Fist of the North Star, Ch. 1
March 27, 2017
Reagan's Raiders 1
Clenched Hand of Polaris!?
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Patreon-sponsored review time, and hopefully by the time this video goes up, my YouTube channel will be restored, so people will actually be able to watch this. In the meantime, though, we're going to skip straight to the theme song so I can scream for a full minute.
(Linkara takes in a deep breath and lets out a scream. Suddenly, he is cut off as the AT4W title sequence plays. The title card has "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler playing in the background. Cut back to Linkara still screaming. He finally stops and speaks calmly)
Linkara: So anyway, "Fist of the North Star", AKA "Hokudo no Ken", began life as a serialized manga in "Weekly Shonen Jump" in 1983.
(Shots of "Fist of the North Star" are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Created by Tetsuo Hara and written by Yoshiyuki Okamura, the idea was a post-apocalyptic story about a martial artist who could destroy his opponents through pressure points. The initial manga lasted 245 chapters, not including side stories, a prequel, OVAs, a TV series, video games, and a live-action movie.
Linkara: The last time I covered a massive foreign franchise that I was unfamiliar with, it was "Biggles and the Menace from Space". Yet somehow, I don't see Biggles punching people (holds up index finger and thumb close together) in just the right way to make them explode.
Linkara (v/o): Like I said, I'm mostly unfamiliar with "Fist of the North Star", outside of Internet memes and the hashtag "#cellgames", so this is completely new territory for me, with no expectations other than commenters saying "Holy crap, you're reviewing this?! That's awesome!" However, I will take this opportunity to complain. I actually ordered a physical copy of the book at the beginning of March, and it still has not arrived, with Amazon tracking just saying it's expected... a few days ago.
Linkara: Given that I'm using scanlations for this, you can see how quickly it has arrived. In any event, let's dig into the first chapter of "Fist of the North Star" and see why someone paid to have me review this.
Linkara (v/o): Because I had to take these from scans, there's no cover analysis here – no cover at all, really – and just go straight into the action. We open with... an atomic explosion.
Linkara: And that, my friends, is why I preferred cold, refrigerated pizza to reheated pizza in the microwave.
Narrator: In the year 2010 the world was covered with atomic fires.
Linkara: Man, in another universe, Kickassia ended in a much darker way.
Narrator: All forms of life seem to have disappeared off the face of the Earth.
Linkara: (as narrator) Except for the Furbies, which rise to become the new dominant lifeform.
Narrator: The seas have dried, the Earth has cracked...
Linkara: The world needs Chapstick.
Narrator: The human race didn't disappear.
Linkara: (as narrator) Human beings are not a form of life.
Linkara (v/o): We get some Road Warrior cosplayers gathered up and attacking a group in a car, many of whom have a Z branded or tattooed on their heads.
Linkara: Ah, the true origins of Lord Zedd's Putties.
Linkara (v/o): The car is destroyed and the occupants killed, with the group scavenging the remains for anything they can find.
Warrior 1: And food! There's enough here for a feast!!
Linkara: (as warrior) Wait, wait, never mind. It's all Hardee's. (looks disgusted)
Linkara (v/o): They even find a briefcase full of money, which one guy just laughs off and discards.
Warrior 2: You're kidding!! It's completely useless!!
Linkara: And already these guys are a smarter post-apocalyptic gang than the ones in "Bimbos B.C.".
Narrator: In this world, a new era of violence has begun...
Linkara: (as narrator) Violent money-tossing.
Linkara (v/o): However, it seems things did not continue to go well for these bikers, as we later see one guy on a motorcycle riding in to meet with the rest of the posse.
Warrior 3: ZAAAD!
Warrior 1 [Zad]: Yeah?
(Cut to a clip of Resident Evil)
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Motorcycle guy reports that a reconnaissance patrol has been attacked and killed. We soon see the results of that attack, and (sees one dead guy) yeesh! This dude's got a hole where his face should be. (looks at another body) And this guy's got a hole where his torso should be. I mean, look at the ribs. They're coming out! Either they were punched through from the other side, or someone posed him like that.
Linkara: (as warrior, stroking chin in thought) Hmm, I want to eat my soup, but I don't have any bowls around here. (looks down) Hmm, waste not, want not. (bends down)
Linkara (v/o): The leader, Zad, is not happy.
Zad: No one messes with the Z Gang and gets away with it!
Linkara: (as gang member) Wait, (points to head) there's are Zs on our heads? I thought we were the Two Gang!
Linkara (v/o): Examining the bodies, they realize that they don't have any external injuries. It's like they exploded from the inside out.
Linkara: Oh, yeah, I've seen what Taco Bell can do to people.
