This is a case of the sequel being superior to its predecessor in virtually every way. I’ll begin with the characters. All of the central protagonists have added depth and character development. This has a lot to due with the extended run time and the pacing of the plot. The first OVA was a mere 46 minutes while this one has 75 to tell its story. Terry’s obliterated pride mixed with his alcohol dependency adds for some dark (and at times a little clichéd) scenes. But it manages to provide something that should have been in the first OVA: a scene that reveals some of Terry’s training as a boy. In this story, a young boy named Tony (Masami Kikuchi), who dreams of being a fighter like Terry, follows him around and in one scene reminds Terry of his own violent past. It’s a short scene, but it provides a lot of information about who Terry is and paves the way for his eventual recovery and personal strength through determination. Joe Higashi, this time voiced by Nobuyuki Hiyama (who's a voice actor much better suited to the character), is also given not only more relevance to the story but more to do. He even gets a brutal and one-sided fight sequence against Krauser. Andy Bogard (Keiichi Nanba) is another character who's allowed for more development as well as an animation correction (this time his hair is blonde as it’s supposed to be). In the first OVA, likely due to time constraints, all that can be determined from Andy as a character is that he's brash, headstrong, and overly eager. Here, he shows another aspect of his character when he's paired up with Mai Shirinui (Kotono Mitsuishi), a scantily clad ninja girl who has a crush on him. Even Geese feels more developed through the addition of only one flashback sequence expanding on his relationship with Krauser. It adds a certain level of depth to him that was sorely missing in the first OVA. But the most intriguing character in this OVA by far is Wolfgang Krauser. He was raised with brutality and indifference by his father, whose only interest in him was to make him the most powerful being on earth. The reason for his personal interest in Terry Bogard is only due to his desire to fight someone worthy of his own skill. He desperately desires to fight someone that will make him feel something. He's not a mere crime lord nor does he even have plans that resemble anything criminal or could be conceived as evil. I would not consider him a villain, and in some ways his story is very tragic. One of the strong points of this OVA is the scope of the story. Instead of being about stopping something or defeating a great evil, it stays small in scale and instead focuses on character development and personal demons, as well as the idea of fighting for a living, of which particular emphasis is placed through the violence and aftermath of even a sparring match.
|Wolfgang Krauser (Hirotaka Suzuoki)|
Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle is directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, a more experienced and talented director more known for his work on Rurouni Kenshin and Get Backers. Krauser resides in a large castle in the middle of a lake in Germany and opens the OVA by playing the organ. As he plays, we are shown through cross cutting certain events that occurred which led Krauser to Geese’s hiding place in the mountains. The scene is connected to his organ playing through the music that he produces which acts as a sound bridge for the different events. It is a very stylish and interesting opening, the inclusion of which already makes the OVA much better than the first. The music (this time composed by the great Toshihiko Sahashi) used throughout the OVA is much more varied and just better than that of the first. The animation is the most notable improvement as the character designs seem more detailed and polished. This is even more evident in the action sequences which are not only longer but much more fluid. The first OVA utilized a lot of stills in their action scenes which only made me question just how small the animation budget was. Even the big finale left something to be desired. Now, every action scene is carefully planned out and more meaningful to the story, thanks to the better developed characters. Each fight scene has added weight since more is at stake emotionally. It certainly helps that the battles are much longer and more entertaining. The fight between Krauser and Terry is a major highlight of this story. Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle is a very well thought out and entertaining martial arts story. I would also argue that it's one of the best videogame adaptations to date, ranking alongside Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie.