#202 : Fist of the North Star 2

Legends never die, heroes are immortal… with all that in mind, let’s have a sequel! Considered the genesis point of shonen fighter that defined the genre we know today, Fist of the North Star was as much evolutionary as it was revolutionary. The epic tale of the wandering martial artist Kenshiro has only just begun after the conclusion of the 1984 TV series. A film adaptation would follow in 1986 and a multitude of reboots have abounded ever since. Yet in 1987 a true sequel, or perhaps continuation was released to TV. Familiar faces have returned and new foes await in Fist of the North Star 2. Are you, “A tough boy (or girl)” that knows what it means to be “livin’ in the 90s”?

FotNS2_1Round Two! Now then, is this going to be nothing more than just a wash, rinse and repeat series almost as if the first Fist of the North Star never ended? I thought the battling was over; Raoh was defeated and peace was brought back to the land. Didn’t Ken and Yuria get to live happily ever after and settle down, build a house, raise a family, etc.? Not completely. Three truths exist in life: death, taxes and shonen fighters are often never over even when it is over. Just add yet another arc again and again and again if the going is good. So don’t expect nothing new in terms of what you have seen before, well except for the characters we meet during this 43 episode sojourn.

FotNS2_2Let us now return to more familiar names. Kenshiro is obvious, this is his show after all, but two faces you may not recognize completely are Bat and Lin. During the first series they were both young children who were often under the care of Kenshiro like a surrogate father. For Fist of the North Star 2, Bat and Lin reunite and fight along side Kenshiro as they have grown into adulthood. A true surrogate family reunion. Many new quests include finding the Celestial Emperor, a journey to the Island of Asura and the distant memories as well as the ever powerful influence of the once mighty Raoh still permeate throughout the land. In usual fashion, Kenshiro ends up wanting to go it alone eventually, feeling he is the one with the cross to bear the heavy load. Oh yeah… and can you believe it… Lin has a twin sister too?

FotNS2_3I have remarked in the past how I appreciate the type of protagonist Kenshiro is. He may be ripped and very masculine, but his quiet and caring demeanor (towards those who are just and kind) and ability to move, or fight, when the time is right is more an aspect of the feminine. He is well balanced, the definition of yin and yang in harmony, but there is more that makes Fist of the North Star appealing outside of the fighting. While Mad Max and Bruce Lee are obvious visual influences there were a couple others that I noticed watching this sequel series in particular. Fist of the North Star is the ultimate lone wolf samurai story, or put another way, perhaps the best Western ever told not in the Wild West. This is totally a Spaghetti Western in every way, but for the fact that Fist of the North Star is a Japanese cartoon about the martial arts. I prefer the cartoons (obviously) 😉 … Who needs cowboys anyway?

… and then wouldn’t you know it, about halfway through the series we do encounter cowboys.

FotNS2_4You can have too much of a good thing. I enjoy Fist of the North Star overall, but in all honesty I was getting a little tired getting through this second series. It’s a great sequel, but like many shonen fighters I often wonder when they will ever end. This second series in many ways can be considered like Dragon Ball Z to the original Dragon Ball in that for both franchises we are just moving into an evolved portion of the plot that takes place years later. After all these years I will be the first to say that after all this fighting, Ken please consider retiring. You must be tired and you have earned your time to relax my friend. But Ken as he is will most likely never retire as he is always on some sort of a journey.

By the way… even though the opening sequence said everyone was fightin’ and livin’ in the 90s… Fist of the North Star 2 didn’t look much like the 90s that I remember. Oh well, maybe I was not livin’ I guess. 😉

#78e : Saint Seiya: Warriors of the Final Holy Battle

This is one of four entries that take an in depth look into each of the Saint Seiya movies released during the 1980s. For the original overview entry, click here.

Something is happening in Sanctuary. One by one the surviving Gold Saints are taken down in the most brutal of fashion. Aries Mu, Taurus Aldebaran, Leo Aiorla, Virgo Shaka and Scorpio Milo, all murdered in cold blood. Who could be so cruel to kill the likes of Athena’s elite guard? Who could cause so much havoc and hatred in Sanctuary destroying much of the beautiful art and architecture as well; the giant statue of Athena being beheaded as an example? Only one name can be this vicious… ladies, gentlemen and everyone in between let me introduce Lucifer and the final Saint Seiya film from the 1980s tetralogy, Warriors of the Final Holy Battle.

