Shootfighter Tekken: Round 2

How can a show improve so much in so little time? Recently, I watched the first OVA of Shootfighter Tekken and thought it was reasonably good, but I didn't have much hope for the future of the series. Fighting shows don't hold much appeal to me, and with its cocky protagonist, I didn't know if I could handle much more of the show. Thankfully, I found the second episode a good improvement. Though you still can't really get away from the show's genre, many of the problems of the first episode are fixed. It's still too expensive, as I discussed last time, and this isn't a brilliant character piece or even a superb epic. It's just a fighting show, perhaps as well as can be done.

Iron Kiba is still sore that he hasn't gained the secrets of Nanshin Shadow Style, and his grudge with Otan's family continues. Kiichi winds up beating and then befriending one of Kiba's fighters, and their relationship forms the center of the episode. Kiba decides it's time to get serious about Kiichi, and winds up setting up a match between Kiichi and Kiba's Jujitsu master. However, this is no standard martial art: the master can read Kiichi's moves and predict what attacks he'll make before he even starts them. After watching his Jujitsu moves paralyze some of his toughest opponents, Kiichi realizes that he must prepare like never before to be ready for this potentially deadly conflict.

As the first episode, Round 2 is presented in a striking letterbox format. It's so rare to see, particularly on anything but anime films, and I realized it helped the show's presentation. The animation quality was quite nice, and the character designs seemed a little smoother. It isn't a major change from the first volume, but there are minor improvements across the board.

What I enjoyed about Round 2 is that the characters acted less like caricatures. There are touches of romance and friendship that really never showed up in the first episode. Kiichi winds up being a better person in this episode, helping a fallen foe get to a hospital. Kiichi also finds himself attracted to his friend's sister, and though there's no relationship per se, it's nice to see his character actually show another side of himself. The episode felt much less forced than the first. Though this might disappoint some fans, the gory nature of the show was also toned down a bit, making it a little less bloody. It's not kinder or gentler, but a bit more palatable.

The show still has minor issues that come from its format. We know we'll have a major matchup; we know we'll see our hero get himself nearly clobbered but come back to victory. These are just givens until you reach the end of a fighting series. Unfortunately, Shootfighter Tekken doesn't seem willing to break any of those stereotypes. Does that hurt the show? Not if it's the genre you like, as I keep reminding myself.

As I mentioned before, Central Park Media is releasing this show episode by episode, and I still think the price point is too high. Also, this episode doesn't stand alone all that well, so without the first episode, it's not of much use, even if it's a better program. However, I'm starting to really like Shootfighter Tekken; it's a prime example of fighting genre anime. Your taste may vary, but if you're into martial arts, I'm certain you'll enjoy it.

Shootfighter Tekken: Round 2 -- violence (mildly gory), profanity -- A-