Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: The Hokuto Hyakuretsuken, one of the main character Kenshiro's signature moves. Oddly enough, Hokuto Ujoumoushouha is just that except ending with a "merciful" gut punch instead of Your Head A-Splode.
Juza often uses an unnamed kick version of this, with varied success.
Nanto Seiken uses a combination of both this and Razor Wind - rapid movements of the hands and feet create razor-sharp 'blades' of air pressure, letting practitioners cut off heads with their hands, poke their fingers through ribcages and slice dozens of enemies apart with a single spinning kick. Hyui, the wind-themed member of the Nanto Gohasei, has a similar style that uses pure long-ranged Razor Wind, whilst Hokuto Shinken practitioners like Raoh can also cut people in half with their hands and feet, but through raw strength rather than manipulation of air currents.
Also Falco's final technique which he uses to off the Nameless Shura.
Quite a few do not long survive their (barely) "face" turns, though the manga-only Baran goes further than usual in the first chapter of the final volume in not only choosing to die, but arranging for a public execution — and thus humiliation — and actually letting himself be killed, though his final moments are spent in the presence of his redeemers.
Also notably Duran during the filler episodes in the Shin arc; he is a doctor of the village who makes sure he helps the people as much as possible, seeing how he used to work for one of Shin's henchmen, Dante. Duran is then faced by Dante's thugs who threaten to kill him unless he kills Kenshiro. He of course fails and he is impaled by several spears — right in front of the girl who wanted to be his wife when she grew up.
Rescue Arc: Pretty much the entirety of the Southern Cross arc (especially in the anime version). The constant kidnapping of Lin during the Kingdom of Shura arc also qualifies.
Retcon: The original series had Kenshiro, the 64th Hokuto Shinken successor, be the very second Hokuto Shinken praticioner to perform the ultimate Musou Tensei art, the first was the Hokuto Shinken founder himself, and the third to use it was Raoh. Comes Fist of the Blue Sky and Kenshiro's uncle Kasumi, the 62nd Hokuto Shinken successor, briefly performs the Musou Tensei while unconscious against Liu Zong-Wu, being created by the original authors themselves it didn't get pushed into Alternate Continuity territory.
Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: There's a bridge where Raoh's thugs have checkpoints at both ends to search for Kenshiro, so Kenshiro attempts to evade them by hiding in a wagon of straw that his ally Fudo pulls across the bridge. The thugs have drafted villagers to do their searching for them, and one of these villagers at the entrance of the bridge spots Kenshiro, but deliberately pretends that he didn't see him. By the time Fudo gets to the other end of the bridge, another villager has ratted out the villager who has covered for Kenshiro, hoping to be humbly rewarded with food and such. However, both villagers are killed by Raoh's thugs, one for helping Kenshiro, and the other for ratting out the first villager!
The Rival: Shin at first for Kenshiro, and later Raoh.
Rummage Sale Reject: Even if the 1980's did have pretty awful clothing, is this the best that the cast can come up with?
When we find out that the Last General of the Nanto Roku Seiken is Yuria.
Also, when we learn that the Celestial Emperor is actually an Empress, and is in fact Lin's estranged twin sister, Lui.
Sand Necktie: Several of Jagi's mooks take to burying villagers up to their necks and forcing others to saw their heads off. Kenshiro promptly kills the mooks in question before burying the lead guy up to his neck and leaving him at the mercy of his victims.
Invoked (whether deliberate or not remains to be told) by Dirty Coward Jagi, whose Catchphrase is actually "Say my name!" (shotgun pointing is optional). This was even made into a super move in the Atomiswave fighting game.
Screw Destiny: Pulled off in awesome fashion by Rei in his final days. The Star of Death is normally an inexorable Portent of Doom for anyone who sees it in the Fist of the North Star universe, but Rei is willing to die so that Mamiya, who was under the star in question, can live on.
