OP: 「蒼天の果てに」 (Souten no Hate ni) by AK-69
“Successor to the Divine Fist of the North Star: Kasumi Kenshiro”
Justice has grown weak… the wicked dwell in the streets of Shanghai… the weak scream helplessly yet again… as they are slaughtered en masse by gangsters armed with guns… who will step up to save everybody… while restoring peace and justice to the galaxy?
Let me preface this intro post by stating that I have no familiarity with the source material. While I’ve read Hokuto no Ken, a manga series that holds a special place in my heart, I know next to nothing about Souten no Ken. It doesn’t help that this is actually a delayed sequel to the 2007 anime, which had previously crashed and burned. Without any other prior knowledge, I’m going to jump into the thick of things, and see how it turned out.
In 193x Shanghai, there’s a gang war in the city between two different factions. The bad guys look to win it all, when suddenly, a muscular guy called Yan Wang (Yamadera Kouichi) swoops in, poking bad guys to death left, right and centre. I didn’t hear an ‘Omae wa Mou Shindeiru‘, which hardly mattered. Yan Wang = Kenshiro. Oh boi, Hokuto Shinken is finally back! This is big news, because it’s a style of martial arts that relies on poking pressure points, to kill other people. For better or worse, it’s not widespread. The techniques are only passed down to one successor every generation, to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. So after Kenshiro takes out the trash, a beautiful girl (presumably Kenshiro’s girlfriend) becomes the Green Gang’s new leader, taking over from her crippled brother. Nevertheless, there’s some ominous premonition with a Big Dipper in the sky, and you know things are going to take a turn for the worse.
Based off the way he spoke, I’m going to assume that Guise (Okiayu Ryotaro) is Jewish and seeks to create a paradise in Shanghai, where anyone can peacefully exist without fear of persecution. I don’t know what that has to do with Erika (Uesaka Sumire), who seems to be a lynchpin in his plans, for whatever reason. But there are rogue elements who do not want to see this utopia come to fruition, so they actively interfere. This would include blowing up a rendez vous point, and sending assassins to kill Erika. Fortunately, her uncle is a badass, who can slice people to death with supersonic karate chops. So he protects her, even though it seems like he’s slowly dying of an illness. We learn he’s looking for Guise, who’ll become the next person to protect Erika.
However, it was not to be. Guise gets penetrated to death by a shady character, who holds a deep grudge against any Hokuto practitioners. Said baddie vanishes into the shadows. As a result, Kenshiro and Uncle get caught up in a misunderstanding, and seek to settle it by facing off, against each other’s manly techniques. With all that testosterone building up in the air, who’s gonna come out on top?
Souten no Ken Re:Genesis was listed for next week on our preview, so I got completely blindsided when it came up a week earlier compared to the schedule. Got a lot on my plate? No problem, I’ll just pull out a quick intro! Or so I thought…
Turns out the prologue gave me a false impression of what was to come. What met my eyes following the OP theme was an absolute abomination, and I developed ocular cancer within ten seconds of watching these humanoid oblongs shooting up a marketplace. When used correctly, 3DCG becomes an interesting technique with potential to catch on. But we saw none of that here, because this stuff was about as bad as Berserk’s 3DCarcinoGens, if not worse. The character models looked terrible, lacking any of the rough charm that could be found in the manga. Had these mafioso came out of the screen and gunned me down, I’d probably die of second hand embarrassment from their sheer ugliness, before succumbing to any bullet wounds. Yet my biggest issues came from the overall fluidity of the sequences, with the movements being janky and unnatural. Everything seemed stiff and mechanical, which makes me worry about how they’ll approach the action scenes, since it will be the most important part of the anime. From making Ajin and Blame! to producing this hot pile of garbage. Polygon Pictures, what is you doing?
To top it off, there was a huge information dump. Everything happened all at once, leaving me clueless about what was going on. I understand that we’re going full steam from the prequel. But given how it’s been a while, it would certainly have helped if an attempt was made to refresh our memories, which would offer newcomers the chance to settle in as well.
In my opinion, this adaptation of an old classic turned out EVEN WORSE than Berserk. I didn’t think anyone would be able to top that for a long time, but somehow, they managed it within the span of a year. Feel free to stick around if you want to see some action unfold on the screen. But my advice? This is a complete dumpster fire of an adaptation. Do yourself a favour and go read the manga.
ED: 「祈りの星空」 (Inori no Hoshizora) by Sumire Uesaka