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The Manga and its Adaptations:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Ryuken honoured a dying man's request to take his children (Toki and Raoh) and raise them. Rather than adopting them, he takes them as students, drops them off a cliff and opts to teach whoever can climb back up, explicitly saying "I do not need two sons." A Trickster Mentor with an unorthodox way of teaching kids, or an asshole who took advantage of his friend's death to find students? He could also be considered a blend of the two, a man who tried to be a parent but didn't really know how and as he grew older learned to care for his adopted sons better.
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    • The Colonel (more so his manga version) could be seen as a Foil to Raoh. He's a highly principled man thrown into a world gone mad who does his best to bring everything under control with an iron fist. He wants to raise an army of the strongest to bring order to the wasteland but lacks Raoh's principles and strength.
  • Anvilicious: The most subtle thing to happen in this series is the movement of Ken's eyebrows, and even those look like caterpillars.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Bolge, the final villain of the manga, although cool, is nowhere near as memorable as Raoh or Kaioh.
  • Arc Fatigue: The Shin Arc in the anime. In the manga, it was around ten chapters, which, without filler, would be about five or so episodes for an anime. In the anime, it was a season-long arc, with filler episodes and moving Ken and Bat's reunion with Lin, the God Army arc, and the Jackal Arc (all of which occurred after the battle with Shin) as sub-arcs during it all. The Mad Colonel and Jackal were also rewritten as minions of Shin to justify their placement in the story.
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  • Ass Pull: Quite a few due to the fact that Buronson and Hara wrote the story as they went along. The most obvious being the "UD" mark on Mamiya's shoulder. How come nobody noticed it when she was undressed in front of everyone by Rei? Or how about Raoh and Toki coming to Japan along with an infant Kenshiro as refugees from Shura in Hokuto no Ken 2. Didn't we see the ruins of Raoh and Toki's home village in the original series?
  • Awesome Music: Got its own page. YOU WA SHOCK!!
  • Awesome Ego: Raoh, Souther, Amiba and Jagi all have this in spades. Despite the fact that each of them is a brutal sadist with a rather large Inferiority Superiority Complex on the side, they all display enough badassery to make them some of the most popular characters in the series, with Raoh arguably being the most popular character in the series.
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  • Base-Breaking Character: Bat’s Bratty Half-Pint antics are either welcome comic relief or a mood-breaker that disrupts the series’ melodrama.
  • Better Than Canon:
    • Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage has a "What-If" mode wherein Rei beats Raoh and live happily ever after with Mamiya. It turns out to be a prophetic vision and Rei goes on to meet his intended fate (to die at Raoh's hands) regardless, as he feels that he can't prolong his life at the risk of his friends. Possibly justified, as Shew does manage to die in Rei's Dream Mode and Rei blames himself for it. Or alternatively looking, Rei became inspired with Mamiya in Dream Mode to risk her life for the right cause, fighting against Thouzer's army despite the information that if she rebels she will face death, therefore once he wakes up, he realizes that trying to go down the Dream Mode route would basically be the coward's way out.
    • Jagi and Toki's Dream Mode stories are also seen in a similar light, as the former becomes an Accidental Hero by defeating other villains, either for being in his way or simply to survive, and the latter recovers from his sickness, defeats Thouzer, and restores order and harmony to the world.
  • Broken Base:
    • The 1986 Movie. Some despise it for all the changes it makes (removing Toki, cutting down Shin's screen time, etc.) and feel that all the story from Parts 1-2 forced into a 110-minute production leaves the story rushed and uneven. Others feel it's a well done Pragmatic Adaptation that manages to keep the spirit of the story along with its themes, and is helped immensely by excellent animation (granted the video quality on many copies is dubious). Then there's the dub. Some see it as a cringeworthy Cut-and-Paste Translation that removes key information, changes the context of several scenes, and has the dub actors awkwardly mispronounce the characters' names. Others are more accepting of the changes, as the story is still coherent and the dub has a number of good actors putting in solid performances in an era when many such productions were usually characterized by a lack of polish or effort.
    • Daran Norris as Rei in the Manga Entertainment dub of the cartoon, was he a good fit? Some feel his voice was ill fitting for Rei being too nasally and deep for someone that young looking, while others are much more forgiving and feel his voice was a decent choice with later roles like Knock Out showing he's good at older pretty boys.