When Kenshiro's adoptive brothers were first introduced, Kenshiro initially mentions that none of them are actually blood-related. Later it turns out that the eldest two, Raoh and Toki, are blood related after all and we are shown the ruins of their childhood home along with the graves of the birth parents. However, it later turns out that none of them were even born in Japan at all, but that the three of them were refuges from the Kingdom of Shura and that Raoh and Toki's mother is buried in a swamp. If that wasn't enough confusion, then comes the prequel, Fist of the Blue Sky, which shows that the baby Kenshiro was born in Japan... or not, as apparently where he was born was actually in China.
In the Hokuto no Ken 2 portion of the anime, the child version of Toki is drawn with white hair during the flashbacks when he was still in Shura. However, the first anime series already established the fact that Toki's natural hair color is brown and it didn't became white until he was exposed to nuclear fallout as an adult.
Shōnen (Demographic): The archetypal example, though you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for seinen due to the violence that occurs throughout. And yes there are seinen spin-offs and sidestories to FotNS/HnK.
The whole darned franchise is one to the Australian cult classic Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, although it's only prominent during the early chapters.
The act of cruelty that Diamond performs to a little girl and her father early on in the manga will be quite familiar to anyone who's seen Once Upon a Time in the West.
When Kenshiro heads off to Shura, with the shades/goggles on he ends up looking an incredible lot like Marion Cobretti...
Chapter 3 of Volume 27 is tragic as hell — but ends with an incredible shout-out to the opening of the manga staggering through the desert, begging for water — but this time, with Bat and Lin right there.
In episode #3 of the 1st animé series, the Diamonds mooks make some poor sod shoot down a tin can from the head of his own son. This is a clear Shout-Out to the story about the famous Swiss Folk HeroWilliam Tell.
Whenever a major villain manages to draw Kenshiro's blood, he has a tendency to taste it and spit it out, just as Bruce Lee did while fighting the Big Bad in Enter the Dragon.
Ken also does that Lick The Thumb thing that Bruce did on occasion.
We never see the technique in full in the original source, but Yuda's "Kesshou Shi" is shown in full in the Arc Systems fighting game, and it looks a lot like the M. Bison's Psycho Crusher.
In Ken's Rage (at least the American release), Jagi will sometimes call his enemies "primitive screwheads".
Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Despite all the violent warlords wanting Yuria's affection, she forever loves Kenshiro for his kind and tender nature.
Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Unapologetically idealistic and morally righteous in spite of being set in a post-apocalyptic Crapsack World. The heart and soul of the series seems to be "It is easy to do good in times of prosperity, but it takes a true hero to be a good person when the entire world is screaming for you to be otherwise."
Spaghetti Western: Replace the gunplay with kung fu, and the grim violence punctuated with bursts of heroic idealism will fit right-in the world of Sergio Leone.
The Spartan Way: The Kingdom of Shura, where the law states one does not reach manhood until he has defeated a 100 men.
Stout Strength: Mr. Heart and, to a lesser extent (in that he's slimmer, but just as big), Fudoh.
Spared by the Adaptation: Many of the children characters who were killed off in the manga (like Bat's little brother Taki or Ryo, the kid who ate poisoned bread in Shew's hideout) were spared of their gruesome fates in the anime. One of the rare examples of a villain surviving in the anime is the Imperial Executioner in the very first episode of Hokuto no Ken 2. He fleets after burning an entire cage filled with imprisoned villagers in front of the Hokuto Army and never shows up again to get his comeuppance. In the manga, his face was smashed by Kenshiro shortly afterward.
Spam Attack: Most skilled martial artists have at least one. Hokuto Hyakuretsuken, Kenshiro's famous Hundred Crack Fist, is a classic example.
Spell My Name with an "S": As with all popular Japanese manga franchises, the spellings of many character names tend to differ between sources and media. Notably, the name of the Holy Emperor tends to vary from "Souther", "Thouzer", "Thouther", and even "Thoutoher". Not to mention Yuria/Julia, Fudo/Fudoh, Yuda/Juda, Lin/Rin/Lynn, Shuu/Shuh/Shew, Pel/Bell/Peru and Uighur/Uyghur. Even Raoh's name has been spelled as "Laoh" in the All About the Man guidebook.
