From the writer of the gritty Cowboy Bebop and the sci-fi epic Escaflowne comes the newest anime series about...little girls playing video games? Yes, in the anime spirit of doing the unexpected comes ARCADE GAMER FUBUKI, a wacky quest for truth, high scores, and...umm...panties.
Episode 1 - There's a fire at an urban high-rise. A bad-toothed mystery man rescues the company president, who utters only "He's back" to the startled hero. Meanwhile, at the Best Arcade Gamers (BAG) Tournament, schoolgirl Fubuki with her best friend Hanako arrives to win the championship. IN her first match, Fubuki seems to be overmatched by her opponent, but Hanako uses a miniature fan to billow her friend's skirt, thus revealing her "passion panties". Yes, it seems once Fubuki's underwear is revealed; she becomes infused with the universal spirit of gaming and has super gaming powers! Therefore, Fubuki (only slightly embarrassed) wins!! The Leader of the evil Glassic Group considers Fubuki a threat to his world domination quest, and orders his minions to defeat her. At the national BAG finals, newcomer Chizuru, who has a secret power of her own, challenges Fubuki. Will Fubuki fall to the Glassic Group's champion, paving the way for the Leader's insane plans?
Episode 2 - At the family shrine, Fubuki asks her missing father to guide her. Mr. Mystery (who has taken it upon himself to be Fubuki's guardian) burst in and tells the girl she is not ready to defeat the Glassic Group - she must first change "what's inside". Hanako and Mr. Mystery bring Fubuki to a tourist arcade to practice for the BAG finals (redone due to the previous interference by the Glassic Group). There they meet an American gamer named Honey (who has huge...tracks of land). Fubuki and Hanako are assaulted (literally) by Chizuru, and go to a local bathhouse to clean up. Inside, they again meet the 'tempest in a teacup' Honey. Meanwhile, the Leader's second in command, Alka, plans revenge on her rival Chizuru by defeating Fubuki once and for all! Will Fubuki be able to overcome the odds and prevail against the Glassic Group at the BAG finals?
Episode 3 - The Leader and Alka create a 'super DNA' being to challenge Fubuki. At Mt. Fuji, everyone gathers for the BAG World Tournament. Chizuru lets herself be humiliated so she can get a good seat at the stadium and watch Fubuki win. However, Chizuru recognizes Honey as another one of the Glassic Group's 'lords of gaming', but Fubuki doesn't seem to mind. Alka tries to interfere, but is put off by Mr. Mystery (who, as the previous champion, is in the finals to defend his title.) The competitors are sent off into the woods to compete with each other in a series of single elimination matches; Fubuki winds up challenged by Honey! Our Heroine defeats the American in a fair battle, but the Classic Group is ready to cheat to win when they reveal their newest 'lord', who literally eats Mr. Mystery alive!!! How will Fubuki defeat the Leaders latest gaming creation??
Episode 4 - The Leader himself has arrived at the BAG finals, and challenges Fubuki and Mr. Mystery in a game that the Leader can't lose, because he's taken control of all the world's computers! The foremost game developer, the Leader transports Fubuki and Mr. Mystery into his "X" game, while the world watches. Using teamwork, the duo makes it through the first rounds of the game. Mr. Mystery tells Fubuki about the true origins of the Leader and why he is bent on controlling the world. In the final round, they must face the Leader himself! Meanwhile, Hanako and Chizuru work to find a way to assist Fubuki; their faith in their friend inspires Fubuki and Mr. Mystery. But the Leader delivers a crushing blow to Mr. Mystery. Now alone against the Leader's full might, can Fubuki call upon the strength of her friends and the passion of the gaming spirits to overcome the impossible situation and save the world???
ARCADE GAMER FUBUKI is one of the wildest, craziest animes I've ever seen. The story moves at breakneck pace, and switches from comedy to drama almost every scene (which, I think, would be jarring for an American audience.) The producers do cram a lot into each episode, but sometimes they spend a bit too much time explaining things, especially noticeable when the Leader's origin is revealed (it's almost half the episode). The main characters - Fubuki, Hanako, Chizuru and even Mr. Mystery - are well defined, but some of the supporting cast seems to be thrown in simply to deliver a needed line or comedy bit, like Sanpeita the pervert. I thought the combination of the serious themes and the T&A of the 'panties' would stretch believability, but it's anime, so odd pairings are not out of the ordinary. It's as if the producers wanted to put something in for every type of audience - and by doing so, they make ARCADE GAMER FUBUKI exceptionally entertaining. The animation is very good (over the TV standard), and picture quality on this DVD is very good as well. The audio is only stereo, but clear and clean.
The DVD of ARCADE GAMER FUBUKI is chock full of extras. There's an art gallery, trailers, TV spots, a promo trailer, and an option for a textless opening. There're music videos, a storyboard comparison, and interviews with the voice actresses (in Japanese only!). Included is a six-minute "bonus" episode, which is basically the pervert Sanpeita ogling the various girls of the series in a few 'cheesecake' vignettes. If you're a big fan of extra features, you certainly get your money's worth with this DVD!
ARCADE GAMER FUBUKI tries to be something for everyone, and in it's own unique way succeeds. There's plenty of wacky action and laughs, but there's also serious themes about friendship, trust and finding the inner strength to do what's right. Fubuki is one of anime's perkiest heroines, but girl! Keep your skirt down, willya?