Game – Movie Review: Battle Arena Toshinden (1996)

Battle Arena Toshinden is a weapons-based fighting game developed by Tamsoft and published by Takara and Sony Computer Entertainment in 1995. It was notable for being one of the first fighting games to boast polygonal characters in a 3D environment, and features a sidestep manoeuvre which is credited for taking the genre into ‘true 3D’. Several sequels would follow but the initial popularity of the series waned with the arrival of the likes of Tekken.

The original game and its sequel, Battle Arena Toshinden 2 were good games and like a lot of fighting games around this time, adapted into an animated film. Called ‘Battle Arena Toshinden’ and released in 1996, the film is mainly based on the events of Battle Arena Toshinden 2, but does incorporate elements from the first and third games too.

Split into two-parts (similar to the 1996 Sonic the Hedgehog movie), you’re going to have to be a hardcore Battle Arena Toshinden fan to enjoy this. Even then, finding entertainment in this ugly, messy and nonsensical OVA, is difficult.

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The story is very hard to follow so to keep it concise, it mainly focuses on the mysterious Organization and its leader, Lady Uranus’ attempts to eliminate the fighters of the last tournament. A tournament that ended with no winner because of the Organization’s attempt to kill the sponsor, Gaia.

Gaia was facing off against Eiji Shinjo in the final round. Gaia mentions Eiji’s long-lost brother, Sho, who Eiji has been trying to find. It’s up to him and a whole litany of characters to stop the Organization and their nefarious ways.

That’s the shortest way possible to describe this story as for a animated movie with an runtime of less than an hour, it is absurdly complicated and convoluted. That, added with the baffling number of characters thrown in, makes this one of least engaging adaptions ever seen.

However, all of that isn’t the only reason why Battle Arena Toshinden is a bad movie.

What is it based off? A fighting game. What does the Battle Arena Toshinden movie feature very little of? Fighting. Incredible. All anyone does is talk and taunt. When we do get a fight, it’s always so brief and about as exciting as watching a 2-year-old play the game.

The animation is another disappointing aspect of the movie. Lacking anything that pops, everything just looks flat and monotone. It’s not the era that it came out in either as 1998’s Tekken: The Motion Picture and 1996’s Sonic the Hedgehog have plenty of moments that sparkle. It’s simply that not a lot of effort went into this and it shows.

Battle Arena Toshinden might have been a ground-breaking game when it first came out but the movie has none of the flair, charm or impact.




Battle Arena Toshinden (1996)
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