys to locate the diamond and exchange it for her life.
Why It Didn't Master Martial Arts
- The plot is very dull despite somewhat following the plot of the first game. What's original to the film is a stolen diamond which didn't need to be included at all. In the game, Takuma/Mr. Karate leaves Mr. Big's gang and his son Ryo doesn't want to take his place, so Mr. Big kidnaps Yuri to persuade Ryo to work for his gang. A simple plot that would've been just fine to adapt into a TV special instead removes a major character from its source material for a gem. The diamond has no ties with the main characters and they don't look for it until more than halfway into the OVA. It's like both characters don't have saving Yuri as a high priority. Additionally, they get involved by the gang all because they are chasing a cat, making the plot feel more contrived compared to the video game.
- The characters look completely different from the first Art of Fighting game:
- Both Ryo and Robert have brown hair when they should have yellow and black hair, respectfully. Ryo also wears a pink karate gi when it's supposed to be orange.
- King doesn't hide her gender identity and has a feminine voice when in the game she disguised herself as a man in order for Mr. Big to take her seriously as a fighter.
- Ryuhaku Todoh is a police lieutenant when he supposed to be the creator and main teacher of Todoh style Kobudo. He doesn't fight at all in the OVA.
- The fight scenes are awful. They animate poorly and don't look anything special. None of the characters from the first game use their special moves. You would think that for an anime based on a fighting game they would put a lot of effort on the fights, but they look really bad.
- Speaking of the animation, it looks very stiff and it tends to repeat often.
- In the English dub, sometimes characters pause mid sentence due to the way the speaking character's mouth is animated, which is a pretty poor and effortless method of voice acting, when they should speak in a way that is natural while also being close to the translated lines.
- Despite the movie being 45 minutes long, it's padded with unnecessary scenes such as repeating exposition five minutes after it was already explained to the audience and Ryo trying to find a missing cat.
- The backgrounds of the city look rushed, unpolished and uninteresting to look at.
- The computer that King uses to find information about Ryo, Robert, and Yuri misspell the words stylish as "stylisy", sincere as "sincer", and karate as "carate". It also lists Yuri's age as 17 when her age is stated by Robert to be 19.
- There's a scene where Ryo jumps on a diving board to gain height in order to reach Mr. Big on a helicopter when he's already hundreds of feet up in the air and succeeds.
- These characters act completely stupid:
- Mr. Big and King attempt to kill Ryo and Robert, but they want the two of them to bring them the diamond that they think they have, which means that they need them alive to make the exchange.
- Mr. Big's henchmen are very incompetent at their jobs. They hold Ryo and Robert at gunpoint while Mr. Big, King, Yuri, and John leave using a helicopter. One of the thugs is stupid enough to look up when Ryo points at the sky and says "look!" which allows him to escape. The two other thugs allow him to leave even though they have guns and never use them.
- When Robert and Ryo give Mr. Big the diamond, they act surprised that he didn't keep his word to let Yuri go. They just stand there at first when they depart using a helicopter.
- Robert brings a grenade with him when he's at the casino to save Yuri. Not only would that kill everyone in the room including him and Yuri but he acts like he didn't see the bulletproof glass that's between them (even though bulletproof glass would not protect you from an explosion). He also gives King the grenade when they threaten to kill Yuri which she later uses to kill Ryo and Robert which as explained in the first bullet is a moronic thing to do.
- The English dub is so bad it's good which makes it entertaining to watch.
- The music is good.
Art of Fighting received a largely negative reception from critics and fans since its release. Common criticisms of the OVA are being stupid, idiotic and plodding. The plot and action is also compared to a Saturday morning cartoon. In Hardcore Gaming 101's retrospective on the Art of Fighting series, they call the anime as one of the worst OVAs based on a fighting game that was common in the 90's. It currently has a user rating of 4.4 on IMDb and a user score of 2.5 on letterboxd.
In the English dub, Yuri was voiced by Veronica Taylor before she voiced Ash Ketchum in the Pokémon anime.