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Fist of the North Star

Fist of the North Star The Movie 1986 DVD Cover

Date Aired
November 14th, 2013
Running Time
31:14
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Fist of the North Star is the subject of the 68th episode of Anime Abandon, hosted by Bennett the Sage. The episode was originally posted to That Guy With the Glasses on November 14th, 2013.

In this episode, Sage reviews a staple of 1980's anime: Fist of the North Star. More specifically, the 1986 movie (not the live-action one, JesuOtaku already covered that travesty). Likely the progenitor of all other mainstream ultra-violent anime, Fist of the North Star is given the Sage treatment, both the good and bad.

Episode TranscriptEdit

(We start off with the opening to Anime Abandon, then come to Sage in his room)

Sage: Whenever I've reviewed old-school classics here on this show, it always seems like I've fallen on the negative side rather than the positive, and though I have been chastised for holding such opinions, I still stand by by what I said.

(Clip of Akira)

Sage (vo): Yes, Akira was a groundbreaking, technical achievement, but it's also a sloppy adaptation of a narrative mess. (Clip of Grave of the Fireflies) Grave of the Fireflies is still more interested in telling a sad story rather than a good story, (clip of Perfect Blue) and Perfect Blue's handling of dissociative identity disorder is...suspect at best.

Sage: Though I have said plenty of nice things about classic anime like with, uh, Ghost in the Shell and Ninja Scroll, I still get angry e-mails and comments about these particular episodes. Especially Akira.

(Another clip of Grave of the Fireflies)

Sage (vo): And you know what? I understand it. I completely understand why people would be genuinely upset with me, or anyone else for that matter, speaking badly about films they like. (Picture of cosplayers dressed as Sailor Scouts) Ours is a culture that tends to identify themselves by what they like. We're Whovians, Browncoats, Trekkies, Bronies, Potterites, Sherlockians, Tolkienites and any other derivation of fandoms. (Picture of cosplayers dressed as Lightning, Noel, Serah and Mog) And, as such, whenever our hobby or passion is talked bad about, we feel, vicarious as it is, insulted by it. As if liking our hobby somehow makes us lesser in their eyes.

Sage: That's pretty much why I don't agree with this mindset. I mean sure I like Star Trek just fine, but I would never call myself or identify myself as a Trekkie.

(Clip of Akira)

Sage (vo): I like what I like, and you like what you like, and we shouldn't feel bad about that. And conversely, we shouldn't feel insulted when someone doesn't like what we like or make fun of it. Granted if they're not demonstrably malicious about it.

Sage: So why am I bringing all this up? Well, today's subject is a venerated title fondly remembered by otaku everywhere. (He brings up the dvd for Fist of the North Star) Fist of the North Star. A movie and TV series that I really genuinely like, despite it being kind of silly and dumb.

(Clips of the movie)

Sage (vo): Fist of the North Star began as a manga that ran in the 80s, and it spawned an entire media franchise that included television series, OVAs, films, videogames, and a live-action adaptation starring Malcolm McDowell. (Poster of the live-action movie is shown) Yeah, we'll get to that little title in good time.

Sage: But today, we're looking at the very first movie, released in 1986 and ported over in 1991. And it just may be the grandpappy of all ultraviolent anime. (Clip of Rei slicing bandits to pieces with Nanto Suichoken) Yes, I like this film. And yes, I know that seems hypocritical of me, considering how hard I've come down on violent anime before. But if you give me...30 or so minutes, give or take a few commercial breaks, I'll explain myself.

(Cut to a destroyed city)

Sage (vo): First off, can I say how thrilled I am that I'm reviewing a film for a change? None of that Sin: The Movie shit where it's barely an hour long, or just some combined OVA that they tried to hawk as a feature film. (Quick pick of Armitage III) I'm looking at you, Armitage. The film itself opens in a nice montage of beautiful scenery, idyllic landscapes and peaceful cities.

Sage: How long until it goes completely buttfuck?

