Crown Jewels of Anime: Fist of the North Star

Posted by Guest Author on May 17, 2008 in Animation |

In this exclusive series our guest author Tim Eldred picks the top ten crown jewels of anime:

As a guy who started watching anime in 1980, I was lucky enough to catch the virus when the medium was in a creative upswing the likes of which simply hasn’t been seen since. Of course, there was great stuff before that, but never in quite so much abundance. The early 80s in particular were chock full of shows that had the power to make me (A) cry like a baby or (B) leap out of my chair like a sports fan. And any show that could do both became a crown jewel in my eyes. They haven’t all been officially exported yet, which means a lot of people still have an opportunity to experience them for the first time. Here’s number 6 on my top ten list:

Fist of the North Star

You don’t have to see much of this series to find your tolerance level. It takes a really long time to watch (well over 100 episodes), a lot of the animation is bare-bones at best, the drama is so far over the top you can see right up its dress, and entire episodes can roll by with practically nothing accomplished. So what earns it a spot on my top ten list? Style, man. Pure, shredding, murderous, unapologetic STYLE.

Fist of the North Star

A quick overview doesn’t even come close to doing the story justice, but I’ll try it anyway: Kenshiro is a cross between Mad Max and Bruce Lee, taking the fight for justice to those who would prey on the weak in a post-holocaust future. He’s a master of Hokuto Shin Ken (North Star God Fist), the deadliest martial art ever. EVER. But he’s not the only one; his main rival is an even bigger, stronger master named Raoh and he’s 20 levels above badass. Raoh wants to concquer the world, Ken wants the people to make their own way. Throw into this a whole universe of other fighters, both good and evil, and let the mayhem begin.

What you don’t realize until you find that tolerance level I spoke of, is that all the mayhem has a purpose. There’s a very definite goal at the end of the journey and the steps toward that goal are plotted with intelligence and precision. There are plenty of distractions and sidetracks along the way, but you definitely know when you’ve gotten a step closer to the goal when something amazing happens to reward you for sticking with it. Those rewards were good enough to make this one of the most popular manga serials ever, keep the show on the air in Japan for three full years, and get us a recent batch of ultraslick theatrical remakes and manga spinoffs. A complete and proper import has yet to happen for a variety of reasons, but don’t let that stop you. Fighting your way through all the obstacles will make you one with Kenshiro!

Fist of the North Star

Tim Eldred is a graphic novelist, TV animation artist, and hopeless fanboy. You can see his work at and

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