Jean-Karlo WE ARE STARTING THIS WEEK IN ANIME, FOLLOWING THE TIME-HONORED CUSTOM. THIS WEEK WE WILL ADOPT A SPECIAL GUEST, HEIDI FROM THIS WEEK IN VIDEO GAMES. THAT'S ALL... [J-K]
Hey folks! Today we're here to hang out with our boy Terry Bogard and the rest of the gang in a beloved feature film among 90s anime (and videogame) dorks!
Directed by THE LEGENDARY MASAMI OBARI! ...who is doing more SNK-related work soon in a King of Fighters featurette, so we figured now's the best time to take a look at FATAL FURY: THE MOTION PICTURE!
This is another one of those works that hits me on a deep, personal level—even though I never saw the Fatal Fury film as a kid. Latin Americans are all accustomed to seeing SNK arcade machines in the weirdest of places, such that you could count on me to always keep quarters on me on the off-chance that I find a chance to play Puzzle-Bobble or Metal Slug when I lived in Puerto Rico. So the likes of Fio Germi, Shizumaru Hisame—and yes, my boy Terry Bogard—are very beloved friends of mine. And then you've got the inimitable Masami Obari, who worked on enduring classics like Voltage Fighter Gowkaizer, Angel Blade, and my personal favorite, Tekkaman Blade. So basically, this movie hits me on a lot of fronts.
Also, I basically have an excuse to throw out SNK quotes like they're candy. So, uh. Sorry not sorry.
There's a whole lotta Obari in this film. Whatever you might think I mean by that statement: You are correct.
It should be noted that there were actually a pair of TV specials/OVAs based on Fatal Fury before this, one of which ties into the film's story. We're not covering those since they aren't streaming—but this film works well enough standalone.
I'm old enough to remember getting those OVAs fansubbed on VHS tapes from a friend. One of the subs was apparently by a fairly notorious group that loved to add in extra swearing to seem "edgy." So Terry Bogard said "fuck" a lot. Try to imagine that.
Real ones know that Terry does not cuss. He just says "OKAY" a lot.
Just... watch this instructional video, this is what you guys are in for tonight.
Terry is a good and pure boy and the forces of nature are apparently conspiring to ensure that he will never, ever get laid, as we will soon discover.
So as it goes, the story begins in... Egypt, of all places. Mr. Cheng finds an ancient relic, the fabled Armor of Mars.
What's a Greek armor doing in Egypt? Shut up who cares SHIT BLOWS UP!
Don't worry, we'll get infodumped later.
And how! A quartet descends upon the site, wrecking everything and stealing the armor from Cheng for their leader, Laocorn. Laocorn, you see, is seeking the six pieces of the Sagittarius Cloth Armor of Mars, which will grant him power beyond imagination.
And he's got a posse!
We have, starting from the left: Big Burly dude, Tits McGee, and Totally Not Vega from Street Fighter 2. We'll see and learn more about them later, but if you're expecting a lot of character development out of these guys, you're gonna be disappointed.
They're really powerful on their own, so why are they helping Laocorn exactly? Well, the girl wants to get in his pants, because of course she does, but the other two... uh....
Their names are actually Jamin, Panni and Hauer, but that works too.
They make quick work of Cheng, who's the first of many Fatal Fury jobbers we'll see.
Meanwhile, back in Japan....
We have a muay thai tournament featuring everyone's favorite, Joe Higashi! Also, Andy Bogard and Mai Shiranui are there.
It's important to note that Mai is literally introduced BOOBS-FIRST.
That's the first we see of her. Pan up from a MILK shirt. How subtle.
Mai Shiranui has always been one of the oldest and most-beloved of fanservice-y characters, there's kinda no other way to introduce her. And her bust was inspired by one of the original chesty models in Japan, Fumie Hosokawa. There's a reason people were so quick to believe the "Nippon Ichi!" in her victory quote was her saying "Me bouncy!".
I actually think her sexy image was mostly Obari's doing. I mean, if you look at her earliest appearances in Fatal Fury 2 and Special, she's sexy but not as over-the-top as she eventually became.