(Cut to scenes of bodies burning and falling apart from the heat of the nuclear bombs and fallout)

Sage: (wide-eyed) Jesus! Wait. I think I've seen that somewhere before.

(Cut to a scene of Barefoot Gen as a little girl holding a balloon gets caught in the blast and thoroughly destroyed by it!)

Sage: (Holding his hat!) Oh god! This is supposed to be a happy review, isn't it?

(Cut to a scene of raiders killing people)

Sage (vo): Well, the world is now a wasteland where packs of marauding berserkers pillage to survive, and the weak live in fear that they should be their next target. (Kenshiro and Yuria walk through the wasteland) Seeing as how there's little else to do in a wasteland but wander, our hero, Kenshiro, and his lady love, Yuria, search for any signs of life.

Sage: You must forgive this dub. It was made during a time when westernizing names was considered the norm.

(Shin appears with his gang before Kenshiro)

Kenshiro: Shin.

(Shin walks to the group)

Shin: The time has come. Julia is mine, now.

Sage: So, everyone has to fight for clean food and water, but apparently there's enough shoulderpads, winged helmets and battle axes to go around.

(A clip of raiders chasing Bat and Lin is shown)

Sage (vo): (sarcastic) Also, can you tell that the franchise was inspired by the Road Warrior? It's so subtle, isn't it? (Back to Kenshiro and Shin) Shin tells Kenshiro that the rules that they used to live by no longer apply and decides to play alpha and take his woman. Kenshiro, alpha himself, doesn't take this lying down.

Shin: Perhaps that was true once, but rules are now meaningless. Defend yourself!

(Kenshiro and Shin jump into the air with flying kicks. When they both land, Kenshiro stumbles. Shin turns around to see Kenshiro lost as the tendons in his arms and legs are cut)

Sage: That! (pointing at the scene) What the fuck is that? I've seen it in kung-fu flicks, I've seen it in plenty of bad anime, and I still don't know what that thing is called, but...but everyone knows it!

(The scene replays)

Sage (vo): It was in Ninja Scroll, Sword for Truth, Samurai Shodown, Street Fighter. How could something so ubiquitous have no name? Having wounded Kenshiro, Shin continues to torture him to cajole Yuria into being his waifu against her will. As is the situation with all waifu.

Sage: I'm looking at you, Vocaloid kids. Hatsune doesn't love you!

Sage (vo): It takes Shin punching the Big Dipper into Kenshiro's chest for Yuria to finally relent. Because leaving him to die in the desert after consenting to being Shin's new cocksock is preferable to killing him.

Sage: As some of you have no doubt noticed, the footage kind of shifts from contemporary dvd quality to bootleg VHS. Well, this is a restoration job, but it looks like they didn't have the original master to work with.

Sage (vo): All the shots that have no gratuitous violence are rendered fine. They look borderline HD, but every shot of heads exploding or flesh being pierced looks godawful. Upscaling can only do so much to futureproof your existing dvd collection, and without a master, it can do even less.

Sage: But I didn't make this review just to bash Fist of the North Star. Yes, there is plenty to make fun of in the movie, but it's also a prime reason why I give no quarter in my reviews.

(Clip of Perfect Blue)

Sage (vo): The majority of e-mails, comments and tweets I get from fans of the anime I review are usually backhanded apologies explaining that the quality of "enter anime here" are just indicative of the time. Yes, stilted scripts and wooden acting were par for the course. But that was a shitty par.

Sage: Just because something is "average" doesn't mean it's good. It just means "in the middle."

Sage (vo): What we have here in Fist of the North Star is a 90s period dub with a 90s period script and 90s period production quality. And it is nearly airtight. Sure the actor playing Kenshiro is pretty...there.

Kenshiro: For you, Lin. (Kenshiro hands her a pouch) What's inside it is as valuable as anything on earth. The seeds of new life. I know of only two people special enough to make them bloom, and one of them is you.

Sage: But recent evidence suggests that maybe that's how the character should be played.

