As you can gather, I’m getting back up on a bit of a “Fist” kick (haha) and unlike Fist of The Blue Sky: Regenesis which I’m kind of just forcing myself/can’t stop to watch, Fist of The North Star or Hokuto No Ken/HNK, is just an absolutely fantastic show. Back up to 1984, a glorious time when things were simpler, communism was bad, and mullets and muscles were the name of the game. Taking place in the far flung future of 199X (because specificity is for losers) we have a post apocalyptic world filled with techno barbarians and disparate villages trying to eke out a simple life. Murder, theft, and rape run rampant as civilization descended into anarchy and the weak were oppressed by the strong. Enter our protagonist, Kenshiro the 64th Successor of Hokuto Shinken or Fist of The
Big Dipper North Star.
Kenshiro, the lovable mix between Bruce Lee, Mad Max, and Arnold Schwarzenegger represents a beautiful cliche and trendsetter in anime. Being almost groan-worthy in his morality and seemingly pants-on-head moments of humanity in an otherwise inhuman world of killers and ruthlessness, only to be juxtaposed against his 0 hesitation ultra-hyper-uber-pleaseNerf-OP martial arts seems like a strange combo, but it somehow just works. Then you see him go “AH-TATATATATAT” and some dude’s heads explode 30 seconds later. We start the series with Kenshiro wandering around then caught by some village’s guards for trying to steal water (i.e. he was dying in the desert and found a well, took a gulp and was imprisoned with shitty thief (but amazingly portrayed IRL by Dante Basco). As the village is attacked by techno barbarians, Kenshiro is rejuvenated via some water delivered by adorable/annoying girl Rin. Rin is of course taken and held hostage by the barbarians, and Kenshiro does not take that well.
From here we follow Kenshiro and crew through the first arc where we have Kenshiro walking that fine balance between instantaneous meat grinder, and lovable main character. Bat eventually graduates into becoming a serious badass opposed to merely comic relief sidekick, and Rin becomes a terribly voiced adorable little murder machine racking up over a dozen kills before we hit arc two. Heading off to rescue his love Yulia from Shin, the man who stole her after defeating and marking him. Shin also happens to be the leader of King, the evil organization of techno barbarians that roam around the wastelands being dicks to the poor saps trying to not die in this Fallout-esque wasteland. One thing of note however is that he is not just a comical mustache twirling villain, but an actually detailed human with an explanation as to why he’s now post-apocalyptic Hitler.
So here’s the real thing that draws people to this show. It is not the animation, voice work, nor is it the plot (which are all pretty good considering) but the fact that it is bat-shit insane. Much like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure the show is a wild and crazy ride where each fight is more insane than the previous. Additionally, while the saying is commonly “Is that a motherfucking JoJo’s reference?!” that same sentiment can be shared for HNK. Between the “You are already dead” memes and the ones below, you can see that the janky 80’s animation and audio that would normally be considered awful, somehow manages to round back to just being awesome of a truly amazing scale. Things like massive badass elephant sized horses, to realizing that you have a protagonist that can jam his thumb into your head and either make your arms explode, or restore the voice to a mute girl because of acupuncture you really don’t know where the show is going. I myself have never sat down and finished it from start to finish, but I highly recommend giving it a go, as I myself and likely to do sooner than later. I love me some JoJo’s but I’ll be damned if this show doesn’t get my goat too in all the same ways. Bonus points to you for playing my secret drinking game and taking a drink every time you caught one of my subtle HNK references in this article.