The bottom line: Things really heat up in this volume, a no-frills budget release of episodes #37-72. With a remastered presentation that you won’t find short of importing a Japanese box set, this series remains an affordable staple for any fan of 80’s anime or stylized violence.
Packaging: I’m a big fan of the way this series is being released. None of the discs overlap in their M-lock disc case, which is good for preventing scratches. Additionally, the size of the case is just slightly thinner than two standard DVD keep cases, so it stands out without standing out too much. There are no gimmicks, just quick and easy access to your DVDs in durable polypropylene packaging that’s resistant to water and would take 5000 years to decompose.
But this time around, the cover is bad. I’ll admit that from several feet away it’s passable, but it certainly doesn’t look anywhere near as good as the volume 1 cover. It’s actually a vector created from several frames of a panning shot in episode 37, which I’ve reproduced to the above right.
Content: Gosh, I sure love this part of the series, where we finally meet Raoh, Toki (he’s like Jesus but better), Yuda, and Souther. Why use words? Here are some screenshots.
Subtitles: The translation is taken from the streaming Toei subs, with some minimal tweaks to make the language more natural. All in all, the effect is better but not perfect. Some of the awkward language from Toei still makes it through, and some of the changes struck me as inconsequential.
(I wish the subs would either translate the “Ken-Oh” moniker that Raoh assigns himself or explain what it means. It basically means “King of Fists” or “First Fist” or something; Raoh isn’t giving himself a new name for the hell of it.)
Sound: Now that so many main characters have been introduced, it’s worth noting just how great the Japanese voice acting in this series is. Yes, it’s a cavalcade of gravelly machismo, but despite that, every character sounds unique and communicates the emotion of their lines effectively. The voice acting is a huge part of what makes it so fun to blast through episodes.
Final thoughts: Despite the reputation that the very beginning of the FotNS anime is chock-full of unnecessary filler, this volume doesn’t fare much better when you get down to brass tacks. The first volume adapted the first 51 chapters of manga, and this one adapts the next 53 chapters.
This whole re-watching experience has me thinking that maybe those rumored Toei compilation movies will be a good way for new fans to get acquainted with Kenshiro and the gang. There’s just an inconsiderate amount of filler in the anime which I might not have minded under other circumstances, but make marathon viewings less fun. Very often the filler is cleanly inserted and has no impact on the rest of the story whatsoever, so it would be easy to compile the good stuff and omit the bad for compilation movies. But because the filler at this point in the show often takes up halves or thirds of an episode, giving a list to people of what episodes to skip doesn’t work very well.
Still, these DVDs are required owning for Fist of the North Star fans. If those Toei compilation discs are done especially well (and that’s one hell of a big “if”), they may be the best option for newcomers short of reading the manga itself.