With the release of Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage, it can come as a shock to a lot of anime fans like me that Kenshiro’s epic story may not be known to a lot of modern young people. While I could just complain about how this makes me feel old before my 30’s, I instead will take this opportunity to offer a primer for people, as well as relive my love for one of the greatest pop culture phenomena to come out of Japan.Hokuto no Ken, or Fist of the North Star started in Shonen Jump in 1983. It was a manga created by artist Buronson and writer Tetsuo Hara, following the story of Kenshiro, the inheritor of the deadly martial art known as Hokuto Shinken, or “Divine Fist of the North Star.” This art’s trademark is its ability to cause people to die painful deaths, often exploding into geysers of blood. As Kenshiro wanders the wasteland of the world following a nuclear apocalypse, defending the weak from evils in the world. Along the way, he engages in battles with martial artists every bit as powerful as himself.
This series came out in 83, and yet it’s still engrained in the minds of the Japanese. It’s like Superman or Batman for Americans. You just know about Kenshiro if you live in Japan. Whether you like him or not is up to your tastes.
There are several things I always remember about this franchise. That it is manly, that it is epic, and that it had manly tears flowing down after every epic battle. So instead of boring you with a summary, let’s just break down the basics for you, and help you find your way into this great franchise through the various media there are. And maybe you’ll be ready for the new game.
This is the original anime. This was something like 200 episodes, and featured the brunt of the series that everyone loves. Especially because Kenshiro’s voice, going from deep to a Bruce Lee-esque high scream when he’s beating the crap out of someone. This series is being released in box sets, allowing everyone to see one of the ultimate anime.
This is the trailer to the first animated film of Fist of the North Star. This is how I first saw this show when I was young. It may not be a perfect adaption, but it gives you the ultimate idea of the series, and has that awesome song Heart of Madness playing during the climax, as well as through the entire trailer.
This was the incredibly disappointing live action film. While it has its cheesy charm, you just can’t take it seriously compared to the anime. I only say to watch it for a good laugh. Otherwise, avoid like the plague.
And it’s still incredibly popular. Since the 80’s, there have been over 20 games on systems ranging from the old Nintendo Entertainment System to the arcades to the current crop on PS3 and XBOX. There recently was a release of Original Video Animations and theatrical films to celebrate the 25th anniversary.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this semi-guide to help you find out about this series, and hopefully you’ll give it a chance.