This movie was made before her appearance in King of Fighters 94, which really amped up her sex appeal in-game for the first time.
No joke. I'm getting ahead of myself, but Obari gave Mai a whole dance sequence entirely to herself later in the film, to say nothing of his typical cheeky freeze-frame bonuses. Let's just say Mai doesn't wear anything you don't already see.
I have a feeling we're going to spend a lot of time talking about some of the fashion choices in this film.
For example, Andy looking like an uncool dork.
Andy, you need SUNGLASSES to look cool, doofus. These are just normal specs!
But Heidi! Andy is an uncool dork!
Exactly! So it works.
At any rate, Andy, Joe and Mai maintain the time-honored custom of asking where Terry Bogard is whenever Terry isn't on camera. As it turns out, he's fulfilling the requisite product placement.
Press F to pay respects to the lost mecca of Neo Geo.
In short order, Terry is attacked by a trio of masked goons. Also, a blue-haired teenager falls into his arms.
How DARE these assholes tread on such sacred ground and interrupt Terry's mashing! Fortunately, they're no match for him, though the animation in this part... it's nice, but man, it looks so different from everything else in the movie.
I feel like there were a few sequences where Obari's animation buddies were like "hey can I do a cut" and he was like "hell yeah." So you have scenes like this where it looks really off compared to the rest of the film.
I wanna underline this sequence because for a scene meant to serve as an intro to the fights in this film, it—like the other fights—is also really fast. Something like the Street Fighter movie would have made the fight an entire showstopper. Here, the fights are quick and dirty. Terry shatters a few bones from the goons without so much as an "ARE YOU OKAY?!", and it's pretty clear that while he has Main Character Plot Armor, his opponents are not above going for the pink squishy bits.
Why would they want to attack our boy Bogard out of the blue, though?
Sure enough, when Mai and her two friends—as well as Andy and Joe—get jumped, Fatal Fury regular Kim gets wrecked.
So, why the fuss? Because of this girl: Sulia. She flew all the way to Japan to meet Terry Bogard, because she's got problems and only Terry's roaring fists can solve them.
She drops by the arcade first, then to the party, which is why all these masked goons are showing up.
The party is a good place to burn off some game cameos, too.
Kim Kaphwan is a longtime series favorite, and this is his designated moment to be cool after some encouragement from his kiddos.
You won't see him again.
Sulia explains to the cast that she is Laocorn's twin sister, and she's currently trying to stop Laocorn from gathering the Armor of Mars. It turns out, it belonged to their ancestor, the warrior Gaudeamus, a man so powerful he gave Alexander the Great pause. His rage lives on in his armor after a group of warriors slew him.
SHE SURE LOVES TALKING ABOUT THIS. We have a lengthy exposition sequence that covers a plane trip to an island in Greece, a boat trip, and a cave expedition.
Andy, Mai, and Joe tag along because they want to, I guess. LET'S TALK ABOUT THOSE SWIMSUITS. Folks, I really want Joe's Speedo as DLC in KoFXV.
Artists like Shinkiro did a phenomenal job of drawing SNK's characters in streetwear or otherwise palling around, breathing life into these characters whose existences were defined by beating each other bloody. I can't say these swimsuits do them justice, but they are swimsuits.
Mai's got this weird swimsuit... fundoshi... thing. I wouldn't want raw rope rubbing my buttcheeks, but I'm not fashionable, so what do I know?
So in the secret chamber where the mysteries of the lost Gaudeamus lineage are explained, we also find out that apparently modern martial arts are derived from them!
Yeah. This is anime-only stuff, by the way, but this OVA explains that the stronger moves from previous Fatal Fury baddies like Krauser come from Gaudeamus, in an attempt at linking to prior canon.
Hell, Sulia herself is anime-only.
It doesn't mean much, because none of the games carried over the story from this film, but it's a nice wink-wink-nudge-nudge to people who have emotional scars from fighting Krauser.
Some of the Dragon Ball armor pieces have already been found and claimed, so the gang needs to figure out where the rest of the pieces are.
