Maki Aikawa AKA The Air Master, packs a nasty kick.
Just watched several episodes of the fighting anime Air Master. The series is all about the embattled life of streetfighter Maki Aikawa, a former competitive gymnast who now finds her only true joy while engaging in brutal, hand-to-hand combat. Maki is so skilled in the use of aerial attacks and techniques, she can almost fly, hence the name 'Air Master'. As yet undefeated, Maki continually searches for stronger and more dangerous opponents. Can anyone defeat her? What is her purpose for fighting?
That's pretty much all that Air Master is about- well, the series is no Serial Experiments Lain. There is a wealth of sidecharacters though, ranging from the obnoxiously bratty little Renge (who looks like a ten year old child but is actually in HIGH SCHOOL), the innocent and HUGE boobed Mina and Maki's continual loud-mouthed nemesis, Saeko. Maki herself is similar to most fighting game heroes- usually taciturn and silent, slightly naive but turning into a totally different beast when she engages in combat. Thankfully, she's not unlikeable, and is perhaps the most likeable person in the cast of airheads in Air Master.
One thing that you will notice first off though in Air Master is the art style; the characters look reminiscent of Go Nagai designs. Maki herself looks a bit on the mannish side at times, and can hardly be considered kawaii thanks to her standing over six feet tall and having slitted, small eyes (something usually reserved to slinky, evil characters in anime). Still, I watch wrestling so I actually find her attractive, so no big- viewers who enjoy the cute battle babes of titles like Variable Geo, Aika or the recent Ikki Tousen might find Air Master's female characters unattractive, or even ugly. To me though, Maki LOOKS the part of being a tough gal, and DAMN is she bad-ass.
Which brings us to the best stuff in Air Master (aside from the frequent panty flashes)- the fighting. Maki goes up against a variety of enemies, and so far the battles are brutal kick-and-punch heavy affairs that are both hard hitting AND graceful.
This series isn't for everyone; I would say that if they prettied up Maki a bit (though I like her as is) and took away some rather risque elements (constant boob jokes, the lesbian angles), this would be more accessible to more people. However, as it is, it's a pretty cool fighting anime- which means it delivers on the blows and the blood without resorting to power blasts and super attacks, and quite a bit of spicy fanservice as well. Those looking for deep plots and rich characterization should look elsewhere though. In other words, Air Master is pro-wrestling class anime. Heh. Anyway, I like it, and maybe some of you out there will too. Maybe.