(Quick clip of Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage)

Kenshiro: My thumbs are embedded in two of your body's 708 power points, and you will die seven seconds after I remove them. I suggest you use those seven seconds to reflect on your sins.

Bandit: Oh shit!

Sage: (facepalming) You're not helping, franchise.

Sage (vo): But nearly everyone else in the cast is really surprisingly good. The actor playing Shin especially stands out. He has that slimy, oily charisma that his role calls for, and he hits every note perfectly. A well done character that you'll love to hate.

Shin: Fascinating, isn't it, how changeable women are? One minute they say they want you and the next minute they say they want someone else? That's because they only want who they've got until someone better comes along. (And he laughs) But of course, she is right.

Sage (vo): Combined with the fact that the script is overly explanatory makes the abilities of the actors more astounding when they squeeze that much emotion from it.

Sage: Credit where credit's due. Everyone involved during the localization of Fist of the North Star really cared about the end product, and their effort is admirable. They key word here, people, is standards. Fist of the North Star has them, Baoh didn't. End of fucking lecture.

(And we go to commercial break)

(Kenshiro's laying on the ground left to die, holding onto the pouch of seeds)

Sage (vo): Having been soundly beaten and left to die, all Kenshiro has to remember his lady love is a small bag of seeds. And as if that weren't enough, this entire exchange was witnessed by Ken's two brothers, Jagi and Raoh, who don't exactly share Ken's pious disposition. So Jagi just winds up chucking Ken off a cliff, and Raoh kills their master when he refuses to name him the new Fist of the North Star.

Raoh: You silly old fool. Stop hiding behind your metaphors and metaphysical fantasies. The Fist of the North Star is dead.

Ryuken: Your point?

Sage: I just love how unaffected their master is over news of Ken's death. It's like he just told them they're having chicken for dinner.

(Raoh stands out over a cliff)

Raoh: I am the Fist of the North Star! Show me the power! Prove that I'm right!

Sage: What? What kind of screaming speech to the heavens is that? I can do better than that! (he clears his throat, then recites King Lear) "Here I stand, your slave! A poor, inform, weak and despised old man! But it is I who call you, serviled ministers, who hath with two pernicious daughters, have high engendered against a head so old and white as this! Ohh. Ohhh, 'tis foul!"

(Sage then bows to the crowd cheering. Oancitizen crosses his arms at it)

Oan: It's not that good, guys.

Sage (vo): But what kind of hero would Kenshiro be if her were knocked out in the first act of the story? So after some indeterminate amount of time, he comes back with the mother of all vengeances, raising himself from the fucking earth like Lazarus after hearing the telepathic cry for help of a young girl named Lin.

Sage: Motherfucker walks through a goddamn to save a little girl. Walks...THROUGH it.

(A building falls on top of Kenshiro, but he just walks through like it wasn't there)

Sage: Ladies and gentlemen... The Man with Seven Scars. The Savior of Century's End...Kenshiro!

(A bandit pulls out a crossbow and shoots Kenshiro with it. He just pulls the bolt out. He then grips the guy's head, lifts him up in the air and crushes his skull like a grape before dropping him to the ground. Sage is just awestruck! Cut to the Head Crusher skit from Kids in the Hall)

Scott Thompson: I'm cutting your head! I'm cutting your head!

Sage (vo): Yeah, Kenshiro does NOT fuck around. He's the champion of the downtrodden and the meek, but that doesn't mean he has to be a pussy about it. Sometimes the permanent solution is the best solution.

(Kenshiro kneels down to check on Lin)

Bandit: (drawing a knife) Ready? Now!

Sage: Dumbass, you just saw him lift a dude with one hand and crush his head like a paintball pellet. What the fuck makes you think you have any chance? Cause you got a knife?

(Clip of Breaking Bad)

Walter White: If we're gonna go that way, you'll need a bigger knife.

Sage: Ten will get you twenty that clip replaces Paul Hogan's in the next six months.