    • The (in)famous French dub is either seen as So Bad, It's Good and a good source of comedy, or as completely ruining the seriousness of the original manga.
  • Catharsis Factor: While most of Kenshiro's enemies don't stand a chance against him, it is always satisfying to see him tear through the worst of humanity.
  • Complete Monster: Lots and lots.
  • Contested Sequel: Fist of the North Star 2. First Installment Wins is definitely at play here with the first manga being much more well-known and much more liked; with its characters receiving the bulk of supplementary material. Though most agree that the post Shura chapters are a case of Seasonal Rot, fans are divided on the Celestial Empire and Shura arcs (which do comprise most of the sequel and the entirety of the animated adaptation of the sequel). Some were happy to see a continuation of the story and feel that there're a lot of good moments within these arcs and iconic characters in their own right (Ein, Falco, Shachi, etc.). Kaioh especially is considered to be a cool threatening villain that invokes Raoh but is different enough to stand out. Others feel that the addition is unnecessary and choose to believe it ended after Raoh's defeat. They tend to cite an unnecessary amount of retcons (Lin's secret twin-sister, Kenshiro Raoh and Toki being from Shura and having an even bigger family) and more Ass Pulls than normal; and view it as a Post-Script Season that dips in quality.
  • Crazy Awesome: Juza of the Clouds, definitely. The Humiliation Conga he delivers to Raoh and repeatedly shaming the thousands-year old martial arts schools with a style he made up is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Cult Classic:
    • Despite being a Cash Cow Franchise in Japan, it's very much this in America. The anime was never fully dubbed (and only received a subbed DVD release in The New '10s), and the manga has never received a complete official translation (unless Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 is counted), meaning that for a long time the only way for American audiences to experience the story was through bootleg translations, and the movie's subpar dubbing. Despite this comparative lack of mainstream exposure, and the fact that American anime fans discovered the series long after it ended, it's had a pretty substantial and consistent following for years.
    • The unfinished English dub is this as well. The acting is surprisingly good, and the tongue-in-cheek approach taken by the cast is oddly appropriate. Some consider Lex Lang's performance as Ken being one of the best roles of his career, and the best English interpretation of the character. Peter Lurie's performance as Jagi is also quite well done. There are some criticisms, such as Daran Norris' take on Rei, but its supporters consider it a shame that the dub was left unfinished.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Shin was Kenshiro's closest friend and greatest rival, but he committed war crimes and other atrocities as an overlord trying to win Yuria's love. He's generally remembered fondly by Kenshiro and as a chivalrous Rival Turned Evil by the audience, rather than a mass-murderer who branded people and let his lieutenants hunt them for sport.
    • Raoh. A lot of fans play up the "noble" aspect of this Noble Demon, conveniently ignoring all of the sympathetic and likable characters that he kills, some for no rational reason, as well as the fact that he employs a lot of bloodthirsty sadistic thugs in his army and doesn't seem to do much efforts to prevent them from abusing the inhabitants of the villages they conquer.
    • Thouzer is still thought to be an appealing character, especially by women, despite all the atrocities he has committed. Most famously Yuko Goto, the voice of Mikuru-chan from the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise (and recently, the producer of Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage). This also becomes a Casting Gag when she ended up voicing Menace, who uses many of Thouzer's moves in her repertory.
    • Jagi, a huge Jerkass and Dirty Coward who ruined the lives of Kenshiro, Yuria, Shin, Airi, and Rei, but that isn't stopping anyone liking the only bad Hokuto brother and making a spin-off manga which sympathizes with him.
    • Though a somewhat Downplayed example, Ryuga still tends to be viewed as a neutral figure at worst, despite him fatally wounding Toki and killing many of the man's patients in order to get Ken to fight him.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Despite only appearing in one episode, Mr. Heart has had a place alongside major villains and heroes. He's appeared in the Arc System fighting game, the Xbox 360 beat-em-up game, and the 1995 film thanks to his off-the-wall style, even by the show's standards: he's a morbidly obese martial artist whose mighty gut keeps Kenshiro from hitting his pressure points, and the sight of his own blood makes him flip from from "effeminate man-glacier" to "rampaging murder machine." Due to his name, Mr. Heart has been quite popular for troll pics involving him replacing someone with a cutesy feel (Magical Girls, cute girls, or someone with a Heart in their name (like Arcana Heartino)) to make a high-caliber LOL Squick.
