Fatal Fury : The Motion Picture
By Evan O.
I had high expectations for Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture. The first Fatal Fury OVA, Legend of the Hungry Wolf, showed some promise but was ultimately crippled by its less-than-an-hour runtime. Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle made improvements in every area where the first one failed. Now with a theatrical release, and thus, presumably, a higher budget, The Motion Picture should have been even better. Unfortunately, The New Battle’s director Kazuhiro Furuhashi did not return, replaced by character designer Masami Obari. Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture only barely relates to the OVAs despite being in the same canon, and the story it tells is just kind of boring.
The plot is very unusual. While the Fatal Fury OVAs had stories based on the games, The Motion Picture presents an original story that doesn’t feel like it fits the characters at all. Outside of Terry, Andy, Joe, and Mai, the characters from the game only make glorified cameos while the rest of the story is about original characters. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out this wasn’t even supposed to be a Fatal Fury movie at all, and the brand was attached late in production to make some extra money. A guy named Laocorn Gaudeamus and a gang of possible homosexuals travel the world looking for the pieces to the “Armor of Mars,” which supposedly will make him invincible. Laocorn’s sister, Sulia recruits Terry and his friends to stop him by finding the remaining pieces. There’s also a romantic subplot between Terry and Sulia, with Terry having to get over the death of Lilly from the first OVA.
The animation is inconsistent. At times, the animation looks great, surpassing the OVAs. Unfortunately, at other times (most notably when Terry fights Laocorn’s goons at an arcade,) the art quality is sacrificed in favor of fluidity and it looks awful. This isn’t me nitpicking in-betweens like a Dragon Ball Super hater; they hang on some bad-looking shots. This would be fine if this were a third OVA, but this was released in theaters!
The dub is generally solid: Sarah Sawatsky has been replaced by Lisa Ann Beley as Mai, which is a significant improvement, and most of the new characters sound good with one glaring exception: the main antagonist Laocorn. I don’t know what directions were given to Matt Hill, but the end result sounds like a 12 year-old trying to impersonate Shadow the Hedgehog and I just can’t take him seriously at all. He could have used the Ed voice and sounded more intimidating. Also, I don’t know if the Discotek DVD release is glitched or not, but during the scene where the gang flies to Rhodes, I think there’s supposed to be a conversation between Mai, Joe and Terry, and you can clearly see their lips moving, but the audio is just Sulia monologuing about Alexander the Great. I even switched to the Japanese vocal track and the same thing happened. Needless to say, it really threw me out of the experience.
In the OVAs, I hated the subplots, but was mostly fine was the main plots. The Motion Picture presents the opposite problem, with a pretty good subplot but a boring main plot. Sulia is definitely my favorite of the anime-exclusive Fatal Fury characters, since she’s more active in the main plot than Lily or Tony, has a comparatively interesting backstory, and her voice actress gives one of the better performances in the dub. That said, the second Joe mentions that Terry is afraid that everyone who loves him is doomed to die, you know that Sulia isn’t going to live to the end of the movie. The subplot doesn’t redeem the rest of the movie’s story, which is kind of a cross between the OVAs (obviously,) Dragon Ball Z and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, but not nearly as interesting as the latter two. Much of the film consists of Sulia giving exposition about the history of the armor. Laocorn’s a really boring villain. He has a somewhat interesting backstory, in that he first wants the armor so he can protect Sulia, but outside of flashbacks, he’s just a generic fireball-throwing villain that gloats a lot. I can’t even remember the names of his henchmen, which consist of a big man, a Casanova, and “the girl.”
Even more disappointing are the fights. They’re at least better than the seconds-long fights in Legend of the Hungry Wolf, but they aren’t exactly memorable. In fact, the ending fight of Terry vs. a now sentient Armor of Mars is probably the worst fight of the whole Fatal Fury trilogy: It starts within the last 3-4 minutes and mostly amounts to Terry screaming loudly and then exploding the temple. Apparently, he used the Buster Wolf technique from the games, but it looks nothing like it. This pisses me off even more because Geese Howard makes a 30-second cameo where he’s become even stronger than before, but he doesn’t fight anyone; he just uses his powers to destroy some trees. It felt like it was just shoved in there to remind that you’re watching a Fatal Fury movie.
There is one more element that has been added to The Motion Picture: a shitload of fanservice. This shouldn’t be surprising considering Obari’s other work, which mostly consists of hentai (Angel Blade, Viper GTS), but it comes as a shock considering that the OVAs had very little fanservice despite Obari being the character designer on them. There’s several nip-slips, including an inexplicable one when Laocorn’s henchwoman gets into a 20 second fight with Laurence Blood, and apparently, Sulia’s method of healing Terry consists of stripping down to her underwear and laying on top of him. What the hell.
I knew coming into Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture knowing it would be different, but I expected that if it wasn’t going to be faithful to the games, it would at least be interesting, especially after the surprise that was The New Battle. Unfortunately, with an unengaging plot, wildly varying art, and an incredibly stupid climax, Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture simply isn’t worth your time.
- The music is still excellent
- Best subplot out of all the Fatal Fury anime
- Most of the voice acting is fine
- Inconsistent animation
- Main antagonist sounds like he’s going through puberty
- The plot feels detached from the OVAs, and even if it wasn’t it’s not very good.
- Out-of-nowhere fanservice