The team splits up: Joe, Mai and Andy go to Baghdad, and Sulia and Terry go to Turkey. We get some more anime-only character stuff, introducing the character Lily as a belated long-lost love for Terry. Again, no basis in the games—Terry's reason for fighting Geese Howard was because Geese killed Terry's father—but the film establishes that Geese had Lily murdered.
Mai wants to split up as an excuse to get Andy in bed with her, it should be noted.
Just look at those eyes sparkling in anticipation! Too bad Andy is a sexless being that lives only for combat.
There was also a shower scene, but we can't show that here.
I thought I had a decent SFW-ish capture, but looking at it, ol' Obari still slipped a few pixels of nipple in there. "Chun Li shower scene in the SF movie? Well, we'd better answer that!"
Similar to how many old pixel-based games depended on the lines in CRT televisions to flesh out sprites, I'm betting Obari was depending on the fuzziness of then-current visual media standards to slightly obfuscate his "flourishes".
The Baghdad team finds out their trip was rather futile, because the armor was taken by crusaders years ago. Crusaders... who happen to be related to Wolfgang Krauser! So Joe goes over to Team Terry to give him this info. And awkwardness ensues!
Before he leaves, he asks Andy how things went. Joe is REALLY HORNY in this film.
Sulia conveniently catches this photo from Terry's pocket, and that's when she learns Terry has a girlfriend.
There isn't much time to delve into Terry's love life, because Jamin attacks, and Terry has to step up.
And he does the thing
It's a shame Terry wasn't voiced by his typical and most-popular VA, Satoshi Hashimoto—nobody can shout "Burn Knuckle!!!" like he can. But oh well.
And again, the fight is quick and dirty. Once Terry knows he can't really make much of a dent in Jamin, he and Sulia book it.
TO THE SEWER LEVEL!
They could have given us a bloated slugfest, but I appreciate how they keep these fights no-nonsense. Terry's a musclehead, but he knows better than to trade blows with something that doesn't go down faster than he can.
Actually, let's backtrack a little first. I want to talk about Terry's old flame.
She comes to visit him in ghost form. She is here to tell Terry to stop being emo over her because there's another girl out there *right now *who wants to jump his bones! That girl being Sulia, of course. And Terry is angsty because he feels like all of his girlfriends are doomed. We call this foreshadowing.
I'm getting ahead of myself, but the movie itself takes pains to point out that Sulia is a teenager. Specifically, her SNK Wiki entry lists her as 17. That puts a damper on the romance.
Does it, though? Everyone seems to act like they're a thing. But we'll get more into that later, because after Terry's battle, the two retreat to the sewers in a rather stylish monotone sequence.
Monotone save for the blood, because Terry got his ass handed to him. He's hurting pretty bad! So Sulia, who has white mage powers, tries to heal him.
While Laocorn has Gaudeamus's rage and power, Sulia inherited his healing and, for some reason, telepathy. As you do.
TWINS, right? Anyway, the healing isn't working fast enough! Terry needs more rapid skin-to-skin contact for this to work! There's only one solution!
It's so bizarre how Obari goes from "artful monochrome piece" to "no, seriously, the nudity is symbolic!". But that's Obari for ya.
Yes, she gets naked! Well, mostly naked.
And she just lays on top of a shirtless Terry. This is the closest Terry will ever get to sex.
Meanwhile, Andy and Mai go clubbing in Japan!
Andy, continuing his terrible fashion choices. They're trying to find Mai's mentor and stereotypical old perv, Jubei.
Because Gaudeamus's armor inspired his martial arts style, the two go off to find Master Jubei (who is not related to the Samurai Shodown guy) to see if they can find a lead. Also, Duck King and Nakoruru are there!
Loosen up, Andy! Mai just wants you to have fun enjoying other fine SNK products!
She also arranged for a dance number. Featuring herself.
Andy's a little distracted, though.This guy just showed up.
Billy Kane, lackey of the most devious SNK boss outside of General Mordred! This doesn't really support the movie much, it's just another fun tie-in to the games to show that, yeah, the other SNK dudes are around and maybe they'll show up in a new game sometime soon if you're a good boy and dump your quarters into the arcade machines.