    • Rei is an exceptionally popular character. He was the first major Nanto Seiken good-guy who had a cool laid back style and a great dynamic with Kenshiro, being the first companion who was his equal. In the anime especially his debut heralded a major turning point from the repetitive fights by giving Kenshiro someone to play off of. Further, he's only in Part 2 of the first series, as his death is what ends that portion of the series, but in spite of this he got a few spinoffs and remains one of the series' most popular heroes.
    • Amiba, despite his relatively minor role in the overall scheme of things, he gets a bit of added exposure in the Gaiden spin-offs, particularly in the manga version of Raoh Gaiden, as well as in Toki Gaiden and Rei Gaiden. He even becomes Jagi's best buddy in the Dream Mode of Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage
    • Juza is the only Goshasei to get his own spinoff so far.
    • Mamiya also has quite a fan following, if only for the fact that she's the only female character of the series actually able to do something useful. Added to that her being one of the most heroic females of the 80's animés.
    • Jagi has a bit of a following of his own for being the only Hokuto brother who was a total irredeemable bastard, his Awesome Ego, and his fighting style. His Ensemble Dark Horse status even extends beyond the fans as Buronson himself has said that Jagi is his favorite character. Many felt that despite being one of Ken's brothers, he ultimately became an afterthought after his death.
    • Thouzer, too. Partially because of his Draco in Leather Pants Jerkass Woobie appeal, partially because his story arc signalled a change of pace from the Raoh storyline.
    • Joker, Shin's Canon Foreigner Dragon, because of Shigeru Chiba's creepy performance and being one of the few villains to not fear Ken, even in his death. He was enough of a Darkhorse that Jakoh was created as a canon Expy of him.
    • Ein is easily one of the most popular characters from the contested second series. He's especially popular with Americans with his fabulously exaggerated stars and stripes design. Beyond that, he had an endearingly laid back personality and a strong love for his adopted daughter making for an engaging companion for the Celestial Emperor arc.
  • Escapist Character: Kenshiro, seriously; this guy is almost certifiably the epitome of this trope: Hot, muscular guy with lots of Shirtless Scenes? Check. Awesome fighting skills? Check. A major badass good guy that gets to mow down villains by the hundreds while still being considered a borderline messiah? Check. Known to most of his enemies as "the Man with the Seven Scars", and mentioning this nickname is sometimes enough to make the mooks run in terror? Check. Widely praised as "the savior of the post-apocalyptic world" by many people without even trying to gain their respect? Check. Typically portrayed as utterly invincible? Check. Performs such feats include bending open prison bars, wielding a steel I-beam like a broomstick, stopping the charge of a 500 kg man with six fingers, and plugging a burst dam by carrying a huge chunk of a mountain to it? Check. Always leaves the most powerful of bad guys cowering in terror? Check. Can relentlessly, inexorably pursue all forms of evil and oppression without anything slowing him down? DOUBLE CHECK. Yes, you totally want to be him. And if not: You Are Already Dead!
  • Evil Is Cool: Raoh, Kaioh, Jagi, Shin, Mr. Heart, Ryuga and Thouzer.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Pretty boys Shin and Ryuga, and the more classically handsome Thouzer.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Because of the vastly inferior quality, the enormous amount of contradictions and removing what would be an happy ending for Kenshiro and the entire world, most fans prefer to consider only the first part as canon, disgregarding anything post-Raoh. It helps that the story was meant to end there, and therefore reach a complete ending, and that other medias barely acnowledge anything regarding the second part, making it borderline Canon Discontinuity as well.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Most of the bad guys dress like Conan the Barbarian characters, only more colourful. See any grunt who has twin ponytails... on an otherwise bald head.
  • Faux Symbolism:
    • The villain Yuda is named after Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus in the New Testament. Yuda's role is betraying the Six Stars of Nanto by siding with Raoh in a time of chaos, and all because he was jealous of Rei's elegance.
