Fist of the North Star TV
After a year-long silence and a change of distributors, Manga Video is back, but unfortunately their choice for their first release falls directly into the shovelware category. I suppose they needed the money from the newbies that will be attracted by the Fist of the North Star name, but it's something I could have done without.
Anyone who's seen the FotN movie knows what I mean by "Shovelware". Essentially, in a post-apocalyptic world run by biker gangs, Ken is a wanderer, and eventually goes off to save the world from rule by the evil Shin. He's hardly your normal man: first of all, his chest has bullet scars (they're actually finger scars -- don't ask) in the mark of the big dipper (a really bad omen), he has magical powers and his special attack known as Hokuto Shin Ken, which is essentially making people's heads explode.
Ken is a quiet dude, not saying anything when a young kid named Bart joins forces with him after he saves the town from a biker gang. The kid is a jerk to say the least, and isn't too pleased when Ken goes on his crusades to help the unfortunate from biker gangs. What Ken doesn't know is that he's being saught after by a little girl he saved... who looks remarkably like his old flame. When she gets captured by slavers, they set off in search of her.
What really surprised me about FotN TV is just how much both the plot and the feel of the series seems like the Go Nagai steaming pile of crap Violence Jack. The poor animation really suffers by today's standards, but unlike Violence Jack, there is almost no blood. All of the exploding heads are either white or shadows (it IS a TV series, after all). Manga Video has only planned to release 36 episodes of the 200+ episode series, but I'm sure they'll do more if these do well.
In all fairness, the TV series is MUCH MUCH MUCH better than the movie (I'm not entirely sure which came first, but this was made in 1984). The dub quality is probably as good as the original or better, which is a relief for the faint of heart when it comes to dubs, and the outdated music (which is intact in the subtitled version) has been replaced with a score from London's drum & bass band Reinforced Records (which doesn't quite fit some of the time). The post-production values are good, but for some reason the second and third episode openings are somewhat darkened.
There are a few interesting moments, but overall, unless you really like the manga series or movie, I simply can't reccomend this series.
Overall (dub) : B-
+ Has a plot, action scenes hold up reasonably well
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