Samurai Spirits 2: Asura-Zanmaden Movie Review

Even if its story doesn’t make any sense, Samurai Spirits 2 represents an improvement over its predecessor and that’s not something you can say about most sequels.

Samurai Shodown’s first movie (titled Samurai Shodown: The Motion Picture) wasn’t particularly good: the story was nonsensical, the characters flat, the animation uneven and overall, the film doesn’t hold up particularly well, but that didn’t prevent SNK from making a sequel. Titled Samurai Spirits 2, this anime movie was released in 1999 in the form of two OVAs that originally came out in the now defunct straight-to-laserdisc format. Interestingly, these Samurai Spirits 2 episodes were never localized in the United States, making it relatively obscure part of Samurai Shodown.

Samurai Spirits 2 Asura-Zanmaden Haohmaru

Right from the get got, it’s easy to see why Samurai Spirits never saw the light of day outside Japan: this served as a preface to Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage, a three-dimensional fighting game for the Hyper Neo Geo 64 console which made it to few countries other than Japan. As a consequence, Samurai Spirits 2 assumes that anyone watching it is already familiar with the story, so there’s no proper introduction to the characters. As someone who doesn’t know a lot about the franchise, I think that Samurai Spirits 2 represents an improvement over its film predecessor on some parts: the animations is better, the characters are voiced by the same actors from the game and most fights are entertaining to watch.

So what should you know about this OVA in terms of story? Samurai Spirits 2 follows Nakoruru, a young woman who now follows humanistic principles and decides that she has no intention of fighting ever again. Unfortunately, she runs into Shiki, who’s now free from the power of Yuga: The Destroyer, and is attacked. At the same time, Demon Asura is looking for Nakoruru so that he can return her to the world of darkness, but before he can do that, he needs to face both Haohmaru and Nakoruru. I’d be lying if I said any of that made sense to me, which is why I recommend people interested in Samurai Spirits 2 to check out a Wikia while watching it.

Samurai Spirits 2 Asura-Zanmaden Nakoruru

One of the problems I had with Samurai Shodown: The Motion Picture was that its story was nonsensical and unfortunately, this sequel suffers from the same problem and to a bigger extent. Numerous characters are introduced in a few minutes and as someone who doesn’t know a lot about these games I had trouble understanding who’s who and what they are after. Since this is a prequel to the game, maybe it all makes sense when you play the game, but for what it is, Samurai Spirits 2 feels confusing and incomplete.

Despite being an obscure film, Samurai Spirits 2 is a more than competent prequel to the game that fans will certainly enjoy, but it introduces too many characters and the story is incomprehensible to say the least. Ultimately, you’ll decide if this is for you or not, but compared to its predecessor, Samurai Spirits 2 represents an improvement in pretty much every department and that’s not something you can say about most sequels.