    • More recent adaptations only hammer the point home by romanizing his name as Juda (still pronounced "yuda" though).
  • First Installment Wins:
    • More like "First TV Adaptation Wins". Many fans of Toei's adaptation considers Toei Animation's version to be superior than North Star Pictures' adaptation, on account of Toei's version being more emotionally driven and atmospheric, compared to North Star Pictures' more action-oriented angle.
    • The entirety of the Raoh Arc is the most well-known part of the Manga, while everything that comes afterward isn't regarded as highly. The Jako/Kaioh Arc was considered to be not as good as its predecessor, but still entertaining. The third arc, however, is criticized for being directionless until the Bolge chapters.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
  • Fridge Brilliance: Toki is the first to know the secret of Souther's invulnerability to Hokuto Shinken. Said secret is a medical condition... And Toki is a medic by choice.
  • Genre Turning Point: This is widely regarded as the first significant long-form Shonen series that revolved around larger-than-life characters duking it out with Supernatural Martial Arts.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The series is very popular among many Italian people who grew up during the 80's and early 90's. Many French people also have fond memories of it, in no small part thanks to the hilarious voice acting it got there.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Jackal's made-up "Nanto Bakusatsu Ken" technique is later used by Shiva to distract the Goons to allow Kenshiro to reach to Shu.
    • Just like how Gill outlives his brother Buzz in the manga, his real-life counterpart Animal outlived his partner Hawk (unless we're talking about the anime version).
    • Golan/God's Army is a militia composed of people who believe that they were chosen by God to create an independent nation in His name. They are incredibly brutal and easily suppress the people of a desert city. After the rise of numerous Islamist militias in the Middle East & Africa, most notably ISIS, these villains seem far more frightening than they've ever been.
    • Rei and Mamiya's tragic romance becomes this when their English voice actors in the anime, Daran Norris and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, who were married at the time of the dub, got divorced in 2012. However, this leads into...
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Shin dies accepting the cold, hard truth that Yuria doesn't love him. In 2018, their English voice actors for the anime, Steve Blum and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn got engaged, so in some weird way, there exists a reality where Shin and Yuria have a genuine love for each other.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Raoh's ambition to do battle with God becomes somewhat ironic once you realize that his Japanese voice actor went on to voice Shenron, the servant of God. Even more, his voice actor uses the exact same voice for both characters.
    • One of the frequent Mondegreens of "You wa SHOCK!" becomes this, because in Maneater, "You wa SHARK!".
  • I Am Not Shazam: On the music side: The opening theme "Ai o Torimodose" is sometimes referred as "You Wa Shock".
  • Iron Woobie:
    • For starters, the main hero, Kenshiro. He bravely bears the sadness of the entire world on his broad shoulders alone so that nobody else ever has to cry again. As the big guy himself puts it:
    I refuse to build my own future on the blood and tears of others!!
    • Rei's life is essentially a Trauma Conga Line. Hands down, his death is almost unanimously considered the most tragic and tear-inducing in the entire series, not just because the audience has had the chance to get to know him over multiple story arcs (unlike Ken's other allies, who die in the story arc they are introduced in), but also because as far as he knows, Mamiya is similarly doomed, having seen the Death Omen Star. He never learns that his act of selflessness by hunting down and killing Juda saved her from the same fate.
    • Toki and Shu, who held the distinction of pulling two Heroic Sacrifices each.
    • Everyone, really. Bat and Lin are both orphans; Airi's parents were killed and she was sold into sex slavery by Jagi; Mamiya lost her parents to Yuda, her brother Kou to the Fang Clan, and Rei to Raoh. The whole cast has lost more loved ones than most Woobies in other series ever have.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Despite the entirety of his story arc hammering home what a truly awful person he was, Shin is utterly pitiful in his final moments, weeping for the fact that he was never able to win Yuria's love and implicitly reaching a Dying Truce with Kenshiro.
    • Watching him weep for his beloved master during the last seconds of his life, it's easy to forget that Thouzer is a genocidal child-murderer.
  • Macekre:
    • Due to not securing the FOTNS license for Western gamers, the Sega Genesis game was retooled into a new game known as Last Battle. The characters were all renamed (Kenshiro became "Aarzak", for instance) and most of them recolored, along with the blood being removed (except for boss battles, where it was recolored green or purple), but by and large, the plot is largely the same. The Opening Scroll even spoils most of it!
