Fist of the North Star: The TV Series Complete Series Collection 2 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, December 17, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2010
A star whose presence foreshadows death shines over Kenshiro’s allies-can even the power of Hokuto Shinken fight fate?
What They Say
It's fast and furious deadly martial arts action pushed to the limits, and beyond. Never before have so many been killed by just one man. Ken continues his quest to save the post-apocalyptic world using his incredible martial arts skills. Enter the deadly world of Hokuto no Ken and witness a place where violence isn't the problem, it's the solution! The carnage gets serious with this second box set containing episodes 37-72. These episodes were never released in North America. they are available for the first time completely uncut and completely insane.
The second set contains only a Japanese 2.0 track as the dub on the first set had been created by Manga Entertainment years ago and they never went past the first 36 episodes. The track is clear with no dropouts or distortions and while the dialogue is primarily center speaker driven special care seems to have been taken to make sure the voices are very clear and resonant. It is a fabulous 2.0 track.
The series originally started airing in 1984 and is presented in 4:3. The set uses the remastered Japanese footage and is unique in R1 to this presentation. The worst part of the video is actually Toei’s logo as that made me fear what the series would look like-thankfully it is not representative. The colors are also much better on the disc than the stream, but the majority of colors used are more of the washed out look to reflect the wasteland that exists in the piece. The only two noticed problems with the disc are some color blurring with the red effects and some noise that isn’t quite covered up by the video grain.
The packaging is a mustard yellow background with Kenshiro and Rei standing next to each other in front of two fallen foes with the series title right above them and shadows falling on their faces. A blurb at the top states the number of episodes as does a banner at the bottom. The back is the same color carried over with five shots from the series. The side has the same shot of Kenshiro and Rei resized as well as the series title and info on the episodes contained. The discs come in an M lock case with two “flippers” in the middle so no disc overlaps any other. The first disc has a close up shot of Kenshiro with arm extended. The second has Kenshiro throwing a collection of cannon fodder that had surrounded him. The third disc has a close up head shot of Kenshiro. The fourth has a scene of Kenshiro with some large beasts behind him taken from an image at the start of the third arc. The final disc features a close up shot of Raoh looking menacing.
The menus are static affairs that have the language selection right on the front page and whose screens have the full images that the disc labels images were taken from. The menu is quick to respond to selections and remote prompts.
This release contains no extras
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With the second set Kenshiro begins his search for his older adopted brother Toki. The tragedy of the day that the nuclear war begins is shown in Toki’s sacrificing himself for Kenshiro and Yuria despite him having been the superior candidate to the successor of Hokuto Shinken. Toki’s sacrifice cursed him with an illness and shorter life span with which he chose to use his skills to heal others. Hearing this story motivates Kenshiro’s allies to try to find Toki and Mamiya sets out on a journey alone to try to find some news. Kenshiro and Rei catch up with her and discover where Toki is and the three set out to find him.
The journey will not be easy as Toki is imprisoned in a city/prison called Cassandra which has been built by a man known as Ken-Oh who seeks to become the ruler of the age. To that end he has taken to capturing martial artists and stealing their techniques in order to bolster his abilities. Kenshiro and company’s arrival is met by those who guard the prison and enforce Ken-Oh’s will with the various methods they will attempt to employ as Ken-Oh has declared that Kenshiro and Toki must never meet. Kenshiro will discover that hope can be a powerful force as can despair in the living hell on Earth.
As the group travels back to Mamiya’s village a glimpse into the past is shown regarding Kenshiro and his oldest brother Raoh. The two fought for succession of Hokuto Shinken and the love of Yuria with Raoh coming out the loser on both fronts. While the past is being reveled foreshadows of events are also taking place as some of Kenshiro’s closest allies notice a small star next to the North Star-a star which is said to only appear to those who will die within a year.
The immediate present is no less fraught with danger as Mamiya’s village is attacked while the group is away putting Kenshiro’s friends and Rei’s sister in jeopardy. As Kenshiro attempts to rush back to the village he finds giant hoof track-a mark of the appearance of the fearsome Ken-Oh as only he can ride such a stead. Rei has rushed back ahead of Kenshiro and faces the would be world ruler head on but will this encounter end as the stars have predicted in death? And what will Kenshiro do when the identity of Ken-Oh is revealed and the connection to Kenshiro stands in full view. Will Kenshiro finally fall or will he find the strength to stand toe to toe with the man who would rule the age?
While the battle with Ken-Oh may not be settled there are other encounters that are fated to be met by the successor to Hokuto Shinken. Rei is but one of the Six masters of the Southern Star fist-some of whom Kenshiro will cross as friends and some as opponents but all are destined to be tragic. Kenshiro may finally meet his end when he encounters a master of the Southern fist that looks to be immune to the effects of Hokuto Shinken and who even Ken-Oh had given wide birth to. Will the master of the Hokuto Shinken be able to figure out the secret? And is there a limit to how far even Kenshiro’s skills and determination can carry him?
The second set of Fist of the North Star takes the first set and ramps the action and drama up a further notch. Kenshiro will encounter more trials as he finds both skilled martial artists and further tragedies to weigh on his soul. The characters set up in the first set will mostly have some more space to breathe in though given the action heavy nature of the stories some of the non combatants will play a lesser-though still important-role in this set. Of course too much drama can push a series into a cheesy melodramatic area and the series tries to walk a fine line though at times it is in danger of crossing over that line.
Collection 2 of Fist of the North Star continues on in the tracks ofthe first set by building upon the characters and situations of that set and taking the drama and action further. More connections to Kenshiro’s past will be shown in between the tragedies that follow him but also the uplifting effect a man who will not compromise his beliefs can have on those around him. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Discotek
Running time: 1800
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Fist of the North Star