Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle
By Evan O.
8 months after Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf came Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle, and within the first 10 minutes, it already establishes itself as a considerably better OVA. The runtime has been extended from 45 to 70 minutes and the previous director (Hiroshi Fukutomi of Flint the Time Detective non-fame,) has been ousted in favor of future Rurouni Kenshin director Kazuhiro Furuhashi. Most of the problems I had with Legend of the Hungry Wolf have been fixed: The plot has more time to play out naturally, the fights are longer and more engaging, and the subplot, while still not great per se, is a significant improvement over Lilly’s.
After Geese Howard was defeated by Terry Bogard in the previous OVA, his half-brother, German nobleman Wolfgang Krauser comes to Southtown to look for him. Krauser finds and defeats Terry, who was weakened after a battle with tae-kwon-do master Kim Kaphwan. Krauser, wishing to prove his true strength, issues a challenge: Come to his castle after he’s recovered.
However, Terry’s loss really gets to him, leading him to give up fighting and take up drinking. Hearing of Terry’s defeat, Andy Bogard and Mai Shiranui, a scantily-clad ninja obsessively in love with him try to pursue Krauser by going to Germany. Meanwhile, Joe Higashi is sent to retrieve Terry, but after being appalled by Terry’s sudden alcoholism, decides to pursue Krauser himself. As for the subplot, it revolves around Tony, the son of a deceased street fighter and his biggest fan. Despite his mother wanting him to keep out of the fighting business, Tony relentlessly pursues Terry and eventually is the one who snaps Terry out of his slump.
I don’t know what happened Nihon Ad Systems (NAS) in the 8 months between the Fatal Fury OVAs (For all I know, they might’ve been in production at the same time,) but The New Battle improves on nearly everything from Legend of the Hungry Wolf. While the animation quality itself hasn’t changed, some of the errors in character design were fixed (No more blue-haired Andy or “starless jacket” Terry.) The soundtrack is just as great as before, with more arrangements from the game. The biggest change, however, comes in the form of the pacing. As I stated in my previous review, what ultimately kneecapped Legend of the Hungry Wolf was its 45-minute runtime, which lead to really short fights and a compressed plot. This is not the case in The New Battle: The plot never feels rushed, and in fact, the extended runtime allows for more of the game’s roster to appear in somewhat meaningful roles (as opposed to the quick cameos seen in Legend.) Even though Terry is still the main focus of the story, we get to see him lose fights, get into trouble, and doubt himself. We also get to see Krauser’s backstory, and why he’s so adamant in fighting Terry at full strength. Speaking of fights, almost every fight in the OVA lasts more than a few punches (The only really short fight was Andy fighting Laurence Blood, which in fairness, was preceded by a fight with Mai,) and we even get to see a fight between Terry and Andy, which was teased twice in Legend but never happened.
That said, there are still a few issues I had with The New Battle, the first of which was not a big problem in Legend: Some of the voice acting. All the returning voice actors are fine (In fact, Joe Higashi’s VA improved,) but for some reason, a few of the new voice actors sound terrible. The two worst offenders are Michael Dobson (Who would go on to play Nappa in the Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Z) as Axel Hawk and Sarah Sawatsky as Mai Shiranui. Axel has a really bad Southern accent while Mai sounds like a generic teenage anime girl. Also, they left one scene undubbed entirely: A fight scene between Joe and Big Bear. Apparently, this was cut from Viz’s original release for reasons unknown (Maybe they thought it wasn’t plot relevant) but it’s restored on the Discotek DVD release, and, whether you have the English or Japanese track on, this undubbed scene is going to appear, and if you’re watching the dub, there’s a good chance you didn’t turn the subtitles on.
There’s also some issues I had with the plot. For example, Geese Howard, who isn’t dead after his fight in the last OVA, doesn’t do much in terms of the plot: He talks to Krauser in the beginning; a short while later we see a flashback where a young Krauser attacks a young Geese, giving him a scar on his eye in the process, implying that Geese wants revenge on Krauser. What does he do about it? Nothing! He doesn’t appear in the OVA until after Krauser is defeated, whereupon he laughs. That’s about it. Geese might as well have not been in the OVA at all if they were going to do so little with him.
As with Legend, I was not keen on the subplot. While I do appreciate that it was integrated into the main plot, in that removing Tony from the story would significantly change the outcome, Tony just comes across as a brat: Even though his mother doesn’t want him to become a fighter for a perfectly valid reason, he totally ignores her and chases down Terry (even hitching a ride on top of the train Terry’s riding in,) and the way he motivates Terry is by getting the shit beat out of him by Axel (which, depending on your outlook, may actually be a positive.)
Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle is not perfect, but it is the anime that Legend of the Hungry Wolf should have been: A well-told love letter to the series.
- The fight scenes are much improved from its predecessor
- Great soundtrack
- Faithful to the games
- Terry’s more interesting now that we get to see his flaws
- Geese’s role in the OVA amounts to a glorified cameo
- Some voice actors (especially Axel’s and Mai’s) don’t do a very good job