Fist of the North Star

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199X: The world was engulfed in nuclear flames. The seas dried, and the earth split. Virtually all forms of life were rendered extinct. However, humanity did not die.... The Nuclear War destroyed all civilization, plunging the world into a violence-ruled era of chaos and terror.
Narrator, Chapter/Episode 1

The time of retribution... DECIDE THE DESTINY!

Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken, literally the "Fist of the Big Dipper") is the quintessential "guy who looks and sounds like Bruce Lee wandering the post-apocalyptic wasteland makes people explode with his fists and cries lots of Manly Tears" manga. Essentially Mad Max meets a Bruce Lee film, North Star became a classic of 80s Shōnen manga manga, and subject to many parodies, seen in sources such as Seto no Hanayome, Excel Saga, and School Rumble (but none so much so as Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo). The manga lasted nearly six years in Weekly Shonen Jump with 27 collected volumes.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future, after a nuclear war sometime during the 1990s has leveled civilization. The world is now covered with bands of mohawked ruffians who prey on the weak. Enter our hero Kenshiro, who wanders from town to town, searching for his kidnapped girlfriend Yuria, vowing revenge on his rival Shin (her kidnapper), and helping those who cannot help themselves. Fortunately for Kenshiro, he is the rightful successor to the Hokuto Shinken style (the "Divine Fist of the Great Bear"), a legendary assassination art which utilizes the keiraku hiko pressure points to make enemies explode.

After the conclusion of the Shin arc, the story gradually shifts its main focus to Kenshiro's battle against Raoh, the eldest of his adoptive brothers, a would-be world conqueror who was also trained in the ways of Hokuto Shinken by their mutual master. Since the law of Hokuto Shinken only allows the style to be passed on from one master to a single pupil, it becomes Kenshiro's duty to stop his brother Raoh from using the style to fulfill his own ambitions.

The latter half of the manga, set several years after Raoh's defeat, has Kenshiro rejoining his former sidekicks Bat and Lin, now grown up and leader of the Hokuto Army, as they fight off the now corrupt Tentei's army led by the corrupt Viceroy Jakoh. While Ken and his friends are successful in defeating Jakoh and his forces, not long afterward Lin is kidnapped and taken to the Kingdom of Shura, catapulting Ken into a war with the three warlords of Shura, who are all masters of Hokuto Ryuken (the "Great Bear Shining Stone Fist"), a martial art which branched off from the same clan that developed Hokuto Shinken.

While the anime series ends with Kenshiro's final fight against Kaioh, the manga continues with a few additional story arcs involving Kenshiro's adventures into new frontiers with a young boy named Ryu (Raoh's orphaned son from an unknown woman), as well as a true resolution to the love triangle between Ken, Lin, and Bat.

Body counts are often in the dozens per chapter and any major fight is usually followed immediately by Kenshiro shedding Manly Tears for the fallen, having discovered that his opponent was noble all along, but just misguided. Even if he had been, for example, kidnapping children and laboring them to death in order to build himself a giant pyramid.

Despite the manga's popularity in Japan, the manga was only partially translated in English twice before both attempts were canceled (first by Viz Media during the 80s and 90s in a series of monthly comics, and later by Coamix's short-lived American subsidiary of Gutsoon Entertainment in the early 2000s as a series of colorized graphic novels).

In addition to the original manga, there have also been various anime adaptations and spin-offs.

  • Fist of the North Star: The TV Series - Weekly anime adaptation by Toei Animation that aired from 1984 to 1988. The series follows the manga's storyline closely for the most parts, with plenty of Filler material added to prevent it from overtaking the source material. In Japan, the anime actually aired under two titles: the original Hokuto no Ken (109 episodes, covering the first half of the manga all the way to the Raoh conflict) and Hokuto no Ken 2 (43 episodes covering the Tentei and Shura arcs). The first 36 episodes were dubbed during the late 90s by Manga Entertainment and shown on Showtime Beyond and Sci-Fi Channel UK. The remainder of the series were released subbed-only via various video streaming sites and is currently available on DVD by Discotek.
  • Fist of the North Star: The Movie - A 1986 anime film by Toei that loosely follows the manga's storyline from Kenshiro's origin story on how he got his seven scars to his first battle with Raoh. Many English-speaking anime fans were first exposed to the franchise in the form of its English dub by Streamline Pictures released during the early 90s.
  • New Fist of the North Star (Shin Hokuto no Ken) - A three-part OVA series released between 2003 and 2004 set years after the end of the original manga. The story is actually an adaptation of a Hokuto no Ken novel which Buronson and Hara published in 1995. Released by ADV Films during the mid 2000s.
  • Legends of the True Savior (Shin Kyuseishu Densetsu) - A five-part movie/OVA series produced between 2006 and 2008 that serves as remakes and side-stories of the original manga.
    • Legend of Raoh: Chapter of Love in Death (2006 movie)
    • Legend of Yuria (2007 OVA)
    • Legend of Raoh: Chapter of Fierce Fighting (2007 movie)
    • Legend of Toki (2008 OVA)
    • Legend of Kenshiro (2008 movie, serves as a prequel to the series)

There's also been spin-offs centering around certain popular side-characters from the original series.