(One bandit charges at him with a knife. Kenshiro elbows him in the face. Another bandit gets kneed in the gut and another one kicked in the head. Bandit 1's head pops hard enough for his own skull to pop out. Bandit 2 gets kicked into a wall and Bandit 3 falls in front of Bat)

Bat: Holy shit! (And then the guy's head pops off, body twitching about before dropping dead)

Sage: Jesus shit Christ! Kenshiro makes Reb Brown look like Charlie Brown! Can we officially change his name to Kenshiro Motherfucker?

Sage (vo): To thank Kenshiro for saving Lin, Bat takes him to rest in a bombed out shelter. But it isn't long before Ken's badass sense is tingling, and he has to save the day again and make more chunky salsa.

(Kenshiro kicks a cement block at Zeed's mouth who proceeds to crush it with his teeth, pulling out a piece of metal)

Sage: Okay, not quite as cool as Heihachi catching an axe in his teeth, but it's up there.

(Kenshiro walks through, smacking goons around)

Sage (vo): Of course Kenshiro cleaves his way through the anklebiters before unleashing the full power of his beard all over the main baddie.

Sage: Of course, if he had the Iron Fist of the Nose Hair, then the battle would've been over by now.

(Kenshiro then powers up and unleashes the Hokuto Hyakuretsu-ken on Zeed, knocking him to the ground while catching Lin)

Sage: Omae wa mou shindeiru. (You are already dead.)

Kenshiro: That's right. In fact, you're already dead.

Sage: Eh, same difference.

Sage (vo): With the big baddie gone, all that's left for Kenshiro to do is to complete the Jesus trifecta. He Lays On Hands Lin to cure her muteness before he wanders back into the wasteland looking for more asses to kick, and more lines to deliver monotonously.

(Kenshiro is holding onto a bandit by his ponytail. The bandit swings at him with hooks, only to be grabbed again by Kenshiro)

Kenshiro: One question. Satisfy my curiosity. That statue in the town square. Who's it supposed to be?

Sage (vo): Ken seems to have wandered into a village where berserkers have taken over and forced the townspeople into obeying a fake Fist of the North Star. Figuring out pretty quickly that it's probably Jagi using his moniker, Ken sets out for some sweet, sweet vengeance on his brother. And he won't be alone.

Sage: Say hello to Rei.

(Rei charges against a bandit twirling nunchucks. The two pass each other before they both turn around)

Rei: Hey. These belong to you?

(He then tosses the bandit's arms at him! Sage is just awestruck again!)

Sage: It's like Robert Rodriguez directed an 80s anime!

Sage (vo): It seems that Rei here is after Jagi for kidnapping his sister, believing him to be the actual Fist of the North Star. So him and Ken pull a Double Dragon and start bursting heads and busting guts.

(Kenshiro kicks into Mr. Heart, then proceeds to kick fast enough to open up a weakness)

Heart: Ha! Nice try, guy!

Kenshiro: Say your goodbyes, lardass, because you're already dead.

(Kenshiro then finishes him off with the Hokuto Juha Zan)

Heart: You see? What did I tell you? Still in one piece, good as new!

(Not for long as he soon pops quite violently!)

Sage: I keep waiting for me to get tired of this, but...it just gets better!

Sage (vo): It just seems impossible that the concept of "guy who's so strong he could punch a dude and make them explode" has lasting appeal! But goddamn does this film play its hand perfectly! You never get tired of the fight scenes and each one seems to top the next in terms of gory display. This has to lose steam some time! I mean, where do you go from blood geyser?

Sage: The best thing that could've possibly happened to Kenshiro was that nuclear war happened and turned the world into a wasteland, cause otherwise he would've been stuck in the real world with no practical means to use his powers. It'd be like if a zombie survivalist freak got his (George) Romero zombie outbreak.

