Throughout the years, when long time anime fans in my group would get together with intentions on discussing some of the most brutal, and violent anime titles to ever exist. Fist of the North Star aka Hokuto No Ken was one of the titles that would always come up. The series and movies were the very definition of gratuitous violence. The New Fist of the North Star continues to follow that bloody path packing a little more depth than the original movie. There is a small amount of substance to be found, and the subject it does hit on can be frightening.
The series does have a stable plot overall. At least one of the characters fill his role in pushing the story and delivering a very realistic plot twist. The main character Kenshiro, even though he's the hero of the story is kind of overshadowed. Kenshiro is mainly present to deliver final justice, by engaging in some uninspired hand to hand battles. However, he is still very easy to cheer for. Kenshiro appears to almost be an antihero with his merciless streak, but when looking at the crimes committed by the villains; their very gruesome and painful deaths are well deserved. He also delivers some pretty good lines before delivering execution. The second main character named Tobi proves to be the most interesting with his transition that I refuse to spoil.
This is a very violent series, this is a point that must be driven home for those whom shun these type of shows. For those that love it brace yourselves, because it maintains the brutal tone almost completely throughout. Fist of the North Star knows what it wants to be and the comedy is kept very low. The fight scenes are very well detailed with its gore. You practically get the whole nine yards: decapitations, bodies chopped in half, brains and guts exploding out of people left and right, brutal deaths by various weapons with lots of blood. I believe this series is a gore hounds wet dream. Plus you get quite a bit of fan service.
The original movie gave some detail but this series somewhat paints a better picture of the misery taking place in this world. The rulers are very evil and abusive to the weak. Plus, you see the negative effects taking place with the people and how it influences their behavior.
The apex of the series to me is the depiction of people's belief in a higher power. I believe this is the most over looked point of the series. The writers hit the mark to me by displaying the fanaticism in a higher power when people have lost all hope, and their only salvation is to believe in a god; the thing that helps this theme work better is the fact there is a god they can actually see, which helps give them the will to fight and die, because they believe they're going to end up in god's hands. This makes their fanatical ways all the more believable.
Animation and artwork is a mixed bag here. As the series went on I noticed a decline in both. The character designs are very good, especially with the women(but then again isn't it always?), but I did notice it wasn't consistent. Sometimes characters would appear bigger than what they really were, and there wasn't too much variety in generic characters. The animation was hurt badly with the use of CGI which ruined some of the backgrounds.
The characters also seemed too stiff and lacked some movement, especially during the fights. The animation didn't really flow well at all. There are also a large use of stills and some reused scenes. As always, music is subjective but I didn't find the rock soundtrack to be anything special.
The New Fist of the North Star could have been a very well above average series but several other things dragged it down; such as the ending and the female lead Sara. She served a small purpose, but I found her personality at the end to be too unrealistic. This also goes for Kenshiro as well. I will also mention that there is a non too graphic rape scene.
Overall, I don't find the series to be bad. It's good if you're looking for some gory fight scenes. As a matter of fact, along with fans of the franchise, those are the only people I would recommend this to.
Highs: Lots of action, plot twist, interesting and realistic theme
Lows: Gratuitous violence will put off some, weak ending, sub par animation, missed potential