  • Souten no Ken / Fist of the Blue Sky - 22-volume prequel series starring Kenshiro's uncle and namesake, Kenshiro Kasumi. Adapted into a short-lived anime series.
  • Ten no Haoh / Legends of the Dark King - 5-volume spinoff starring Raoh that was adapted into an anime series.
  • Soukoku no Garou / Bloody Wolf's Darkness Blue - 6-volume spinoff starring Rei.
  • Shirogane no Seija / Silvery Savior - 6-volume spinoff starring Toki.
  • Jibo no Hoshi / Merciful Mother Star - 1-volume spinoff starring Yuria.
  • Gokuaku no Hana / Flower of Carnage - 2-volume spinoff starring Jagi.
  • Houkou no Kumo / Way of the Clouds - 2-volume spinoff starring Jyuza.
  • Hokuto no Ken Ryuken Gaiden -THE JUDGEMENT DAY- / Ryuken’s Story: The Judgement Day - Oneshot prequel chapter starring Ryuken, centered around how he chose the Hokuto Shinken successor and the events related to it.

In 1986, Enix created a spin-off Visual Novel / Adventure Game called Hokuto no Ken: Violence Gekiga Adventure. It was released for PC-88 and PC-98. It was basically a loose retelling of the Southern Cross with many of the same events transpiring differently. There was another Visual Novel-style game released by Banpresto in 1995, simply titled Hokuto no Ken. It was released for the Sega Saturn and PlayStation and took place after the events of the manga. Lin gets kinapped (again) on the day of her wedding with Bat and another Hokuto school (Hokuto Mumyoken) is behind the events.

There has also been countless other video games, as well as an Americanized Live Action Adaptation, plus two unofficial ones: one made in Korea and another in Taiwan.

Tropes used in Fist of the North Star include:
  • Abduction Is Love: "I can't carry them all. Hey, the rest of you will walk!" ...and they do. Juza rules.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Rei has absurdly sharp fingers. His martial art style is based off of creating a cutting force right at the tips of his fingers or the edge of his hands, allowing him to slice men in half with a simple clawing motion that seems to miss them by about an inch.
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • The Sega-produced, Arc System Works-developed Fighting Game is considered to be an exceptional capture of the spirit of the series. The high Shout-Out and Mythology Gag quotient helps. They even throw in very character-specific moments, such as Souther being immune to Ken's Hokuto Zankai Ken or Rei's Defeat by Modesty of Mamiya.
    • From the reviews so far and the fact it already surpassed half a million sold copies as of April 9, 2010, Hokuto Musou (known as Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage in western markets) is an even MORE loyal and loving adaptation of the source material. Both Buronson and Hara were heavily involved in the creative process of the game, pushing the creative team to make a story that would work well in a game.
    • The 1986 movie rearranges a Kudzu Plot into a more streamlined narrative. The Legends of the True Saviour movies would count, too.
  • Adaptation Dye Job: The original anime version by Toei changed the hair colors of some of the characters. Most of the later anime productions by North Stars Pictures reverted back to their manga hair colors.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime, although it toned down some of the violence and had lots of filler, also actually develops many characters beyond what they were developed in the manga. Shin, in particular, is given a much more prominent role and exploration of his backstory and motivations, making him a much more sympathetic character.
  • After the End: The series takes place after a nuclear war, with a few characters being affected by radiation poisoning. The prequel, Fist Of The Blue Sky takes place in pre-World-War-II Japanese-occupied China.
  • Air Jousting: Ken and Shin engage in a splash panel's worth this in their first fight, and it became the most famous single panel of the series (which is saying a lot). Anime parodies of Fist of the North Star frequently refer to this panel, with Ken and Shin's legs crossed in midair. Also, Ken and Raoh jump straight up to do a little air jousting later. Usually, though, jumping attacks are carried out against opponents on the ground.
  • All There in the Manual: The only time the name of Shin's Nanto branch was ever revealed was in the 1986 special magazine Hokuto no Ken Special: All About the Man.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Another one of the effects of Musou Tensei[1] is to commune with the souls of dead friends and allies and harness their strength and skills.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Raoh, although this is eventually subverted.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: During the Animated Adaptation of the Raoh arc, Executive Meddling and Moral Guardian wankers forced Toei Animation to put Kenshiro into contrived situations where he spares the lives of kids who are about to go down the wrong path, and deliver heavy-handed life lessons ("You may steal to stay alive, but keep doing it and you'll grow to like it, and become real villains" IE "then I will REALLY kill you") with the subtlety of a brick. Thankfully, this is not done to the detriment of the plot and the story's thematic soul, unlike the post-Shura storyline of the manga, left un-animated.
  • Anime Theme Song: Ai o Torimodose, the theme song for the original anime series is one of the most well-known anime theme songs ever, and it is absolutely synonymous with the series. Any adaptation of the series in other media that uses ANY song from the anime will use Ai o Torimodose. It is also considered by many to be one of the most Hot-Blooded anime theme song ever, and apart from that if you go through the lyrics - you'll find yourself shedding Manly Tears.
  • Anyone Can Die: Right up there with Gundam or The Sopranos for riding this trope hard. Colorful, unique, intriguing characters are introduced only to die horribly soon (or not so soon) afterwards. A demoralizing borderline Mind Screw that pushes the setting's nihilism and terror right in your face. Of course, seeing how few in number the main protagonists are, this may not necessarily be true. Sometimes this is taken to Kill'Em All level. The only character still breathing by the end of Kenshiro Den prequel movie is Kenshiro himself!
  • The Apunkalypse: After the End, the punk lifestyle seems to be all the rage, as is Post Apunkalyptic Armor.
  • Arc Welding: As the manga went on, it was not uncommon to weave in earlier and seemingly unrelated story arcs into current ones. When Jagi was first introduced, it turns out he was the one who brainwashed Shin into betraying Ken. Likewise, Jagi is later revealed to had been a servant of Ken-oh along with Amiba.
  • Artistic License Martial Arts: The martial arts featured are not exactly realistic, but they are certainly cool.
  • Ascended Extra: Some of the side characters from the manga are given more exposure in Toei's anime version than they had in the original manga. Most notably Shin, who was promoted from Token Motivational Nemesis to Big Bad.
  • Audience Surrogate: Bat and Lin in the early chapters mainly existed for Kenshiro to have someone to provide exposition.
  • Awesome By Analysis: Amiba.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: The narrator describes Nanto Suicho Ken as a very elegant but deadly killing technique.
  • Badass:
    • Ken is one of anime's first and foremost examples. Of course, there's also Raoh and Rei. Shin, Souther, and Kaioh get props for being the only fighters in the series to beat Kenshiro. Ken is so Badass his primary way to teach the bad guys an important lesson is to kill them.

