Well I finally got down to watching this movie. I have quite a bit to say about it , the only problem is where do I began? Well I will start by saying I enjoyed certain aspects very much and others I found rather bothersome. My gripes with the film have to do with slight changes in the continuity but they are acceptable. My favorite aspect of this movie was the character of Reina which I will discuss later on.
My first thoughts on the movie are that I enjoyed the retelling of Kenshiro vs Souther coupled with the new elements. I was a bit annoyed with a few things however. My biggest complaint even though to many people this would be very minor was how Rin/Lynn did not go to Shu's place but instead encountered and befriended Reina. I did enjoy the interactions between Rin and Reina but I was irritated by the change of Rin not witnessing things like the poisoned food by Souther and I was surprised that she was absent. I don't really have any other issue with the film except for the scene where Toki just waltzes into Raoh's palace. I found that scene ridiculous to say the least.
Caution my next paragraph contains spoilers for both the Hokuto no Ken Manga and the Rei Gaiden spin off manga.
I consider Raoh a hero but many of his actions throughout the series try my patience with him.
understand that he killed Rei in order to help build the future as Rei was in his way and I totally get that he wanted to rule without love as he saw it was a hindrance to the strength that he thought was necessary to change the world for the better. Still two of his deeds in particular in the franchise get under my skin. First and foremost are how in the manga he killed a young girl that was becoming close to the character Baran seemingly in order to teach him to rid himself of love. One fateful day, Raoh and his army passed a ruined village where they found a young girl who was catatonic. Taking pity on her, Baran gave her his cloak, however, Raoh ordered him to end her suffering. Baran couldn't do it and Raoh deserted him after taking the child's life. My other bone to pick with Raoh as a character is how he used a special pressure point to actually make Karen unable to feel love. This way she would follow him more loyally and be more likely to kill.
In this movie Reina says Raoh has a kinder heart than anyone. Imo how could such a person commit those acts I mentioned earlier? Regardless of what they were ultimately trying to do and the whole ends justify the means bullshit. I know Raoh was hurting and he was suffering and he did everything he did in order to help save the world in his own way. The child in Baran's story was bad enough butl I just can't accept what he did to Karen. Not to mention he can't be the kindest since Kenshiro and Toki exist lol. In this movie we see the flashback of when he was leaving Shura and gave Reina the necklace and they cried for each other so Raoh loved her but he loved Yuria as well. I found the inclusion of Reina to be the most interesting part of the movie due to this relationship. ( I wish Kaioh had made an appearance in the flashbacks. )
I was slightly perturbed by how
Batto's " mother " was alive at this time as well.I really enjoyed the retelling of Kenshiro and Southers battles. While it's true the anime did a better job that is mostly due to the time constraints due to this being a film. Not surprisingly even though this movie is supposed to be about Raoh due to Kenshiro's presence I found he somewhat stole the show. I really enjoyed the animation in his fights with Shu and Souther and the imagery and animation is one thing I have to give 10 out of 10 props to this movie for. The scene in which Shiba
sacrifices his live for Kenshirowas very well done and I loved that it took place in a darker background and the way the rocks fell. The imagery of Reina taking out weak enemies on her horse with her sword in the beginning of the movie was also very well done. Lastly the ending scene with Raoh riding on Kokuoh and Kenshiro standing on the cliff was very well done. I may not be someone who knows a lot about animation and frankly I don't even particularity care to but I found this movie was pretty top notch animation wise in my opinion.
I have mostly positive views on the voice acting here. First off I was pleasantly surprised to hear Hochu Otsuka as Shu. I am a huge fan of some of his characters in other series like say Jiraiya from the Naruto franchise so it was a real treat to hear him in this great series. Especially since Shu is one of my favorite characters. I did not care for Daisuke Namikawa's portrayal of Batto/Bat. Not that he was unskilled but I guess this is because as far as kid Batto goes I think Teiyu Ichiryusai brings the character to life perfectly. Raoh was portrayed very well by Takashi Ukaji here. I think he did a much better job than Fumihiko Tachiki. I would go as far to say his performance was comparable to Raoh's original seiyuu Kenji Utsumi .Lastly I think AKio Atsuka did a great job as Souther and he really made the character feel " evil. "
All in all I would rate this movie at least 4 out of 5 stars. I think it is a great addition the the Hokuto No Ken franchise and it adds a very powerful and tragic depth to Raoh's already brilliant character. Raoh in spite of all he's done in my eyes is a hero.