CR's resident action expert breaks down the greatest rock-paper-scissors showdown ever
Action is very important to me.
So important, in fact, that I write about it constantly on Twitter (and sometimes here). I could be talking about how styles make fights (using Hajime no Ippo as an example), how power-ups like Super Saiyan work through storytelling, codifying action through character types (using Yu Yu Hakusho), and how Sammo Hung is God's gift to action, but the most important thing through all of this is that action is not just filler--it helps tell the story as a whole by telling a story on its own. Action doesn't have to be a fight scene--chases, games, even tense arguments are framed and filmed as action sequences.
But, no matter what, great action must always be in service of the story.
So that's why, even in a year where Son Goku fights for the fate of the universe, where All Might puts literally all his might into a single punch, where Yami, Naruto, and Sasuke all show the kids how it's done, that the greatest fight scene of the year is a psychic rock-paper-scissors match between two little girls.
HINAMATSURI starts very strong, showing psychic escapee Hina becoming the kinda-sorta daughter of beleaguered yakuza Nitta. We see that Hina pretty freely uses her psychic abilities, but will try to control them at Nitta's request (this backfires, badly). However, episode 2 introduces Anzu, who cares significantly less about who's on the receiving end of her powers.
They did, in fact, have it coming.
Wiping out a motorcycle gang, almost taking out a waiter after dining and dashing, finishing off said motorcycle gang: Anzu doesn't give a crap. She's on a mission: locate Hina and destroy her.
Yes, this is, in fact, a comedy, so just bear with me.
Instead of an intense cat-and-mouse chase through city streets, Anzu stumbles upon Hina and declares her obvious intent.
Okay for starters, your name is not in the title, so pump your brakes.
However, Nitta has probably seen Akira and doesn't want to see his hometown torn apart in a psychic conflagration, so he has a better idea: the girls can settle their differences with a game of rock-paper-scissors. Good man, Nitta!
This battle to the death for the right to just go home uses the "acchi, muite, hoi!" or "hey, look over there!" rule--players will play standard RPS, then the winner will point in a direction. If the RPS loser looks in that direction, they lose--if they look in any other direction, they win! Now, take that incredibly simple children's game, and add Earth-shattering telekinetic force, and you have Hina vs. Anzu, the single best anime action sequence of 2018.
Did I mention that Nitta is bribing Hina to motivate her?
So we have a battlefield, we have the rules, we have the stakes and motivations--all that's left is to get this thing over with.
We've seen how powerful both Hina and Anzu are, and it's a complete stalemate in the beginning. Hina plays the long game, taunting Anzu to get in her head, while Anzu charges right out the gate with full-force psychic swings.
But while Anzu seems to be using gale-force pushes, Hina uses precision, snapping Anzu's neck around so hard it gives the kid whiplash. And there, in a handful of minutes, it's done--we're invested in each turn, we want to see how it's gonna play out, it's so memorable that you remember every beat, and it has the added bonus of being funny as hell.
This isn't to say that any of this year's other Best Fight Scene nominees were bad--none of them were! But Hina vs. Anzu is the dark horse here... and just like Hina, it uses laser-guided focus and comedy to come out on top.
What was your pick for Best Fight Scene? Tell Nate how wrong absolutely right he is in the comments, and be sure to vote in the 2018 Anime Awards to support your favorites!