Gundam Build Fighters TRY Fighting References

Gundam Build Fighters Try has made a number of references to fighting styles from other anime, manga, and games, especially towards the end of the series.

In Episode 19, the character Ichinose Junya pulls off a couple of attacks from various fighting styles. This includes a demonstration of boxing, which might look familiar:

This is actually Makunouchi Ippo’s finishing combination from Hajime no Ippo: the Liver Blow, the Gazelle Punch, and the Dempsey Roll.

Next, Junya demonstrates attacks from Ba Ji Quan:

This specific sequence leading into the shoulder tackle is one of Akira’s signature attack strings from the fighting game series Virtua Fighter:

In Episode 20, Kamiki Sekai, one of the central characters of Gundam Build Fighters Try, sends a burst of energy rippling forward by slamming his fist into the ground:

This is a reference to Terry Bogard’s special move, “Power Wave,” which he’s used since the original Fatal Fury and all other games he’s appeared in.

This last one I’m not 100% certain on, but in Episode 23 Junya appears again and confronts Sekai:

I believe it is supposed to be an homage to Fist of the North Star, specifically Souther’s Nanto Hou’ou Ken style:

That’s all I’ve spotted for now. If there are more, then I’ll probably make another post.

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Ivory Jaws

Note: This post discusses spoilers for Tiger & Bunny, A Certain Magical Index, and Hajime no Ippo.

In episodes 12 and 13 of Tiger & Bunny, the heroes of Sternbild City fight the powerful villain Jake Martinez. His telepathy allows him to read an opponent’s intentions and avoid getting hit. Out of the four heroes who face him, Jake only ever gets hit twice: Once by accident when Wild Tiger trips over himself, and then a second time when Barnaby is able to land a clean hit, but Barnaby’s attack is enough to defeat him.

Broken rib or no, one hit doesn’t seem like it should be enough to take down such a strong adversary, but Tiger and Bunny does a good job of making it obvious that Jake’s weakness isn’t just a glass jaw, but a side effect of his powers. Jake is so adept at using his NEXT abilities to avoid any and all attacks that he is simply not used to being hit, and so making contact shocks him not just physically but psychologically as well. Even Wild Tiger’s inadvertent flip kick has little force behind it and yet still gives Jake pause.

When I saw this, I immediately thought of another villain: Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index. Like Jake, he is the mid-series villain, and like Jake, he possesses a power which prevents attacks from reaching him. In Accelerator’s case, he can control vectors, so any punch or bullet thrown has its direction diverted or even reversed with little effort. In the face of Index hero Kamijou Touma’s ability-canceling abilities however, Accelerator’s face meets Touma’s fist repeatedly. Like Jake, he can’t take a hit.

I think there’s something a little satisfying about villains whose weaknesses are something so simple and basic that anyone could avoid them if only they were familiar. With both Accelerator and Jake, they rely a little too much on their abilities, so when those are negated they do not have the natural reaction time to make up for it. In a way, these antagonists are portrayed as members of a kind of ability-based ivory tower, where their privileged statuses make them vulnerable to the rest of the world, even if it’s not immediately noticeable.

Interestingly, Hajime no Ippo shows the other side to this trope, though without any use of true villains. In the world title match between Date Eiji and undefeated champion Ricardo Martinez, Ricardo lands a severe blow on Eiji, which he’s 100% confident will take Eiji down for good. To his surprise however, Eiji manages to recover from that punch, which leads Ricardo to conclude that the only reason Eiji could’ve possibly taken that hit is that he must have fought someone whose punches are as hard if not harder than Ricardo’s own. This, of course, refers to Eiji’s fight with the main character Ippo, who is characterized by incredibly brutal punches. Had Eiji not gained the experience of taking hits from Ippo, had the impact not been engraved into his body, the sheer shock from being hit in a completely new way would have finished the match with Ricardo right there.

Which is to say, in a Martinez fight, Jake definitely wouldn’t want to get hit by Ricardo.

Aokimura Would Be Proud of My Mahjong

Three months after my unceremonious descent in online mahjong rankings, I have managed to not only claw my way back to my original ranking, but also surpass it and move up to the next level. I am now a “3-Dan” on Tenhou, and I’ve learned a few lessons since September. Hopefully I keep them in mind so I don’t drop down again.

As much as it would appall Akagi, trying to go up the ranks on Tenhou encourages fairly safe and conservative play. The only way to actually lose points and risk dropping down is to get last place, so while being 1st is ideal, being 3rd isn’t so bad either as it means you are as far as you were last game. At the end of the day, if 1st place is way out in front, it’s generally not worth it to try and make a desperate counterattack, as it might just land you in 4th, something that has happened to me on many, many occasions.

In one match I was in 4th place in the last round. However, I was less than 1000 points behind 3rd place, and in this final round 3rd place was also East, meaning that if he wins he gets more but if another player wins by self-draw then he pays a higher price. So after seeing another player Reach, I simply abandoned my chances of winning and counted on that player drawing his winning tile, as it would allow me to barely get 3rd without doing anything. That’s exactly what happened in the end and I got away without losing any ranking points just by, as Sub likes to put it, “playing to not lose.” It was kind of dirty, but that was the reality of the situation.

Watch out though, as aiming for not-4th can be a trap in itself, as you can end up in a situation where you’re behind and desperately aiming for anything to keep you in the game, which in turn can make you prone to rash decisions. This is pretty much what killed me when I first dropped back down to 1-Dan, as you have the disadvantage of not only of letting your emotions get in the way but also giving up too soon. Doing so may even blind you from the fact that you could win if only you had the patience and clarity of mind to see that.

