Beat on your Shields: Toyoo Ashida Now Rests in Valhalla

Toyoo Ashida, the 67 year old anime director responsible for both the Fist of the North Star anime series and movie, passed away on Saturday. If you want a massive list of the anime he worked on, ANN has you covered.

Just as in the case of Satoshi Kon, who died in August last year, there isn’t much I can reliably tell you about what kind of man Toyoo Ashida was or what he stood for. If you want that, hit the Manga UK Blog. I can, however, talk about his work, and if an elderly anime director ever had a last hurrah, it was Toyoo Ashida when he directed Souten Kouro for Madhouse in 2009.

Add Souten Kouro to the long list of modern Madhouse anime that work really well despite a low animation budget. An adaptation of the Kodansha Award winning manga of the same name, Souten Kouro is a reimagining of the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. I know what you may be thinking, there’s no shortage of those.

But Souten Kouro is interesting because it’s not all nonstop violence or action. Instead it’s focused on two things: Chinese war tactics in the second century, and the spirit of men. It’s easy to see why this 26-episode series isn’t licensed, or even halfway fansubbed yet. If modern day anime fans were to take an interest in something like this, it would have to not take itself seriously. And be color coded. And bishonen. And based on a video game.

Oh snap! I think I just slammed Sengoku Basara.

RIP Toyoo Ashida. I don’t know what series of events lured you back into the world of anime direction in your mid-60s, but I’m glad they occurred. Directing 152 episodes of Fist of the North Star undoubtedly took its fair share of piss and vinegar, and you showed us you still had it in spades at the very end.