Sage (vo): Like the pathetic coward he is, Jagi tries to turn the tide by threatening Rei's sister, Aili. But Ken plays him like a fool and goads the idiot into attacking him directly. Realizing that the fight is pretty one-sided, Jagi finally admits his involvement with Shin and Yuria, and it's downright Shakespearean.

(Cut to a flashback of Jagi pre-helmet talking to Shin)

Jagi: Julia made me swear not to tell you, but I want what's best for her. After all, I love her like she's my own sister. In her heart of hearts, you're the one she's in love with. She doesn't care about him anymore, believe me. Besides, who's going to protect her? In times like these, only the strongest can protect the ones they love. Ken's not as strong as you are. You're the one who can keep her safe. You're the one she loves.

Sage: What Iago is to Othello, and what Wormtongue is to Theoden, Jagi is to Shin. Yes, I am comparing Shakespeare and Tolkien to Fist of the North Star.

(Jagi's on the verge of exploding)

Sage (vo): Well, after hearing that bit of exposition, no way does Ken let Jagi live, and does what Ken does best: make him explode. (Rei is shown slicing through goons left and right) Meanwhile, Rei has been cleaning house and not giving a flying fuck while he does. He looks like he's doing tai chi in the park for Christsake, and dudes fall apart like they're made of Play-Doh! He finally rescues his sister, but after years of constant cockmongering enslavement, she knows no other life, and Rei falls into despair. Fortunately, Ken is Jesus, but even his Mary Sue powers are no match for her unwillingness to see and come to terms with what happened to her. But, seemingly out of nowhere, Bat and Lin arrive to show Ken that one of the flowers that Ken left with Lin is beginning to bud. And this simple sight forces Aili to see.

Sage: But that's just child's play because now, the big boy shows up. The most baller badass in the wasteland, (holding up a figure of Raoh) Raoh the Conqueror. How do we know he's on a badass? He's on a horse. (Cut to a clip of Raoh riding on Kokuoh as well as the Old Spice whistle) This guy is so badass that if money were still worth something, he'd wipe his ass with hundos in front of poor people. While pissing on a NeoGeo.

(And we go to commercial break 2)

Sage (vo): While Raoh is out conquering, as his name implies...

Boss Fang: Listen, give up while you still can or every one of your men shall die. I promise you.

(Clip from The Road Warrior)

Lord Humungus: Just walk away, and there will be an end to the horror.

Sage (vo): Ken finally decides to set out and look for Shin to reclaim Yuria, now that he knows where he is. And watch out, folks. When Ken feels passionate, mountains move.

Kenshiro: (monotone) I love her, Rei. You can't imagine how much.

Sage: (in the same monotone as Kenshiro) I will proclaim my love for Yuria on the tallest mountain. Hey, world. I love Yuria. (beat) Really.

Rei: I believe that your separation to Julia must be linked to the ultimate fulfillment of your destiny. Fates plan, in which we must all play a part. I have a hunch that your role's an important one. (Bat mumbles in his sleep) I wouldn't be surprised if the world needs you even more than you need Julia.

Sage: I really love that line. This movie isn't known for being subtle, so, when a line like that comes into play, it just blindsides you.

Sage (vo): And Rei brings up a good point. In this world where the only way to survive is to be the strongest, having someone like Ken fight for those that cannot fight means more to the world than his need to rescue Yuria. He's jeopardizing the future, or at least what's left, for his own goal of saving his woman, which, in no uncertain terms, is selfish. Yes, Yuria is not in immediate danger, and she has it relatively good, all things considered. But, like Ken, she's unwilling to accept what happened and pines for Ken, placing her own life in danger. This is the downfall of any classical hero: their own self-interest.

Sage: What's my point? Superman should not have Lois Lane, and Spider-Man's school of thought needs to be condemned.

Sage (vo): News of Raoh's conquering reaches Shin, who ain't fucking having it. But the shit really hits the fan when it's revealed that Jagi has been killed and that Ken is alive and well, sparing Yuria to finally make her escape attempt, but winds up running right into Raoh, who isn't exactly the most gracious of winners.

