With 13 episodes, how long do you (anyone) think the fights should be to satisfy you?
I think this is a great question to get people talking about what kind of quality they expect in the fight scenes of a "martial arts anime".
Me personally, I don't associate "good fights" with how long or short they are, but with how great they look. As in how fluent the motions of the competitors are, the "camera" work (use of wide shots, close shots, steady cam, etc), and seeing both of the competitors deflecting, countering, or working around eachother's body parts in what I think is summarized as "fight choreography". I understand that anime TV shows don't get the same high quality animation treatment as anime films or OVAs, so I should never expect amazingly fluent character motions or highly choreographed hand-to-hand sequences in a TV series. So in the case of Shenmue The Animation, I should really only draw a comparison to other TV shows.
Now I've been LED to believe ("led" as in I'm not really sure if this is true) that modern, digital anime is supposedly "better/cleaner looking" and is "easier" to produce than the old, handrawn anime that used to cost studios a fortune? Which means it should be more feasible in 2020 to make a visually attractive martial arts sequence than how things were back in 1990? Correct me if that's wrong. Also, I've always assumed that the shorter a TV series is, then the better each individual episode can potentially look. For example, it's most likely easier to spread-out an animation budget among a 10 episode TV show as opposed to a 30 episode TV show. You get more of a quality-over-quantity product.
So here's what I'll compare Shenmue The Animation (a 13 episode TV series) to:
Street Fighter had a 29-episode anime TV series in 1995
, and truthfully, I think most of the show was pretty bad. In fact most of it just flat out sucked, man. I sat through that whole series once and never again. BUT, it was worth it just for episodes #2 and #3 alone, which had these VERY short yet VERY exceptional fight sequences that today still look great to me. These scenes most likely blew out a big chunk of the animation budget which led to the rest of the show having pretty mediocre fights, which I guess is the price that gets paid for creating something memorable. I won't suggest watching these fight scenes in their entirety, instead I'll only time stamp the parts that I considered "exceptional".
#1.) Less than a minute.
(from 5:36 to 6:24)
#2.) Not even ten seconds long.
(from 3:24 to 3:31)
#3.) Less than a minute.
(from 17:01 to 18:00)
I'm by no means saying that these are "THE BEST TV ANIME FIGHTS EVER"
or that they avoid every visual trope, camera gimmick, or shortcut in the book. I myself haven't seen every single TV martial arts anime, so compared to other shows these sequences in SF2V could possibly be considered "average" for all I know with my limited catalog. But for something so old in 1995 and without the luxury of digital animation, and taking into account the amount of frames and hand-to-hand choreography (with no signature over-the-top "Street Fighter" moves being used by the characters), these short scenes looked absolutely impressive compared to anything that I saw in Shenmue The Animation. This isn't a "The Shenmue anime sucks compared to Street Fighter anime"
rant, it's a "Shouldn't a show in 2022 look much better than (or at least on par with) an old 1995 show like this?"
discussion. Which I think isn't too much of an unreasonable comparison seeing how both are TV shows that put the spotlight on animating a martial arts video game. Although I admit I did have a bigger expectation of quality from the Shenmue anime when I found out it would only be 13 episodes long, which made me think the studio would be focusing on more of a quality-over-quantity production.
I'm sure other people here can suggest more visually impressive martial arts TV anime examples than the stuff that I listed above. But my point is: Shenmue's fight scenes full of choppy motions, the overuse of "Avatar The Last Airbender" wind effects on simple punches & kicks, and the obnoxious "shaky cam" really disappointed me to where I was floored that it could look more bland than something that I saw over two decades ago (and in a TV show that I didn't even like).
Honestly, in Shenmue the best "sequences" I probably saw on the entire show were probably these:
Meanwhile I was underwhelmed with stuff like this:
The camera work on the show can just be abysmal. It's either too close and obscuring character movements, or it's being held by Michael J. Fox. And I was extremely deflated by the seventeen times we saw a wind-blowing Swallow Dive, or how bodies were too often being wildly launched high into the air in almost comedic fashion (like against Charlie or during the 70-man Battle), or the Master Baihu "fight".
- Fuck Telecom Animation.