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New Fist of the North Star Vol 2
We were tricked! When the first volume of New Fist of the North Star came along, we were under the impression there would be three stories, connected but different.
The first volume did this nicely, wrapping with our hero Kenshiro exactly where we expected him to be.
But in the second volume of New Fist of the North Star, we're told we have to come back for volume three to find out how things pan out. Curse you ADV!
OK, so there's more exploding heads, more fast and furious fighting, more interesting characters. Because the second volume of New Fist of the North Star has excellent replay value and was nearly as much fun as volume one, we didn't stay angry for too long.
Kenshiro, the lone survivor in a line of deadly martial artists, must brave a seldom-used road to obtain serum that will save the life of a young boy back in Last Land. With the clock ticking, he must get past the strange martial arts clan Clifflanders, which guards the passage for its own secret reasons. And their fighting technique is strangely close to that of our hero's.
Meanwhile, another powerful martial artist named Seiji comes to Last Land, looking to claim it as his own. With Kenshiro gone, only the villagers can stand in his way.
The story in the second volume of New Fist of the North Star is very different from the first. Because volume one had an ending, it was simply a more complete tale than volume two. But volume two gives us snippets of Kenshiro's history, and flashbacks of Seiji's childhood. Character development is more prevalent in this second volume, but it's not included at the expense of the action.
There's more prolonged battles here, with both Kenshiro and Seiji challenged by much more qualified opponents than in volume one. It's great to watch Kenshiro just stand there, dodging nonchalantly, while guys throw everything they have at him. It's also great to watch Seiji laugh when he trounces guys who've spent their whole lives learning marital arts.
There's very good camerawork in this second volume, especially the progressively tighter crops in some sequences, each coming in at a different angle. Seiji's flashbacks are a little melodramatic, and when the flashback is being had by someone else, she shouldn't be able to hear what he's thinking.
Also, sometimes Kenshiro has poorly defined facial features, with black holes for eyes. It's supposed to be intense shadows, we know, but it doesn't look right.
The editors tried to catch first-time viewers up with what happened in volume one at the start of the show, but it's prefaced with text saying this is volume two. Anyone who didn't see volume one may question why the opening shows so much in just a minute.
This second volume has a few nice twists, a nuclear war scene that we wished had lasted longer, and excellent background animation. Some of the dialogue is a little over the top, and at least one scene looked hurried and cheap, but none of this detracts enough to not recommend a very good second volume of New Fist of the North Star.
We can rave forever about how clean this DVD looks, but why bore you? It's sharp, detailed, no noticeable flaws. The bits of CGI are placed seamlessly with regular animation. The opening and closing animation is outstanding, though this volume looked a lot darker than the first. Also, that sandstorm looked too much like one from Dune, and that's not a compliment.
WAWAWAWA…WATAH! OK, that's not exactly right, but close to what comes out of Kenshiro's mouth when he's really kicking ass. Both the English and Japanese 5.1 sound come out great, with excellent detail to the fighting noises, and that sound you'd expect to hear when a pitchfork lands in someone's head. The music is laid on a bit thick at times, but it wasn't enough to make us turn the volume down.
We get an interview with first-time voice actor Gackt, who also sang the closing song. Gackt comes across as very full of himself, but it's interesting to hear how he went about voicing one of the characters. We also get recording booth footage of voice actors….Adam Dudley, the voice of bad guy Seiji, looks like he thinks some of the script is as cheesy as we do.
There's six ADV previews, and character bios, with very cool narration by the English voice actors. But, once again, the best special feature is a martial artist interview, where the audience is given an impromptu lesson. This time it's Michael Zang of the Jai Yen Yen school, a Taiwanese named martial arts that roughly translates into cool, or calm heart. The sound isn't very good when he shows off the self-defense techniques, but it's fun to watch.
Bitter that this has turned into a "buy the next volume for the exciting conclusion!" scam, we can only Recommend volume two.