Billy and Andy don't even have time to spar, either, because Not Vega decides to make his entrance.
Gotta hand it to Mai, she ain't havin' it.
I'm just now noticing how everyone's boobs are really being highlighted in this movie. Male and female alike.
I don't like the phrase "equal opportunity fanservice", because it often just means "Yeah, women like guys who are built like gorillas, right?" But Obari's brain is in another dimension, so men also wear outfits that are equally as skimpy as the women. Only Obari would be willing to dress men like the female cast of Agent Aika, which he would soon use to full extent in Gowkaizer.
I dunno if skimpy is the word, but there are lots of weird half-breastplates, male bustiers, crotch-enhancing pants, and butt shots. Not that I'm complaining. Bring on the mantiddy. Anyhow, a fight predictably ensues! But the enemy escapes, and Duck King's club is trashed.
So Billy goes back to Geese, who is practicing his controller inputs.
Again, this doesn't have much of a bearing on the film. This is the last we see of Geese Howard. And in a way, I kinda appreciate that. This movie could have been another build-up to another brawl between Terry and Geese, leading to another clash between the two. Geese and Terry fighting on top of a building and Geese plummeting to his alleged demise for the umpteenth time would have enraptured SNK fans, it's what they're here for. But, in Geese's words, that would have been "PREDICTABLE".
And again, this is tying into the games: Geese is still recovering from the last time Terry tossed him off a building.
I have to disagree—how badass would it be if Geese and Terry were forced to combine powers to fight Laocorn? He's an original character, they can bend the rules! Then Geese would go off to try and kill Heihachi Mishima, making this a Tekken 7 prequel.
Let's disagree, then—Terry is a good boy. He'll raise Geese's son Rock for him, but he won't dirty his hands with the guy. I mean, Geese probably doesn't even like hot dogs.
Geese is the original weeb, he won't touch that American garbage.
We learn that Laocorn loses it after his dad gets murdered by a business partner. He would have been killed, too, if not for conveniently placed plot armor. LITERAL armor. Like, the first piece of the armor was just lying around the office!
This is another time where I gotta give Obari some visual credit. The Armor of Mars turing from ancient Macedonian strap-wear into pseudo-mecha armor as it's placed on Laocorn's body is awesome.
Where did he manage to recruit his flunkies, though? Who knows? Who cares? Let's go find some armor at the Chinese temple Jubei told us about. This is a convenient excuse to have Mai wearing a china dress.
For about fifteen seconds.
It's all a pretense for Mai to really give fans the ol' Razzle Dazzle, that being the ol' "Nippon Ichi!" pose.
... For about fifteen seconds.
Yup, it's that asshole again.
This is another bit that leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Like, sure, Mai's moneymakers gotta be in here somehow, but later on Mai and Sulia talk about how Mai let this happen to make Andy jealous.
Mai. Sweetie. In the words of your brother-in-law, "GET SERIOUS". You're the best in Japan. If Andy isn't on your level, find someone who is. This is the SNK Universe, there's no lack of hunks you can get. I know Iori hadn't been introduced into the Fatal Fury/King of Fighters universe at this point, but come on...
Oh, right, in order to get Andy riled up
It has to look like they're going to kiss.
Sadly, Zanei-ken spam doesn't work, and Andy is forced to give up the armor to save Mai.
Andy and Mai's defeat leads to yet another tie-in to the game's story. We see Panni sneaking up on Laurence Blood, servant to Krauser from Fatal Fury 2. Blood is still reeling from his master's death, while Panni notes that Krauser's chestplate was part of Mars's set. Again: nice way of tying the game's lore into the movie, even if Blood ultimately doesn't have any greater significance to the movie.
Lawrence Blood's sequence looks awesome, I should note.
He does a weird magical matador transformation upon sensing danger!
Panni, though, commands water energy and quickly typhoons him.
And so, another minor cast jobber falls.
The gang arrive to discover they are yet again one step behind the bad guys.
I mean, we could appreciate Laocorn's armored booba.
The team is able to discern that the final piece of the armor is in the Dead Sea, by the way.
