In the year 19XX, after being betrayed and left for dead, bravehearted warrior Kenshirou wanders a post-apocalyptic wasteland on a quest to track down his rival, Shin, who has kidnapped his beloved fiancée Yuria. During his journey, Kenshirou makes use of his deadly fighting form, Hokuto Shinken, to defend the helpless from bloodthirsty ravagers. It isn't long before his exploits begin to attract the attention of greater enemies, like warlords and rival martial artists, and Keshirou finds himself involved with more than he originally bargained for.
Faced with ever-increasing odds, the successor of Hokuto Shinken is forced to put his skills to the test in an effort to take back what he cares for most. And as these new challenges present themselves and the battle against injustice intensifies, namely his conflict with Shin and the rest of the Nanto Seiken school of martial arts, Kenshirou is gradually transformed into the savior of an irradiated and violent world.
When I first started Hokuto no Ken, I did not know a thing about Fist of the North Star. I had heard the name before, and I knew it was a popular franchise with bloody exploding heads. When I started watching the series, it looked so incredibly 80s.
In fact, the Shin arc made me stop watching it for a while. The endless mooks in poorly drawn 80s style really turned me off. A few weeks later, I decided to try it again. I am so absolutely glad I did. Hokuto no Ken is a post-apocolyptic epic, and I don't use that term lightly.
The story is
fairly simple. Shin (Kenshiro's rival) steals Yuria (Kenshiro's love), and Ken goes to rescue her. However, in the background, darker, more dangerous forces are moving. The story is cunning in its simplicity, and quite well executed.
The art is of course, very old, and often shows its age. It is the biggest downfall the series has. The series is backed up by strong, memorable music, and one of the most comically catchy OPs (YOU WA SHOCK!) I've heard.
One of the things that Hokuto no Ken does interestingly is the characters. 90% of the major characters are large, stoic men, with pecs of iron and manly logic. The two children, Bat and Lin, are there to cheer Ken on, and be terrified/annoying, respectively. The men Ken meets are almost all evil beyond redemption. However, in the legions of mooks and generic evil, are some interesting, legitimately cool characters, such as Rei, Juza, Toki and Raoh.
To today's viewer, it would seem like you've seen all the elements of this before in other things. The reason for this is that Hokuto no Ken has inspired every single action show to come from Japan, especially the long-running shounen of today, in some form or another.
I cannot give this series a 10, between the early filler (which is just about completely gone after the Shin arc), and the recap episodes. I will, however give this a 9. What I thought would be a hilariously corny 80s romp through a field of exploding heads turned out to be a amazing, epic journey though a post-apocalyptic wasteland, starring, the manliest man to ever be placed on paper. With exploding heads.
I remember first watching Fist of the North Star in the action channel. I was but a little kid at the time and I really did not know what was going on. Unfortunately, the exploding heads and cussing was a deterrent at the time and I stopped watching it.
Fast forward almost ten years later and I decide to watch it and honestly, I am glad that I did.
The story is fairly simple. It takes place in a post apocalyptic world where the strong live and the weak die. Crime is at an all time high. Bandits and cut throats kill, pillage and rape to no
end. Kenshiro is a man who was betrayed by his best friend, one who kidnapped his wife and nearly killed him, leaving him for dead. Kenshiro, who survived, is now out on a mission to find the man who betrayed him, kill him and save his wife.
While the exploding heads are a neat treat, it is the characters that really shine. Don't expect any teenage heroes in this show. While I do like watching Belach and other Shonen that are chuck full of teenage heroes, this show has none.
All the characters, from Kenshiro, Shin, Rei, Raoh, Toki, Shuu they are all memorable and likable in their own way. This heavy focus on adults is a breath of fresh air and is a nice distinction from all the teenage shonen that is out there. Kenshiro especially has to be one of the manliest protagonists out there and hearing him say "You are already dead." has you know that he is dead serious and is not willing to play games.
The music is catchy, especially "We are Shock!" is a nice opening theme and flows nicely with the action scenes.
