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In the year 199X, human civilization has been all but destroyed by a nuclear holocaust. In an age where the strong rule over the weak, the survivors of the fallout struggle over the remaining supply food and water left. Kenshiro, successor to an ancient, deadly martial art known as Hokuto Shinken (Fist of the North Star), wanders the wasteland with seven scars in the shape of the Big Dipper on his chest. This infamous style uses the body's hidden 708 pressure points to destroy opponents from within and allows practitioners to unleash 100% of their humanly strength. Accompanied by a young thief and an orphan girl, this messiah brings justice to this lawless world with the strongest fist in the world. Written by
I love it but I can't possibly give it a higher score, and here's why:
This animated series must be one of the most comically flawed ever.
Everybody gets inspiration from what went before, but this setting is just a plain Mad Max 2 rip-off, and a ridiculous one at that, because it enlarges the absurdities and over-the-top parts while it throws away the elements that made the Mad Max 2 setting (slightly) believable.
So we are in a post-apocalyptic environment where food and water are scarce, industry of the cottage style is all that's left and natural resources are rarely mined if there are any left at all. Forget about knowledge, there is no communication network, no press and hardly any books. The few people who try to build something are at the mercy of violent gangs that outnumber them. Yet every man, woman and child is taller and more muscular than we are and there are veritable hordes of cars and bikes roaming the wasteland.
The big hero of the show is a steroid-enhanced version of Bruce Lee, with the high-pitched yelps and everything. It's almost a shame that he behaves like the man with no name (you know, the character Clint Eastwood plays in the dollars trilogy), I would've loved to hear him dish out Chinese wisdom while he isn't exploding his enemies. He also has a regenerating t-shirt and jacket (that's why he lets it rip to shreds every time he gets pumped, instead of just taking it off).
The bad guys are all big fans of the gay gangsters from Mad Max 2, as evidenced by their attempts to outdo them in the clothing and hairstyle department. Their stupidity is amazing even for 80s cartoon characters, their greatest talent being the maniacal laugh (I guess that's the biggest requirement for joining up). Oh, and they love licking their medieval weaponry (bikes and cars but no guns, go figure).
That brings me to the biggest flaw: this much violence on a show for 12-14 year old kids?! Even in Japan it wouldn't be acceptable these days. The bad guys behaving like roaming mercenary armies from East Congo is already bloody stuff, but the major characters in this story - both the protagonists and the antagonists - can make people explode or cut them to pieces, and they show no restraint in doing exactly that. I'm serious, you can't even hope to tally up Ken's body count. His deadpan remarks while he dispatches gang leaders only add to the brutality. This judge/jury vigilante behavior is never really questioned either. Luckily the bad guys are as awful as evil can be (did I tell you they lick their weapons?), so they all obviously deserve it, and if you can't be convinced by that then the swooning damsels in distress will provide the ultimate proof of Ken's righteousness.
But I do love this show very much, and not only because of the funny absurdities and clichés mentioned above. It has a surprisingly intriguing plot, with major antagonists that aren't of the one-dimensional kind (though most of them are profoundly stupid and grotesque). The whole thing is actually one Greek tragedy after another (you'll see many hulking men cry, while they are covered in blood and savagely brutalizing each other), don't expect any happy endings here.
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