Manga of the Month: Fist of the North Star

Front cover of volume 1 of Fist of the North Star. It is a pearlescent drawing of a frowning, muscled man with his shirt open. On his chest you can see four round scars. The FOTNS logo is red.

Fist of the North Star by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara

After nuclear disaster strikes, the world is recast as a place where water is a highly sought resource controlled by would-be rulers who use brutality and violence to reign over small oases and enslave those who can’t fight back. Across the devastated landscape, survival is uncertain, betrayal is routine, and the creed of the land is might makes right.

Kenshiro is justice in this savage, unjust world.

Kenshiro is the inheritor of the assassination martial art known as Hokuto Shinken and he unleashes its pressure points-based technique to swiftly kill those who prey on the innocent. Kenshiro is grieving the loss of his abducted fiance Yuria; he sees her in the many people trying to simply live their lives in the barren wasteland. Despite his often stoic nature, his tears flow and his anger flares often in service to those he protects. And as Kenshiro learns where his “brothers” of the Hokuto Shinken school reside, he follows a blood-soaked path to set the world right.

At this point, most fans of anime and manga have probably heard of Fist of the North Star through its killer opening or the various memes even if they haven’t actually watched or read the real thing. So why talk about it now? The editions VIZ is currently releasing—hardcover (physical release, I’m getting it digitally), gorgeous full-color and 2-color art pages included—are something I couldn’t have imagined licensed for U.S. release even five years ago. So this makes it a great time to read this classic to see how much influence it had on shonen and seinen manga like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Berserk, from the incredibly detailed art style to the fight sequences to the special techniques.

(Kate’s special disclaimer: Is Fist of the North Star for everyone? No. It is brutal, gory, glorifies killing, and depicts all woman as childlike and naive no matter their age. Clearly, I recognize these things about Fist of the North Star but I also find its pulpy, absurd story and characters compelling and compulsively readable.)

-Kate

Anime NYC 2019: Code Geass: Gundam Reconguista in G Movie I

hisui_icon_4040_round Yoshiyuki Tomino is a treasure. More precisely he might be one of those cursed treasures whose tremendous powers come at a terrible cost but in the anime industry that is just being extremely on-brand. The clearest example of the demon sword that Tomino has become is his last TV series Gundam Reconguista in G. I know it is slightly controversial to say but there are some cool things about the show. It has some amazing mecha designs, memorable characters, interesting setting concepts, and even some engaging and clever themes. But I also have to say that Gundam Reconguista in G is a hot mess. The characters go through unexplained Tomino mood swings and allegiance changes on the drop of a hat, the world-building is random and spotty to the point where it seems deliberately obtuse, the pacing could generously be called messy, and it always feels like it is the first draft of something that need three more drafts to be functional. It has distinctly earned its reputation despite having some really good points in its favor. I enjoyed it but it is undoubtedly the durian of the Gundam series.

So with any of these Gundam compilation movies, there is always a faint glimmer of hope that this could be the second draft to clean up a messy TV series. The original Gundam movies did a lot to streamline the somewhat messy and bloated TV series. Past that point, the compilation movies are a mixed bag with far too many of them feeling like a sloppy clip show more than a properly curated affair. The problem is usually they just show the best parts of the TV series without any of the proper connective tissue to have any of it make sense. They often wind up chopping out the important little parts without trimming enough of the filler fat.

The thing is Gundam Reconguista in G feels like a series that MIGHT be saved with some proper editing. There are a whole bunch of somewhat useless storylines that could be trimmed or remixed into something far more viable while adding in some new informative scenes to flesh out things that seemed to come out of nowhere. Assuming this would happen is utter foolishness but this series would also benefit much more than others so it seemed like something to check out just in case.

Continue reading

Anime NYC 2019: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection

hisui_icon_4040_round I already mentioned that I had the most uncomfortable viewing experience for Weathering with You but I possibly had the most “authentic” viewing experience for Lelouch of the Re;surrection. I say “authentic” because it was sort of the worst seats in the house but there were be no set up that could be envisioned as more Code Geass that I could think of. First of all the music in the room was just a tad too loud. They raised the volume to counteract a potentially noisy crowd but it mostly only made the crowd louder to compensate. To the right of me was a vaping CC who pretty much smoked her little device the whole movie. Behind me were a row of rowdy fujoshi. They had seen the movie before (a fact they mentioned several times) so they mostly just shouted various comments at the screen with an emphasis on anything hot or to do with their fan fiction. It was not full MST3K but it was a fairly wordy unwanted commentary track.

Overall I still experienced the movie fairly well it just was probably the best encapsulation of the Code Geass fandom in a single solitary moment. If anything I probably would have enjoyed a little more had they not been there but such is sometimes the price of going to a live screening.

By the way, there are going to be some MAJOR spoilers for the Code Geass and the compilation movies but truth be told you should not have anything to do with this movie if you have not seen those.

Continue reading