Linkara (v/o): There is one survivor, at least for a little bit, who manages to say "Hokuto" before his head friggin' explodes out the back.
Linkara: Why did that happen? Well, remember the old (makes "air quote") "this is your brain on drugs" PSA?
Linkara (v/o): After they stand around speculating, we cut to our main hero of the series, Fisty McNorthstar, AKA Kenshiro. He's wandering through the desert in a poncho before he finally ends up in the ruins of a city. He's captured by a group of people living in the city, who throw him in a jail cell until their leader, The Patriarch, returns. Inside the cell is a young boy who, well, frankly looks like he belongs more in a Leiji Matsumoto anime, like Captain Harlock or something. There's something about the big poofy hair covering one eye. A young girl named Lin tends to the prisoners, offering water to Kenshiro. However, when she brings her hands inside the cell to give Kenshiro the water, the other prisoner leaps out and grabs her, spilling the water and telling Kenshiro to grab the jail cell keys.
Prisoner: What the hell are you doing! You also came to this town to steal!! If you don't flee, they will kill you!!
Linkara: This is a weird remake of The Shawshank Redemption.
Linkara (v/o): Kenshiro instead grabs the thief, giving him a death glare as pain rapidly shifts up their arm.
Kenshiro: Can I still have some water?
Linkara: He's not thirsty or anything, he's just been dying all day to do something with his hair.
Linkara (v/o): The thief asks why the hell he did that.
Kenshiro: If you run away, who will take care of her?
Linkara: Presumably her family or whoever is taking care of her now? Do these two even know each other?
Linkara (v/o): As Lin gets the water, the thief explains that Kenshiro's attitude is bullcrap. It's survival of the fittest out in this world. And the fittest in this case is whoever is strong enough to take anything. Might makes right. The people living in the ruins formed a militia to protect themselves, but any well-organized force could take them out, which is why the thief feels they need to escape as soon as possible. Kenshiro is not interested, only really caring about the food and water brought by Lin. He asks her if she'll get in trouble for bringing all this to him, but she doesn't answer, only making the sound effect "GLUP". An editor's note helpfully explains...
Text: Glup is unique to the girl because she's mute.
Thief: Heh! She's blushing. What a brat!!
Linkara: Oh, glup you, kid.
Linkara (v/o): The thief then tells him she's mute and apparently knows her backstory. Her family was killed by thieves, which traumatized her to the point where she can't speak.
Thief: In this world, kids are useless. Ffff! Really, she would be better off dead!!
Linkara: Just a wild guess here, dude, but in this world, thieving little dickheads are pretty useless, too, so where does that leave you?
Linkara (v/o): Kenshiro, however, knows how to handle this and touches some pressure points on her head.
Thief: What was that?
Kenshiro: A technique to give her back her ability to speak. Now it all depends on her. The cry of the heart will give her the power to speak.
Linkara: (as Kenshiro) It was a total eclipse of the heart that stopped her from speaking.
Linkara (v/o): Also, the artwork has weirdly been fading the jail cell bars around her, so we can see her full body, but honestly, it just ends up making her look like she's a ghost. The Patriarch, some old bearded guy, finally arrives and takes a look at Kenshiro. He and the guards wonder if he's part of the Z Gang, stripping him down a bit to look for the Z tattoo. Instead, they find some kind of weird scarring or bullet holes in his torso in the shape of the constellation Ursa Major, AKA the Big Dipper. The Patriarch recognizes this as...
Patriarch: Hokuto... the Great Bear... When the Great Bear appears, violence will follow!!
Linkara: (holding up a teddy bear) Bears: well-known for their pressure point attacks.
Linkara (v/o): Besides, bears aren't that terrible. Just have Hercules throw him into space.
(Cut to a clip of the 1983 version of Hercules, showing Hercules (played by Lou Ferrigno) letting out a yell before throwing a bear he was fighting into space. Then cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): The Z Gang then attacks, forcing the Patriarch and the guards to go confront them. The guards tell Lin to join them, so she tosses the jail cell keys to Kenshiro before she runs off. The thief says it must be because she knows she's going to get killed.
Kenshiro: Get killed?!
(Cut again to Resident Evil)
(Cut back to the comic)
Thief: It's Z and his gang! Women, children. They slaughter everyone without distinction!
Linkara: Harsh, but he is at least the only stable source of employment after the apocalypse.
Linkara (v/o): Kenshiro has no time for this bullcrap, though, so he just grabs the prison bars... and rips them apart! This is indeed impressive... except the sound effect they use for this is "SHLUOONG".
Linkara: "Shlong of the North Star".
