#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

#78c : Saint Seiya: The Heated Battle of the Gods

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.

“I’m alone here. With emptiness, eagles and snow. Unfriendliness chilling my body. And whispering pictures of home.” Anyone a Deep Purple fan? Let’s enter the world of Saint Seiya and situate ourselves in the deep polar North. Houyga in his natural environment encounters a fight and meets a fallen figure who whispers the words… Asgard… Valhalla. Alone he heads to this mythical civilization of Odin (no, not Odin: Space Sailor Starlight) to find out what is going on. It may be cold up Asgard’s way, but we are heading towards the super hot with the second Saint Seiya movie, Saint Seiya: The Heated Battle of the Gods.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 100After a widescreen opening of the usual opening accompanied by the awesome song Pegasus Fantasy, mystery will abound as Houyga has gone missing. Three remaining Bronze Saints (Seiya, Shun and Shiryu… Ikki where are you?) along with Miss Saori go to Asgard to inquire about Houyga. He apparently has not shown up according to the local authorities who seem too in some way of having something to hide. A strange presence is felt when a red clothed warrior with a full mask and helmet passes. Something feels oddly familiar about him? This man is Midgard, one of Asgard’s elite along with Ullr, Rung and Loki who to no surprise are going to be the main opposition to the Bronze Saints. Is Asgard looking to conquer Sanctuary, home of the Saints, or are they just wanting their guests to simply leave?

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 100As an alternate to the filler Asgard arc from the television series, The Heated Battle of the Gods would premier in March of 1988, one month prior to the first TV episode depicting the Norse inspired mythology. Was this a trial run for that section of the show? Or maybe, the television crew thought they could expand on the idea put forth in Heated Battle of the Gods? That is an unknown on my end, but would be an interesting followup if the proper information can be found.

The Saint Seiya movies are very predictable, but each of the four films do have their own individual take on that usual formula. Case in point, Ikki often comes in to save the day for younger brother Shun, no surprise there. This of course happens as well in The Heated Battle of the Gods, but in the end Shun ends up saving Ikki. Not a bad twist in that relationship! For The Heated Battle of the Gods, be prepared for several twists, turns and surprises!

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

#78b : Saint Seiya: Evil Goddess Eris

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.

Beware the sacred forbidden fruit! The golden apple of Eris is famous in Ancient Greek myth storytelling. As a powerful symbol of her reputation as the goddess of discord, Eris’ golden apple also has existence outside the world of antiquity. The Shonen Jump fighting series Saint Seiya, which borrowed heavily from Greek myth, would borrow the tale of Eris in a unique fashion. Saint Seiya was popular on TV, but the time had come to bring it to the big screen with the first cinematic outing for our heroic Bronze Saints, Saint Seiya: Evil Goddess Eris.

SSEris_1Behold a widescreen version of the TV opening to start this film. Pegasus Fantasy at the cinema? YEAH! … Seiya, Houyga, Shun and Shiryu return to the orphanage of their youth to visit the current group of children who in turn idolize them. A new teacher, Eri, is a favorite of the children and in the beginning of the film is involved in a near fatal car accident trying to save one of the children. In to save the day is Houyga and when his eyes met Eri’s… well… they seem to be very compatible. On a date at night they both spot an odd shooting star. Later Eri like a possessed zombie finds the fallen item which turns out to be a golden apple. And yes it is Eris’ apple which takes over the body of Eri. Now the real battle begins.

SSEris_2Saori is eventually captured by Eris for the sole reason to possess the body of the Earthly incarnation of Athena. Apparently Eris does not have much interest in being a blonde with the body of Eri. Go figure? The Bronze Saints eventually catch wind of this situation and in typical fashion run to attempt a rescue. Eris of course is ready for this situation and has five of her own Saints ready to battle our heroic Bronze Saints. Meet Maya, Orpheus, Khristos, Jan and Jager (not Mick Jagger) who together are a lean, mean, well oiled butt kicking machine.

In the span of only 45 minutes, a whole story arc was played out in a very cut and dry fashion, which is seen later in the remaining Saint Seiya films. Short shonen fighting arcs, can there be such a thing? Now then let’s wrap this up. How does one close a movie of the caliber? Introduce another myth, or folk legend… enter a reinterpretation of William Tell?

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

#166 : Stop!! Hibari-kun!

Be on the lookout for white alligators! … In essence Stop!! Hibari-kun! is like many screwball high school romance, or family comedies that can be easily overlooked. And with it being a Shonen Jump property, I am sure Stop!! Hibari-kun! goes more with High School Kimengumi in the overlooked pile being it is a sibling to more popular heavy weights like Dragon Ball, or more fitting Kimagure Orange Road (romcom over action). Gender identity, yakuzas, family and comedic sequences that stretch the boundaries of believed reality and science are what makes this 1983 TV series a laugh out loud insane asylum, though there is one joke I don’t see as all that funny, but I take it in stride.

