Fist of the North Star is a pretty good show. It’s about a dude who uses an ancient martial art known as Hokuto Shinken to kill other dudes who often use an ancient martial art known as Nanto Seiken. If you enjoy watching dudes explode white or black blood, Fist of the North Star is the show for you. I first experienced it through the game Ken’s Rage. The emotionally engaging story presented in the game made me want to watch the series, so once the first boxset showed up the in the mail I jumped right in, and really enjoyed it.
But the series has a small problem. Or at least the beginning does. The first story arc is incredibly repetitive. It’s episode after episode of Kenshiro stumbling upon a village being victimized by bandits. Kenshiro then goes to confront the bandits, they all try to take him down, he goes “wah-tah!” and they all explode. This goes on for a while, but eventually the people Kenshiro has to fight start to get a little… weird.
Unlike Hokuto Shinken, which is traditionally used by a single person who then passes it on to a succesor, Nanto Seiken has 108 different schools who use variations of the martial art. The people Kenshiro fights in the lead up to his battle with Shin, a man who used to be Kenshiro’s friend but later betrayed him and kidnapped his fiance, are mostly users of different kinds of Nanto Seiken. One of these people is the Colonel who leads God’s Army. God’s Army was in control of a village, and when Kenshiro arrives there he gets on the army’s bad side by killing a few of them. After letting himself get captured and brought to their base, he eventually confronts the Colonel…
… who tries to kill him with boomerangs. The boomerangs are metal and sharp, sure, but they’re still boomerangs. This guy is a practitioner of an ancient martial art and the first thing he does in a fight is whip out a couple boomerangs. But I’ll cut this one some slack. Outside of the boomerangs he’s a fairly normal guy, he even throws a couple spears too. And in the next story arc we meet Mamiya, who fights with yo-yos, so boomerangs aren’t that weird in retrospect.
Later on, Kenshiro arrives at a village whose water supply is controlled by a sorceress named Patra, who demands that young men and women in the village be offered as slaves to her. Kenshiro does his whole saving the village thing, and eventually faces these two dudes.
Yes, they are also practitioners of a type of Nanto Seiken. One that requires them to dress up as bats and fly around screeching and attacking people with claws. That is a school of an ancient martial art.
Later on, Kenshiro arrives at a village that is being controlled by a witchdoctor named Zaria. He uses a form of hypnosis to turn the population of the village into mindless slaves, and can also use this hypnosis to slice up their bodies. That’s also a form on Nanto Seiken! And the guy looks like this!
You can tell just by looking at his hair that he’s trained in an ancient deadly martial art. It’s been a bit since I’ve actually seen the episode so I honestly can’t remember if the dude ever even throws a punch or if he just does his dumb hypnosis the whole time and gets killed.
Kenshiro faces a few other Nanto Seiken users before finally facing off against Shin, but you get the point by now. The weird enemies at least make things a little more entertaining than if Kenshiro was just constantly punching generic bandits in the face. I really do like the series, but this first bit of it doesn’t make it very easy to get into.