The Toshin tournament takes place every year and pits the best swordsmen against one another. Last year’s tournament left no winner as a fighter decided to rebel against The Organization, a company responsible for the tournament. The Organization has been accumulating data on fighters to create the perfect killing cyborg. Testing time has begun. All Toshinden fighters must now unite to save the world against this evil they unwillingly helped created.
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: The two OVA format gives us a break midway
Lows: Everything else
OK, forget about the synopsis, here’s the real deal: some fighters who barely have names duke it out for the time it takes to properly announce what move they will perform then go on to the next fight leaving a few seconds of dialogue in between. It may sound uncalled for but that’s all I can really make of this sorry excuse for a plot. As low as my expectations are in the field of anime based on video games, Battle Arena Toshinden still came as a shock.
Oh boy, an evil fiend absorbing the energy of fighters and using it against them; where have I seen this before? Ah yes, everywhere. I can actually imagine gaming guru Masami Obari going through his anime-making checklist: “Unadorned keyboard techno, every single character from the game, shower scene? Check, check and check.” Of course, he didn’t leave out flashing screens and the profuse use of strokes of light to simulate swordplay; epileptics and those who enjoy seeing what is actually happening need this anime like a nail in the head.
Good things about these OVAs? I guess some key cels are properly colored… but that’s pushing it. It also pains me to say: this… thing… was the first anime DVD to ever be released in America; I see it as a bad omen.
So, let’s recapitulate: atrocious animation that gradually gets worse, no real plot, one-liner dialogues, unknown characters popping out of nowhere only to disappear just as quickly… Battle Arena Toshinden could as well be nothing but excerpts from the game it is based on and hardly anyone would notice. It can be used as a paperweight or Frisbee but not as an anime.
Battle Arena Toshinden can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.