Stock Shoutouts: Hokuto Hyakuretsuken is one of the big ones in anime. Any Spam Attack accompanied by an "ATATATATATATA!" shout is giving a nod to Kenshiro.
Stay in the Kitchen: One of the franchise's hang-ups is that it is written to portray women in a particularly patronizing way, even women (such as Mamiya, or Reina from the movies) who are way more competent than the average male villager, mooks, and villain of the week. The sad thing is that the show clearly thought it was pro-woman in some episodes, but it was just incredibly paternalistic. A good example is the case of the Six Nanto Masters, the greatest practitioners of Nanto Seiken. There's only one female Master, and whilst the rest of them are godlike kung fu experts who can slice off your face with their feet, she's a spiritual leader with no combat abilities whatsoever.
Sudden Downer Ending: The end of Legend of Kenshiro is so pointlessly sadistic it could have been written by Thouzer himself. Ken has recovered his spirit, embraced his destiny as the messiah and saved the city... then Siska turns out to have a third detonator and blows it up anyway, leaving Kenshiro screaming despondently among the ruins and corpses of his friends.
Suicidal Overconfidence: In spades. Just about every single villain that isn't a successor of one of the major martial arts styles falls under this trope. They can watch Kenshiro (or another successor) murder dozens or hundreds of their peers without breaking a sweat, shrug off firearms and artillery, and other such feats, and still think they have what it takes to take them on. The bad guys in this story have no self-preservation instinct to speak of.
Super-Deformed: There is a spinoff manga with a super deformed art style titled DD Hokuto no Ken. In this story, "...the characters of Fist of the North Star are living in peaceful Japan. In particular, Kenshirō is a convenience store worker, Raoh works at a factory, and wracked by illness, Toki is looking for work." A TV anime adaptation was also made.
Swiper, No Swiping!: This happens near the end of the movie. Raoh is about to kill Kenshiro, when Lin appears and begs him to spare Kenshiro's life. He does.
Tender Tears: Despite their appearance, men of the Fist of the North Star series are actually very warm-hearted and do this a lot, maybe even more than Manly Tears. Even Raoh does this to grieve for Toki and Yuria's suffering, and those are the only times he ever sheds tears.
Shin's four henchmen in the manga are named after playing cards (Spade, Diamond, Club, Heart), while the anime adds Joker to the mix.
The Golan commandos are named after military ranks (Colonel, Mad Sarge, Major).
Jackal and his underlings are all animal-themed (although only two of them, Fox and Hawk, are named in the manga).
The martial arts of the Nanto Seiken school follows an avian motif (Lone Eagle, Waterfowl, Crimson Crane, White Heron, and Phoenix).
There Are No Therapists: An aversion. Hokuto Shinken's healing techniques can be used for psychological as well as physical healing, as was the case when Kenshiro gave Rin a pressure-point adjustment to help cure her trauma-induced muteness.
There Can Be Only One: Once Kenshiro's brothers are introduced, it is revealed that the law of Hokuto Shinken states that only one student can inherit its teachings; the others are to be either disabled or euthanized. Ends up leading to the story's events — Jagi's berserk moment came when Kenshiro was chosen, and Raoh's refusal to let himself be crippled led to the fight where Ryuken died.
This Is Unforgivable!: When Kenshiro growls this phrase at you, it goes without saying that you're pretty much screwed. Kenshiro goes one further after Shu's death: "Not one hair of you will remain in This World!!!"
Kenshiro and Raoh are sometimes represented by a dragon and a tiger, respectively. Kenshiro is stoic and does not seek power, Raoh is more hot-blooded and ambitious.
It also comes up when Kenshiro and Rei fight each other to save Airi and Mamiya, as Rei uses a technique called Nanto Tiger Destroying Dragon and Kenshiro uses Hokuto Dragon Attacking Tiger.
Time Skip: The second half of the manga begins several years after the first one, with Bat and Lin now grown up.
