Posted by psgels on 11 December 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews

For those of you who don’t know, Dai Sato was the one who, a while back, unleashed a rant about the current state of anime, claiming that it’s dying and that fans lack respect for good stories. Seeing as this comes from one of the best writers in the business (we’re talking about the guy who wrote Ergo Proxy, Eureka 7 and episodes of Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell and Toward the Terra, this made some impact.

His next movie is Tekken – Blood Vengeance, and with this I seriously wonder what happened to that statement, and in particular the line “Sato vowed that he would still continue to work on it in attempts to avert that bleak fate.”. My biggest guess right now is executive meddling.

Tekken – Blood Vengeance certainly isn’t a bad movie. However, I went into this movie expecting a lot of over the top martial arts fights and an over the to action-heavy plot. What I did not expect is that this movie got stuck inside a high school for about half of its time. I’m not kidding here: the main character is this high school girl and for most of the movie she’s sent to infiltrate some random high school in order to find someone with special powers. The lengths that these creators will go through to force a school setting in is unbelievable sometimes.

This movie is actually quite funny, albeit unintentional. I wouldn’t say it’s so bad it’s good: the direction is solid, the pacing is nice, and when the action does arrive it gets quite enjoyable. But the plot is just completely silly and over the top, while the characters all take it seriously. This campiness in which the characters just assume that riding a panda or a very ditzy and pushy android are part of everyday life are hilarious. The only really bad part about this movie is the romance, which comes out of bloody nowhere, which makes it even more hilarious.

It also should be noted that this movie assumes that you’re familiar with the rest of the Tekken universe. And don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that it’s full of techno-babble that you can only understand by having played the games. No, this movie just refuses to devote time to flesh out about half of its cast, because apparently, this has already been done in previous installments. Because of this there are points where random characters completely take over the show, especially near the climax. Although the ending was wonderfully cheesy again.

And really, the direction is competent here: 3D animation is still continuing to evolve, and the character models get more expressive every year. The movements still are clunky, but when you compare it with 3D movies of a few years back there is some definite improvement, which much less of the botox-faces syndrome apparent.

Tekken Blood-Vengance is by no means a good movie though, due to all the cheese and undeveloped characters. If you want cheese though, then this is a good choice: this movie knows that it’s cheese, but it tries to deliver itself anyway. It’s enjoyable, though not much more. Dai Sato: get back to write stuff like Ergo Proxy again.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Very camp, but well enough paced and executed.
Characters: 7/10 – Some of these characters are really out of place, and others just assume you’re familiar with the Tekken Franchise.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Solid 3D character animation.
Setting: 7/10 – A high school in an over the top martial arts movie. Why?

Suggestions:

8 Responses

  1. Avatar semtex says:

    Japan and their obsession with high school girls….I mean setting

  2. Avatar imredjimmy says:

    I enjoyed it since I like the Tekken games but yay, it could have been much better…

  3. Avatar Guest says:

    Last I heard is that he’d started up a story consultancy with him and a few junior partners, and this was the first project that that story consultancy received. So instead of “executive meddling” I’d assume “executive mandate”: if the client wants a school setting the client gets a school setting.

  4. Avatar Whisperer says:

    Well, the last 30 minutes DO turn this movie into a “so bad it’s good” one, sorry. I mean they completely humiliate this stupid “immortal” movie-original character by hyping him up and then making him go against die-hard Heihachi, who pwnz him in about 2 seconds and does a Goro-fatality on him (funniest moment in the film). This suddenly makes the first hour that dealt with the investigation of dead guy’s motives (and was pretty decent in places)… redundant.
    And then there was the three-way battle… which was okay, but Jin was still lame and boring, sorry.
    Most of all, though, WHY have Xiaoyu as your main character if
    1. she doesn’t participate in the endgame battle and
    2. she loses against Alisa (ffs) and does absolutely nothing for the remainder of the movie?

    Oh, I know, for fanservice reasons. But they could have at least used Nina for that, jeez. Or Christie. Oh, Japan, Japan…

  5. Avatar Whisperer says:

    and since I’m in rant-mode today, after reading that pretty old article (especially the line “The audience was now more interested in cute characters and materialistic escapism rather than dealing with greater social issues”), I can’t help but wonder :

    What is the matter with all those talented Japanese animators/storytellers, why do they go to such lengths to challenge escapism? I’ve seen this point of view in masterworks like “Paranoia Agent” or some of Ryu Murakami’s books, for example, where subtext is frequently used to condemn young people (or “otakus”, I guess) for caring more about their obsessions than about real-world issues.
    Even if this “apathy” IS a huge problem in Japan, this kind of behaviour from people who make a living off of the kids they renounce is a bit… troll-worthy. I can only imagine the hundreds of “Problem, Dai Sato?” replies.
    Since when does a story need to be more than just a story? Was Ergo Proxy, a philosophical (and often touching and subversive) anime, “about real world issues”? Not in the least, it was about “the journey”. Neither was Bebop. Even if I can understand the habit of stuffing your work with “real-world issues” (hey, you gotta write what you know, right?), it’s YOU who cares about that stuff. You’re free to subvert and influence all you want, but don’t force your opinions on your audience. I care about sound, image and storytelling, or else I wouldn’t be interested in your work. I know you feel old and disillusioned, but do your job, try your best to adapt to new situations and don’t be a d**k. That’s all.

  6. Avatar c160 says:

    Not even a quarter of the cast made it in, wow.
    Well at least the action scenes were nice.

  7. Avatar conyo985 says:

    I did expect something from this movie but I expected too much I guess. The supposed immortal character was a throwaway. They invested that much back story but he dies anyway so what’s the point? They could have done so much better if they just went with the straight up tournament story and showing better action scenes instead of this pretentious crap that they think has substance but really has nothing. Huge disappointment.

  8. Avatar Zenstrive says:

    ALISAAAAAAAAAAA

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