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AKA: 新・北斗の拳 (Shin Hokuto no Ken)
Genre: Post-apocalyptic martial arts
Length: OAV, 3 episodes, 58 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from ADV Films
Content Rating: 16+ (violence, nudity)
Related Series: Fist of the North Star, Fist of the North Star 2. Fist of the North Star the Movie
Also Recommended: Fighting Spirit, Tekken
Notes: Based on the novel "Hokuto no Ken - Jubaku no Machi", published in 1996.
Rating: Five StarsFive StarsFive StarsFive StarsFive Stars

New Fist of the North Star

Synopsis

A group of people from a place called the Village of Freedom are attacked while searching for water one day by a band of thugs who claim ownership of the vein for a kingdom called Last Land. Amidst the chaos, a man dressed in blue mysteriously appears out of nowhere and manages to save the last living person in the group.

When the mysterious man takes the injured to the Village of Freedom, he learns of the wicked deeds of Last Land and how its rulers hoard the surrounding water as a means to drive people into slavery.

In a land ravaged by disaster, there stands a man traversing the Earth dealing the justice of the North Star to those who oppress the weak. This man's name is Kenshiro. He is the sole heir to Hokuto Shinken.


Review

One of the meanings of the word "New" is defined as, "Not previously used or seen."

So what does New Fist of the North Star manage to do "New"?

Does my limited consciousness contemplate and ascertain a "New" level of Manliness? Or perhaps even a "New" level of the portrayal of male chauvinism?

In the context of not having been exposed to any other work in the series and after sitting through 175 minutes of this 3-episode OAV, I would have to say, yes.

This all started with a trip to Blockbuster one day. What initially caught my attention was a DVD case with the depiction of a very muscular man glaring at me in unprecedented stoicism with an incredibly well endowed woman in the background. In my curiosity, I picked the DVD out of the shelf and decided to rent it hoping to get a few laughs out of the experience.

And so, I laughed. The incredibly ludicrous amount of graphic and laughable violence was unbelievable. The production crew managed to depict several ways to kill and eviscerate a man in a detail that I thought at this point impossible. Even the very aura of the show emanates a brisk amount of manliness not seen in any other anime this side of Dragon Ball Z.

Of course, while I was indeed very entertained by all the hubbub, I couldn't get the question, "But what of the actual quality, Dominic?" out of the realm of my thoughts.

It's actually well done.

The art was pretty good, but the actual animation was lacking and doesn't flow quite well with the backdrops sometimes. They even had a neat trick where they adorn the main character with intricate detail in scenes where only his mouth would move. The rock music score was also pretty cool to listen to during the scenes of inconceivable pwnage.

But behind the veil of one-dimension violence and excessive masculinity, you come out with passionately driven men that fight with their convictions in tow, even if the actual drama is kinda cheesy.

Kenshiro in all his deceivingly stoic glory and minimal amount of speech actually has so many interesting things to say that almost all his lines in this show are classic. It's hard to imagine finding more memorable quotes from an anime character anywhere else. But when it comes down to it, He's simply a man who thinks only of the well being of others even though he doesn't necessarily look like it. A man of great undying principle, a man who only uses his incredible abilities to do what is right (which mostly consists of blowing people's heads up with the touch of a finger), a man who seeks the ever-fleeting ideal that is justice.

He's the kind of manly man that easily captures my admiration.

The other characters are also interesting, from the information merchant, Tobi, who is slowly driven to madness by his need to protect and the betrayal of another, to Seiji, who is haunted by memories of his misinterpretation of his father's actions during his early childhood. The corruption caused by power, the fanaticism caused by illusions and the deep sense of honor and duty that lies within is all well thought out and put into a coherent plot that's simple and easy to follow. As an added bonus though, we get a really, really hot medical woman, Sara, who actually has her fair share of talents and compassion towards others.

While all the said distractions (like the cheese, violence and implications of chauvinism) may make the facts less apparent, it's actually part of what makes the OAV so much fun. I'd say it's about the equivalent of a Bruce Lee movie, but then animated and in a post-apocalyptic setting. And like Bruce Lee movies, they feature a man of great (otherwise unbelievable) ability, but to a certain extent, have the show carry a good amount of depth in the various messages that are portrayed.

While it pains me to tarnish what little reputation I have, this show gets my highest praise. I love Bruce Lee, so why not this?

Considering the show in question, it's of great importance that you take this segment of the review very seriously. Deduct 2 stars if you do not like Bruce Lee too much. Deduct an additional star if you don't like ultra violence (even though laughable in nature). Toss yet another star if you dislike titles of this nature (super-duper masculine shounen) or the idea of chauvinism. When you're done, you can knock the rating down to as low as a one-star rating. — Dominic Laeno

Recommended Audience: Violence, violence, and more violence. Some nudity too.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (3/3)
New Fist of the North Star © 2003 Kitty Films / OB Planning / Sega / eFrontier /Coamix
 
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