(Anime Review) Fist of the North Star: Arc 3

Wow, I wasn’t expecting to be feeling this way about this series.  It’s much more soulfully saddening then I ever thought it would be, but in a very good way.  Since this is Arc 3 and I don’t know who is actually reading all of this, I’m going to share some spoilers.  Only hints though.  Each arc ends with a tragic death from somebody Kenshiro has befriended.  So far, the three have been a friend that turned against him, a friend that Kenshiro met at the beginning of arc 2, and a friend/brother that has watched over Kenshiro for a very long time.  While Kenshiro grows stronger from each person he watched die, he is also fulfilling the North Star’s destiny of tragedy.  Anyway, let’s dig deeper into this a little bit.

Characters:

From a character stand point, it’s pretty much the same cast as the last two parts except for some new additions.  Shu, the master that Kenshiro met when he was a boy and the South Star White Heron Master.  Since Shu defated Kenshiro, Shu was supposed to murder him, but Shu took his own eye sight, because he saw too much potential in Kenshiro to kill.  He reunites with shu during this arc.  Souther, master of the South Star Phoenix Fist and the villain of the beginning of Arc three, is somebody that tried to force Shu to kill Kenshiro during the event above.  He’s also attacks villages, kills towns of people, and abduct children to work on his pyramid as slave labor.  Yeah, that bad of a guy.  The last new addition is Ryuga, master of the Celestial Wolf Fist.  He is also from the wandering star of Sirius and is a lone wolf.  He is also the brother of Kenshiro’s lost beloved Yuria.

Art/Animation/Sountrack:

Same things as part two, except for some well animated scenes that go beyond what you would expect it to.  Some scenes from the a show produced in the 80’s are just as powerful today as it was back then.

Story:

Arc three has three different mini arcs in it.  I’ll quickly spill out the general detail of each and give my thoughts on them.

1) Stop the Souther Arc:  Since Roah has left his empire behind to recover from his wounds he received fighting Kenshiro, Souther fills up the power vaccum with his reign of tyranny.  Kenshiro joins up with Shu and his resistance to find against Souther.  This was a very compelling start of this arc.  Not only because there is an added layer of fleshed out characters with motivations behind them, despite how terrible they might be, but we see some real growth from Kenshiro here.  This is the only arc so far that Kenshiro has had to face adversity at this level.  This is also the arc that Kenshiro showed that he doesn’t need his big brother, Toki, to stand up for him anymore.  Kenshiro can fight his own battles.

2) This is the shorter, but most powerful section.  Before Roah fully heels his wounds and takes the reigns of his empire again, Toki decides to face him and fulfill his childhood oath.  Considering that Toki is sick, you know the result of this battle already.  That doesn’t change the fact that this is probably the most emotionally charged and well animated section of Fist of the North.  A-plus material.

3) Lastly, the big lead into the final conflict between Roah and Kenshiro.  Ryuga, from the wandering star of Sirius, sees two great trees of the next era.  Roah, the more tyrant type, and Kenshiro, the one who brings happiness to the world.  Having served Roah for a while, he eventually decides to fight Kenshiro to see who should bring in a greater era.  Now, once again, the arc ends in tragedy, but in a way that you would expect.

Flaws:

While the story telling is still solid, I don’t feel like the three parts of this arc really flowed that well.  Like, were did Ryuga come from?  Roah wanders around by himself most of the time and we never see Ryuga until the last part of this arc.  Doesn’t make sense to me.  There are also things like the backstory with Shu, Souther, and Kenshiro.  While this establishes more of Kenshiro’s back story and we learn more about the training behind the Hokuto Shinken’s style, but I can’t help but feel like it came out of nowhere in some ways.  I also feel the same about Toki and Roah’s battle.  This also establishes Roah as more of a layered character then before and provides the backstory between them, but it also feels like it came out of nowhere.  I know the story has been escalating a lot, but Toki and Roah’s fight could have happened at any time and the result would have been the same.  Still, the action and the emotion behind everything simply wins everything over for me.  This a battle shonen series, one of the earliest and easily the source material that came after it, so in some ways these flaws can be given a pass.

Conclusion:

By now, you should know that I recommend watching this series.  Of course, watch the two other arcs before stepping into this one.  The series is building toward the battle between Kenshiro and Roah and I hope that build up is worth it.  So yeah, see you when I complete the final arc of Fist of the North Star: 1.  I’m thinking of taking a break between the final arc of 1 and the start of 2 so I can finally watch Stranger things and Luke Cage, when that appears.

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