    • The Sega Master System game had it even worse. It was retooled into a generic kung fu-based sidescroller known as Black Belt, but Mooks still explode when hit with an attack.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Raoh himself, Kenshiro's eldest brother disciple in Hokuto Shinken styles himself as Ken-Oh The Conqueror. In a series of brilliant and ruthless campaigns, Raoh carves out his own empire in the wasteland while defeating any martial artists who challenge him and sending them to the prison Cassandra while stealing their scrolls for his own usage and advancement. While sometimes at the disadvantage thanks to Kenshiro or rival forces, Raoh is infamous for pushing back to be stronger than ever through sheer force of will and tenacity. Possessing a strong form of honor, Raoh does not hesitate to execute any in his army who terrorize or violate his citizens and when he faces the warrior Fudoh, Raoh orders his own men to kill him should he take a step back, a request he is furious they ignore. When he finally faces Kenshiro and loses, Raoh embraces his brother with true affection and uses the last of his energy to purge the radioactive toxins from the atmosphere, declaring proudly that he lived his life without regrets as he dies standing proud.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • A lot of people consider Raoh more badass than Kenshiro... even though it was a plot point from his introductory flashback that he wasn't. The Film of the Series went with "Sure, Why Not?" and had Raoh win their climactic duel. This seems to be especially apparent in the final mission of his Dream Mode in Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage, where he takes on every single character in the game except for those who, by that point, would be dead, and wins. Even his horse is a memetic badass in and of itself.
    • Kenshiro himself is one too, especially in the Anime as his ways of dispatching the enemies can become a lot more over-the-top. The scene in which he destroys a tank with his bare feet is one of the most well-known memes of the series.
  • Memetic Mutation: Can be seen here.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Some people seem to think Raoh is unambiguously heroic and admirable. He's a Noble Demon and an Anti-Villain, but he also brutalises his subjects and kills a lot of sympathetic characters.
  • Mondegreen: It is common among people to mishear Kenshiro's "OWATTA!" ("Finish!") as "WATTA" or "WATAH". Even the Japanese do that mistake. There's a video that addresses that issue, with Akira Kamiya confirming it.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Jackal attempting to drown/hang children after he'd gotten possession of their water source. His other Kick the Dog moments (fixing dynamite to said children, manipulating Devil's Rebirth and leaving him to die) at least had a reason behind them if only to escape from Kenshiro. There was no real reason for killing the kids other than pettiness and sadism.
    • Jagi chaining a cinderblock to a child's leg and stranding him in the middle of the desert to both spite Kenshiro and amuse himself is something only a truly amoral, evil individual would do.
    • Thouzer sending poisoned rations to a starving bunker is the first sign that he's a real piece of work, but his excessively brutal torture and murder of Shuu is what solidifies him as an individual who is beyond redemption.
    • Subverted with Ryuga trying to murder Toki, who was already on the verge of death from radiation sickness and after his fight with Raoh (and that's just the bowdlerised anime version. In the manga he also kills many of Toki's patients too for no reason). Because he disemboweled himself prior to his rampage, Kenshiro and Toki decide to forgive his actions, with Toki cradling him as he dies and Kenshiro remembering him fondly in his duels with Raoh.
    • Kaioh kills his sister Sayaka just so he could frame Kenshiro for her death and drive Hyoh insane.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • Kenshiro's Kiai: "ATATATATATATATATA! OWATTA!"
    • From the 80's anime, whenever the effects of Hokuto Shinken kick in for the dumb bastard who crossed Kenshiro, it is accompanied by a distinct high-pitched electric crackling.
    • Thouzer's voice, courtesy of seiyuu Banjo Ginga. He's a completely unrepentant child murderer and sadist, but that Badass Baritone is seriously smooth.
  • Narm Charm: The series is pretty good at avoiding Deus ex Machina, but there's a huge one in the Thouzer arc where the blind Shuu - who completely destroyed his own eyes over a decade prior - has his sight miraculously restored by God Himself just in time to see Kenshiro before he dies. It comes completely out of nowhere to the point of ridiculousness, but after what Shuu has endured to save 100 children, it allows him to die with no regrets and makes heartwarming what is an otherwise tragic scene.
