Here's a history lesson for you guys. A decent amount of you probably know who Akatsuki is. He's made guest appearances in Under Night In-Birth and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle. He's originally from Akatsuki Blitzkampf, a 2007 PC doujin fighter by Subtle Style.
The game is about Akatsuki, an Imperial Japanese naval technician who was frozen in ice during a secret mission to transport a powerful, experimental weapon known as the Blitz Motor in the Arctic near the end of World War II. Fifty years later, Akatsuki thawed out and found himself in a brand new, post-war world he did not recognize, and he had managed to harness the power of the Blitz Motor and now wields control over lightning. Ever the loyal soldier, Akatsuki's goal is to find out what happened to his old unit and then put a stop to whoever might want to capture the Blitz Motor and use its power for evil. The cast includes an MI6 agent with a deadly stare, Chinese Triad assassins, a possessed teenage German girl, a Gun Nun, old men wielding katanas, Nazis (they're the bad guys, you're not supposed to root for them and ABK is firmly anti-Nazi), a Japanese army woman grappler, and Blitztank. Behind the scenes, a secret society known as Gesellschaft wants the Blitz Motor so that, combined with their occult magic, to take control over the world.
Unlike other famous anime doujin fighters like Melty Blood, Akatsuki Blitzkampf isn't heavily reliant on big crazy combos. There is a chain combo system, but it's nothing too in-depth like Guilty Gear or Melty Blood. Instead the game is reminiscent of Street Fighter or KOF, where neutral and poking are king. There are three buttons: A, B, C. A is light attacks, B is medium attacks, and C is heavy attacks. Pressing A and B together gives you a throw, and pressing B and C together gives you the Reflector, a parry mechanic that can nullify strikes and projectiles and is special cancelable. The game has been described as a fighting game that actually manages to do simplicity and accessibility right. It's super easy to pick up and play, but also pretty deep and has a lot of things to master. Plus, it has SNK-style spritework and a great soundtrack.
The game got popular enough to warrant an arcade release in 2008, Akatsuki Blitzkampf Ausf. Achse. Ausf. Achse rebalanced the game, cleaned up the visuals (both graphical enhancements and censoring some content), and added a new character. It also allows for the fastest runbacks known to man, as the very instant you get KO'd and have a credit in the machine, you can hit start and go back to character select. It runs on Sega's NAOMI hardware and you can play it right now on Fightcade. Due to this better accessibility and its enhancements, I'd recommend this version of the game.
Neat. You didn't answer the question.
In 2010, an arcade-only sequel to ABK was released, EN-Eins Perfektewelt. It introduced three new characters (well, technically two new characters cause the third one replaced Mycale from ABK and Ausf. Achse for story reasons) and features new gameplay elements like autocombos, dash attacks, wallsplats, a burst/power up mechanic, and other things like a more colorful artstyle. It's a bit more combo heavy and anime fighter like compared to the first game, but it's still a lot of fun and I personally enjoy it more than Ausf. Achse. In 2012 it got rereleased for NESiCAxLIVE, Taito's arcade game distribution platform.
The game now follows a new protagonist, EN-Eins, a mysterious boy caught up in a worldwide invasion by a group calling themselves the Temple Knights. Advertising themselves as a new, superior version of humanity, the Temple Knights want to destroy the world and remake it as their Perfektewelt (Perfect World). The villains from the first game are back as well, and they wish to unlock the secrets of the Temple Knights for their own agendas.
Sounds tight. What's this anal stasis thing?
After Perfektewelt, the Akatsuki series didn't really see much more outside of a radio show hosted by two of the game's voice actors, blog posts on Subtle Style's website, and a healthy amount of tournament play in Japan. The series has a small but dedicated cult following in the West thanks to the low system requirements of the PC version and Ausf. Achse recently becoming more accessible thanks to Fightcade. Awareness of the series grew thanks to Akatsuki being included as a guest character in Under Night In-Birth exe:late, because his creator Subtle Style works at French Bread (as far as I know at least), the developers of UNIB and Melty Blood. UNIST brought more popularity to UNIB and Akatsuki became a fun, amazing character to play and watch thanks to players like Juushichi and Squish (this is where the CHESTO/B-Tatsu meme comes from). Then Akatsuki became playable alongside Blitztank in BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, this time more obviously representing his home series instead of Under Night In-Birth and with an English voice.
Then came the Summer of 2022, when out of nowhere it was announced that EN-Eins Perfektewelt would be getting an updated version, EN-Eins Perfektewelt Anastasis, twelve years after its initial 2010 release. Anastasis was crowdfunded and is strictly arcade-only for the time being. This is because the game is intended to help revitalize the Japanese arcade scene after COVID devastated it.
Anastasis reached over seven million yen in its crowdfunding goal. This means that the current plan is to add three new characters (Inazuma, a playable version of the boss Valkyria, and Mycale-A) over time, along with their stages and theme songs. Ten million yen would have given us a brand new fourth character, and twelve million yen would have given us a brand new final boss. Although those last two goals weren't met, it seems the development team is intent on adding these things anyway when they have the opportunity to.
Here's some high-level gameplay if you want to see what the game is like:
Anastasis was released February 2023, and it currently features balance adjustments, new art and sprites, new moves (Akatsuki and Blitztank are notable because they got new moves based on their appearances in Under Night In-Birth and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle), new arcade mode story content, a Training Mode, and the first new character Inazuma. I'm lucky enough to live forty minutes away from a Round One, a Japanese arcade chain that began expanding to the US in 2015. They have lots of Japanese arcade games like BEMANI rhythm games, Project DIVA, Initial D Arcade Stage and Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune, and plenty of fighting games on NESiCAxLIVE cabinets. So imagine my shock when today I went to Round One and saw that they had downloaded Anastasis onto the NESiCA cabs.
I implore you, if you live in the US and can go to a Round One, DO IT. Anastasis is a really cool game, and they have loads of other stuff for you to enjoy too if you're into fighting games, rhythm games, or racing games. Some locations have Sega ALL.NET cabs with Melty Blood and Guilty Gear, while others (like mine) have Taito NESiCA cabs with Street Fighter and BlazBlue. You can buy Taito NESiCAxLIVE, Konami e-amusement, and Bandai Namco BANAPASS cards at the counter for $6 if you want to get even more enjoyment out of these games. Registering for these services is in Japanese, but trial and error and Google Translate are your friend.
E P I C. I wanna know more! I wanna play these games and join the community!
If any of this at all sounds interesting to you, you can join me and other cool people in the ABK Discord: (https://discord.gg/De4TEbHv). Things get silly in there.
ABK PC, ABK AA, and EEPW have wikis on Mizuumi if you want to learn more about the games, and a wiki for Anastasis is in development. The Mizuumi Wiki is an official sponsor of Anastasis (the Mizuumi staff are really happy about that).
Thanks for reading this long ass history lesson/glurge about sloppy goo goo.