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Kengan Ashura

Aug 6, 2020

Kengan Ashura is not bad for a fighting anime.

It has a far-fetched but interesting premise in which corporations use 1v1 fights to resolve disputes. The story itself is not much more than that. All the fighters want to be the strongest, and all the businessmen want to be the head of the Kengan organization that sanctions the fights.

They introduce a lot of characters and give at least some backstory for each. It's not much and there are tons of tropes and cliches here, but it's passable since the focus is really on the fighting.

They do a good job building up matches. Showing fights before the tournament helps establish certain skillsets and abilities, so you have some expectations and anticipation for the real tournament matches. There are superhuman abilities, which are fairly well-explained, have limitations, and are not too far beyond reality. I appreciate that the series generally stays somewhat grounded and is consistent with fighters' capabilities throughout.

The animation is odd. Fighters are 3D-modelled. It's a sort of cell-shaded look that is a bit non-traditional, and other non-fighters are typically 2D animated (or at least, they appear so). I didn't like the CGI look in first few episodes - looks great in snapshots, but not so great in motion where characters move a bit stiffly and awkwardly. But, they either improve significantly or I got used to it, because the fights toward the latter part of the series were great.

Compared to Baki (also on Netflix), Kengan Ashura is much better, imo. If you want more absurdity, gratuitous gore, and arbitrary fight outcomes, then go for Baki. On the other hand, Kengan has a slightly better story and characters, and a focus on techniques that provides far more interesting moment-to-moment fights.

4/10 story
8/10 animation
10/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall
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