They find this out through Joe being a dumbass. Good job, Joe!
I'm glad the videogame logic of Hit Everything works here.
I'd like to take a moment to point out that Joe is voiced by Nobuyuki Hiyama, the voice of everyone's favorite iteration of Link from Ocarina of Time. PS: Mai's VA is Kotono "Sailor Moon" Mitsuishi, and Lily is voiced by Kikuko "Eternally-17 Belldandy" Inoue. This voice cast is 90s as hell.
Anyway, because Sulia and Laocorn are telepathically linked, Sulia learning the piece's final location means he learns it too. Both teams regroup to prepare for their final battle. Mai and Sulia set women's rights back a few decades, Andy hits a tree, and Joe and Terry talk about Sulia.
Again: Sulia is 17.
I don't know how often they have to insinuate this is doomed for people to get the point.
Sloshed Terry and Joe get wiped out pretty fast in an ambush.
Oh hey, Obari's patented single shadowed laser eye! My favorite Obari-ism!
Mai doesn't know the guys got thrashed yet, so she's still horsing around the poolside. We immediately get a butt shot after an asskicking. That's our Obari!
Panni doesn't wait for long to attack Mai and Sulia, though, and Mai finally gets a chance to show her stuff. In combat. Well, also in a rapid clothes-swapping sequence you can pause at key points.
Also Andy shows up to be useful for a change. His entrance rules. I'm not sure if they were trying to evoke some Crying Freeman/Ryoichi Ikegami imagery here, but that's certainly the vibe I got.
Andy and Mai both get some good hits in, for a change. Definitely a great escalation, and Obari definitely keeps up his A-game. The fights are still quick and dirty, no moves wasted. These folks aren't fancy flying show-offs: they're martial artists who've mastered the... "Art of Fighting", perhaps?
So, moral of the story: don't bring a pretty face to a fistfight.
Panni goes out in the only way she could: getting a Mai elbow straight to the boobs.
Sulia gets snatched away in the chaos, and her pendant is the key to getting the last piece of armor. It's time to save Terry's kind-of-girlfriend and maybe possibly the world!
But first: fighting these jerks.
Good, Andy! You look sort of cool!
This is another action scene where it looks like Obari gave the reins to someone else. Namely, his wife at the time, Atsuko Ishida. Her style is pretty recognizable if you've seen her work on stuff like Rayearth and Shamanic Princess.
Also, she has ties to another Neo Geo game: She did art and animation for cult favorite Money Puzzle Exchanger.
There are so many interesting bits of trivia in the Obari/Neo-Geo rabbit hole, I swear.
I appreciate that the cast still calls out their moves, if only because Terry is Doing His Thing™️ and shouting his English attack names, goofy as they are. Again: a shame it's not Satoshi Hashimoto calling out those "CRACK SHOOT"s, but I'll take what I can get.
Images You Can Hear Dot Jaypeg.
Terry runs in to spar with Jamin, who is having a crisis on conscience.
He has suddenly realized that Laocorn is bad, actually, and Terry should stop him.
It's been hinted at through most of the movie that Jamin is unhappy with Laocorn's thirst for power, but of course he only stops when the guy's basically accomplished his goal anyway.
Meanwhile, Sulia tries talking sense into Laocorn, to no avail.
And Obari brings his full A-Game for this sequence. Terry busting in, Laocorn finally donning the whole armor, and interspaced shots of Gaudeamus's statue...
THE FULL ARMOR.
The power of which destroys helicopters miles away.
Only Obari has the courage to dress a guy up in what can only be called the male equivalent to Agent Aika's magic bikini, complete with a crotch shot.
At last, he is invincible!
The gang does their best to try and fight against him.
You know Terry is boned because Laocorn does like Geese and just techs Terry's Rising Tackle.
"TOO EASY", indeed.
I know I keep saying this, but Obari keeping these clashes short and punchy feels so good; no wasted time with flashy flying, these hits are brutal.
But hey, what is an SNK boss if not unendingly cheap?
As it so turns out, the only person who can expose Laocorn's weakness is Sulia. Their psychic connection means that if one is injured, so is the other.This makes for a convenient and tragic workaround to the whole invincibility thing.