Shin: Raoh, I presume?

Raoh: It's all mine. And your woman, too.

Shin: Huh? (he laughs) You came a long way just to steal a woman, Raoh.

Sage: (raising his hand) Uh, excuse me, asswipe. Who's the little shit that stole that woman in the first place?

Sage (vo): Apparently Raoh is the master of the delayed reaction fight scene because immediately after initiating a fight, we cut to Ken making his way through the ruined remains of Shin's fortress just to find Shin dying, but still able to repent.

Kenshiro: Where have they gone?

Shin: Away. My love has gone away! Out of the light! (he then drops to the floor, holding onto Yuria's dress) Into the darkness.

Kenshiro: "Out of the light?" What do you mean?

Shin: The dungeons of Cassandra are the deepest pits of darkness in the world.

Kenshiro: Cassandra? Why would he take her there?

Shin: He's built a fortress over the ruins of the old city. (tears run down his face) They say it's impregnable and the dungeon's escape proof!

Sage (vo): I love how Raoh left Shin alive essentially for the sole purpose of baiting Ken to find him. And take the bait he does. Meanwhile, Rei is traveling along with Bat and Lin, but oddly enough, not Aili.

Sage: I mean the guy went out of his way to try and save her from sexual slavery. But once that's done, I guess it's "fuck her, she's on her own."

Sage (vo): Lin spots Yuria in the promenade with Raoh, and decides to try and break into her dungeon to try and cheer her up with the potted plant.

Lin: That palace is huge. How will we find her?

Bat: Look, it's obvious she's a prisoner, right? And prisoners are kept in the dungeon.

Lin: Mmhmm.

Bat: And if it's one thing I know, it's that every dungeon has a secret entrance that someone like me can get into.

Sage: What?

(Warning: the next part contains vulgar language!)

(Cut to the camp as an announcer (voiced by Antfish) speaks up)

Announcer: Hey you! Worthless peon of an adventurer!

Bat: Who, me?

Announcer: Who else am I talking to, shitstain? Have you tried to inseminate your sworn enemy's impregnable fortress but to no avail?

Bat: Actually I think you're confusing metaphors here.

Announcer: Well worry no longer, you slack-jawed cum dumpster!

Bat: Why do you keep talking about semen?

(Cut to a picture of a naked Ken doll)

Announcer: What you need is a dick (a can of Heinz spotted dick appears on the doll), a spine (a spine) and a heart. (a heart) (A Predator rips the spine out) But since we can't sell you that, (a book appears with Spoony on it) you'll just have to buy The Spoony One's Dungeoneering Guide for Assholes! His new 73 point method (a list flies by too quickly to read) for conquering any and all dungeons, except for the prison of love! (A clip of Spooning With Spoony is shown as a NO sign is placed on, as well as Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor's WRONG! from Superman Returns) (A sad kid's face is shown hovering in a kiddie pool with a castle in it) Is that moat too deep for you to cross? No problem! (A shark eats the kid. Cut to a dungeon) That moat has to lead somewhere deep in the dungeon where there's a door unguarded, (a sign saying "will guard l8r" appears) unlocked with a big old health potion with your name on it! (the health potion says "4 jizz bucket")

Bat: Why would there be a health potion down in--

Announcer: Who cares?! (The Ultimate Warrior appears with a SKRONK!) Do you need to transmogrify yourself into a rat (now turned into a rattata) to get through that crack in the wall?

Bat: Well that would be the best course of action.

Announcer: Yeah, if you're a faggot! (a foot squishes the rattata, leaving a blood stain)

Bat: I really don't appreciate that kind of language.

Announcer: You should've noticed that bit of the wall was a different color from the rest of the wall! And luckily for you, there's some C4 right near your feet! (A block of C4 is thrown in and explodes)

Bat: That's somewhat anachronistic, because you're talking about magic and dungeons, and those are usually found in medieval settings.