Ken: You won't learn unless I kill you.

    • The final test for the would-be successors to Hokuto Shinken, was an encounter with a ferocious tiger. In the presence of Raoh the tiger desperately lashed out and Raoh killed it, but in Kenshiro's case, the tiger had backed down through his sheer badassery—leading to Ryuken picking Kenshiro.
  • Badass Normal: Jackal. In a world of flesh-melting kung fu megapowers, he becomes an important villain by throwing dynamite and remembering where the prison is. Maybe Ein and the adult version of Bat.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Endemic amongst the main cast and villains, given all the superpowered martial arts going around. Anyone fighting with weapons is a Mooks, a Red Shirt, or some other kind of minor speed-bump for their unarmed opponents.
  • Bash Brothers: Famously Ken and Rei, but at one point Raoh and Toki (who actually are brothers) teamed up on their way to see Kenshiro's second confrontation of Souther. Raiga and Fuga, the Sibling Team gatekeepers of Cassandra Prison, also qualify.
  • Battle Aura: Hokuto Shinken allows its practitioner to increase their strength by using an inner energy called "touki", which literally means "battle aura". Taken a step further with the art itself: A character's presence is directly reflected in the size they're drawn. This of course means that the noisy, reckless, and above all else, LOUD henchmen are rarely less than twice as large as any other character, with rare exceptions. As a side effect, characters' actual sizes are impossible to tell without reading some supplementary material.
  • Beard of Sorrow: In the 1986 film version, Ken grows one after losing to Shin, which makes him look totally like an 80s-era Chuck Norris. Its presence in the scene where he meets Bat and Lin by saving them from bandits makes him all the more badass.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness:
    • Attractive villains are treated with sympathy when they die even if they aren't actually sympathetic (looking at you Yuda and Souther). Ugly villains are killed with no remorse. On the other hand, the attractive/handsome villains are more likely to actually show remorse of their own in the first place... but also understanding of what they've done, even if they see themselves as irredeemable.
    • In the second Raoh Den movie, Fudoh attacks Kenshiro, but the latter does not attack Fudoh's pressure points. When asked, Kenshiro replies that Fudoh has "the face of a good man".
  • Berserk Button:
    • Hurt innocent people in front of Kenshiro and heads will pop.
    • Mr. Heart flips out and attacks people indiscriminately if he sees his own blood. One of the other villains uses this fact to his advantage during Heart's fight with Ken.
  • BFS: A couple of mooks team to swing one. They fail and get horribly killed for their trouble. Arguably, Uighur's whips account for the whip equivalent of this.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first series ends with Kenshiro defeating Raoh and riding off with Yuria...who is dying of radiation poisoning.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The intro shows Ken about to deliver a flying kick to a giant mutant gorilla thing.
  • Black Blood: Being made before the days when violent anime is screened during midnight, desaturated, black or white blood was the only way that Fist of the North Star could air on television at all.
    • There is some genuine red blood in the anime TV series, most notably when Shin cripples Kenshiro in their first fight. You will never see it when Kenshiro makes a random mook's head violently explode, however.
  • Black Humor: Kenshiro's treatment of many villains oozes that, like when he killed a Mook with a Groin Attack so strong that sent him flying and beating the hammer throw record of the head mook and his assistant.
  • Blood Upgrade: Mr. Heart
  • Born Lucky: Curiously enough, the Big Bad Raoh of the series. He should have been dead several times over before the end of the series but survives long enough for his final battle with Kenshiro. Oh, what the hell, let's count all of the lucky breaks he got.
    • First of all, his improbable emigration from the Land of Shura.
    • A chance encounter with Juza in his childhood which gives him just the right Aesop that he uses to avoid a fatal ass-kicking.
    • The second person who could stop him, his father Ryuken, suffers a fatal heart attack right before he stopped Raoh from assuming the mantle of Big Bad.
    • The third person who could stop him, Toki, suffered crippling radiation poisoning and was just shy of having enough strength of finishing Raoh off for good.
    • A trap meant as a last-ditch resort to finish off Raoh actually ends up allowing Raoh to escape and kidnap Yuria.
    • In terms of his reputation, he also "died lucky" in the sense that he's lionized for the rest of the manga after his death too, both in and out-of-universe (that is, both by characters' words and in the context of the manga's events).