If there is anything that takes away from this show is the art. This show was made in the early 80's and is heavily influenced by it. Everyone in the show has shoulder pads in one form or another and the bad guys all seem to have mohawks. Many scenes are used over and over again and there are times where the characters' look are somewhat inconsistent from episode to episode.
Even so, this show is must watch for those who are into action packed, bloody fights without having to hear a bunch of whiny sermons. Overall, I had a blast watching this show, it was great through and through.
Now if you excuse me, I am going to watch Kenshiro use some ATATATATA action against some unfortunate fool and see his head blow up!
After the nuclear apocalypse of 199X, Kenshiro begins his quest to rid the world of evil & bring hope to humanity. Initially, North Star begins as a revenge tale where Kenshiro is searching for his fiancé Yuria whose been kidnapped by his rival Shin. Afterwards the story then focuses on Kenshiro's destiny to bring back peace to this "age of power" where humanity have become savage & desensitized to love & affection.
Essentially, most humans are now primitive causing murders for the sake of resources such as food. Only those with power, ambition & a cold heart can survive this wasteland. As a savior
to the masses, Kenshiro battles many tyrannical martial artists with his assassination art of "Hokuto Shinken" causing his enemies to explode. Further in the series is where Kenshiro's battles his eldest brother Raoh giving a satisfying ending to the series.
Kenshiro as a hero is almost one of a kind as he features a stoic yet kind attitude who faces tragedy on a constant basis. Bearing humanity's existence on his back, Kenshiro gives his all to protect the innocent & punish the guilty.
When people think of "MANIME", this series started it all & owns up to its reputation. While the animation is obviously dated, there's no greater adaptation than this version as it portrays the sorrow & various "MANLY TEARS" moments with the greatest execution in voice acting & music. In North Star, it may not follow the typical shonen tropes of today & can be very slow at times (especially its 1st 22 eps) but manages to display character in a very tragic form. Expect to see many great men & heroes to sacrifice themselves for the sake of peace as their battles will take residence in your soul. Also it might make a MANLY MAN out of you.
If you enjoy series like Jojo's Bizarre Adventure & Toriko, this is the show for you. This anime is my all time favorite but may not appeal to everyone. It certainly is a required taste to truly be appreciative of all its concepts on how masculinity & love for a woman play a part to make a society peaceful again. Expect some episodes to be slow & major fights to be done in 3-4 episodes as Fist is manliness in its purest form. Representing themes of 80's shonen, Fist Of The North Star still stands tall as a source of inspiration for all things MANLY.
Having watched the movie, which is the condensed version of the series, and now actually watching the 36 episode series from Manga Entertainment, I find that this is one of the corniest/greatest animes that I've seen. I love it. I really like the opening theme that has thundering bass drums that ride you thru a monta'ge of violent clips of the anime. Kinda makes you want to fight, or at least watch one. This has alot of violence that is gorey at times and corny at times. Ken can pretty much do anything. He's a Japanese, Rambo looking, Bruce Lee sounding BAD ASS. Story is
pretty good, but the little girl Lin and the boy Bart are annoying as F@*%. I laugh alot while watching this. From the goofy names they give his attacks to the cheesy narrator who reads the wierd and hilarious titles before each episode. There are parts of an episode that are right out of the movie Road Warrior. The circle town surrounded by desert, even a bus as a gate and flamethrowers stationed on each side. I loved that movie and I love this anime.
Now the review for the 109 ep series which was on subtitled dvd. Although subs were not the greatest as far as translation, I get the gist of the story based on this being an expanded version of the 36 ep eng dub dvds. It is quite the epic and tragic story at that. I found myself looking forward to the next episode and that is what's important to me to avoid boredom with the series, especially 109 eps. I never got bored with the violence either. They found ways to change it up and introduce new styles and moves/punches. Highly entertaining for the fans of older titles like Armored Trooper Votoms or Space Cobra, those of us who hold these in high regards as compared to the G.I Joe or Transformer cartoons I grew up on. I only wish I could have seen these as a kid.
Martial arts are an expression of power, showcasing the potential of the human body when pushed to its physical limit. It also makes for exciting anime, and allows animators and directors to showcase their prowess as things get heated.