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Hokuto no Ken (Series)
Fist of the North Star was one of the more popular shounen anime titles that aired throughout the 1980s alongside Dragon Ball and Saint Seiya. However, the series had a good deal of controversy among Japanese audiences since it was one of the more graphically violent titles made during the decade and this comes to a good degree from the many gory ways that martial artists in the series can slay their foes, the most notable of which being Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken fighting style where he attacks his opponent's pressure points to make their body parts explode in gory goodness. This was censored to varying degrees throughout the anime's run as the violent deaths were retained, albeit with color filters and silhouette shots in many scenes to reduce the severity of the gory deaths.|
Set in a post-apocalyptic future where gangs of thugs prey on the weak and vulnerable to have any remaining food and resources to themselves, Kenshiro is the sole hope of many to slay any gangs threatening the innocent. While aiding innocent villagers, Kenshiro also must spar with enemy martial artists exploiting the turmoil of the time period to try claiming control and dominance over those they take over, including those who were Kenshiro's close friends or relatives growing up.
Fist of the North Star is notable for some elements to its storytelling that buck the typical trends for many shounen action titles. Whereas many such titles have protagonists who are teenagers with a love for fighting, Kenshiro is an adult wary of the changing times where the strong prey on the weak. While he is merciless towards those deliberately preying on the innocent, Kenshiro will show restraint in fighting those who are fighting him against their will and comes up with ways to free or inspire said characters to get out of their situation.
Also in spite of the heavy amount of machoism the series milks from being so focused on heavily-muscled men, the series doesn't glorify the fighting it offers. Kenshiro is consistently depicted as a character suffering continuing torment from the changing times of the post-apocalyptic world and finding himself forced to slay those he holds close bonds with due to their ambitions causing the innocent to suffer. Later episodes feature him having to slay members of his fighting style and other martial artists who get negatively impacted by either the changing times or learning the ramifications of how their fighting styles effect their bonds with others. At the same time, Kenshiro also becomes acquainted with martial artists who do ally with him in combating enemy gangs and martial artists. The series also devotes some time to focus on the backstories of its major characters and how they are affected from either the post-apocalyptic landscape or the ramifications of learning a martial art.
In addition, the series isn't afraid to kill off some of its major characters. As Kenshiro comes to confront more challenging enemy threats in his struggles, those he comes to ally with are occasionally casualties in the conflicts that he deals with. With the series providing enough focus on these characters for fans to build a connection with them, it makes their deaths hit hard with the audience and helps provide solid pathos for the series. Other than one specific instance that happens with one major character, the series doesn't cheapen any major character deaths by using some sort of plot device to undo the deaths of said characters as many later shounen titles have a bad habit of doing.
Still setting aside these praises, Fist of the North Star still has some major issues that impact its quality. A good number of episodes suffer from repetitious plot developments where baddies are doing their evil deeds, Kenshiro slays the mooks, a bigger mook comes in to try stopping Kenshiro, and said bigger mook eventually is offed no differently from his subordinates. This is a major issue throughout much of Fist of the North Star's first half that is reduced in later episodes as Kenshiro takes on more challenging enemies, but still occasionally rears its ugly head at points.
Other flaws to the series include the number of recap episodes employed and the show's animation. There are a decent number of recap episodes employed by the anime in later episodes to drag out the anime, the most notable being a five-episode stretch of recaps between Fist of the North Star's third and fourth arcs. In addition, the animation for the series hasn't aged too well with its regular use of animation shortcuts, character designs using dated fashions and looks, and the fight choreography being rather underwhelming.
Overall, Fist of the North Star offers some decent storytelling elements that allow it to buck the typical plot elements you would find in a shounen action series. However, it still carries some major issues with some repetitious episode developments, frequent use of recap episodes, and dated animation. Still, it is one of the better quality titles of its genre and if you are a fan of shounen action titles, I would at least recommend it over many of today's popular shounen battle anime like Bleach or Dragon Ball Z.
Last updated Wednesday, July 26 2017. Created Wednesday, July 26 2017.
Hokuto no Ken (Series)
I gave my scores based on the time it was made and its budget, but FNS is a classic anime that is under-rated. Sure the art is horrible and the violence is over-the-top. But from an era of Hollywood films like Road Warrior and Escape from New York, this film/series approaches the post-apocalyptic fight for survival genre with a different touch. The fight scenes are unique and creative to say the least, but of course get too long and repetitive in the TV series (the condensed movie has a modified plot and gets to the point). The dialogue can be tedious (and the kid characters a bit annoying), but provocative themes are mixed like spirituality, family, destiny, and of course love. There are plenty of better animes out there, but this one is noteworthy and respectable for the time it was made.
Last updated Monday, May 24 2004. Created Monday, May 24 2004.
Hokuto no Ken (Series)
You wa shock! That's the opening line from the intro song to Fist of the Northstar, the bloodiest, chessiest, most repetative anime ever!|
There is a secret art passed down to a single succsor every generation, it is Hokuto Shinken, the art of striking pressure points which can rip up a human from the inside out, or do any number of weird stuff. Kenshiro Kasumi (you don't learn his last name in the anime, it's in the manga, though) is the grandmaster of Hokuto Shinken, and he wanders around after world war 3 has turned the world into Mad Max on crack! Everyone in this anime is roided out and overly muscular, and they all look like coked up drag queens. Every time Ken gets pissed his muscles bulge so much his shirt rips off and yet it's back in the next scene (he must pay a fortune at Target), and every time he smacks someone, they explode (not every time, Shin kills himself but doesn't really kill himself, Rao actually does kill himself, the mantis guys back breaks him in half, and Souther doesn't explode, but most of the do). The fights in this anime are enough to make me want to outlaw the use of stock footage (which accounts for 90% of the fights in this anime, and yes Ken does spin like a top quite often while kicking multiple opponents). There is so much blood that Red Cross went out of business with this one, Ken kills at least ten people per episode!
Actually, it's not bad until the fight with Shin, theres some cool stuff like when Ken says "of the 708 pressure points, this one is called toi, and when I remove my fingers you will die in 7 seconds" and a timer shows up and counts down. That was cool, and the first time Ken lays down the Hokuto Crack Fist was awesome.
You may like this, you may not. I not only watched all the episodes and even watched the second part (when Bart and Lin are grown up), and I've read some of the manga, and I don't like it. But I do like the intro song, though.
Last updated Monday, December 01 2003. Created Monday, December 01 2003.
Hokuto no Ken (Series)
I love this anime. It is one of my all time favorites. Fist of the North Star is filled with a ton of violence and has a plot that is easy to follow and makes sense. Fist of the North Star boasts some of the coolest characters ever. In my opinion the coolest characters are Rei, Ryuga, and Juza. I only have 2 small complaints about this anime. One is that there wasnt enough background on some of the characters. The second is that I had to watch it with poor subtitles which I usually dont consider a problem but Fist of the North Star is 152 episodes long and it gets tiring after a while. If you dont like Fist of the North Star then you havent seen it. I give it a 10 out of 10
Last updated Saturday, September 27 2003. Created Saturday, September 27 2003.