Real Bout High School
Tokyopop // Unrated // $29.99 // May 21, 2002
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted April 18, 2002
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At Daimon High School, everyone loves the K-Fight; this ongoing battle is standard curriculum and challenges can be made at anytime. The undisputed champion is Ryoko Mitsurugi, a wild samurai obsessed girl, vying for the affections of her kendo coach, Tatsuya, and taking on anyone that challenges her. But, her life takes a strange turn when a mysterious pendant she finds begins, without warning, to transport her to another place where she is even more powerful and told by a mysterious girl that she must combat gigantic demons.- This slapstick, anime action-adventure is recommended for ages 13 and up due to violence.

Enter the Samurai Girl (Vol. 1)

EPISODE ONE: "Samurai Girl Appears"- Basic intro episode, discovers the magic necklace, Ryoko has a fight with Azumi, the unflappable fighter from the flower arranging club.

EPISODE TWO: "The Strongest Man on Earth Joins the Fight"- Ryoko discovers the other dimension, but Ryoko isn't sure if it was a hallucination. An old rival she defeated, Shizuma, returns to challenge her. Their fight is interrupted by Nagumo, the 7 ft tall fighter who created the K-Fight. Nagumo challenges Shizuma, and hints to Ryoko that he knows about this other dimensional world.

EPISODE THREE: "Enter the Way of the Swordsman"- With Azumi's help Ryoko goes to the Hitea Shrine to beg its samurai master, Kiieshiro, to train her in the fighting arts. Lurking around the shrine are a mysterious woman and some thugs who are looking for Nagumo.

EPISODE FOUR: "The Girl with Deep Black Eyes"- Miyuki, Kiieshiro's silent daughter, is having a birthday, so Ryoko energetically plans a big party for her. At the part both Shizuma and Ryoko are transported to the other dimension where the ethereal figure explains more and they both must fight a flying demon using their amplified skills.

There comes a time in every anime fans life when he/she has to decide if they are tired of seeing superpowered Japanese schoolgirls. Hey, I love niche genres, and genre formulas, but that doesn't mean I love all clichés and don't get tired of them. Well, one cliché I am tired of is the superpowered schoolgirl in anime. Honestly I think its just so old and overdone its pathetic, but you know what?... Apparently everyone else doesn't think so, because Japan keeps churning them out and US importers keep buying them up, so the market is obviously there.

Anyway, add Samurai Girl- Real Bout High School to the long list of superpowered schoolgirl anime, fulfilling some other guys male fantasies with plenty of upskirt shots. Like most teen anime series, it is very character driven, comedic, with obligatory fights here and there especially in the shows final minutes. While I cant say any of the characterization intrigued me, this was only four episodes, and most anime looks weak (take Dragonball for instance) if you only see four episodes. Here you get some standard characterizations, our lead Ryoko may be a formidable fighter but she is also an awkward social underdog. You get the standard stock character best friends, the geeky wallflower girlfriend, the young obsessed tag along kid, and the unrequited love. The run of the mill hard and serious master, Keiishiro, as well as the sympathetic rivals Shizuma and Azumi... The standard overused insult the characters say was calling each other "monkey" or "monkey-girl" or "wild-girl". Perhaps something as lost in the translation.... I'm more of a fight fan, so it would have been nice to see more elaborate fights and fantasy, but as it is, they were pretty competent, everything cant be Dragonball Z, and the first episode fight between Azumi and Ryoko was very good... the character design was okay, but somehow, to me, all the girls look kind of bulky and strange, I think due to their clothing and short necks.

Personally, I thought that the series was going to be about a high school that has a fight program, and the different social/activities classes would compete against another. I thought that would be a good idea, a neat, identifiable concept. You know, the geeky chess club would have a fighter, the prissy cheerleaders, the jocks, the metal heads, and so forth, like Degrassi Jr High meets Streetfighter. But, apparently a simple concept like that isn't enough in the world of anime so they have to throw in other dimensional demon battling.

The DVD: Tokyo Pop. Nice menu design, controls mock video game, with navigating buttons like game moves and character strength bars. Picture- Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1. Pretty standard/good tv production with strong color and general sharpness, and a few digital fx (the necklace transporting and the "special moves" of the fighters). Transfer does show some artifacts throughout so it isn't perfect, but no heavy, softness, picture breakup, or pixellation. Sound- Good Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese and English with optional English subs, including "sign only" subs that translate just the signs if you want to watch it with the English dub but want to know want the Japanese signs say- a very nice feature. I watched two episodes in Japanese with subs and two with the English dub, and found both to be pretty good, keeping with the same tone and characterizations.

Extras- Translator's Notes--- Scene Selections, each episode is divided into 6 chapters.---Trailers/Previews for Initial D, Reign, Real Bout CD, GTO--- Japan TV commercials. Basically a series of short teasers with variations in the voice over, usually ending with the peculiar tag line of, "Would you like to be sliced by my sword?"--- Outatkes. This was a series of flubs and goofs by the English voice actors. Not really very funny, and their mistakes seemed either forced or just unfunny.--- 'Special End Corner' making-of featurettes. This was the neat. The voice actresses give little end bumpers to every episode. For the first they take you behind the scenes of the filming of the closing credits sequences (its just them walking on a beach). For the second, they take you to a photo shoot. The third, they and another voice actor discuss having just recorded the fourth episode and talk about what's to come for the characters. In the fourth they talk whit the Real Bout web designer and what one can expect form the website. It was a cute promo feature, and is further proof how in Japan the voice actors become almost as big a star as the characters they dub. ---DVD Credits

Conclusion- Are you an anime fan that still loves superpowered schoolgirls, occasional fights, light humor, fantasy, and upskirt shots? Well, then Real Bout High School just may be the thing for you. DVD is pretty fair/average, with a few interesting extras, give it a try. The rest of you fans should maybe try a rental first.

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