New Fist of the North Star Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Jacques
Review Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Release Date: Monday, April 18, 2005



What They Say
Kenshiro, the Grandmaster of the Fist of the North Star, in the first of three new adventures. As he travels a ruined world almost devoid of life, he finds yet another army of heartless rogues slaughtering the innocent. In this case, the killers are in the employ of Sanga, the merciless Lord of the City of Last Land. To maintain his power over his subjects, Sanga gulls them with the simple magic tricks of a mute, amnesiac boy he calls Lord Doha. But to the desperate and frightened populace of the Cursed City, this child is nothing less than a god.

However, Sanga is not satisfied with controlling only one false "god". He has set his cold eye on Sara, a great healer who lives in the Village of Freedom. When Sanga launches an attack against the Village, the horrors he perpetuates to gain control of "the women of miracles" will shock even Kenshiro.

As our hero launches his own personal war against the Cursed City, he will face overwhelming odds with only two weapons at his command. An absolute determination to seek justice... and the Fist of the North Star.


The Review!
What's this, a golden oldie resurrected for our delectation? Does the new North Star hold a candle to old mid 80's post apocalyptic hokum?

Audio:
Wow, 5.1 Japanese and English! Both sound tracks delivered clean audio, although not much in the way of directional sound, still, at least it gives the speakers a work out, just don't expect any swirling sound effects. All-in-all a complete waste of the surround experience.

The opening track is called Luna The closing track is called OASIS I particularly liked the opening sequence with the music and action fitting perfectly- it rocks! Here's a game you can play, one of the characters is voiced by the singer, but which?

Video:
The video is excellent, with nice colours and sharp lines. The wide screen presentation has come through the transfer process very well, with no defects detected. And it's visuals in this series that make it stand out from the original, as they make a lot of use of the 3D CGI to give this a look of it's own.

Packaging:
We get this first volume with a clear case and reversible covers. It's just a pity they didn't capitalise on the opportunity to make a different graphic for both sides of the cover. As it is, we have the same picture of Kenshiro and Sanga on both sides.

Menu:
A simple blue menu with Kenshiro in classic pose, with a looping Mr Gackt entertaining us with his dulcet tones. The menu has a link for Languages, Scene select and Extras. All links work quickly and no dead ends were encountered.

Extras:
Interviews with Christopher Loveless, Robert Kraft, John Paul Sheppard and Kattie Gillette. This digs a little deeper (than normal) into the VA art, with the boys & girls explaining how they get into character, chill and what other endeavours they pursue.

More interviews, but this time with a Jiu Jitsu (sic) master, Phil Cardella. Check it out as it's fascinating stuff if you've never done any martial arts.

The Japanese press interview about the announcement of New Fist of the North Star is worth a watch if only to see Gackt for real.

And last, but not least, a few character bios with voice over.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain some spoilers)
The story starts off with the end of the world- the apocalypse. Then things go downhill very quickly as the survivors attempt to scratch out an existence.

Move forward in time to a period after the last FotNS story finished and we find yet more motorcycle gangs riding around the waste lands, killing, destroying and killing (they like killing) the local peasants. Anyway, just when it looks like the locals are about to be skewered, a mysterious stranger steps into the fray and with two flicks of his fists sends the baddies packing. This stranger turns out to be none other than - I bet you already know what's coming next " Kenshiro!

Kenshiro takes the survivor back goes back the village of Freedom, and there he meets a women called Sara who has a similar talent to himself, only she can use her arts to heal people. Alas, it's not long before the baddies decide to raid the village and capture Sara for their Lord's nefarious reasons. Which prompts Kenshiro to go on the offensive, taking the battle to Lord Sanga in his City of Last Land. Not much else to mention really, suffice as to say that Kenshiro hands out sound thrashings all round and some very minor sub plots are advanced an iota (just the one though).

In summary-
I will put my hand up now and say that Fist of the North Star is my secret shame- I like watching it. I even like the live action movie. Although I'm the first to admit that FotNS was never great anime, but it holds a place in my heart as an original Martial Arts beat-em-up anime sub genre.

Philosophically challenging it's not. Neither is the script writing, which on a couple of occasions rises up to the dizzy heights of just being lame. The rest of the time the script stays firmly in the category marked "appalling".

This redux takes the original flat-pack story of good guy versus evil lord and assembles a visually better version of what we had before. No more, no less. Oh, they do add one new feature, two very trite scenes of grief that any day time soap opera production company would red pen out of the script as being too unbelievable to attempt. Luckily for us the FotNS script writers are not so easily deterred.

If you liked the original FotNS then this is the same (no, I mean it, exactly the same plot with tiny changes). Now if you excuse me, I have to go dig out my Gary Daniel's poster for the next part of this trilogy ;-)

Features
Japanese Language 5.1,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,VA Interviews,Character profiles,Japanese press interview

Review Equipment
Primary equipment: JVC 28" Pure Flat Wide Screen TV, Pioneer 454 Progressive Scan code free DVD player, Logitech Z-680 THX DD/DTS receiver & Speakers.
Secondary equipment: 21" Sony Trinitron monitor, ATI 9700pro & PowerDVD v4, Creative Audigy 2ZS & headphones.



Mania Grade: D-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: �19.99
Running time: 55
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen Letterbox
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: New Fist of the North Star