Sometimes, coincidences just happen. I’d been meaning to get around to this FIST OF THE NORTH STAR spin-off for a while now, and when Alex included Kenshiro on his list of manliest men, it felt like the right time to finally get up and do it.
Perhaps that’s less of a coincidence, but whatever... work with me, here.
FIST is another series that I’ve experienced in piecemeal over the years - - mostly through its video games, to be honest - - though I’ve yet to read or watch it all the way through. As such, while I did recognize the post-Apocalyptic setting, celestial magic and head-exploding martial arts techniques from the original, I didn’t know that Raoh was actually one of Kenshiro's foes until I did a little extra research.
Why bring that up? Because I was going to comment on how this pilot rather amusingly demonstrates that context is, indeed, paramount to where audiences’ sympathies align. Raoh is presented as a hardass, righteous conqueror who’s setting out to usurp tyrants and punish the wicked with extreme prejudice. What’s funny about his ruthless tactics and boundlessly ambitious rhetoric, though, is that he’s an empathetic protagonist here; but you could transplant his exact same actions and words into another context, and he’d be an equally threatening antagonist.
Sure enough, though, that’s exactly what’s going on here. Even though I don’t have the full context of FIST at my command, I can still appreciate this show for pulling off exactly what you hope spin-offs, gaidens, and what not actually set out to do. That is, to recast familiar characters under a different light.
On a more… visceral level, this provided all the absurdly over-the-top ultra-violence you could hope for. I think my favorite instance had to be when the palace guards rightly suspect that Raoh is too monstrously jacked to believably pass off as a humble balladeer, and he then proceeds to blow them up without even visibly touching them.
Yes, the FIST franchise, on the whole, is maybe best described as dramatized Chuck Norris facts.
Watch this episode, “My Fists are for the Heavens!" here and decide for yourself.