Token Motivational Nemesis: Shin in the manga, whose only reason of existence is to give Kenshiro his signature scars and take Yuria away from him before being killed by the end of the tenth chapter. The Adaptation Expansion of the TV series padded Shin's role for up to 22 episodes. Most of this only amounted to giving Shin more henchmen to order around than the four he had in the manga, but he does get his own moment of glory by thwarting a conspiracy to overthrow him just before his final battle with Kenshiro. The anime also depicts the dissolution of Shin's army and the destruction of Southern Cross before the final battle, which arguably gives a greater sense of resolution to Shin than simply having his army vanish with no explanation after his death like in the manga.
A lot of glaring villain examples in the filler episodes, in particular a Bad Boss known as David who has just witnessed Kenshiro demolish his fifteen-feet tall henchman Glen (whom he brainwashed as a slave since childhood) with ONE hand. When Kenshiro took pity on Glen and gave him a second chance to be a good person, David just had to murder said-giant in cold-blood, then taunts Glen for being a weakling complete with Evil Laugh in front of the horrified-and-angry STILL PRESENT Kenshiro.
Fortunately averted by Souther's troops after his defeat, once Kenshiro's walked back down the pyramid stairs. There's obvious shame and regret over what they were fighting for, but in the first Raoh Den movie, the kids actually put themselves between the troops and Kenshiro. Had the troops in that one made a move, Kenshiro would have been right there.
Anyone serving Jagi., since he tends to kill his own henchmen just as often as innocents. And unlike Shin or Raoh he isn't engaging in empirebuilding or conquest so there's no reward there, plus they don't get the excuse of being Slave Mooks either unlike with Souther or Raoh.
Even in a series notable for its lack of gratuitous training scenes, there are a few glaring examples. At one point, Ken flashes back to when the adolescent students of his school had to fight the students in another school...where the fights were apparently to the death.
Another time, there's the memory of the Hokuto Shinken final test, where Ken and Raoh have to face a tiger and are expected to make the tiger back down through sheer badassness — killing the tiger instead is considered a major screw-up. And Souther's final test for his phoenix-themed martial art
Tragic Hero: Raoh, for several reasons actually. (1)He wants to restore order and peace to the world by means of instilling fear and terror,(2) he wants Yuria to fall in love with him through similar methods, and (3) his ultimate goal is to become so powerful that even the heavens will bow down to him. His status as a tragic hero is especially prevalent in the spin-off series, Legends of the Dark King.
Trope Maker: Quite simply, FOTNS is THE granddaddy of most Shonen fighting series (along with Dragon Ball), and pretty much every trope that applies to them was codified by it (Again, with Dragon Ball). It's easier to mention which fighting series are NOT in any way influenced by it).
Two Guys and a Girl: Ken, Shin, and Yuria, at least in the flashbacks and the beginning of the series. For a bit it's Ken, Rei, and Mamiya, but with a far, far more tragic ending.
Updated Re-release: The original manga has several collected editions in addition to the initial Jump Comics releases published during its serialization throughout the eighties. Most notably the Kanzenban edition published by Shogakukan in 2006, which condenses the original 27 volume run to 14 volumes and reprints all the colored art from the actual Weekly Jump serial. The 18-volume Ultimate edition published throughout 2013 and 2014 has a new story in the beginning of Vol. 11 that details how Kokuoh lost his eye between the first and second half of the manga.
Unproblematic Prostitution: In Rei's side-story manga, the city of Azgarzul is a city of women ruled by women that makes most of its income from prostitution. But they have choice in whom they service, and there's rules about being reasonably polite and courteous to the working girls. It still comes off as incredibly sexist, since there's a heavy implication that prostitution is the only way for a woman to be empowered and independent.
Unstoppable Rage: Ken does this almost every episode, usually illustrated when his battle aura causes his shirt to disintegrate. This is even more amusing once you discover that it's actually a part of Hokuto Shinken - the move is called Tenryu Kokyu Ho, or "Art of the Dragon Breath", and enables the practitioner to tap into the 70% of the human body's power that is not normally used. There's actually an exception. When Rei first appears and says he's looking for the man with seven scars on his chest, the plot requires that Kenshiro not show his chest. Accordingly, Kenshiro's battle aura never does this until that plot is resolved.