  • Never Live It Down:
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The opening sequence of the Toei's film of the series, with people being vaporized Barefoot Gen-style.
    • There are quite a few people who find the series' casual brutality and plentiful bloodshed disturbing and sickening.
  • Nightmare Retardant: The over-the-top violence and gore can go from Nightmare Fuel to absolutely hilarious. In the manga, Kenshiro looks exactly like Mel Gibson in Mad Max 2: Road Warrior. In the anime, he resembles Bruce Lee (at least for the early episodes of the first series).
  • No Problem with Licensed Games:
  • Ron the Death Eater: Seiji, from New Fist Of The North Star gets no shortage of this. Many seem to consider him a Complete Monster, ignoring his sympathetic traits. To put it simply, Seiji's crimes are A.killing people, which every villain has done, B.Using a technique to force his evil, remorseless subordinate into a state of insanity, and one that will eventually kill him while promising to cure him when they've won, and C.Pinning Sera to his bed, ripping some of her clothes off, and trying to seduce her into giving into him, but leaving her alone when she makes clear she wants no part of it. His backstory is thus: His father throws him out into the wasteland,(so he'd grow strong enough to kill him in battle and take over the empire, but that wasn't known until the end.) He grows more bitter every day in the hellish land he was exiled to, becoming truly coldhearted after a wild dog attacked him to protect its pup, believing that wild animals care more for their young than his own father did. Eventually he finds a school where he trains in an offshoot of Kenshiro's art, gradually becoming the remorseless killer he is in present day. In the end, after his long-lost Aunt explained his father's motives, and seeing Sera protect him from Kenshiro despite her friend dying because of him, his treatment of her, is brought to tears, finally remembering his long forgotten humanity, and feels such remorse over everything he did that he takes his own life.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: There has been a fair share of rather mediocre Hokuto no Ken video games throughout the years, most notably the very first Famicom game, a Kung-Fu Master-style side-scroller. Entering a door to proceed requires the player to press up and both buttons simultaneously, but anyone who doesn't know this will get stuck walking in an infinite loop on the very first level. It was also quite a difficult game, with knives and enemies flying into the screen all the time and no full life recovery between stages. Despite the fact that it was quite a rubbish game by any objective standard, it managed to sell quite a lot of copies in Japan due to its timing (it came out at the height of the manga's popularity and during the Famicom boom).
  • The Scrappy:
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • The third and final part of the manga, which Toei did not animate.
    • It's not a coincidence the Hokuto no Ken 2 anime series was the only adaptation of the Shura/Kaioh stories, period. All other depictions have concluded their timelines with Raoh's death, though Kenshiro Den's opening goes slightly further and essentially serves as an epilogue.
    • Though various video games and Hokuto Musou 2 have had stories both during and beyond Part 2 of the series, it's just that most of the major adaptations/spinoffs have ignored Part II and beyond except for Kenshiro, Toki, and Raoh's homeland being Asura/Shura.
    • Ken's Rage 2 is one of the few, if only, adaptations to go the whole distance and include the entire story including Bolge, though even then, it ignores the arcs between Kaioh's defeat and Bolge.
  • Signature Scene:
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Zig-Zagged. This is the Trope Maker for Shonen Jump series as we know them today (Dragon Ball and Saint Seiya being the Trope Codifiers), and it was groundbreaking in its time... but that was decades ago, which leads to several of the tropes used seeming stale to modern audiences. However, Fist of the North Star also features a good deal of Unbuilt Trope; there's no Death Is Cheap, Defeat Means Friendship, Thou Shalt Not Kill, or Training from Hell to be found here, making it feel fresh even today despite playing straight many tropes that have gotten discredited.
  • So Bad, It's Good:
    • The English dub of the 1986 movie by Creator/Streamline Pictures is hilariously awful. It removed most of the backstory regarding the history of Hokuto and Nanto and how their styles worked, had some of the names anglicized or mispronounced (in particular, Raoh pronounces Ryuken's name as "Rye-ah-ken" instead of the proper "Ree-ooh-ken"), and even changed the cause of death of Shin, making it a half-assed anti-climactic Curb-Stomp Battle.note  On the plus side, it had James Avery (Uncle Phil/Shredder) as the voice of the Fang King.
