Ayane's High Kick
When Rocky won the Best Picture Oscar in 1976, it spawned a genre. Films about sports certainly existed before Balboa came to blows with Apollo Creed, but the concept of a lovable loser breaking into the top resonated with audiences. By the time Rocky V thudded into theatres into 1990, however, the deathknell had sounded: enough already! For some reason, though, anime keeps telling Rocky over and over again in various forms. Ayane's High Kick is a female variation on the story with a bit of humor on its side, but it feels creakier than its 1996 pedigree and winds up leaving no more mark than a faint shrug.
Ayane has always wanted to be a female pro-wrestler, much to the consternation of her mother. As the show starts, Ayane goes to a tryout and shows off her moves to a panel of judges, only to wind up crushing them all in her final power move. Devastated that she isn't chosen, she gets an offer from a mystery man who's willing to independently train her. However, the man doesn't really own a dojo and winds up teaching her kickboxing! Ayane still dreams of a one-on-one dual with her wrestling idol, but before she can get there, she's going to have to defeat the pompous Migiyama. And if the vice principal of her school can prove Ayane's become a kickboxer, he'll do her best to have her expelled.
Ayane's High Kick is colorful enough in both animation and in humor to avoid being a real waste. The show is not animated well, by any stretch, but the character designs stay consistent. The basics are done OK. Ayane also has a few minor but chuckleworthy moments. It's not terrible.
It is, however, very mediocre. It falls into the "special move" trap where the hero or heroine can take all sorts of abuse without even touching the villain but can win if they can only land their finishing blow. Ayane should lose in both episodes of the series, but she doesn't due to bad scripting. Even Rocky lost the first go-around.
The problems build from there, though. It's clear that the show was intended to go more episodes but was prematurely yanked--my guess would be that sales of the first two weren't enough to merit a continuation. As such, Ayane doesn't even come close to accomplishing her dreams, leaving us with a poor, unrealized ending. (In a way, I'm appalled that Central Park Media licensed this show as is, since it's far from complete.) When the show finished up, I was sitting there thinking, "so what?"
Then there are the stereotypes. There's the evil vice-principal and kindly older principal at odds. There's the "Adrian" archetype cheering Akane on. There's even the "high tech training vs. old-fashioned skill" model brought out. Every little bit of the show was made predictable and safe.
Although Ayane's High Kick is not even close to the worst anime I've ever seen, it is pedestrian at best. It's cute and occasionally faintly funny, but certainly not worth a recommendation.
Ayane's High Kick -- violence -- C