Hey Fight Fans, Don’t Miss Kizuna Ichigeki


I know next to nothing about this Young Animators Training Project: Kizuna Ichigeki, only that it’s made by this new(?) animation outfit called Ascension. The young animator in this case is Hongo Mitsuru, who directed the film, and who is also over 50 years old and had already directed Shin Chan and Outlaw Star, among other works. Well, I suppose his role is to be the veteran teacher to what would be a young animation staff learning key animation. It puzzles me though that the staff listed had already worked on key animation on several occasions (some shows more notable than others).

Well, it’s probably training for the already proven talents, so they keep getting better. And it shows. Kizuna Ichigeki is a treat for fighting fans. You like martial arts action? This short flick is for you!


Don’t let the kiddie-show illustration style fool you. This is high-grade martial arts anime. The story is light-hearted and comedic. The characters are thinly sketched. The plot is WTF. But it’s all good, enjoyable, and wholesome.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll attempt to explain why the fight animation here is not to be missed:

Shifting camera angles that flow smoothly and don’t jump around too much transition-wise. Think how dance competitions like So You Think You Can Dance with its dynamic camera work that stays on one horizontal level but shifts from one side of the action to the other. The transition actually makes the action move faster than it really is.

This is easy to capture using live dancers (or fighters), but timing and syncing animation? Holy wow. This is showboating, and it’s good.

Particularly the fight against Giant Gaga. The most dramatic and tension-filled fight is undoubtedly the best, and can easily rank among the better animated fights I’ve seen. To peg it against something, I’ll choose the King Kazma fights in Summer Wars. This particular fight in Kizuma Ichigeki won’t pale against any of the fights there. If the Kazma fights emphasized speed and dynamic use of environment (digital debris flung at Kazma), Kizuma’s fights featured Giant Gaga intelligently portrayed leveraging his height against the 7th grader.


This isn’t like almost any character vs. Gon in the Tekken fighting games, wherein the much larger Jack basically strikes with the same attacks despite the massive height difference resulting in ridiculous whiffs. Giant Gaga’s attacks look precise and natural – like someone who has such a height advantage would fight against a much smaller opponent that has already closed in. It’s really something.


This fight pretty much took away my aversion to having midgets for protagonists, especially for fighting anime. I tell you Bloly vs. Goten/Trunks is NOT the most entertaining kind of matchup to watch. The show, in the earlier battles also indulged shortcuts like multiple strikes landing that never got animated. I had feared this would become like Katanagatari, but I’m glad it didn’t. Also, there’s also the fake underdog schtick that I’ve grown to dislike that this show obviously indulges.

Despite featuring so many things that I dislike (I won’t bother to mention the other things), I wholeheartedly recommend Young Animators Training Project: Kizuna Ichigeki. As animated fights go, this show has at least one big fight for the books.

So let me ask you, what are your favorite hand-to-hand fights in anime? Video links are welcome:  open bracket youtube=”link url” close bracket. I’ll accept swords only if one of the combatants/duelists is fighting bare-handed. I’ll share mine in the comments.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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29 Responses to Hey Fight Fans, Don’t Miss Kizuna Ichigeki

  1. ojisan says:

    The fists & mops fight between Spike & Electra in “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”
    My favourite kind of fight is one in which one is deadly serious & the other thoroughly enjoying it –

    • Oh man, this too is one of my favorite fistfights ever. The soundtrack “clutch” is also PERFECT for the scene.

      Spike’s flourishes, the POVs, Elektra’s short strikes with no superfluous movements for contrast. What a great scene.

  2. kadian1364 says:

    Heartcatch Precure comes to mind, because that’s the most recent anime that wowed me with its fights. No really; sure there are magic transformation scenes and signature magic attacks every episode, but the fight choreography always impresses me. They’re short, sweet, full of showmanship, and lots of fun. Rock ’em sock ’em action pieces are not what I expect from magikal gurlz, but they were always pleasantly surprising.

    So I’m going to talk about Angelic Layer again, because I want to. It’s a shounen tournament style series populated by girls and their fighting dolls, and feature a host of fist fights I remember fondly. The animation quality obviously doesn’t stand up to one with a movie budget, but I really liked them for what they were. This is a match nearing the midpoint of the series (sorry video quality is kinda meh):

    Later fights feature environments, and all around Angelic Layer is a very fun show. It’s a familiar concept with a relatively good story, something that bridged my personal transition from gateway anime like DBZ and Pokemon to more creative storytelling genres.

    • Suite Precure follows Heartcatch’s example. From what I’ve heard all the Precure anime have great fights, but I’m watching the original now and while the fights are very cool, they’re poorly directed, unlike in the newer series.

    • Nice. N0t bad at all. But if we’re going to talk about fight scenes without a movie budget we’ll have to consider 1978’s Tosho Daimos. Ryuuzaki Kazuya is a karateka, and he kicks some serious ass in this video starting at the 1:02 mark:

      This video is right about episode 05 or so. So there’s no great landmark special moment. It’s just a beatdown of some mooks. The quality speaks for itself. Karate!