    • The French dubbing is also (in)famous for being intentionally So Bad, It's Good, and being absolutely hilarious because of that.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The series does have a valid point with its "masculinity and a sensitive heart are not mutually exclusive" ethos, which is still rather lacking in many anime and other media. Additionally, it shows what leads each character to their current beliefs and why they commit certain actions over the course of the story. If anything, this is a series that teaches open-mindedness.
  • Squick: This franchise is not for the weak of stomach.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Kill the Fight" from Hokuto no Ken 2 not only shares instrumentation with Rocky III's "Gonna Fly Now", but also takes its chords from "The Nightmare Begins" by the American AOR band Streets.
  • That One Boss: Despite his status as a relatively minor villain in the manga and anime, Alf is a notorious among players of the Mega Drive Hokuto no Ken as a sub-boss who can pin down Kenshiro with his ability to surround Ken from behind with a clone of himself.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Whenever a piece of Fist of the North Star merchandise: video game, movie, OVA, whatever; uses a voice cast that is not the original voice cast (except for those that have already passed away) from the 80's anime, you can bet that a swath of angry fanboys on Nico Nico Douga are going to complain about it. This is especially pronounced when it comes to Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • "What's this? Mr. Heart is immune to Kenshiro's blows? This fight could be cool... Oh wait, he killed him by kicking him a whole lot in the stomach."
    • Shin has a lot of potential as a long-term villain or the possibility of pulling a Heel–Face Turn. It's not a coincidence that Rei, Raoh, and Thouzer all take a handful of cues from him. This carries over to flashbacks - while Shin's character is fleshed out through stories told by Jagi, Rei, and Fudoh, despite being Kenshiro's childhood rival and close friend prior to his Face–Heel Turn, he never appears in flashbacks where he logically should.
    • After his arc Jagi is almost completely dropped from the story and we go from the 4 Hokuto brothers to 3. Many lament the loss of him, being one of the comic's most despicable and yet also popular villains. Future flashbacks to Ken's childhood downplay his presence severely and we never see him interact with any of his other brothers in any meaningful capacity.
    • Ryuga is an Anti-Villain hoping for peace in the post-apocalyptic world, The Dragon to Raoh, Yuria's older brother, and has an existing history with Toki. These ingredients would make for an interesting recurring character with a significant impact on the series' lore, but he's introduced and killed off in the space of five chapters.
    • Falco's stint as Kenshiro's ally was painfully short. After pulling a Heel–Face Turn, he departs to save Lin and then immediately has a bridge dropped on him and dies 2 episodes in to the Shura arc. Even with the show trying to hand wave it with Worf Had the Flu it was a waste of a potentially interesting ally especially seeing as previous characters like Rei, Shew, and even Ein had more screen time and things to do.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: After defeating Raoh and becoming the Sole Survivor of the Four Hokuto brothers, Kenshiro leaves Bat and Lin so that he can live peacefully with Yuria... rather than training them to be his successors, which would have opened up a lot of story potential for the second half of the manga.
  • Too Cool to Live: Rei, Toki, Shuh, Juza, Fudoh, Raoh, Ein, and Falco. It's especially pronounced with Rei and Toki, who acts as Kenshiro's Lancer and Big Brother Mentor respectively for several story arcs, and with Raoh and Falco, who are killed off immediately after undergoing a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Juda's dying moments were meant to give him some sympathy, but it's hard to feel sorry for him when he spent his arc acting like a vain sociopath, wanting to kill Rei over a petty grudge, and the heavy implications that he was a rapist.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Rei's Stay in the Kitchen/Defeat by Modesty moment with Mamiya has not aged well, and comes across as highly sexist to most modern viewers/readers, especially Americans.