SSWarriorsFinal_1Lucifer! Like from The Bible? The angel who was most high and exalted, beloved by God, and then fell from grace? Yeah that guy. Oh no, the devil… eh, I don’t see it that way. I follow a more esoteric study of the myth but my apologies I digressed. Back to Saint Seiya… Distraught and in tears over the death and destruction, Saori along with the Bronze Saints are soon visited by Lucifer himself. Before us is not a dark, shadowy, or menacing figure, but instead a very androgynous, bishonen type that has a touch of the gothic. Maybe he’s the original goth kid? Hmm. His return has been initiated from the anger of many fallen adversaries: Eris (Evil Goddess Eris), Abel (Legend of the Crimson Youth) and Poseidon (Poseidon Arc from TV series). Even if one is defeated and presumably dead, revenge in the heart can still be strong.

SSWarriorsFinal_2Now then, the title says this was the final battle and depending on interpretation could be the be all end all with Saint Seiya as a franchise. In some ways yes, but… well… I have to say this is more like a maybe, if not a no. I can find four possibilities: this film, the final episode of the TV series (which really was not much of an end if you know the manga), the ending of the later released Hades Chapter OVAs (which finish the manga’s story line, the most ‘canon’), or even the later released film that is supposed to take place after the Hades Chapter OVAs, The Heaven Chapter: Overture. A quartet of endings and yet with side stories and prequels, Saint Seiya even if it did once, twice, three, or four times finish, or finalize, is far from over. Let us then return to the beginning instead and the introduction for Warriors of the Final Holy Battle, a widescreen version of the TV opening featuring the rockin’ song Soldier Dream. Ending, beginnings, does it really matter, Saint Seiya is forever immortal, eternal.

Saint Seiya 80s film index:

    1. Evil Goddess Eris
    2. The Heated Battle of the Gods
    3. Legend of Crimson Youth
    4. Warriors of the Final Holy Battle

#78d : Saint Seiya: Legend of Crimson Youth

This is one of four entries that take an in depth look into each of the Saint Seiya movies released during the 1980s. For the original overview entry, click here.

We’re fired!? The look on Seiya’s face alone is enough to understand the shock that the Bronze Saints must have felt when hearing the news at the beginning of the film Legend of Crimson Youth. These boys who have dedicated their lives up to that point protecting and upholding the stewardship of Athena’s guardianship of humanity are now suddenly out of a job? And for what, some guy who strolls into town proclaiming to be her brother of all things. Is this a platonic relationship? This young man claims to be Abel Phobus, son of Zeus, king of the gods. All I see is an arrogant punk whose soul mission is to eradicate the human race as they are supposedly inferior to the gods. Saori, besides being bewildered with his nice hair, can’t you see this guy is up to no good?

SSCrimsonYouth_2Armed with a potent army consisting of new faces including: Atlas, Jao and Bernices, Abel seems ready and even recruits some ghosts from the past literally. Gemini Saga, Cancer Deathmask, Capricorn Shura, Aquarius Camus, Pisces Aphrodite!… aren’t you guys supposed to be dead? All five of you fell during the Sanctuary Arc? Apparently Abel has a bit of a skill in the arts of necromancy. The Bronze Saints don’t take too kindly to their forced resignation and in time Saori realizes the true ambitions of Abel, which displeases him. Now the fight begins and from here the usual Saint Seiya plot formula starts.

The reintroduction of the fallen Gold Saints is a nice addition for this movie as they get another shot to redeem themselves. Nice to see you guys again! Early on a few realize Abel’s plans and rebel, but the remaining group continue to fight on for Abel and eventually come around during their respective fights with the Bronze Saints. Even with the loss of these valuable allies, will Abel still have the potential to destroy the world and rid the Earth of humanity?

SSCrimsonYouth_1Part of the Shonen Jump’s 20th Anniversary celebration (it says so in the opening credits), Legend of Crimson Youth is perhaps the piece de resistance of the Saint Seiya 1980s film tetralogy. Of the collected four this one is the longest clocking in at 70 plus minutes and offers a plot that has a little more depth. That being said the over the top battles are still the center piece of anything shonen fighter related. With this being Saint Seiya related, the melodramatic seriousness is usually on fire and with Legend of Crimson Youth, that drama is burning red hot.

Saint Seiya 80s film index:

    1. Evil Goddess Eris
    2. The Heated Battle of the Gods
    3. Legend of Crimson Youth
    4. Warriors of the Final Holy Battle