  • Bowdlerise: The violence from the manga was toned down considerably in the TV series, with many of the violent deaths and blood being rendered in black and white and scenes involving children's deaths (such as Bat's adoptive brother Taki or the kid who ate poisoned bread in Shuh's hideout) were rewritten to have Kenshiro save the child at the last minute. In spite of this, the show still attracted the negative attention of Moral Guardians in Japan.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Bat is practically the Ur-example of this.
  • Brown Note: Inversion: Complete Monster Fudoh of the Mountains instantly experiences a Heel Face Turn after holding a warm puppy in his hands.
    • Played Straight: The Death Star,[3] an star next to the big dipper. Anyone who sees it is going to die very soon.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: Kenshiro, especially his battle cry.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Complete with the kanji for the attack name printed on screen, which is subject to lots of parodies. It is, however, an inversion of this trope: most of the time, they call their attacks after using them.
    • The fact that Ken's iconic Touch of Death has a delay also helps, since he can tell his victims the name of his attacks after it's too late for them to do anything about them.
  • Camp Gay: Juda. Also very harshly subverted when we get into his backstory.
  • Canon Immigrant: Filler character Saki, a servant of Yuria, appears in the Yuria Gaiden manga.
    • Movie characters Reina and Souga are main characters in the Ten no Haoh manga.
    • The character Sakuya was created for the animeLegends of the Dark King and was incorporated into two manga specials by the original manga's author.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: TWENTY EIGHT YEARS after the first chapter was published, Hokuto No Ken is STILL churning out new (spin-off) manga, merchandise and video games by the year....
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: In the original series only Rei and Jyuza were considered to be handsome, but of course that was only in-universe and fans had more choices to pick and argue about; the spin-offs though, tends to scale up the cast's beauty by a notch, Yuria Gaiden in particular makes every single character a fine piece, if some were already pretty to begin with, they got even more handsome, even Jagi out of all people didn't look disgusting in this particular spin-off.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Omae wa mo shindeiru" ("You Are Already Dead"). Memetically mutated into a general statement of badassery. There's also the "Omae wa sude ni shindeiru" variation, which means the same thing, this one is almost forgotten by most fans, some even accuse to not even exist in the first place, due to how rare it is. One example of its use is found in the episode "Villains! Finish your prayers before you die!" Patra's henchmen are at the receiving end of an attack that breaks their spines.
      • Made even more awesome by its continually being translated as the more defiant: "You don't even know you're already dead"
    • Many of the villains Kenshiro kills have a tendency to utter an onomatopoeia such as "ABESHI" and "DAWABA" when they die. The most notable is "HIDEBU", a corruption of "ite yo!" (it hurts) which was first uttered by Mr. Heart in the manga and was uttered very often in the anime adaptation (even by Zeed, who precedes Heart in the story).
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Even though being an Asian martial arts series somewhat obviates this trope (i.e., the genre demands it of everyone anyway), there's still Ein. This American-flag clad bounty hunter employs no fancy techniques, defeats enemies (and barriers) by simply punching them, and claims to know the vaguely named Kenka Kenpo ("brawling martial art"). One could argue that being so strong, despite a lack of formal martial art skills, puts him in this category in a setting where Chinese martial arts generally lead to superpowers.
  • The Chosen Many: Nanto Seiken, the rival school of Hokuto Shinken, has 108 branches.
  • Clothing Damage: Kenshiro lives in a world where you sometimes must literally give an arm and a leg for basic necessities like food and fresh water, and yet can still afford to shred his expensive jacket every single episode and get a good-as-new replacement the next episode. Episode 23 shows Ken repairing a shoe though, so perhaps Ken uses what limited resources he can find to repair his outfit. Though then again, most of the time they're seen not just ripping but outright disintegrating.
  • Colonel Badass: The Golan Colonel. Heidern and Rolento took notes from him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Jagi made a career out of doing this. And him using a gun arguably isn't even the worse thing he did.
  • Competitive Balance: The most deadly techniques from the series are downplayed to fair levels in many game adaptations:
    • Hokuto Zankai-Ken: The move where Kenshiro hits the pressure points in both sides of his foe's head with his thumbs, the given time before death is 3 seconds, in games it becomes 30 seconds or more, and can be interrupted, as seen the Arcade Fighter game and Jump Super Stars.
