Fist of the North Star
Fist of the North Star (Japanese: 北斗の拳 Hepburn: Hokuto no Ken) is a Japanese manga series written by Buronson and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara.
Fist of the North Star was adapted into two anime television series produced by Toei Animation, which both aired on Fuji TV and its affiliates from 1984 through 1988, comprising a combined total of 152 episodes. It has since expanded into a media franchise.
This article will cover the adaptation of the first half of the Fist of the North Star manga.
A worldwide nuclear war sometime in the 1990s has resulted in the destruction of most of civilization, turning the world into a barren wasteland. The remnants of mankind fight over whatever supplies of food and uncontaminated water still remain as the strong prey on the weak. Kenshiro is the successor to Hokuto Shinken, a 2,000-year-old art of assassination that trains its practitioners to destroy an opponent's body from the inside-out through the use of hidden pressure points. Kenshiro wishes to live his life in peace, but after he is separated from his fiancée Yuria by a jealous rival, he begins his journey to become the savior of the post-apocalyptic world, defending the weak and innocent from the many gangs and organizations that threaten their survival. Along the way, Kenshiro meets a young thief named Bat and an orphaned girl named Lin, who join him as his traveling companions and bear witness to Kenshiro's many battles.
Kenshiro ends up encountering numerous rival martial artists, including the six grandmasters of Nanto Seiken, a rival assassin's art, as well as his own adoptive brothers who competed with him for the Hokuto Shinken succession. Kenshiro's ultimate nemesis ends up becoming his eldest brother-in-training, Raoh, a warrior who broke the law of Hokuto Shinken by slaying his master Ryuken and refusing to surrender the succession to Kenshiro. Raoh seeks to conquer the post-apocalyptic world as a warlord under the mantle of Ken-oh, the "King of Fists", by challenging every martial artist he sees as a threat. After a long series of battles, Kenshiro emerges victorious over Raoh and peace finally returns to the post-apocalyptic world.
Why It Rocks
- Marked the beginning of the action-packed "adult" anime industry, thanks to its extreme violence (which was unique in its era, where most animes' targeted audiences were kids). It would inspire several famous franchises such as Berserk and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
- Features a balanced amount of action, drama and comedy.
- Unlike most anime, the filler episodes are very entertaining, such as the episode where Kenshiro demolishes a tank with his bare fists.
- Great voice acting and soundtrack, especially the OP Ai Wo Torimodose! (AKA You Wa Shock!).
- Features a good number of likeable characters such as Kenshiro, Rei, Mamiya, Toki, Shu and Fudoh the Mountain.
- Awesome villains such as Shin, Jagi, Holy Emperor Souther and Raoh.
- Great finales for each arc (save for Ryuga's arc).
- Memorable quotes, such as Raoh's "Of this life, I have not a single regret!" and Rei's "What color is the blood that runs through your veins?!".
- The over-the-top deaths of the minor villains (usually by Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken) are always entertaining to watch.
- The show is infamous for having TONS of recap episodes. Out of its 109 episodes, there are 12 recap episodes, including the final (109th) episode.
- The infamous "Tales of the Nanto Seiken Generals" episodes was a series of a recap episodes starting from episode 76 to episode 81, five consecutive episodes.
- As mentioned in WIR #1, the show featured a heavy amount of extreme violence that had never been seen before in its era. Aside from the brutal deaths that Kenshiro inflicts upon villains, there is also child abuse, implied rape, human trafficking, etc., which may turn some viewers off.
- That being said, a huge amount of violence present in the manga was censored in the anime due to network regulations at the time (blood is recolored to black/white, gory deaths are depicted in silhouette, and scenes that originally involved children's deaths are rewritten to have Kenshiro save the child at the last moment).
- The animation quality is inconsistent. In some episodes, some animations, mainly the combat scenes, are reused over and over again.