Kasumi Kenshiro, also known as Yan Wang or the King of Death, is a Tokyo professor and the 62nd successor to the deadly assassin art known as Hokuto Shinken. He leaves his teaching job and travels to Shanghai after getting word that his old Qing Bang Triad friend, Pan Guang-Lin, and his friend's sister and Kasumi's love interest, Pan Yu-Ling, are in trouble. While in Shanghai, he encounters and fights the three families of Hokuto: Hokuto Sonkaken, Hokuto Soukaken, and Hokuto Ryuukaken. He does all this while revolting against the corrupt Hong Hua Triads to restore honor and power to the Qing Bang.
Fist of the Blue Sky (BlS) is the prequel of the famous Fist of the North Star (NoS), showing the feats of the previous holder of the most lethal martial art in the world. Since I already made a review about the core series and because many elements are similar, I will focus mostly on comparing the two titles rather than starting from scratch.- The artwork in BlS is definitely a lot better than NoS. It is still very realistic when it comes to body figures and does focus a lot on cool fighting poses, just like the original did. Plus, thanks to computer technology, the amount of deformed or poorly drawn characters is a lot smaller. - The backgrounds also have much more variety in details and the colour palette is broader. NoS was taking place in a devastated world and almost everywhere it was just a brownish desert and some grey ruins of buildings. On the other hand, BlS takes place back when the world was still at its prime, and thus you see a much greater variety in uniforms, building decorations, street lights, and general the world looks a lot richer and interesting; albeit less scary because it is not devastated. - The animation is unfortunately not better than NoS. The characters are still standing too still most of the time and even battles use speed lines and simple blurs to make you think they are moving. It is a very cheap method that makes it boring. - Lightning/ Visual Effects are also not better. Although they are now computer generated, they still feel artificial to the most part. Blood spills in a very generic way and the impact punches have on a body just looks lifeless. - Voice acting is pretty much as it was before; mostly macho-talk. It’s just that the amount of humor is higher and many minor goons constantly make really bad remarks with a retarded tone of voice. Takes away the serious feeling of the original.- Music themes are nothing much. NoS had really awesome and memorable OST, but here it is just average.- Sound effects are as cheesy as they were in the original.- The overall story in BlS is far less exciting than in NoS. It is no longer an epic struggle for who gets to control the world but a simple local war amongst yakuza members. The Kenshiro of this series just wants to avenge the death of his fellow yakuza. He is also looking for his woman as well but that part seems to have very little importance. - BlS has far less filler airtime than NoS, which means far more actual plot. So here the hero will not spend 20 episodes fighting weak goons before he finds the big shots and has a decent battle with them. It is far less predictable and repetitive too. - On the other hand, BlS also stretches each event to last as much as possible, which means that things that could have been told in one episode, now last two. It is much easier to get bored as the pacing of the actual storyline is too slow, even compared to the old. - Character interaction amongst the main players is very loose. While in NoS you would have each strong fighter to know the other strong fighters for many years and somehow affect their lives, here it feels like most of them are separate from one another and are thrown in the story when the plot requires for it. - The cast of BlS feels a lot less exciting than that of NoS. The most powerful fighters are hardly as ambitious or imposing as those in the original.- On the other hand, they also feel more humane and colourful. This series’ Kenshiro is a lot weaker and sometimes makes mistakes. Plus he doesn’t rush into killing everything that stands in his way and even shows compassion for some minor villains. His variety in special attacks is also far narrower which in effect makes him not almighty every time. On the other hand, many of the original’s special attacks are now used by his opponents, which makes them far more dangerous and varied in the way they fight. - Most key characters in BlS can easily be seen as counterparts of those in NoS. They are not too boring and you even think they are more complicating than their originals. - Most mooks in BlS don’t look like gay punk clowns; they are typical black-suited yakuza members. That makes them too generic. - Unlike NoS, BlS, was not fully adapted to anime. That means that there is no conclusion and you are left with a gap of what follows. You just need to go read the manga. - BlS has definitely much less value and novelty to offer than NoS simply because it feels boring for the time it came out. NoS was the first long martial arts shonen and for its time it was way too brutal and cool. BlS came out when the market was full of other shonen, most of which look cooler. Not always better but definitely cooler.- BlS is overall less enjoyable than NoS. It has less imposing characters, less memorable scenes, and for the time it came out feels too boring. Plus, it is incomplete. ART SECTION: NoS: 6/10, BlS: 8/10 SOUND SECTION: NoS: 7/10, BlS: 5/10 STORY SECTION: NoS: 5/10, BlS: 3/10 CHARACTER SECTION: NoS: 6/10, BlS: 4/10 VALUE SECTION: NoS: 8/10, BlS: 4/10 ENJOYMENT SECTION: NoS: 7/10, BlS: 3/10 VERDICT: NoS: 6.5 / 10, BlS: 4.5 / 10
STORY: 6.5 If you've watched Souten no ken (Fist of the blue sky)'s predecessor and sequel Hokuto no ken (Fist of the north star) then you will be a tad disappointed by the storyline. This has always been the annoying thing about all the Hokuto series. They are relatively the same and yet they always pull you back. However unlike Hokuto no Ken, the prequel takes place in Shanghai in the 1930s and not in a ravaged "199X". The story is based on Kenshiro's adoptive uncle and namesake Kenshiro Kasumi who resides in Japan. However his fate leads him back to his origin: Shanghai after he realizes that many of his "Peng-you" (Sort of like a lifetime friends who protect each other without seeking anything in return) are in trouble. The way the story is set is reminiscent of stories of old; fate, love, honor and revenge play a big role; you can tell that it is largely inspired by the previous hokuto series. And like that series Souten no ken appeals to your masculine side and makes no excuses as to why so much blood is shed. ANIMATION: 9.5 Superb! The animation will blow you away when you first see it, not necessarily in the good way though. In fact i found myself shocked at how detailed the characters were and the reason why I don't give the animation a 10 is the way the characters' expression are sometimes static and unchanging, sometimes their mouths don't even move when they are ''talking''! This relative to great animation makes it feel a bit weird to watch. Nonetheless I give it a 10 for the animation it perfectly conveys the characters' personas. SOUND: 7 The opening theme is a bit generic but catchy, its no You-wa-shock but it certainly has a good tune. The voice-acting of the main characters was passable but was dreadful when it came to its several minor charcters. Especially when all the henchmen magically say things simultaneously. CHARACTERS: 6.5: Again I have a problem with the minor characters all being the same guy but i think the main cast makes up for this. Ok so Kasumi Kenshiro is the exact replication of his successor but he still has some unique qualities; mainly his dog-like sense of smell and his love for cigarettes. He also has problem with people having a problem (you'll see what i mean). Charles de guisse was a character i expected a lot more from but ended up taking a subordinate role but that's okay because other characters more than make up for this. The essence of martial arts between Hokuto disciples is also a quality to watch out for. I can't comment on the characters too much without spoiling the story but all in all i guess i'm satisfied. OVERALL: 6.5 If you haven't watched Fist of the North star before this then I suggest you watch it first but i have to say despite this being so similar it is entirely different. I guess what I'd like to say is that its like a modern version of the previous version (despite this being set before the original). If you like masculine stories about chivalry and martial arts then this is one for you! Its not going to leave you citing it as brilliant but its worth your time I suppose.
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