Ayane's High Kick is a OVA sports anime originally released in Japan in 1997 by the Nikkatsu Corporation and Rikuentai. It was licensed for release in North America by Central Park Media under their U.S. Manga Corps label in 1998.
For as long as Ayane Mitsui can remember, she has dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler. Now she has a chance to make those dreams come true with a tryout for the All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling circuit in front of her idol, and who she hopes to be her future rival, Women's World Champion Manami Toyota. These hopes are quickly dashed when a failed vaulting maneuver ends up with Ayane crashing through the judging table, leaving two of the judges injured and her without a contract.
Though, as fate would have it, her performance catches the eye of Kunimitsu, an unscrupulous Kickboxing coach with an eye for raw talent who also knows a good sap when he sees one. So he approaches Ayane and offers to train her at his indie dojo, which turns out to be a ramshackle lot situated underneath an overpass. And Ayane, being eager for any chance to realize her dream, accepts. Thus, begins the most grueling training regiment of her life.
This anime contains examples of:
- Accidental Pervert: Aside from his less than stellar introduction to Ayane, Kunimitsu gets labeled a pervert when he tries to stop her from leaving the ring before her debut match and accidentally grabs the wrong spot.
- And the Adventure Continues: The second and final episode ends with Kunimitsu grabbing Ayane for another kickboxing match.
- Artistic License – Martial Arts: In real life, an overhead suplex on an untrained receiver would probably knock them out, if not injure or even kill them. However, Ayane's first opponent receives one, getting spiked on her head, and just gets up right after without even looking dazzled. This is especially weird considering it happens in a kickboxing ring, which has much less padding than a wrestling ring.
- Asleep in Class: Ayane is caught snoring and drooling on her books when her teacher calls on her to answer a question after she exhausted herself in kickboxing training the night before. The next scene reveals that it earned her the standard anime "Hallway Water Bucket" punishment.
- Bittersweet Ending: Ayane beats Sakurako, but it happens only due to a bad call by the ref. Otherwise, she would have lost and she knows it.
- Book Dumb: According to her mom and teacher, Ayane is a bad student. This even extends to pro wrestling: although she looks pretty knowledgeable overall, she mistakes the Phoenix Splash for the shooting star press when calling her moves in her tryout, which is the first hint that she actually doesn't know about the business as much as she believes.
- Casting Gag: In the Japanese version, Ayane and Sakurako are no other that Asuka Langley Soryu and her mother.
- Failed Audition Plot: The first episode begins with Ayane royally screwing up a tryout to become a pro wrestler, which she's dreamed about all her life. After being scouted by Kunimitsu, she decides to put all of her energy into training for another shot. Unfortunately, she's unaware that the next "shot" she's training for is actually for kickboxing.
- Fiery Redhead: Ayane's has enthusiasm and a lot of heart. Her mother wishes she'd devote some of that energy to her studies. This is seen with her obsession with puroresu. In her very introduction, she tries a lot of high-flying wrestling maneuvers and notably puts all her heart on it, Calling Your Attacks included.
- Finishing Move: Ayane's "Golden High Kick". Due to the length of her strong legs, she can land a blow directly to her opponent's temple, which Kunimitsu asserts will lead to a certain KO:"Your flexible legs will not just pound your opponent... they'll spin their cerebral cortex with their Golden High Kicks!"
- Idiot Hero: Kunimitsu pegs Ayane as an easy mark within moments of meeting her and is proven correct when she utterly fails to realize he's giving her kickboxing lessons instead of pro wrestling training. So does her kid brother, who plainly says she isn't smart.
- Imagine Spot: Ayane does this when Kunimitsu makes his pitch to get her to join his dojo, declaring that she can become a champion. She sees herself in the middle of a ring with a pro wrestling world title belt and a cheering crowd, unaware that Kunimitsu is actually referring to her becoming a champion kickboxer.
- Innocent Innuendo: Kunimitsu's choice of words when introducing himself to Ayane could have been better:Kunimitsu: "Hey, you've got nice legs, missy!"Ayane: "You pervert! I happen to be in a bad mood because I'd fail an audition! Don't blame me if I hurt you!"Kunimitsu: "What a happy day, I never thought I'd find legs like yours in this town!"
- Kick Chick: Ayane, naturally. She also makes a reference to Yumiko Hotta, a joshi wrestler famous for her kicks, mistakenly believing her to be the "queen of kicks" mentioned by Kunimitsu.
- Left Hanging: As the OVA was originally conceived to be of six episodes, the ending of the second and final episode is positively abrupt. For instance, it isn't revealed whether Ayane will manage to become a pro wrestler and face Manami Toyota or will decide to stay in kickboxing.
- Made of Iron: Inexplicably, the female fighter who receives an overhead belly to belly suplex by Ayane and gets spiked head-first on the mat is completely unaffected by the move, her sole reaction being getting up angrily without looking even dizzy.
- Mouthy Kid: Ayane's annoying younger brother Kenta, who is first seen butting into an argument between Ayane and her mother about Ayane skipping school to attend a pro wrestling tryout:Kenta: "There's no choice. Sis isn't very smart, so she has to make a living with her body!"
- New Job as the Plot Demands: Kunimitsu doesn't have any students, besides Ayane, so he has to work a variety of different jobs just to get by:Ayane: (surprised) "Kunimitsu?? What're you doing here, you creep?!"
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Kunimitsu looks an awful lot like pro wrestler Yoshiaki Fujiwara, who is known for his involvement in combat sports and for being a bit eccentric and sleazy.
- The Power of Friendship: A promise between Ayane and Kayoko of graduating together gives the former the strength to win her match and avoid her expulsion.
- Pro Wrestling Is Real: Ayane believes pro wrestling is just as much of a competitive sport as kickboxing, though as no actual wrestling is seen in the OVA, we never find out if it is really such in this universe. Some Truth in Television here: as Japanese pro wrestling is substantially different from western one and has a lot of connections with martial arts, there were still a lot of people in Japan who believed it was a real fighting sport even well into The '90s.
- Small Reference Pools:
- Kunimitsu once cites Kensaku Maeda, a real life kickboxer whose rivalry with another fighter named Atsushi Tateshima was popular in Japan. Even hardcore kickboxing fans will have a hard time recognizing the reference if they are non-Japanese.
- After being told to be facing a kickboxer, Ayane, who believes to be training for pro wrestling, thinks she will fight an ishu kakutōgi sen, the Different Style Matches staged by Antonio Inoki against real martial artists.
- Standing in the Hall: Ayane finds herself standing in the hall of her school — complete with a water bucket in each hand — after her first night of grueling training causes her to sleep through her classes the next day.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: Kunimitsu has Ayane "go back to basics" by focusing solely on her kicking ability before he will allow her to compete in a supposed mixed martial arts tournament. She is unaware that he is actually preparing her for a kickboxing tournament, where none of her wrestling moves will be allowed.
- Three Amigos: Ayane, Kayoko, and Kappei, even though Ayane has a low opinion of the latter.
- Training Montage: When Ayane is training for what she believes to be her first pro wrestling/kickboxing mixed martial arts match, the montage includes her practicing punches and kicks near the road by car light, getting hit in the stomach by Kunimitsu with a medicine ball while doing sit-ups, doing pull-ups while wearing a weight suit, and of course, jogging up stairs. All set to an upbeat rock tune, as one would expect.
- Wax On, Wax Off: When Ayane accepts Kunimitsu's offer for training, he declares that the first step is for her to build the training ring, to help build her physical strength and stamina.