      • JoeQ says:

        This is where I’d link New Getter Robo episode one, where Ryoma (also a karateka) first beats up some yakuza, then kills some assassins and finally a bunch of demons, but apparently Bandai thought Youtube couldn’t handle the awesome. Great scenes though.

  3. vendredi says:

    2chan.us has information on the Young Animator’s Project; specifically see the post about application criteria.

    Note specifically the criterion that the animators to be trained must have at least six months to three years of keyframe work experience and 30 years of age or younger by application deadline. If an animator has less experience they will need a recommendation from the animation director (of the proposed project) himself.

    Keyframe animation is, as the name suggests, very crucial and requires a lot of technical training and talent. Technical training that can be done without a fully budgeted release, and talent is already evident in the selection of animators for keyframe training. Hence, the criterion for people already in keyframing positions – this project isn’t about getting more key-framers, it’s about improving the new ones, or the ones who haven’t had a chance to distinguish themselves.

    The project criterion suggests they’re trying to build experience for newly promoted or newly assigned key-framers who may not yet have had the chance to assume a great deal of responsibility for a project under “real-world” constraints. The experience to be gained is not so much technical (i.e. the actual drawing of keyframe animation) but rather more about the management side of the equation (working with deadlines, drafting a project proposal, developing a consistent looking, leading a team of animators, etc.).

    Secondly, the selection of already established keyframe animators means that there are high expectations set for the success or critical reception of these titles. At least that’s my general analysis of the policy.

    • vendredi says:

      And oh, this post is meant to be in response to your puzzlement over the fact that many of the trainee animators have worked on previous projects… they definitely have, but by the project criteria that’s still no more than 3 years at most.

      • Thanks for all that! Sure taught me to pay more attention since I actually checked out the link while I was looking around (referred to me first by the fine folk at [gg] subs).

        It would seem that the crew here cut their teeth on some pretty juicy scenes.

  4. gaguri says:

    Cowboy Bebop and bit of Samurai Champloo I guess. But no (good) anime I can think of that deals specifically with martial arts, though i hear fighting spirits is damn good boxing anime.

    Not really anime, but avatar: last airbender really takes animating martial arts to another level:

    • gaguri says:

      what’s more impressive is how each style represent not only character’s personality and nature, but the way of life of the people of four nations…and the story being about learning to accept the differences, and learning from others (as is reinforced by act of learning techniques of other styles), or else there will only be hate, war, suffering. Wonderful series, so mature for children’s cartoon on nickloneon.

      • I just finished watching Avatar and was consistently wowed by the fights. In particular, Toph’s introductory fight was hands-down one of my favorite animated fights I’ve ever watched. The final battles also did large-scale beam-spamming better than anything else ever.

      • I acknowledge all of what you said. Avatar: the Last Airbender does make those thematic accomplishments with its fight scenes.

        What I value however, is the tight, hand-to-hand kind of exchanges devoid of supernatural powers. I truly love what the Avatar characters do with their hands in going through the motions of their arts, but they’re mostly in the service of shooting out some energy attack.

        I favor blocks, parries, and dodges of fights wherein the most dangerous things are the bodies of the fighters themselves. This is what I greatly appreciate in this edition of the Young Animators Training Project, and is a big part of why I don’t favor the finale of Star Driver despite my enthusiasm for the show throughout its run (and is also why I dropped Sengoku Basara entirely in its second season, though it can’t pretend to have the level of detail Avatar: the Last Airbender has).

  5. Jack says:

    Air Master is the best example I can think of. It’s not a good show, in that I find nearly all the supporting cast to be painfully annoying (apart from the competing fighters and the rival) and plot is basically a tournament, but nevertheless nearly every fight is good (from what I can remember).

    For a TV show, the detail and choreography is astounding. Nearly every movement of every fighter is animated, you see where their hits land, how they’re blocked, how they’re countered. They don’t skimp on any of the details of the fight, they animate all of it, the majority of the time. Sure, some of the fighters are ridiculous and they don’t have much respect for gravity but you get an excellent hand-to-hand fight every couple of episodes. Heck, sometimes you get two in one episode!

    • Air Master confused me so much when I watched the first episode because until the fight, the animation was poor and the art was ugly as hell, but when it came combat time, all of a sudden it went into badass mode.

      • Jack says:

        Yeah, it’s pretty clear that they save pretty much all their budget for the fights, which is the right decision considering I don’t care about all that other stuff.

    • I’d hate to have to start watching an entire series just for the fights, but if you can find some kind of video compilation I’d be much obliged.

      • Jack says:

        To be fair, a large part of many episodes are the fights themselves and you get somewhat invested in the main fights. However, the show would benefit from an ‘abridged’ version.

        For some reason, most of the good fights aren’t even on youtube. Hmm.

        It’s the kind of show one would only invest is for specific reasons, after they had already finished a lot of far better shows.

  6. JoeQ says:

    Absolutely agree about Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, some amazing fights in those two series.

    Batou had a few excellent fights GitS: SAC that are some of my favorites. Couldn’t find the knife fight with Kuze (one of the later episodes of 2nd Gig) on Youtube, but here’s his boxing match against Zaitsev:

  7. As you know, my favorite fight in anime is the end of Sword of the Stranger. Unparalleled choreography and animation beauty using my favorite mode of fighting (swords.)