(The book appears again)

Announcer: These tips and many more in Dungeoneering for Assholes! (A caption pops up saying "CALL NOW. 1-877-555-SPNY" appears) Act fast and call now and I won't hunt you down and punch you in the dick, which you clearly don't have, because you got thwarted by a goddamn building! Open your mouth, say aah, and prepare to swallow the steaming load from the genius that is the Spoony One's +5 Mithril Cock!

Bat: ...You're gay, right? Th-that's what this is about, isn't it?

Sage: (confused by the last scene!) Where does my show go where I can't follow?

(Yuria is crucified on a cross)

Sage (vo): Spotting the plant in Yuria's possession, Raoh fucking crucifies her in front of everyone and demands to know who had the audacity to give her hope. Rei, being the noble son of a bitch he is, takes Lin's place and does battle with Raoh.

Sage: Hmm, up until now, the movie has been pretty 80s. But can it crank it up to 8-11?

(Rei fights against Raoh as Kenshiro makes his way to the final confrontation as a very 80s song plays in the background, in Japanese*, called the [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MDe-v22wqw Heart of Madness])

  • Anyone wanna transcribe the lyrics both in Japanese and English?

Sage: This montage is Pat Morita sipping on a Bloody Mary made by Chuck Norris, served to him by Steve Guttenberg while Ronald Regan tells Gorbachev to tear down this wall. (beat) Monchichis.

Sage (vo): Ken manages to arrive just in time to hear Rei's dying words, that should he pursue Raoh, that they'd only wind up killing each other and what point would that serve? Well, Ken being Ken, is never one to pass on a fight, and the two have the mother of all god battles that nearly decimates the entire city. Ken is knocked out and it looks like Raoh is about to strike the final blow.

Sage: Aaand we finally get to the major failing of the movie: its ending.

Sage (vo): Lin pops in out of nowhere and tries to convince Raoh to let Ken live, reminding Raoh of the words their father and master said to him, about power without perception. For some reason, this is reason enough to let Ken live and remark that Lin has something to do with Earth's future and Ken's destiny of protecting her.

Sage: This sudden heel turn is completely out of character for Raoh when you consider everything he's done.

Sage (vo): But I understand what the movie was trying to do. It was trying to tie a parallel to nuclear war in Ken and Raoh's relationship that neither side can win and everyone loses. While I have to commend the film for attempting some cinematic literacy, did we actually need this in our film about guys punching people until they explode?

Sage: And that's why the violence in Fist of the North Star works. Because it doesn't try to attempt to be anything more than juvenile.

Sage (vo): When you get right down to it, the characterization of Kenshiro is that of a child attempting to explain to his friends how strong Bruce Lee is in his movies. Everything is exaggerated. Not to prove some satirical point, but rather to emphasize the cartoonish nature of the story and action scenes. You can't tell me I'm supposed to reflect on the nature of nuclear war when your main character kicks a fat dudes stomach until it erupts Heinz ketchup. I will say that I like the idea of Ken losing track of Yuria at the end of the film because he had to fight Raoh, thereby being blinded by the violence that has consumed him. But this kind of plot doesn't serve anything more high minded than what the film was portraying for the first two acts. Everything was broad and fanciful. Theatrical, even. With characters screaming to the heavens and godlike battles. This is not meant for nuance, and attempting would undermine what has been built.

Sage: I won't say that the ending ruins the movie, but it does keep it from being an irrefutable classic. The strength in a story is not in its target, but in its aim.

Sage (vo): I love Fist of the North Star, but I can admit it has its faults. Still, I'd recommend this film to anyone who is nostalgic for 80s action films, not just otaku. If you remember the days when heroes were broadchested and had biceps the size of cantaloupes, then you owe it to yourself to see Fist of the North Star.

Sage: *sigh* Well, that was a lot of fun. And I wish I could say our next topic will be just as interesting as Fist of the North Star, but...(pulling out the dvd for Golgo 13) sadly, that isn't the case. Till next time.

(And we come to the credits)

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