    • Hokuto Hyakuretsu-Ken: The famous Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs, it only reaches the titular one hundread cracking fists when the attack is a special or desperation move, if not, it barely reaches 20 hits.
    • Any Nanto Seiken Technique: Nanto praticioners are shown to dismember lesser mooks easily, literally a One-Hit Kill, it's only downgraded against other Nanto and Hokuto fighters, where the move just cuts instead of outright dismembering, although in games, the mookiest of the mooks can't be killed instantly by the Nanto attacks.
    • Musou Tensei: The ultimate Hokuto Shinken art, the user becomes imune to everything thrown against him, it also channels the Hokuto Shinken Mega Manning powers to its maximum, the user can use all the techniques from his fallen comrades and foes at any time; in games, it's just a temporary Super Mode that is not imune against everything and does not channel Hokuto and Nanto arts in one go, in certain cases it's just a counter-attack, a great one but still, as seen in Jump Super Stars.
  • Completely Different Title: Hokuto no Ken is officially translated as Fist of the North Star in English when it really should be "Fist of the Big Dipper". This is an artifact from when Viz translated the manga in 1989. Instead of explaining what the names Hokuto and Nanto meant (the Northern and Southern Dippers, two Chinese constellations roughly corresponding with the Great Bear and Saggitarius), they changed the names of the two main martial art schools to North Star and Southern Cross respectively. The North Star is still somewhat related to the Great Bear, as the Big Dipper is used to locate it, but Southern Cross barely has anything to with Nanto other than the fact that it happens to be the name of Shin's city. Later translations stick to the styles' original names, but the English title is prety stuck as Fist of the North Star for recognizability purposes. Toei originally proposed the name Ken the Great Bear Fist and almost used that title for the NES game until they went with Viz's chosen title.
    • Fist of the North Star can be considered more of a localization than a direct translation of the Japanese title. The North Star and Southern Cross have historically been used as navigation aids. Considering that one of the themes of the story is who will lead the ruined Earth, it is fitting that the martial art schools of the main warriors would be named after beacons of guidance.
    • In Italy and France, the title was localized as Ken il guerriero (Ken the Warrior) and Ken le survivant (Ken the Survivor) respectively.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Mamiya and Airi following the death of Rei.
  • Continuity Drift: The latter part of the manga revealed that Kenshiro, Toki and Raoh were originally refuges from the Kingdom of Shura, where Raoh and Toki's mother was also buried. However, the first half of the manga already showed the ruins of Raoh and Toki's hometown, as well as the graves of both of Raoh and Toki's parents. Some adaptations choose to stick with the first origin story for Raoh and Toki, and others go with the Shura origin.
  • Cool Horse: Raoh's horse and later, Kenshiro's horse Kokuoh-Go, who is a black stallion the size of an elephant.
  • Courtly Love: In spite of not being an actual nobleman, this is the the honorable and gentlemanly way that Rei shows poor Mamiya his love: he never even gets to kiss her before his tragic death at the hands of Raoh.
  • Crapsack World: If you're everyone but the protagonist, your life will be one of miserable squalor and highly probable violent death. If you're the protagonist, even more miserable, but less death.
  • Crazy Prepared: Kenshiro's martial art is older than most of the nations of the Earth and appears to have a specific attack for every occasion. For example, the correct application of pressure points is exactly right for making someone garrote themselves—or behead themselves with a razor wire in the manga. Raging Flame Reverse Flow Punch: for that one occasion you might run into a fire-breathing boss mook!
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Most people get cut to ribbons or popped like blood-filled balloons, but two particularly nasty deaths stand out:
    • Rei gets hit with a technique that will cause his blood to drain from his body in three days and cause incredible agony.
    • Shu is forced to carry the peak of Souther's pyramid after having the muscles in his legs cut. He is then riddled with arrows and impaled with a spear, and ultimately crushed under the stone.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: The entire series is based on this. There is only rarely such a thing as an equal battle, even amoung the various martial artists (be it Kenshiro or anyone else), one side will invariably dominate the other heavily. Sometimes this is a setup for a fight-back, sometimes not. It actually becomes a plot twist when Kenshiro actually has to fight on equal ground with an opponent. Curiously enough, the first Big Bad of the series, Raoh, has the smallest ratio of participating in these kinds of battles of any kind of character. He was on pretty even footing with Toki (both occasions), Juza, Fudoh, and Kenshiro in their second confrontation.