Though it might seem to contradict what I said about aiming to not lose, it’s actually all just a part of gauging your situation at all times. Let’s say you’re in 4th place. Ask yourself, in my current situation, what would it take to get in 1st? What’s the point difference? How likely is it for me to get a hand that can overcome that difference? If there’s no hope, what are my options then?

Now keep in mind that this is doesn’t have to be cold, hard logic. You don’t have to be calculating statistics, and can even be based on how the game feels at the moment. A small loss in points isn’t as bad as losing a lot of points, and if you’ve lost a lot of points you could always potentially drag down 3rd place. And if you drag down 3rd, you might be in range to get 2nd. There’s room for optimism, however small.

So while Akagi obviously scoffs at “digital” mahjong, that is, a style based on analyzing ratios instead of playing based on “feel,” it’s clear that going up the ranks in Tenhou isn’t all related to probability. Just as you’re trying to claw your way up to 1st, so is everyone else, and inevitably there are human traits to exploit, be they greed, fear, or even relying too much on statistics.

Though deep down, I feel like this is my limit when it comes to online mahjong. At 3-dan, getting 4th place actually makes you lose more points than you would gain if you had gotten 1st. Whether I can overcome such odds is something I’ll just have to see. Still, that I’m here in the first place is something I can be proud of, even if I’m not the best mahjong player out there.

Lastly, to celebrate:

What to Do Against the Superior Race?

Anime and manga that focus on competition often have a far-away goal for their protagonists, and in many cases that final obstacle is something or someone foreign to Japan. In American football, it’s African-Americans. In Go it’s Koreans. And in multiple instances of boxing, it’s  guys from Latin American countries.

Takamura in Ippo and Yamato Takeru in Eyeshield 21 are both said to be unusually large for Japanese men, as if to use the exception to make the rule. According to Hikaru no Go, Go is treated much more seriously in Korea than Japan. Like in the case of Starcraft, Korea apparently has a more robust infrastructure which allows it to create superior players. While not always strictly a matter of genetics, these masters are often portrayed as having some sort of amazing inherent advantage over their Japanese counterparts. The Japanese characters often have to either realize their disadvantage or use something inherently “Japanese” in them to try and make up for the skill gap, though keep in mind again that Japanese-ness is usually not genetic but rather a learned trait from growing up in Japanese society. At times the Japanese X-Factor will be family, friends, perseverence, hard work, all things that probably anyone Japanese or otherwise can relate to, though they seem to have a strong place in Asian cultures in general.

Rooting for the underdog is something that’s been spoken about by countless people since long before any of us were born, and I think that certainly plays a factor, but I get the feeling that this specific method of portrayal of an underdog while not strictly Japanese is also something that is not surprisingly a product of Japanese entertainment, especially Japanese entertainment geared towards boys. While I do not think Japan as a society enjoys being the victim, would it be a stretch to say that Japan has wanted these stories since Commodore Perry arrived and perhaps even before?

Good Slow Power Creep

Hajime no Ippo is getting a new anime this winter. Eyeshield 21 just finished what one might call its “Part 1.” Both have gone on for many chapters, and both are excellent examples of how to properly show the progress in skill of their characters. There are many reasons why I call this Good Slow Power Creep, and much of it has to do with making the increasing skill levels feel as natural as possible.

In both Hajime no Ippo and Eyeshield 21, the natural progression of their main characters’ abilities in their respective endeavors are tied to the natural progress of the art by their creators. Both start off weak and dumpy-looking, visually the art styles are decent but could stand for major improvement. As the series have progressed over the years, both Sena and Ippo begin to look better and better, gaining maturity and confidence just as the artists have as well. As the artists’ techniques become more sophisticated, Sena and Ippo make leaps and bounds over their former selves. It’s as if the effort of these heroes is a direct result of the effort put forth by their creators.

The best thing about the gradual and almost-unnoticeable power creep is that neither series feels like it’s jumped any sharks. Quite the opposite, they feel like they’ve only just begun. If ever either series begins to falter, I think it’ll be evident in how (un)natural the skill progression will feel.

Bamboo Blade is its name, and Tama-chan is its star

I’ve been told that in any story there is always only one true protagonist as much as it would seem otherwise. It’s not necessarily the character who gets the most screen-time. It’s not the character who acts as narrator. It’s not even the one with the most prominent lines, but the character who moves the story along the most. Even when there seems to be multiple protagonists, in the writer’s mind there is only one.

I know I said otherwise previously, but I’ve come to realize that Isaac Dian is the main protagonist of Baccano! because he has by far the most influence on characters in the story. Even though Morikawa George, creator of Hajime no Ippo, has said that he treats his manga like every character is a main character, the mere fact that it’s titled “Hajime no Ippo” says otherwise. And in Bamboo Blade, of which I’ve watched the first seven episodes, Kawazoe Tamaki is the lead.

Tamaki has a clear purpose in the story, even if it’s the result of watching too much anime: protecting justice from evil. Even though she’s managed to repel evil, i.e. those two older boys in the club, it’s a never-ending battle, at least in her mind. Her actions, more than any other characters’, move the story along, as she is the one primarily responsible for transforming the ragtag Kendo Club into a workable team. As much time and emphasis that Koujirou gets, he acts more as a fairly passive narrator.

So with that in mind, I have to say that Tama-chan makes for a wonderful protagonist. I hope to see her speed-eating and kendo skills even more.

Hopefully it will involve ramen.