In Burning Questions, Sam Weller pontificates on, ruminates upon or investigates into any and all anime and manga topics.
This past weekend, the New Jersey area hosted that yearly ritual celebrating grown men engaging in scripted pugilism. And while Tom and I try to find any excuse to squeeze some rasslin’ madness into here, I’m aware it isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea.
(Unless, of course, we got requests to cover KINNIKUMAN: ULTIMATE MUSCLE more on this site. In which case... I’m game).
Thinking of memorable matches and rivals got me thinking... is it possible to name the BEST fight scene in anime?
From mecha combat to gun-fu and beyond, there is a whole swath of anime centered on fighting. Actually, let's be real - - there's an entire genre (see shonen).
But fight scenes can be so much more than just a collection of thrilling moments or well-choreographed action. When you think about the anatomy of a great fight scene, it's often more than the sum of its parts. So, in order to narrow it down, I’ve got some standards a great fight scene has to live up to in order to be considered THE BEST.
Consider these the Three Fight Scene Demandments...
1. A GREAT FIGHT SHOWS CHARACTER
(WARNING: NSFW talk in the video below)
In this example, Revy shows that she hates calling it even, and how she's willing to slug it out with someone even without her trademark pistols. Having the sideline betting and commentary by the rest of her crew further shows the personalities that inhabit this world.
Character is one aspect people don’t often think about when they think of great fight scenes. Whether one of your combatants has an abhorrence of killing (like in RUROUNI KENSHIN), or both fighters are locked in some kind of never-ending, super bloody feud (see HELLSING), the way in which people fight is important. A great fight shows new elements of a person's character, which means what they think about and how they feel about something.
In shonen, oftentimes character can be misinterpreted as "showing my 237th secret technique"-- but don't be fooled, Vicers!
That is not character development. Nor is evolving into your "true form" at a critical moment in the battle. It's just unnecessarily razing the stakes.
Yes, I'm a bit of a downer when it comes to including shonen fights, but I have to acknowledge how inconsequential most of them are after the 30th time the protagonist magically comes from behind to win. Not to say there can't be amazing fight scenes in shonen (there often are), I'm just saying you should all be picky!
2. FIGHTS GOTTA LOOK AND SOUND COOL
That's right, if you haven't seen ESCAFLOWNE, get on it already! Amazing animation. Unbelievable soundtrack. And just look at the high-level design!
It's a seemingly contrary point, but we should never,ever forget what gets us watching this stuff in the first place. There's got to be spectacle - - and there really is an art to spectacle, mind you - - so that spectacle must be weighed and judged like any other factor in a fight scene.
3. MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE FIGHT TELLS A STORY
... which leads me into my nomination for best fight scene in anime:
You don't need to know anything about Vega, Chun-Li or Guile prior to watching this. You don't even need to have ever played STREET FIGHTER II, either. Everything you need to know about this conflict is presented or inferred in this one scene. You can see that Vega's a vain assassin come to attack Chun-Li at a most vulnerable moment, you can see how the balance of power shifts throughout the fight without anybody needing to announce their levels... and so on.
Sure, this has greater resonance as a scene in a larger picture, but it could just as well be a tight, self-contained short, as well.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Should we have more demandments, or less? More importantly - - what are your pics for best anime fights ever?
Sam Weller is a writer and actor who's scribed for shows like FIRST EDITION, GEEK THERAPY, and most recently BATGIRL: SPOILED. He also really likes anime. To know what is going to happen next, follow@cravesam