Linkara (v/o): The thief follows after him, wanting them to make a run for it, but Kenshiro decides to confront the Z Gang, and apparently Zad is huge! Look at this! He's holding Lin up in one hand! He's friggin' King Kong here! Zad commands them to surrender or she'll die, the guards ready to sacrifice Lin to protect their supplies and food. However, help arrives in the form of Kenshiro. Lin finally speaks, warning him not to get any closer. However, after the initial shock of her speaking, he just keeps advancing, cracking his knuckles as he steps up to some of the Z Gang members. And thus, he uses his Six Million Dollar Man kick to hit them across the face, proceeding then to just twirl around in a whirlwind over the three he kicked... whose heads all explode.
Linkara: Now, are we certain that he did that? I'm just saying, it is after the apocalypse. It's just as likely that their brains suddenly mutated from all the radiation and exploded all at once.
Linkara (v/o): The Patriarch recognizes his technique as "Hokuto Shin-Ken", or, as the editor's note translates, "The Divine Fist of the North Star".
Linkara: Well, he's already been talking in English, so why not just have him say (makes "air quotes") "The Divine Fist of the North Star" instead of putting it in the editor's note?
Kenshiro: Let the girl go!
Linkara: (as Kenshiro) You are under arrest!
Linkara (v/o): After Zad recognizes Kenshiro as the one who killed his men, Ken suddenly goes Super Saiyan or something and begins his attack.
Kenshiro: AH TA TA TA TA TA TA TA TA TA TA TA TA TA TA!!
Linkara (v/o): Uh, Ken, based on the next page, all you did was make him bigger. Speaking of said page, the Patriarch remembers Hokuto Shin-Ken, a kung-fu technique that was about hitting the vital points and destroying the body from the inside rather than from the outside.
Zad: Ha ha ha! I am gonna kill you!!
Kenshiro: You're already dead...
Linkara: (as Zad, shrugging in confusion) Um, no, I'm not. (as Kenshiro, pointing) Yes, you are. (as Zad) I'm standing right here! (as Kenshiro) Could be a lookalike or a clone or something. (as Zad) Oh, for the love of... I'M ALIVE! (as Kenshiro, looking up in thought) Prove it. (as Zad, stammering) But, uh... I... (looks over himself; as Kenshiro) Yeah, that's what I thought. You're already dead.
Linkara (v/o): Nah, to be more accurate, he explodes! And not just in one place, either. The sound effect is "BLUORF", and I think that describes this perfectly. I guess the Z Gang surrendered... and really, wouldn't you after seeing your boss explode in half? ...and Kenshiro is heading out again. The thief decides to come with him, figuring that wherever he goes, there'll be plenty of food. We finally get a name for him, too: Bat.
Linkara: (as Batman, wearing his mask and scoffing with his arms crossed) It's been done.
Linkara (v/o): Lin also wants to follow, but the Patriarch explains why he's leaving to discourage her.
Patriarch: Wherever the Great Bear appears, violence will follow!
Linkara: Hey, look, we didn't make that bear come into our campsite and ruin our picnic, dammit!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our chapter ends with Kenshiro walking away with Bat right behind him... floating or jumping really weirdly.
Linkara: You can just tell Kenshiro is waiting for the chance to blow Bat up by (reaches finger out) poking him in the forehead. (throws arms out) This manga is great! (points to camera) But you already knew that.
Linkara (v/o): The first chapter of "Fist of the North Star" contains plenty of general exposition, but it's all very simple. It gets us engaged in the kind of world these characters live in, what kind of a man Kenshiro is, how dangerous he can be, and yet he's perfectly kind and helpful. He asks only for the simple things he needs to survive and won't stand to see the innocent suffer. And as a result, it's deeply satisfying to see him so thoroughly destroy the Z Gang. We'd already seen how cruel and terrible they were, so it's great to see some comeuppance. We don't know anything about his backstory, how he knows this stuff, why there's a constellation on his chest, but we don't need to know. The job of the first chapter is to dive us into this world and introduce our main characters. Stuff about the past of Kenshiro and Bat can be handled later. It's just a great, basic story, and of course, I highly recommend it.
Linkara: Next time, with the recent release of Kong: Skull Island and the promise of a new showdown between him and the King of the Monsters, it's only appropriate that we return to "Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters".
(End credits roll)
"Help us fight off this murderous biker gang, ten year-old girl!"
Mad Max: Fury Road would have gone very differently if we had had Kenshiro dealing with Immortan Joe.
(Stinger: Linkara is seen again, acting all excited)
Linkara: Oh, boy! I can't wait to review "Fist of the North Star" this week!
(Cut to a clip of the Fist of the North Star, with Kenshiro being replaced by a shot of the YouTube logo)
Kenshiro: Hey, Linkara, you're already dead.
(Cut to a screen of Linkara's disabled YouTube account, accompanied by the losing sound from The Price Is Right)