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Subatomic Brainfreeze

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and now: a real post [Oct. 24th, 2006|06:41 pm]
Subatomic Brainfreeze
It's about Fist of the North Star again. They're having a revival. A really big one. Three movies and two video releases, covering from the part where the story gets really good up to the best part and then let's not worry about the rest. The first one has already had its theatrical run and its Japanese DVD release, and it has like three different titles even if you leave out the first title:


HOKUTO NO KEN: RAOH-DEN: JUNAI NO SHOU
I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS IT'S HOW THE NARRATOR SAYS IT
BUT EVERY ANIME SITE AND INDEED THE FILENAME OF THIS VIDEO GETS IT WRONG.

A review follows.


This movie covers the Shuu and Souther arc from the manga, which doesn't say anything to the non-fan. The movie tries to address this fact in the opening narration, which explains to the new viewer (in addition to the fact that the world has been destroyed by nuclear war) that our protagonist Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken is a martial art that makes people explode. Like so. The overarching story here is that making people explode is so totally hardcore that only one dude in a generation can actually know how to do it. But they don't just teach it to one guy; they teach Ken, they teach Raoh, and they teach Raoh's little brother Toki. Ken wants to settle down with his lady, Raoh wants to conquer the world, and Toki looks a lot like Jesus, so he's only concerned with using Hokuto Shinken to heal the sick and wounded. BUT THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE. Eventually. Not yet. Not in this movie, anyway.

Backstory aside, what you need to know is that there's a bad guy (Souther) who makes little slave children build him pyramids, and that that kind of behavior pisses Ken OFF. So Ken saves everybody from this asshole (with the help of his old blind buddy Shuu), but while that's going on, he, Raoh and Toki are moving closer to their final confrontations.

And there's this weepy chick. Reina is a character who wasn't in the original comics; she's sort of a female counterpart to Raoh, complete with a white horse to Raoh's black horse. Hojo Tsukasa (of City Hunter fame) designed her, and he was a good choice, because his style doesn't really clash with Tetsuo Hara's characters from the original. I do question adding in new characters, though, when they've got a lot of material to cover in this movie. Reina's got half the screentime in this movie, but a significant bit of Souther's backstory is chopped out altogether. Admittedly, this is untranslated and the only parts where I don't know exactly what's being said are the parts where Reina is speaking. There are a lot of them. We'll see what they're trying to do with her character; this might pay off and it might not, but the Souther story definitely suffers for it. Aside from the added-in bits, the story is exactly what was in the manga, panel for panel, and it's good stuff.

The fight animation is gorgeous; we even get to see a young Ken fuck shit up in what might be my favorite sequence of the film. The rest of it isn't quite on the same level; it's never ugly but it's not amazing. Considering the sheer volume of the work we can't expect the level of quality of the theatrical anime movies we're used to.

Ken's new voice actor, Hiroshi Abe, is quite good but it's kind of strange the way his "ATATATATA" yells always fade into a wail. A lot of voices have changed from the old TV series; it's notable that Ken, Raoh and Reina all have voice actors with histories solely in live-action film. See what they're trying to say? They're serious ac-tors.

Not to say that Fist of the North Star is suddenly no longer over-the-top kung-fu melodrama, but the mood is much more sober, the music more muted (YOU WA SHOCK plays for about five seconds though), and yes, the gore toned down. The original movie had such detailed gore that all home video releases of it, save the old Streamline English dub (where the ending was changed), were censored. The recent OVAs had all the blood and gore you could want, but that's what you get away with on a direct-to-video release. It's not that nobody bleeds in this movie; they bleed all over the damn place. But even with all the random thugs Ken fights, we only see one's head explode (from a distance), and frankly, that doesn't feel right. Oh well. Can't win 'em all.

Should you see it? Shit, yeah. But nobody's fansubbing and nobody's licensing, so at this rate you might not. Blame the million groups that are all doing Kanon and Death Note instead of all the other stuff that's been coming out (including the HnK prequel, Souten no Ken), I guess.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: chaoofnee
2006-10-25 03:12 pm (UTC)
Fansubs: Because I want to see D.Gray Man translated in three separate ways.
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