A mysterious man known as "the King of Death" roams the streets of pre-war Shanghai in this action-packed prequel to Fist of the North Star.
Shanghai in the 1930s is a dangerous place. Foreign governments and Chinese factions have carved the city into different quarters, each with its own laws and government, and all rife with corruption. As the major powers vie for political control, the streets are left to local gangs. Life is cheap, and death is always near.
In days past, one man walked these mean streets battling the forces of evil. He was known only as Yan Wang, "the King of Death." Few knew who he really was, but many knew that he was a master of Hokuto Shinken - Fist of the North Star - a lethal martial art. He disappeared years ago after dispatching the city's worst gangsters, and is now rumored to be in Japan. Various people have come to Japan in search of him, but who will find him first?
Thoughts Before Watching: Hell yeah a prequel to one of the most classic fighting Anime’s of all time hell yeah, maybe ill get to see how cool things where before the nuclear apocalypse and possibly how it all came to be…..especially with updated animation, bring it on!
Thoughts After Watching: Seriously is that it…..scratches head continuously
Well it’s definitely an improvement compared against the 80’s series but the characters and movements / motions feel painfully stiff. As usual the character designs are very templated but that itself is a common trait of this franchise. Sadly another bad thing is this anime has the look of an old visual novel game where everything looks extremely plain and it feels like someone just did a paint by numbers job on everything…it just looks extremely dull, stiff and bland.
The kill shots are as humorous as the 80’s show and the same goes for some of the bad guys facial designs but other than that the animation is disappointing…and to be honest I have seen other FOTNS OVA’s created in the 2000’s with better animation than this so yeah I am really disappointed with the overall presentation of this show
Well nothing really stands out at all here, again it just feels bland. I guess the only thing that stood out for me was the extremely humorous moments of engrish which were intentionally there when the bad guys were scheming or celebrating their short lived victories.
Op and Ed were forgettable….voice actors were alright and there was hardly any theme or BGM so there is not much I can add there….oh except…the dialogue.
The dialogue was either comical, predictable or just campy really and I guess that is due to the content of the storyline which is…erm yeah lets get to that.
Alright let me just clear up the need to know stuff.
The original 80’s series followed the protagonist Kenshiro (no last name) who was the 64th successor to the Hokuto Shinken fighting style and that story was set in 199x after a nuclear disaster.
This story here follows the 62nd successor to the Hokuto Shinken fighting style of which the 80’s character was named after, Kenshiro Kasumi or as they keep calling him in this show “Yan Wang”….this story is set in the 1930’s.
So right off the bat I was a bit disappointed that the story here wasn’t focused on our original 80’s master Ryuken and his humble beginnings but then I thought hey the ORIGINAL Kenshiro Kasumi might be even more interesting than Ryuken….well turns out not so much
The story In Souten no Ken at its core is more about gangster rivalry and territory wars than it is about Hokuto Shinken. Yep that’s right….its like if you took the gangster element of GunGrave and mixed it with FONS you will basically have this show…..so the question is does it mesh well…and my answer to that is….it probably could have if it was taken more seriously.
The pacing to the show is another problem….for the first 5 or 6 episodes the show is building up just to get started then it goes through the motions of being more of a comical “hunt down the bad gangsters” story before it goes into another element about lost love. Now I’m not saying these elements are bad they are just written very poorly here and the Hokuto Shinken theme to me just feels like a plot device for the characters to fight each other in this otherwise bland storyline.
Also to be honest the main character’s back-story goes extremely unexplained and you get little insight to how he came to be, his master or his training but rather a couple of minor flashbacks of his time as a gangster-helper.
Lastly a lot of the story elements feels like it was taken from the original 80’s series and follows a similar template for the most part but the 80’s story is far more interesting and emotionally touching than this…attempt.
The range of characters is exactly what you would expect from the FOTNS universe but I have to say I felt the bad guys in this show where the most zany and comical I had ever seen. I mean there was actually a bad guy than had a golden wig heavier then his entire body and he would fall over continuously…which was obviously going to be his downfall (hehe pun).
The other Martial artists / rivals in the show had really flimsy and stupid motivations and almost every fight ended up the same way….the bad guy was either “misunderstood” or “clouded”…I mean it got kinda sappy and felt counter-productive but hey it was so predictable after a while I just went with it.
Now to be honest the redeeming character for me is Kenshiro Kasumi himself. Unlike the original Kenshiro from the 80’s show this Ken had a lot more personality and didn’t come off as a complete messiah all the time. He has a Clark Kent thing going on at times which was very comical and he seems to like to toy around with people which I felt is more something I would do in his shoes. You can definitely see the similarities between the old and new Kenshiro but their characters are different enough to clearly put them apart. But then again when I think about the 80’s Kenshiro he didn’t have much to be happy about so maybe this is just the Kenshiro that could have been….either way I do like him…but other than that every other character in this show is just darn predictable with a capital P.
Meh overall I can’t say I enjoyed this show that much…apart from Kenshiro Kasumi killing the gangsters in funny ways, which is another constant in this franchise it was an extremely dull story.
This show does not really add anything to the universe of FOTNS or even illuminate to anything so it has little value for me except to see some interesting kills and some zany antics from dumb gangsters.
I am still waiting to see the Ryuken story as I think that would be an epic tale and a great segway to the original 80’s series…as for this show see it if you’re a die hard fan otherwise PASS on it!
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