Maki's life doesn't get any easier as she seeks out new challenges as her latest, Julietta, truly wants her in every way possible.
What They Say:
Maki Aikawa is tall, with a nice model-like figure, but is also quiet and looks like an ordinary high school girl. However, her unique life style includes being a street fighter within the dark alleyways and back streets of Tokyo. To date, she remains undefeated against both men and women. And with a unique arsenal of aerial techniques allowing her to knock out opponents at will, people began to call her the Air Master.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After being surprised at how enjoyable the first set of four episodes was, the second installment was something I had hopes for in being able to keep the energy going but not by repeating the same thing. Thankfully, it doesn't repeat itself but instead introduces a new fighter that takes a few episodes to get through and expands on the life and relationships of Maki and the others.
With Maki continually searching for someone new and more powerful to fight to bring that feeling she so desires to life, she ends up meeting someone who pretty much lives the same way and is in search of the same thing. Their first meeting on a sidewalk where the tall dark haired man dressed in a slick suit simply grabs her and kisses her sets the stage for the relationship beautifully. Introducing himself as Julietta, he takes an interesting tactic by buying a huge chunk of candies and sweets from a streetside vendor for her and throws her friends off by tossing a lot of it in the street to distract them. Only Mina seems to be concerned heavily about this since she feels Maki is hers and she tries to get in the way of things but Maki is so confused after the kiss and the strange way that Julietta acts that it leaves her unable to really respond.
Julietta's something of a crazy man but one with an agenda. He quickly shows just how strong he is, as well as how little he cares for anything that means nothing to him, when a pack of kogal's get in the way as well as some businessmen. They're so brutally thrown about while he doesn't do more than really lift his leg to deal with them. When he and Maki do fight, it's like her previous battles but you can see just how much more intense it is and what's involved in it. With him having a power over her, enough so to bring her home and practically have sex with her before she can respond, it's something that certainly scares her a lot but he's someone that she has to deal with and can't simply run away from.
This initial defeat for her allows her to go to someone for more training that she ordinarily wouldn't have. Her father as we learn was something of a big street fighter back in his younger days and at age fifteen he had a rowdy affair with Maki's mother and she was born from it. Though we don't get much on her mother, we learn that she was an equally strong woman and that the two were quite passionate but it didn't work out as he moved on and now has his own family. But as the owner of a boxing gym, he's still very much a powerful fighter and towers above Maki and just about everyone else. The tension between the two is really fun to watch since it's an odd relationship in how she's grown up in dealing with him but when she needs him she puts it all on the table.
The training she goes through is some of the best fighting scenes yet and even those only get barely topped by the scenes with Julietta. Bringing her father into play allows for more diversity in the cast as we find his other daughter, much younger, is following in similar footsteps as him and is quite a good fighter considering her age. The focus is definitely kept on Julietta though as things progress towards another match with him with the conditions that if he wins she'll live with him forever and ever. There's so much material with Julietta that is just pure fun, from the three women he's currently gotten enamored with him to the way he's so focused on his love of Maki and how he vocalizes everything. He really feels like he's borderline insane with how he talks sometimes.
We do get a bit of filler on this volume but it was one that I was curious to see how it'd be handled as the gang heads off to the ocean to go to the beach for a day. This means swimsuits for people like Maki and Mina and that means base level comedy but comedy that still manages to work. Maki's awkwardness, especially as she starts getting called model material, is quite fun to watch but more so how Mina handles all the adoration. The other two find themselves in a quandary about being able to win but their odds come up a bit better when Maki finds out there's an amateur fighting competition going on elsewhere that's far more interesting to her. She gives some powerful words of advice to Mina about the contest which leads to a scene with her that's just so wrong and you know you shouldn't laugh but it was just far too funny not to.
At times I feel like I'm finding this show more enjoyable than I should but the characters are just so spot on with how they handle everything and react, the fights are really fun to watch and I'm getting a kick out of the designs and overall brutality of the show. It does come across a bit less brutal than I first thought it was four years ago – shows like Grappler Baki certainly change ones views – but it still doesn’t pull many of its punches as Maki and others go at it. For fighting fans, this is a great show so far and it's just captivated with its style and feel. Revisiting this series has been a real blast so far and it continues to have me excited to get to the new material after getting caught up with what Toei released to DVD back in 2005.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.