Up to Eleven: Kenshiro's already a one-man killing machine but the movie instalments ramp up his power to ridiculous levels.
In the 1986 movie, he topples a skyscraper with ONE PUNCH and proceeds to WALK THROUGH IT while it's collapsing.
In Kenshiro Den, he single-handedly destroys an entire army (and bear in mind this is a prequel).
Averted by New Fist of the North Star, when Kenshiro is foiled by a metal grid and needs help from a supporting character to break free.
In 1986, Enix created a spinoff visual novel / Adventure Game called Hokuto no Ken: Violence Gekiga Adventure. It was released for several computers that were popular in Japan at the time. It was basically a loose retelling of the Southern Cross arc with many of the same events transpiring differently. Most notably, it has a shot of Mr. Heart smoking a cigar.
There was another Visual Novel-style game released by Banpresto in 1995, simply titled Hokuto no Ken. It was released for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn and took place after the events of the manga. Lin gets kinapped (again) on the day of her wedding with Bat and another Hokuto school (Hokuto Mumyoken) is behind the events.
The War on Terror: In the intro to Jun'ai no Shō - which is the first part of the Shin Kyūseishu Densetsu film series - it is implied that this was the reason for the nuclear war.
Wasteland Elder: Kenshiro encounters quite a few elderly village leaders during the series.
Water Torture: After battling Mad Sarge, Kenshiro struck a Pressure Point that forced Sarge to walk backwards and into a tank of water, where Ken submerged his head until Sarge gave up who was behind the forces of Godland. All this was eventually revealed to be a setup as even when the Sarge told, he was informed that he was already dead. Cue kaboom.
We Hardly Knew Ye: "Hey, there's a new, cool looking character with a weird new fighting sty- Oh they're dead already." And that's for the good guys. Bad guys end up in the boneyard even quicker and bloodier.
The Western: Think David Carradine's Kung Fu directed by Sergio Leone on a very bad day and you get this classic Sci-Fi Kung-Fu Western.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Pel, Rin's beloved Precious Puppy, who appears only in the anime series, disappears mysteriously after episode 63 without any explanation, only to make one last cameo during episode 70.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Kenshiro kills mooks without remorse but will often try to spare their boss because of a freudian excuse.
When All You Have Is a Hammer: The solution is punching. No exceptions. Bandits holding the village hostage? Punch them. Facing down a tank? Punch it. Trying to cure a little girl of trauma-induced muteness? Punch her, dammit!
While Rome Burns: An apt description for many of the gangs and low-level villains in this series. They just want to use the lack of order and rules to do whatever they want, no matter if it destroys what's left of human civilization.
Uighur is a huge, huge man running a prison, so the theme of control and enslavement is still there but without any of the usual vampiness associated with whips. In fact, he's presented as a serious martial artist (well, as serious as you can be if you're not named Kenshiro, Toki, Raoh, Souther, or Rei anyway).
A military-style minor villain from one of the earlier episodes also wields one capable of slicing people in half. For all the good it does him against Kenshiro.
Wide-Eyed Idealist: Kenshiro is an idealist who lives in a Crapsack World where people daily dies and kills over a scrap of food or a sip of water. Still he believes it is easy to be despicable in this age, but that it takes a true HERO keep your humanity and keep being a good person when everything and everyone around seems suggesting to you otherwise. In the first chapter, Bat asks him bluntly how he has survived so far if he would not even try break himself out of jail because it could get a little girl in trouble. Not long after, Bat finds out Kenshiro is idealistic because he can affordto be. Behaving like scum and harming helpless people in front of him is a very, very bad idea. Like in "he WILL disintegrate you" bad idea.
Though Kenshiro and Rei will avenge the abuse of all innocents as a matter of course, they are exceptionally harsh towards any "man" who dares to strike or abuse women; and that's saying something considering how brutal and cruel Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Seiken already are.