  • Cry for the Devil: Invoked frequently. Kaioh and Souther come foremost to mind.
  • Dark Messiah: Raoh
  • Deadly Upgrade: Hokuto Shinken knows a series of pressure points that will cause one's muscle power to increase greatly but irrevocably shortens one's lifespan. Interestingly, there's a variation where a different series of pressure points actually extends one's lifespan...but the pain is so great one might die from it while it takes effect. Also, the entire Hokuto Ryuuken martial art is arguably a Deadly Upgrade from Hokuto Shinken, since it drives its users insane with evil.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Played with several villains, notably Shin, Souther and Raoh. There's also Kaioh, whose atrocities include murdering his sister, who doubles as his comrade's fiancée, and blaming it on Kenshiro -- then turning on said comrade behind his back while he's occupied with Kenshiro. Kenshiro defeats him with a coup de grâce out of pity for his sad destiny, as this pretty much says..
  • Death Glare: This anime is notable for having some of the most evil death-glares from good guys.
  • Death Is Cheap: The series actually averts this for the most part, but there is one major exception in Yuria. While she actually survived her fall from the Shin's castle thanks to the Goshasei, her eventual death from radiation sickness hangs over both Raoh -- it's what finally teaches him sadness, allowing him to know/use Musou Tensei -- and the opening of Kenshiro Den, which is essentially is an epilogue to the entire Raoh story arc. According to the manga, her passing does greatly affect Kenshiro in the years afterward.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Inverted with Souther: his master tricked him into killing him in order to pass along the succession of Nanto Hououken to Souther. Souther went Ax Crazy and decided to build a shrine to his master in the form of a massive pyramid built by child slave labor.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Of the Stay in the Kitchen type. Rei ripped off Mamiya's clothes to expose her body and "prove" that she had no place on the battlefield.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The Arcade Fighter by Arc System Works is full of Call Backs to the original series, specific quotes with some match-ups and FATAL K.O are prone to this:
    • The requisite to pull off a Fatal K.O in the first place. Depleting the seven stars meter below the victim's lifebar forms a small star next to it, forming the Star of Death. In the series, anyone who saw it was usually fated to die within a year.
    • Kenshiro's Hokuto Zankai Ken does not work on Souther. They even quote the scene word for word, complete with Souther counting down for kicks, laughing and Ken wondering what's going on.
    • Rei has three variations of his Hishou Hakurei Fatal K.O depending on whether its performed on Yuda, Mamiya or anyone else:
      • With Yuda, it imitates his final moment where he catches Rei's hands, admits he's the more beautiful one and commits Suicide by Rei.
      • With Mamiya the attack goes normally only for Mamiya's clothes to be completely ripped off, referencing the scene wherein Rei did just that to confirm that she was a woman and thus was not suited for battle.
    • Jagi has a super where he forces the opponent to say his name. Of course all the options are Jagi's own name.
    • Shin's suicide Fatal KO, which calls back to his death scene where he flings himself off his tower at Southern Cross, not wanting to die at the hands of a Hokuto Shinken fighter like Ken.
  • Dirty Coward: Very, very many, and very prominent due to the fact, that Kenshiro just loves to inflict slightly-delayed painful deaths on villains caught red-handed and then explain to them what he just did. Practically all minor villains break down and panic or plead for their life pathetically. On the other hand, most of the major antagonists face death with courage and dignity, because they are usually revealed to be tragic characters right after the deathblow is struck. The most obvious AND unrepentent example though is Jagi.
  • Disability Superpower: Shu's loss of eyesight allowed him to "see" with his "heart", while Souther's heart is on the right side of his chest, and his pressure points are symmetrically mirrored. Akashachi's eye, hand, and leg have been replaced by weapons.
  • The Drifter: Ken and Toki. And Rei. And Juza. And...well, if you're not running a corrupt empire, you're wandering around looking for one to crush, basically.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Preceding the serial, there was a two-chapter, rarely-republished "Pilot" done without Buronson's input. It took place in present-day (1980s) Japan and involved an evil Ancient Conspiracy known as the Taizanji Kenpō school. Kenshiro also has a Disposable Woman girlfiend who is not Yuria.
  • Earth Drift: Early installments clearly show Japanese money and Bat even says that Shin rules Kanto.
  • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: Yuda could count as a valid example: He's extremely effeminate and treats his harem as dolls.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Devil's Rebirth was so fond of his mother, that Jackal used this fact to manipulate him, while Kaioh's hatred for Kenshiro was caused as a result of having his mother died to save an infant Kenshiro.
  • Even Mooks Have Loved Ones: And that is why there are actually decent men amongst Souther's army of beating and killing children; they are free to refuse if they can accept The Holy Emperor tearing their children and wives to pieces for their disobedience...
  • Everyone Went to School Together: With the exception of Rei and Juda, it seems that the Hokuto brothers met each of the Nanto Rokuseiken (Shin, Shuh, Souther and Yuria) before the apocalypse. Likewise, Raoh was also acquainted with both, Juza and Fudoh, when he was a child.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Zaria, one of Shin's filler henchmen, uses a style known as Nanto Ansho Ken which hypnotizes the occupants of the village he rules over into zombies. Then again seeing how one of them were brought back to normal when Kenshiro pressed her pressure point, they're technically not zombies in a way....
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: If Shin really knew and loved Yuria, he really shouldn't be surprised that she was Driven to Suicide by the cruelty and genocide committed in the name of earning her love. What an Idiot!. Ditto for Souther, who probably missed the point of Master Ougai's love...
  • Executive Suite Fight: Whereas the entire first season of Fist of the North Star takes place in a fallout-blannketed and crumbling post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, Kenshiro's final confrontation with his Rival Turned Evil best-friend Shin takes place in a cleanly polished, cavernous throne-room of marble and gold.
  • Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: Yuda.
  • Excited Episode Title: "God or Devil?! - The Mightiest Man Who Appeared in Hell!" and many others.
  • Expy:
    • Kenshiro (himself an expy of Bruce Lee) gets an expy in Super Robot Wars OG in form of Folka Albark. From the same game, Shura King Alkaid might also be an expy to Raoh in his "Ken-oh" persona, while Folka's Aloof Big Brother might be an amalgamation of Toki and Raoh in his non-Ken-oh persona.
    • Clone Zero in The King of Fighters 2000, who is an expy of the Rasho Han, and has special moves named after ones used by Kaioh and Hyoh.
    • Sakuya from the Raoh Gaiden anime series, who is an expy of Demona from Gargoyles. This was less so as time went on though, and in any case was an expy of the look and sound—they were nothing alike personality-wise or in mindset.
    • Goliath, a boss from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, is basically what you get if you cross Raoh with Frankenstein's monster. His death animation replicates Raoh's own, right down to the white aura and fist raised to the sky. The only difference is that Goliath's body disintegrates.
  • Eyepatch of Power: The Colonel. Akashachi. Shachi. Inversion: Spade loses his eye to Ken and gets quickly killed in their next encounter. Eyepatch of Shame?
  • Eye Scream: We see it just at chapter 2 of the manga, where Kenshiro catches a bolt from a crossbow and throws it back straight at the center of the eye of the punk who shot it.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: The Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Seiken styles and their derivatives.
  • Faux Action Girl: Mamiya and to some extent Reina from the Legends of the True Savior movies. Subverted by Hokuto Musou, where gameplay-wise Mamiya is apparently awesome; after Rei's death she disappears until the events of Hokuto no Ken 2, but in the manga she has one last hurrah as a fighter at the end when out of sympathy for Bat who's being tortured by an old enemy of Kenshiro's, she tries to sacrifice herself to give him a quick death.
  • Fighting Series: A rather graphic one for a Shonen series.
  • Filler: Like any other manga-based anime series, the TV series featured original arcs and episodes between the main story in order to prevent the series from exceeding its source material. The most notorious example is the anime version of the Southern Cross arc, which puts off the final battle between Kenshiro and Shin by more than a dozen episodes.
    • Averted when you watch the TV series in the order recommended by Daryl Surat of Anime World Order: 1-8; 11-13; 22-37; 39-108. Recap Episodes are optional.
      • The problem with Surat's order is that it leaves out episodes 17-21. While these episodes are all filler, the events that lead up to Episode 22 won't make much sense if you skip them due to how the order of events were changed during the Southern Cross arc (plus some of the filler characters, like Joker and Saki, are involved in canon episodes and don't show up in #22).
  • Filler Villain: The purpose of Joker, Shin's anime-only right-hand man, was to serve as an informant between Shin and his numerous henchmen that he'd sent out to hunt Kenshiro.
  • Final First Hug: When Raoh, broken-and-defeated by Kenshiro, holds the younger warrior's face for the first and final time like a big brother:

