Fist of the North Star

release year: 1984
genre: anime, specifically animated martial arts/action
viewing setting: home DVD, 3/26-29/04

synopsis: A post-apocalyptic wasteland is lorded over by thugs, who meet their ends thanks to an untra-powerful hero on a mission of revenge.

impressions: This isn't just one movie or episode, but rather the first seven (of 35, I am told, that make up the first season.) In 1986 an animated "movie" of this was released, but now I realize that it was little more than bits and pieces of 35 (or perhaps 135, as there were more seasons after the first) TV episodes, strung together to make an action epic that could be viewed in one sitting. Anyway...this review covers episodes 1-7, at about 23 minutes apiece. This was some of the first anime, and is probably still some of the most violent. Not more than a few minutes goes by without a fight and some messy, well-deserved deaths. The storyline is simple: good guy and girlfriend are ambushed by bad guy, who used to be good guy's best friend but wanted his girlfriend so bad that he beat good guy to within an inch of his life, then took the unwilling girlfriend in the hopes that she'd decide to love him. Why bad guy didn't just kill good guy is beyond me. There's more...they had the same teacher for their ultra-powerful martial arts techniques, and there are brothers to the good guy, who covet his power and so turn evil. All of this was super-condensed in the "movie" version but is much more spread-out in this TV version. Bottom line: watching this as it was meant to be watched will require about 12 hours of your time just for the first season. Bottom line #2: for bloody fighting and exploding of bodies, this series will fulfill.

something this movie has that no other movie has: A guy who can touch you and cause you to explode.

acting: Not really applicable. I would like to point out that in typical anime fashion, there is an annoying kid who seldom takes the overall situation seriously.

final word: On the surface, it's simple, bloody, and easily watchable. A deeper analysis reveals some interesting themes of martial arts, betrayal, revenge, and hope. My viewing of it falls somewhere between these two points.

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