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.