SHk_1Every show of this category has it’s niche that defines the comical plot and undertones that define other characters actions. Stop!! Hibari-kun’s! has two with the first being that Hibari is an early example of an openly honest transgender character in anime. Through she is often referred to as he, or a crossdresser, or sometimes… a… ‘pervert’? For real? Men who decide to wear women’s clothes, women who like to be more masculine, or those beautiful souls who identify as trans are not perverts! Hibari as a strong willed character defends her identity with ease because she knows she is awesome at everything… literally, she is a prodigy at almost anything! Many others do not grow up as confident, and also identify somewhere different on the gender spectrum and that word of ‘pervert’ only creates internalized shame and guilt. Times may have changed, but we are still only in the beginnings of gender acceptance

SHk_2The running joke of the cute ‘girl’ is really a ‘boy’… transwoman!… creates havoc on Stop!! Hibari-kun’s! other main protagonist Kosaku Sakamoto. After his mothers death he comes under the care of the Obari family, who happen to be yakuza, yet another layer to add to the plotline. Kosaku notices that old man Obari has only daughters and eyes onto Hibari… and then the secret gets out and this creates tension within Kosaku. Wow, she is adorable, but she is… this can’t be right… oh Kosaku… you know you want her! All the other boys at school are jealous that she likes you, but they see her as any other cis-girl. As even the opening credits says, color TVs have many shades of color and the same thing applies to boys and girls. If only Stop!! Hibari-kun! came out more recently instead of 1983, Kosaku may be more open to a relationship outside the cis-normative binary.

SHk_3Beyond the upsetting of traditional gender roles and stereotyping, the majority of Stop!! Hibari-kun! is the loaded with stock and trade high school, family and yes even yakuza antics that can ring true no matter the show… you have to laugh because this show is very funny. This of course includes the entire cast, which by show’s end must contain the entire population of the world of Stop!! Hibari-kun. The comedy, action and even certain characters go into levels of campiness and surreal insanity that kept me wanting each successive episode. What will happen next time?, top that?, or boundaries?… limits?… let‘s break them up! This is the advantage of using animation as a medium for comedy as why be subtle when anything, and I mean anything can be possible. Yet the most poignant moment of the show was Hibari meeting someone else who is also transgender, using the term newhalf. It gave her a sense of grounding and me as well that despite all the silliness, white alligators and insanity, we can also have a sparse moment that recognizes we are not alone even if we feel a little different.

SHk_4My biggest complaint beyond the use of the word ‘pervert’ was that Stop!! Hibari-kun ran far too short in the episode count. Just 35? I was getting warmed up, but alas certain show runs are often limited; I am fortunate we got we have that is available. This was a welcome entry both as a comedy and also as a show depicting someone who is transgender. I often wonder what happened to Hibari? Did she fully transition, or does she live fluidly, or something else? Maybe the manga has more to say on this… it often does usually. Don’t Stop! Hibari-kun!

Side note… the actors who played Kosaku and Hibari… Tohru Furuya and Satomi Majima respectively are husband and wife!

The Shonen Jump Revolution of 1986

A couple years ago I gave a panel with this very title, and I am trademarking it (LOL). I thought to myself why not include a paired down version here at CAM. 1986 was a landmark year for the shonen fighting genre and while it was not invented in that particular year, it without question rose to an elite status that garners even today a place at the top of the popularity polls in terms of genre. Three titles would cement this stature and rocket Shonen Jump from one of Japan’s top manga publishers into a brand that for many define what anime means for them.

The original panel covered a cross section of Shonen Jump material from the 1980s as padding to surround the eclipse point of 1986. I had to fill an hour and this also showed that Shonen Jump is far more than fighting anime alone. Titles as diverse as Baoh, Captain Tsubasa, Cat’s Eye, Dr. Slump, Kimagure Orange Road and more would be included bringing curiosity, laughter and smiles to the approximate crowd of 25 in the room. But the main focus of anticipation would be the holy trinity of 1986 and when I got to that particular year all ear perked up. Luckily for your I left hints in the header image… spoiler alert!

First on our list is a film… an adaptation of a 1984 TV series that is often considered the “Father of the Shonen Fighter.” Who’s your daddy? … Kenshiro … Good answer! Fist of the North StarHokuto no Ken… the ultimate struggle of good vs. evil, power vs. restraint and ying and yang with enough muscle and martial arts to satisfy a healthy diet of action. (For more indepth analysis click here.)