    As gaguri mentioned above, the fights in Avatar were mind-blowingly great. The show could handle three-way hand-to-hand combat, mob combat, large battle, small battle, multiple battles at once, and of course action movie-style high-flying stunt battles all superbly. The best in the show was Toph’s first fight in episode 24 or 25, as her fighting style is unparalleled cool, and earth bending has the most impressive applications to combat.

    FullMetal Alchemist brotherhood—actually, let’s say pretty much every Bones anime does body-to-body combat spectacularly, including the scene in Star Driver that managed to be better than any of the mech fights. Brotherhood and Soul Eater are both outstanding achievements in action anime.

    Summer Wars, as you mentioned, has some exhilarating fights, best for their uniquely stylized animation. Movies in general tend to have cooler fights just because they can, but only so many really make it memorable. The fight from the original Ghost in the Shell film comes to mind. For a goofy big fight, the barfight in the Trigun movie is awesome. For aerial dogfights, which I’m not ordinarily a fan of, there’s motherfucking Nanoha with one of my favorite action scenes ever. Pokemon 2000 does an awesome aerial dogfight *with Pokemon.*

    The fights atop the Flying Pussyfoot in Baccano have always been among my favorites because they do a genius job of integrating random chance and surprise elements into the ongoing combat.

    Cowboy Bebop is always worth mentioning. Lots of people mention the movie fights, which are indeed technically brilliant, but I’m just not a fan of the film in general nor its style. I prefer some of the random fights in the show to the ones in the movie.

    I think I’ll stop myself there before I get out of hand and start scouring MAL for reminders.

    • I specifically mentioned to avoid sword fights since I consider them a seperate category that I can gush about (though yes, Sword of the Stranger’s final fight is tops no doubt about it).

      The Baccano! fights are interesting in that they’re not quite martial arts based and as you said, quite random. That said, they’re not quite my taste in fightan. I love my fast paced punches, kicks, parries, and dodges. If there’s some form to the way they fight (Karate, Tae Kwon Do, whatever) I’m doubly pleased.

      I mean, I love martial arts movies and all action films with fast-paced hand-to-hand. I think the Bourne series (Matt Damon) has some of the best, if not the best stuff. Nothing exaggerated, all deadly compact practical stuff. The Daniel Craig James Bond stuff is also worth noting.

      For the fanciful stuff, you gotta check out Ip Man, and perhaps Bodyguards vs. Assasins (Donnie Yen is in both of them). Great stuff mang.

      My love for these kinds of films underscores why I esteem fightan scenes in animu. It’s not easy! You can’t just point a camera at some stunt guys then shoot and edit. You gotta draw this stuff and all that. But I don’t need to convince you of all people don’t I?

      • I’ve seen Ip Man. I liked the fighting style, hated the movies. Way too long and too much gushing, ridiculous Chinese nationalism, with only a couple of brief fights punctuating it all. A couple of my friends are really big into kung-fu movies, especially Donnie Yen ones.

        For me, the quality of an action movie is both proportional to the quality of the fights and the number of them. The Protector is long and by far my favorite action movie because it’s a non-stop train of fights and all of them are legendary.

        But it doesn’t matter to me what kind of fight it is, I love them all. Some that come to mind are the parkour action opening of Casino Royale, the car chase action of Raiders of the Lost Arc and Roadwarrior, Jackie Chan’s environment and comedy-based fighting, even ridiculous muscle-headed slaughtergasms like in Rambo or The Expendables, whatever—any well-constructed action scene is one I’ll love. I look for the strength of choreography, directing, badassery, and length (very important, I want long and elaborate fights).

        All of these criteria extend to animation, which is why Avatar did it on such an immense level for me. It had all of those qualities, nevermind what kind of fight it was. Best of all was all earth-bending battles, because Toph uses the earth as an immediate extention of her own body in ways that are every bit as cool, if not moreso, than using her own body. Some of the ways that she blocked multiple oncoming attackers and environmental hazards had my friends and I standing up, pointing at the screen and yelling lol.

  8. I feel caught off guard by this post. When it comes to great real life martial arts choreography, I have no trouble naming off excellent fights. Things get much more complicated with anime. Perhaps the #1 choice for me would be Spike’s fight on the monorail in “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”‘ but I believe that involved grenades and guns. And the usual shounen battle examples tend to involve more super/supernatural powers. Hell, my favorite fight ever involves swordplay.

    So to be safe, this is my favorite fight from Hajime no Ippo. The second confrontation between Makunoichi Ippo and Takeshi Sendou. It’s as close to a pure martial arts fight as I can think of in my repertoire. Everything else invokes demon powers, devil fruit, swords, or saiya-jins.

    Sorry, I’m not in a place where I can share video right now. It’s a toss up between that and the Mamoru Takamura vs. Brian Hawk fight. Same anime.

  9. JoeQ says:

    Another favorite I didn’t think of until now:
    Simon and Anti-Spiral Avatar slugging it out at the end of the second Gurren Lagann movie:

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