    • Another source of dissonance for Western audiences can arise from Ken's forgiving of villains because of their Freudian Excuses, even if they're mass murderers (Thouzer, Ryuga), serial rapists (Yuda), or Social Darwinist tyrants (Raoh, Shin, Kaioh) who have killed many of Ken's True Companions (Raoh with Rei and Fudo, Thouzer with Shu, Ryuga with Toki, Kaioh with Shachi). In Japan, criminals who show remorse for their crimes are often treated less harshly, so Ken's forgiveness can seem less misguided if seen from that perspective. Although, it should be noted that said forgiveness comes after they've been inflicted with fatal wounds and/or doesn't stop Kenshiro from neutralizing their threat.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Many Western fans erroneously think that the TV series' theme song "Ai o Torimodose!!" was sung by a male and female duo. In fact, it was two men. Also some Japanese fans mistakenly believe "Tough Boy" singer Tom to be male when she is female.
  • Villain Decay: Happens to Raoh post-"Break Them by Talking" and Curb-Stomp Battle. The sting is slightly put off by his last-minute conversion to Anti-Villain. That was intentional on the part of Fudou, who was giving that Speech.
  • Watch It for the Meme: Some of the would decide to watch the Anime just to hear that one (or two note ) certain line(s).
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?:
    • This was made for preteen boys in Japan. In fact, it's the Trope Maker for most of the tropes used by Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball (the Trope Codifier for most of them), and Yu Yu Hakusho. Not to mention it's a type of series where characters go around exploding heads, slicing them to pieces with their fingers, tear people apart with black magic, so on and so forth. Oh, and an Anti-Villain with a hugeass horse that literally curb-stomps random mooks, even the Big Bad's corrupted henchmen.
    • The anime series caused a minor scandal in France back in the day. The Sailor Moon anime had recently started running on television, and proved extremely popular. This led to TV networks grabbing at more popular anime to run, with the false impression it was all the same kind of cartoons for small children. This led to Fist of the North Star being shown in the equivalent of Saturday morning cartoons time slot. You can imagine the fallout.
  • The Woobie:
    • Yuria spends most of her time being kidnapped and dragged around the wasteland. And by the time Kenshiro catches up to her she's dying of radiation poisoning, although she does get a few years of happiness with him.
    • Airi. She has to watch her parents get killed before she's kidnapped by Jagi, raped, and sold into slavery, and that's just her backstory.
  • Woolseyism: The TV dub of the anime couldn't adapt "You Are Already Dead" to fit the mouth flaps, so removed it as a catchphrase and gave Kenshiro something different to say each time. Probably the best example is after he performs the Hundred Crack Fist on Zeed and tells him that he's "already a dead man."

The 1995 film:

  • Awesome Music: For how cheesy and dumb the movie is, the music at least tries its best to make scenes look more epic than they actually are.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Shin cutting his finger, and it dripping blood that catches fire when it lands on a bit of paper. So Shin has the Veronica virus now?
  • Complete Monster: Jackal note  is The Dragon to Lord Shen, whom he surpasses in evil. When Shen orders Jackal to capture the inhabitants of a village so he can use them as slaves, Jackal and his gang kill many of the villagers before beginning to capture any. On the way over to the work camps, Jackal orders one of the slaves to be killed because the slave tried to suck up to him and Jackal hates brown-nosers. When a little girl stands up to Jackal, he orders her to be beheaded in a guillotine. Finally, when Shen gives Jackal the order to keep his wife hidden during the climax, Jackal hints that he will rape and/or torture her instead, and tries to beat her to death when she tries to escape him.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Bat, thanks to being played by Dante Basco. Being the only character aside from Kenshiro who was allowed to be badass also helped.
  • Fight Scene Failure: There are multiple moments in the final fight where Kenshiro's kicks are inches away from Shin's face, yet they somehow manage to cause damage.
  • Narm: Kenshiro's skills doesn't always translate well to live-action. The lack of Theme Music Power-Up makes it even narmier.
    What are you trying to do, tickle me to death?
    • The way that Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken is portrayed is silly all by itself, since it looks less like Kenshiro going for the kill and more like a drunk guy playing drums on the guy's chest. The lack of Kenshiro's signature Kiai and the wooden cinematrography just make it even lamer.
    • His version of "You are already dead" will cause you to giggle.
    • Kenshiro constantly being referred to as the "Fist of the North Star", which wouldn't be so bad if the script wasn't so awkward.
  • Special Effect Failure: The movie's attempts to have vast backgrounds in some scenes is undermined by the very poor use of matte paintings, which makes it even more obvious that the actors are on a small set.

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