[Throwback Thursday] Hokuto no Ken

Omae Wa Mou Shindeiru

  • Episodes : 109
  • Genre : Action, Sci-Fi, Drama, Martial Arts, Shounen
  • Airing Date : October 4, 1984 – March 5, 1987
  • Studios : Toei

Contains Spoilers

Hokuto no Ken Introduction

In the year 199X, the world has been destroyed by nuclear war. Not only has it destroyed modern civilization, it has created only one law – ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE! Thugs terrorize the innocent and many martial arts masters are claiming their right to rule the world. On the other hand, Kenshiro, the master of Hokuto Shinken, is one of the few masters who are still willing to protect the innocent. However, his punches and kicks don’t knock you out, they make you explode!

What We Liked About Hokuto no Ken

While Dragon Ball Z popularized explosive action, Hokuto no Ken was one of the first to try it, but it takes a different approach. As opposed to having colliding fists and shins causing sonic booms, a simple touch can make a dude’s guts burst out! The series has a lot of action and is certainly for those that love classic martial arts films and 1980s macho films popularized by Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris and Stallone and Mad Max. It perfectly mixes everything and is certainly for those that are fond of the 1980s.

Why You Should Watch Hokuto no Ken

1. It’s fast paced

Putting aside its episode length, the series gets to the point. The action is really explosive, quick, and constant. It’s really easy to binge watch and the story arcs are excellently organized. You get to know not only Kenshiro, but also its supporting cast and the villains. There are some villains like your typical thug that deserves to die, while there are some antagonists that viewers can sympathize with.

2. Man Tears

As we all know, Hokuto no Ken is considered one of the manliest titles created in the history of Japanese pop culture, but it also popularized man tears. Though the anime doesn’t capture it as dramatically as the manga, it shows that it’s ok for men to cry. Despite how strong Kenshiro is, the anime shows he is still human and that he can’t save everyone Though he can throw a hundred punches in a matter of seconds, he can’t be everywhere at once to protect an innocent old lady being brutally murdered by a lawless psychopath. Yet, whenever the battle is over, he looks to the sunset and sheds tears for whom he could not avenge.

3. Solid Seiyuu cast

Skip any dub whether it is English, Spanish, or French because the original Japanese cast contains a list of legends. Akira Kamiya, also the voice of Ryo from City Hunter, Roy Focker from Macross, and Sincline from Go-Lion (or Lotor in Voltron) plays the role of Kenshiro. In addition to Akira Kamiya, the series has Kenji Utusmi (also the voice of Kamogawa in Hajime no Ippo) as Raoh, Toshio Furukawa (most famous as the voice of Piccolo) as Shin, and many others.

Why You Should Skip Hokuto no Ken

1. Abuses Recycled Footage

Just like how Sailor Moon abuses recycled footage with the transformations and final techniques,
Hokuto no Ken is equally guilty of over using Kenshiro tearing his shirt off with his aura and muscles along with footage of his techniques, most notably his Hyakuretsuken. This quality is pretty much abused throughout anime titles between the 1980s and the early 2000s so if you’re not used to watching older anime, it will get older than a song that gets overplayed on the radio.

2. Toxic Masculinity

In recent years, the media has popularized the term “toxic masculinity” in regards to the negative aspects of what traditionally has defined masculinity. Despite all the man tears this anime sheds, it is certainly full of toxic masculinity in a modern day definition. Kenshiro may not care about masculinity but fans of the series see the character as a model of old school masculinity compared to, let’s say, some other modern male anime characters.

This series can create that mentality in its fanbase. Many of Kenshiro’s enemies exhibit it. Shin is one pure example on the negative effects of toxic masculinity for the sake of proving he’s a man’s man, and how it is harmful to him and others. Raoh gives a different portrayal on the negative effects of toxic masculinity, but he also shows the good on what it means to be a man since he doesn’t make any excuses for his failures and is willing to make sacrifices when necessary in conjunction to his personal masculinity.

3. Not for the squeamish

Last, we would like to say that this anime is certainly not for the squeamish. As stated, bodies explode, guts fall out and there is countless blood. While it is tamed compared to the manga, this is not for people who don’t enjoy excessive violence in their anime.

Final Thoughts

While it has been a cult hit for the past 30 years in the West, it is still regarded as a classic in its native Japan. For those that aren’t familiar, it is a multimedia franchise in Japan. Without including the anime and its original manga, it has numerous video games, figures, soap and shampoo products, official condoms and pachinko games! That’s how big the series is in Japan! While Hokuto no Ken is over 30-years-old, if you’re not into old anime, you can watch the Legends OVA/movie series instead but uses new seiyuus that don’t live up to the original cast. So if you want to watch one of the most influential titles of all time (Rumiko Takahashi, Masashi Kishimoto and Tooru Fujisawa have all claimed they were inspired by Hokuto no Ken), then do what you can to check it out!

Hokuto-no-Ken-wallpaper-1-500x500 [Throwback Thursday] Hokuto no Ken


Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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