If you serve in Raoh's armies, donotrape women if you don't want your head literally slapped off your shoulders, like the rapist-mook in the manga found out the hard way.
Wife Husbandry: Whilst it's completely accidental on his part, Kenshiro gets worryingly close to doing this with Rin, and it doesn't help that everyone else promptly turns into a Shipper on Deck. As a result, much of the second half of the manga involves him trying to get her to see other people - or, more specifically, Bat.
William Telling: Used as a Kick the Dog moment in an early episode, with one of Diamond's men forcing a villager to try to shoot a can off the head of his son with a bow and arrow. The scene it replaced in the manga was even crueler than that.
Raoh does some truly hideous things to build his empire, but considering the state the world is in it's easy to see why. Not to mention his goal to become the strongest man alive, as he was originally intended to be the successor to Hokuto Shinken before losing the position twice.
Even if the world is burnt by nuclear fire, it will only stay bad if you chose to let it stay bad: If you have the power and are willing to care, even a wasteland can be made a better place.
Despite the nuclear war, there seem to be quite a few people still left, and later on in the manga the post-war civilization has developed to a point were a large number of independent states exist here and there.
World of Badass: Averted. Even Mook-level enemies are often gigantic superhuman badasses, but most of the world's population are peaceful villagers who have no chance of standing up against them, and until Kenshiro passes through an area, the non-badass people just have to bend over and take it - resistance will just get them killed.
World of Ham: There is no space for subtle emotions here; all feelings are either screamed out, punched out, or cried out in the worlds of Buronson and Hara.
Worthless Yellow Rocks: A bunch of gangsters in the first episode find a briefcase full of money. Since this is the post-apocalyptic future, though, the thug who grabs the briefcase promptly throws the money away, since it doesn't even make good toilet paper.
Worthy Opponent: Shin, Souther, Raoh and Falco to Kenshiro. Toki, Juza, and Fudoh to Raoh. Yuda to Rei. Shu to Souther, maybe.
Would Hurt a Child: Some assholes decided that maiming a child or worse would be fun in the post-apocalyptic world and no law would ever convict them. Too bad for them Karma Houdini doesn't exist in the world of Hokuto no Kennote seriously try to find a single entry of it , so expect these human wastes of life to become Jackson Pollock paintings.
Wuxia: One of the earliest examples of this genre to use the future (albeit a primitive, post-apocalyptic one) rather than the past as a setting.
Often, Ken will only save someone after being told for the 1,000th time about how evil the captor/tyrant is.
And just as often subverted. If anyone is doing anything evil or unlawful to innocents within earshot of Kenshiro, he will usually respond. If they're lucky, he'll just make their arms useless or otherwise neutralize them. If they did something really bad, such as hurting women or children, expect heads exploding.
Your Head A-Splode: Watch out if you have a mohawk! Sometimes subverted in which even without a mohawk, doesn't mean you're safe. Look at Jakoh's death scene for one thing.
Kenshiro meets this trope after storming one of Raoh's castles in search of his kidnapped fiancée.
It also happens during the anime version of the Southern Cross arc, except substitute Raoh for Shin.
Also happens when Rei raids Juda's hideout with the intent to kill him, only to find out that Juda left long ago.
Your Size May Vary: Attacking opponents suddenly much bigger? Kokuoh-Go, Raoh's unusually large horse, becoming large enough to completely stomp mooks under his hoofs when moments ago the same hoofs were only big as those mooks' heads? Raoh himself, usually only two heads taller than Kenshiro, suddenly becomes a giant at least as twice as tall? Mako begging for mercy from Jagi, whose knees are now at head level? This series has a lot of this.
Zeerust: The original manga was published during 1980s, at a time when most doomsday predictions placed the end of the world at the late 1990s. Thus, the nuclear war occurs in the year 199X and the term Seikimatsu ("end of the century") is used to refer to the era the story takes place. This becomes Zeerust Canon in all of the newer spin-offs published after 2000 and onward, which continued using the term Seikimatsu when referring to the post-apocalyptic period the story takes place.