Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf Anime Review
Battle Fighters Garou Densetsu
Battle Fighters - Legend of the Hungry Wolf
US Release By
Game-Based Martial Arts Action
Two brothers, Terry and Andy Bogard, witness the brutal murder of their own father, killed by a crime boss for the scrolls that hold the secrets to his family's martial arts abilities. The boys are told by their mentor to travel the world and hone their skills, preparing for the day when they will be taught the ultimate technique, one so secret it was never written down. Ten years later, Terry has returned to Japan, where he befriends Joe Higashi, an old brawling companion of Andy. He also becomes involved with Lily, a beautiful woman taken in by the man responsible for the murder of the brothers' father ten years back. As it turns out, the aging crime lord now controls a corrupt martial arts tournament from behind the scenes. Both brothers and Joe join the tournament as a way to get to the man at the top, but the tournament is less than honest. And even if they can find the man responsible for the destruction of their family, will they be able to beat him?
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Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf: Yet more fighting game-based anime. Not being a fan of this particular game, I can't say how true the characters or plot are to the button-masher, but fortunately familiarity isn't a prerequisite. The story starts from the beginning and supplies enough basic detail that it functions as a stand-alone piece of anime, albeit a relatively generic, action-based one. The characters aren't terribly well fleshed out, but they get the job done, and the plot is functional if entirely unoriginal. The things that distinguish it most from similar series are the mercifully small number of pointless side characters and a fairly down-to-earth action style--there's the occasional battle aura when it's really important, but it's largely realistic. Sadly, the animation is weak, so the action is largely unimpressive.
If you like the Fatal Fury games or are a big fan of martial arts action flicks, you'll probably enjoy Legend of the Hungry Wolf, but it doesn't come highly recommended. Unless, that is, you follow through with the other two parts of the series, which are much better.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf: Yet more fighting game-based anime. Not being a fan of this particular game, I can't say how true the characters or plot are to the button-masher, but fortunately familiarity isn't a prerequisite. The story starts from the beginning and supplies enough basic detail that it functions as a stand-alone piece of anime, albeit a relatively generic, action-based one.
The plot is basic "join fighting tournament for revenge" stuff. Still, it has a respectable amount of drama and does manage to serve up some twists. It qualifies as a decent action movie plot, meaning you're not going to watch it for the story, but it's good enough to pay attention to. Interestingly, while Legend of the Hungry Wolf offers a reasonably satisfying conclusion, there are two sequels that add quite a bit of depth and breadth to the characters and their world. Both, notably, are significantly better than this opener.
The main characters are lean on detail, but they do manage to stand on more than just their fighting ability. Even the bad guys have some personality, although I can't say that's a surprise in fighting-game-based anime. What is a bit of a surprise, and a pleasant departure from many video game conversions, is that there aren't a huge glut of "just there for face time" folks--the cast is mercifully compact.
The other thing that sets this fist-centric OAV apart from your average fighting game adaptation is reasonable abilities. There are no random street brawlers capable of leveling buildings with a fiery punch, and nobody can shoot laser beams from their eyes or steroid beams from their meaty palms. This isn't to say that it's completely devoid of supernatural abilities, but that stuff is reserved for the really impressive moments.
That's about as far as it deviates from the norm, unfortunately. Artistically, it's rather average. The art and character designs are acceptable, but nowhere near as distinctive as some fighting-game anime character designs. The animation is rather weak, particularly when you consider that its main draw is watching people duke it out. There are a couple of good fights, but it's nowhere near the level of most OAVs with a similar heritage.
I can't speak for the original Japanese, but the dub is generally quite good. It sure starts out on the wrong foot, though--for some reason the opening scene is very poorly acted, and the "little girl" sounds way too much like her adult self. After that, I have no complaints about the casting, and there's an unusual accent or two thrown in for good measure. The acting holds up pretty well, particularly in the dramatic scenes.
Although I wouldn't highly recommend Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf, if you're a fan of the video games, or just like martial-arts action flicks, you'll probably enjoy it. And, if you follow through with the rest of the series, it does get much better.
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As you'd better expect, this is in the same general genre of every other fighting game based anime. The most similar are probably Art of Fighting and the Street Fighter II series.
Notes and Trivia
Based on the series of Fatal Fury 2-D fighting games by SNK, released for the Neo Geo throughout the '90s. Later, there were several adaptations for various home consoles.
Note that the Fatal Fury series is essentially a trilogy with an ongoing story; Legend of the Hungry Wolf starts it, is followed by The New Battle, and the story is wrapped up by The Motion Picture.
In the Japanese language version of this OAV, Joe Higashi is voiced by Masaaki Satake, a real-life kickboxer who was reasonably successful in the Japanese K-1 kickboxing league during the '90s. More recently he has moved to the "anything goes" mixed-style martial arts circuit PRIDE. This was Satake's only anime role; Joe Higashi was voiced by a different (professional) actor in both the second OAV and the movie.
US DVD Review
Available on a joint VIZ-Pioneer DVD together with the second OAV (New Battle); the disc includes character bios and both English and Japanese language tracks.
Some relatively intense violence makes it about 13-up.
Violence: 3 - Some relatively bloody fights, but nothing really graphic.
Nudity: 1 - Nothing significant.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - One romantic scene.
Language: 1 - Not noteworthy.
Staff & Cast
English Dub Cast
Terry Bogard: Mark Hildreth
Andy Bogard: Peter Wilds
Joe Higashi: Jason Gray-Stanford
Geese Howard: Ward Perry
Tung Fu Rue: Mina Mina
Lily McGuire: Willow Johnson
Billy Kane: Paul Dobson
Also: Michael Dobson, David Kaye, Tony Sampson, Robert O. Smith, French Tickner, Christopher Turner
Producers: Yoshihiro Suzuki (Fuji TV), Tatsuji Yamazaki (NAS), Hiromichi Mogaki (Comet)
Director: Hiroshi Fukutomi
Character Design/Executive Animation Director: Masami Obari
Screenplay: Takashi Yamada
Animation Director: Masaru Kiryu, Yukihiro Iwata, Tatsuya Tomaru
Art Director: Chikara Nishikura
Music: Toshiro Masuda, SNK Sound Team
Main Theme: "Fly Away (Lily's Song)"
Additional theme: "Bye-Bye, My Love"
Original Lyrics: Komei Sugano
Composition and Arrangement: Toshihiko Sahashi
Vocals: Megumi Yuuki
English Lyrics by: Trish Ledoux
Available in North America from VIZ on hybrid DVD (a joint production with Pioneer which also includes the sequel OAV). Was previously available on dubbed VHS, first on its own and later combined with the sequel OAV on dubbed VHS ("One Two Punch").