Ignore the loose, campy dressing that brings this distinctly Japanese brawler Stateside. Connections to River City Girls, characters aside, are tenuous.
Instead, the clumsy and awkward, anime-amplified core story finds root in social rebellion, a fantasy amid a country dominated by obedience. High school student protagonist Kunio is out to do right, clear his name and take down a criminal syndicate, but does so by beating up cops while escaping prison. There’s a fierce righteousness to Kunio, even among the sheer absurdity that sees rivals blowing up their school buildings and Kunio capably upending a Yakuza-like scheme.
It’s raw fantasy for a culture that favors complacency, but now released for a generation that directly celebrates dissidence against authority and systems. River City Girls Zero (or New Hot Blooded Tough Guy) plays differently now, or maybe it’s the surrounding nation where it’s translated that changes things.
Regardless, River City Girls Zero feels like teenagers battling one another, the AI often cautious in their actions, and Kunio’s strikes overcooked, lacking discipline. A few stupidly dangerous motorcycle treks add a primitive cinematic side to a genre often more concerned with overwhelming odds. River City Girls Zero is passive, even minuscule in each encounter, a technical limitation that by its existence, suggests how minor and petty high school drama often is.