Right. In. The. Boob. Stay classy, Obari.
Meanwhile, Terry goes to hit-confirm with a Burn Knuckle, a very daring attempt, and manages to not only defeat Laocorn but beat the literal armor out of him. Laocorn falls to his knees and the weight of his actions settles upon him, as Sulia breathes her last.
You really cannot fault Obari for not knowing how to make an emotional scene.
We all agree that it's okay that Terry Bogard cries though.
Newly naked Laocorn realizes he's been tricked! The spirit of his long-dead ancestor is claiming the armor to revive!
He is promptly vaporized.
Like I said, cheap SNK bosses. Doesn't matter if you beat the first round with only a pixel of health left, you now have to beat the even cheaper, realer Final Boss with that same health bar. And you ran out of quarters.
You know what we need? MAME cheats.
Sulia's lifeforce activates the always-full super meter and invincibility!
And makes Terry cry tears of blood. Oh my god this is amazing
Round 2. FIGHT!
It's a shame that RetroCrush doesn't have this movie in HD, because Terry using his Love Love Power Buster Wolf (my name, not official) is a thing of beauty, as is Mars' fury dissipating.
And the world is saved! Terry's heart has been broken, but his tibbies are out and the world is safe. Letters inviting Terry to King of Fighter tournaments and Smash Brothers reveals can continue to be mailed.
... And they gotta spoil it all because while Terry does The Thing™️ and throws his hat in triumph, he doesn't say "Are you okay?!"
And things just... end. What did we accomplish? A lot of globetrotting, I guess. And Terry has more baggage.
I guess the real Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture was the asses we kicked along the way.
I mean, the ending song is pretty kickass. I've been humming "Whoa-oa-oa, Angel" since I finished watching this movie.
Helps ease the sting of Terry not asking if I'm okay.
It might sound like I'm ragging on this movie. I mean, yeah, it's pretty dumb, and ultimately doesn't have all that much Fatal Fury to it. All of the baddies are original characters—understandable, since characters like Rugal didn't exist at the time, but it does lessen the impact and interest somewhat.
However, this movie is entertaining as hell. It's filled with big fast flashy fights and egregious fanservice, and it's great.
I would say this is Pure Obari, but Gowkaiser and Angel Blade exist.
The tiny shout-outs to actual Fatal Fury baddies—like Geese—can be frustratingly sparse, but yeah. Obari knows how to hit that Id, and when he decides to get artsy he can really nail the vibe. Obari's weirdo cheesecake precedes his reputation for good reason, but it's important to remember that Obari also gave us D-Boy's tragic bittersweet victory against the Radam.
This was a big hit in the mid-late 90s, and it's not hard to see why. Most animated videogame adaptations we saw stateside were toned-down-for-TV garbage. You could tell your friends "oh man, you wanna see this badass anime based on an arcade game? It's got blood and boobs and the fights are AWESOME!"
Being a motion picture with such an artistically-driven man like Obari at the helm means that even when this movie doesn't look it's best it's still eye-catching and memorably stylized. Compared to stuff like the freaking Street Fighter cartoon, or the Darkstalkers cartoon, or—shudder—the Mortal Kombat cartoon.
It's no surprise SNK wants him back to do a KoF short.
SNK has always prided itself on the phenomenal art of its cast—I'm surprised SNK hasn't tried bringing Obari back sooner, frankly. Obari's designs for this film are painfully 90s, but they're memorable. An entire generation of artists grew up on Mai Shiranui's design in this film, for better or worse.
But there's a reason people only remember the Fatal Fury anime and not SNK's other, considerably more disastrous adaptations. Pray that Art of Fighting or Samurai Shodown never hit streaming services. We owe a lot to Obari. You wonderfully crazy, flashy, unrepentantly horny madman.
For anime fans who didn't grow up in the 90s, this is a great glimpse of 1990s anime if you're curious. For older fans, this is great nostalgia-fodder. For Latin Americans: you know the siren song of that old SNK chime calls your name.
So, in Terry's words, I guess you could say that Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture is...
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