FIST OF THE NORTH STAR (1984-1987)

 

Format: 109 24-minute episodes, the first 25 available on 5 DVDs in the U.S. (first 36 reviewed)

Rating: R (GV)

Type: Martial Arts

American Production: Streamline Pictures (originally), Manga Entertainment (recently)

English Dub Production:

Japanese Production: Toei Animation

 

Grading

 

Premise:

B-

Story:

B-

Writing:

C+

Character Design:

C-

Artistic Merits:

C

English Dub:

C

Musical Score:

C

Opener:

B-

Closer:

C+

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

B+

Drama Content:

C

 

 

DVD Presentation:

not reviewed

DVD Extras:

not reviewed

 

 

OVERALL:

C+

 

Synopsis

      In a post-apocalyptic future, a long figure with seven scars on his chest in the pattern of the Big Dipper roams the wastelands searching for his lost love. But the wastelands are a dangerous place, so he must repeatedly deal with the ruthless bandits that terrorize all. Unfortunately for the bad guys, this Kenshiro (Ken for short) is master and heir to the fighting tradition of hokuto no shinken, aka the Fist of the North Star, which makes him nearly invincible in combat.

 

The Long View

      One of the landmark anime series of the ‘80s, Fist was clearly heavily influenced by the post-apocalyptic vision of the future displayed in Mel Gibson’s Mad Max movies, the second of which (The Road Warrior) came out just a year or two before Fist would have gone into production. As you might expect, Toei put a uniquely Japanese spin on things by making the lonesome hero a martial artist rather than a heavily-armed ex-police officer. The result is one of the greatest – and arguably most graphic – martial arts anime ever made.

      Fist will never be lauded for its character development (which is minimal), depth or quality of writing, character design (which is laughable), artistry, or technical merits (it takes many artistic shortcuts). It does one thing, but does it quite well: show the hero and others literally ripping bad guys to shreds with inventive power point-based martial arts maneuvers. Attacks which cause a target’s head, limbs, or entire body to explode seconds later are the norm, although bad guys have a habit of dying in other various ugly ways as well. Always there is a pause to identify the move that was just done to off the bad guy. Ken also shows us that hokuto no shinken’s used of power points can be used to perform miraculous acts of healing as well as harm. Seeing what the always-impassive Ken comes up with every episode is the main reason to watch the series, because most of the supporting characters that pop up that aren’t bad guys seem put there just to get some extra dialogue in the series.

      Although graphic violence is the only objectionable factor in the series, it is plenty frequent enough and strong enough to warrant an R rating on its own. Only the fact that the series lessens the brutality by giving us undefined shots of the bodies exploding allows the series to avoid the “Extreme Gore” tag as well, but it is heavily implied. This is not a series for youngsters.

      Based on the episodes I have seen, the series is divided into a few loosely-connected story arcs of as much as a couple dozen episodes each. There is also, I believe, an OVA series and a couple of anime movies, as well as a live-action version made in the U.S. in the mid-90s that was, basically, crap.

 

DVD Extras

      The DVDs have not been reviewed.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Kenshiro (Ken)

Alexis (Lex) Lang

Lynn

Sandy Fox

Shin

David Lucas

Yulia (Julia?)

Melissa Williamson

Jackel

John Billingslea

Gordo

Jonathon C. Osborne

Joker

Richard Hayworth

Hart, assorted minor roles

Joe Romersma

Narrator

Chiba Shigeru

 

 

 

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