Fist of the North Star

Fist of the North Star is an anime series in the Fist of the North Star franchise
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A lone martial artist that has mastered one of the deadliest arts in the world, Hokuto Shinken, seeks to rescue his beloved and right injustice whereever the strong prey on the weak.

Rival gangs fight for supremacy in a postholocaust wasteland. Out of the dust walks Kenshiro, a young martial artist in search of his fiancée, Julia, who has been kidnapped by his brother Shin. In the opening story arc (complete in the U.S., truncated in the U.K.), Ken must hunt down the disparate members of his estranged martial-arts family before he defeats Shin and finds, and then loses, the love of his life.

Thrilling a teen audience with its hyper-violence and repetitive menace-of-the-week, the 1983 Shonen Jump manga by Tetsu Hara and Buronson was a timely retread of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Continuing long after the initial "Julia" story was resolved, the series became a staple of 1980s Japanese pop culture, with Ken lampooned as the hulking Mari in Project A-Ko, and his booming voice actor Akira Kamiya becoming a star in his own right. But as the series wore on, drastic budget cuts forced the animators to improvise, sometimes with mind-boggling results. The crew constantly found creative new ways to dispatch villains, such as smearing wet paint on a cel between two pieces of glass, or shooting in real-time through the churning waters of a half-empty fish-tank. The show similarly exploited surreal perspectives- everyone seems giant and impossibly muscled seen through the eyes of children Bart and Lynn but appear smaller from Ken's point of view. The show's star waned even in Japan, and though the second series ended sooner than expected, the franchise was kept alive by foreign sales. A movie-length remake of series one encompasses Ken's search for and defeat of Shin, Shin's admission that the more powerful Raoh has already kidnapped Julia to be his bride, a battle between Ken and Raoh, and the revelation that Julia has disappeared once more. Though Julia had committed suicide by this point in the original series, the movie edition leaves it open-ended, with Ken wandering into the desert in search of her again, believing her to be still alive. The movie version of series one, dubbed in the U.S. by Streamline, was Manga Entertainment's first U.K. release and became the cornerstone of their martial-arts-fueled "beer-and-curry" marketing plan. Riding the coat-tails of Akira, it became one of the U.K.'s best-selling anime videos, though more through its length of tenure in stores than its overt quality.

In 1998, the company tried to capitalize on the anime's "success" by releasing the full 15-year-old TV series. This version featured a good actor as Ken, but it was clumsily cut together with no appreciation of story breaks and mixed so shoddily that Bart ends up playing a silent harmonica. The series was also "augmented" with a drum & bass music track, which, to be fair, couldn't have made it any worse. After predictably disappointing sales, the distributor pulled the TV edit only partway into the schedule, though by this time its "foreign popularity" had inspired a Japanese satellite network to rerun it every day. Like its hero, Fist of the North Star simply refuses to die. The series is more likely to be known in the mainstream for its 1995 live-action remake, directed by Tony Randall and starring Gary Daniels. A manga prequel, Fist of the Blue Sky (2001), features the adventures of Ken's namesake uncle in 1930s Asia.

Takashi Watanabe's three-part "new" Fist of the North Star video series (2003) claimed to be based on a 1996 novel by the original creators, thereby avoiding ownership conflict with the copyright holders of the original TV series and the Hollywood remake. Motorcycles and backgrounds were much more impressive, occasionally evoking the draftsman-like architecture and vehicle representations of Otomo's Akira, but the foreground cast were still the same tired 1980s musclemen.LV

Series Credits
Person Name Episode Count
Ichiro Itano
Carl Macek
Toyoo Ashida
Koji Morimoto
Hiromichi Matano
Shozo Uehara
Tokio Tsuchiya
Toshiki Inoue
Yuho Hanazono

To edit the cast, go to an episode page.

Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Fist of the North Star
Name: 北斗の拳
Romaji: Hokuto no Ken
Publisher Toei Animation
Start Year 1984
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Aliases Ken the Great Bear Fist-Legend of a Karate Warrior
Fist of the Big Dipper
Ken le survivant
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