Next comes my unabashed favorite… very heavy bias, but I will spare the details on that. Any other Saint Seiya fans out there? A show based loosely on Greek Mythological themes with aspects of astrological significations, no wonder I am in love with this show. I was heard a description of Saint Seiya that went like this… “It’s like pretty boys in armor fighting while galaxies explode in the background.” Yeah, I can vouch for that. (For more indepth analysis click here.)

And the finale, one of the most popular anime titles of all time that still continues today. The original Dragon Ball, long before Z, is perhaps the prototypical, most influential Shonen Jump fighting series of all time. As a loose adaptation of the traditional Chinese story of The Journey to the West, Dragon Ball would add Akira Toriyama’s humor to create an unexpected ‘Heroes Journey’ narrative that stretched the bounds of adventure, comedy and one’s imagination. (For more indepth analysis click here.)

This of course is a theory, my own personal opinion, and if your view varies that is ok, but one cannot deny that 1986 can be considered an important step in the evolution of the shonen fighting genre’s popularity. For many years mecha was the king of hill in terms of shonen adventures, unchallenged and towering in strength. Then came 1986. Ask a majority of casual, hardcore, or even non-fans of anime about our love of Japanese cartoons and Shonen Jump anime adaptations often comes up in conversation. Shonen Jump anime is as much part of the zeitgeist of the landscape as much as Studio Ghibli, Pokemon, or whatever else is in fashion at the time. And it is to Fist of the North Star, Saint Seiya and Dragon Ball that we have to thank for not so much laying the ground work, but solidifying the foundation.

#127 : Fist of the North Star (TV Series)

fotnstv_1I often equate Fist of the North Star as a western, or maybe a modern tale of the roaming samurai. In any case, it is the same style of story, just from a different context and disguised as a shonen fighter. This is the lone wolf roaming in a world filled with chaos who makes change and restores balance by being the example to be. Fist of the North Star may be what many of us think it is, but once you watch the original 109 episode run, you may have to second guess what you thought and understand more so the feeling.

fotnstv_2The reputation of Fist of the North Star is often a slaughterfest, manly anime (MANime…face palm) and high intense action. These characteristics may hold true to a certain level, but on another, I see elements of balance, compassion and even… calmness. There is from my eyes a heavy Buddhist or Taoist influence to Fist of the North Star and it is best seen through our main protagonist Kenshiro. He possesses great strength and skill, enough to split an individual in two, or have one’s head explode. Yet he does this with very little effort, often from an acupressure point. And his stance is one of defense, he does not attack with anger or malice. Kenshiro reacts and uses his martial art abilities only when it is needed. Much like Captain Harlock, Kenshiro is an individual who is aware of the dualities of the world, yet they know how to react with composure. A true state of one who is enlightened and is in equilibrium with the masculine and the feminine.

fotnstv_3Being the progenitor, father, or maybe nowadays even the grandfather for the modern Shonen Jump styled fighting series, Fist of the North Star is a pure essence of the non-ending quest of episodes or manga volume about a hero who must fight to live. Fist of the North Star led the way to Dragon Ball and Saint Seiya, then to Yu Yu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, One Peace, Bleach, Naruto and the list goes on and on. Yet Fist of the North Star did not just come out of nowhere. Yes you can see the elements of Mad Max and Bruce Lee in the designs and environments, but Fist of the North Star also has much to owe to anime titles of the 1970s like Babel IICasshan and Devilman. Then we get to 1984 and Fist of the North Star debuts on television screens across Japan. In an industry that at the time was saturated by mecha and superheroes, the journey of Kenshiro was something fresh and some what new and yet a minor evolution as well.

fotnstv_4As a lengthy show one must be prepared to go in for the so-called long haul. Be patient and persevere through each episode. Fist of the North Star takes time to get warmed up so to speak and even though, as is the case with many of the shonen fighters, you may question is this is going anywhere? And slowly, much like an onion, layer upon layer becomes revealed and all through heavy amounts of drama and seriousness. Each episode reveals new characters, new fights and more drama and like the cycle of a day starts over again and again anew. Enemies becomes allies, fights turn deadly and important lessons to be absorbed by you the viewer are assimilated all at the same time and usually with a tissue box on hand. Fist of the North Star is a show about returning to love and sympathizing those who are flawed, yet still human.

If you want to take the shorter route, you can  immerse yourself into the 1986 motion picture version of Fist of the North Star. It has much bang for the buck, but it also is missing much of the story, characters and added drama that I fell in love with in this TV series. As is much in life as is with Fist of the North Star, the longer harder road is the path that rewards far more than the quicker fix. Just why did it all have to end with a clip episode? The answer is simple… the story has only begun… enter Fist of the North Star II. Yes folks, there is a sequel.