Raoh: Come, let me see the face of the man who has defeated Raoh... You are magnificent, my little brother.
Kenshiro: Big brother...

  • Finishing Move: Practically everything the Hokuto Shinken users do is one of these, some of which go as far as involving an on-screen countdown until the victim dies a horrible death. The Fighting Game made by Arc System Works made the more notable and flashy moves into instant kill moves or Fatal KO's.
  • Four Is Death: Four words that will always lead to death: "Omae wa mou shindeiru"/"You Are Already Dead."
  • Freudian Excuse: Souther and Yuda. Souther's was somewhat understandable since yes, it is traumatic when you accidently kill your own teacher, but what Souther did then wasn't a good way to pay his respects to him. But Yuda's on the other hand is just plain silly.
    • The insane motivations of many villains can be partly explained by the fact that the series take place After the Bomb: when you're already on the edge from the sheer, mind-blasting horror of nuclear apocalypse, even relatively minor things can push you over the brink and turn into all-consuming obsessions. This is especially the case when you've got a seemingly LOT of superpowered martial artists, and faced with the chaos After the End.
  • Gag Dub: Famous Gag Dub situation. While doing the official French language dub of the anime, all the French people working on the show were disgusted by the insane levels of violence - especially since they knew it had been bought for a morning cartoon show aimed at kids and would air alongside Sailor Moon. As most of the dubbers didn't think much of anime anyway, they demanded to be allowed to do whatever they wanted and therefore got to narm up the dialogues and add jokes. Basically, the French dub is an Abridged Series, only not fan-made.
  • Gentle Giant: Fudoh.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The NES game (actually the second Famicom game) kept in the fairly gory exploding deaths of enemies when they die from being punched. Interestingly, the Sega Genesis (which normally had much less heavy-handed censoring than the NES) port of the Mega Drive game removed this, substituting the "fly off the screen" death used for kicking.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: For a hero, Kenshiro has a seriously evil looking pair of red-glowing-eyes whenever a villains gets him SERIOUSLY angry.
  • A God Am I: The invariable mental illness that strikes martial-arts masters in this wasteland world who don't walk the path of righteousness.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: People with mohawks are evil 100% of the time. One Giant Mook actually turned his mohawk into a buzzsaw.
  • Good Is Not Nice: After the bitter lessons at the beginning of the manga and in the backstory, Kenshiro almost never shows mercy to villains and bandits (a few borderline exceptions are people who managed to avoid hurting innocents on-panel, like Akashachi). He might shed Manly Tears for some of the major villains, but not before they are already dead. And some of his Hokuto Shinken applications are downright sadistic.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kenshiro, the hero, has seven scars on his chest in the shape of the Big Dipper, put there by Shin during the latter's Face Heel Turn. The scars would be a plot point, as that was the only identifying trait Rei knew of his sister's kidnapper. Jagi, a Complete Monster, has a brutally scarred face he keeps behind a helmet, and deliberately matched Kenshiro's scars in order to pass as him. Ditto for the manga's ending, when Bat inflicts them onto himself to pass as Ken as well -- but unlike Jagi, to protect Ken.
  • Gonk: Physically incapable villains tend to be this.
  • Gorn: Probably the most ridiculous example occurs in the fight against the Colonel, where Kenshiro uses a technique that makes his opponent's muscles eject the intact skeleton from the body. To paraphrase SF Debris, the Gorn in this series is just sickening enough... to be hilarious.
  • Graceful Loser: Raoh, and to a lesser extent Souther. Souther's death was changed in the movie Legend of Raoh: Chapter of Martyred Love (which retells the Souther arc from Raoh's perspective), in which Souther takes a page from Shin's book and decides that it's Better to Die Than Be Killed. In the original manga (including the events of Hokuto no Ken 2) there's quite a few more.
  • Gratuitous English: The opening song. YOU wa SHOCK!!! This is probably because "you wa shock" sounds a lot like "you are shock". It's become so prevalent that many don't even know that the song is actually called "Ai o Torimodose". The other opening themes count to, with Silent Fighter's "DO SURVIVE!" and Tough Boy's "Welcome to this crazy time!"
  • Guilty Pleasures: Screw anger management classes, THIS is the show to watch on a bad day.
  • Guns Are Worthless: By the time the series takes place, firearms seemed to have become an endangered species, especially since ammunition is hard to come by. Being located in the region of a dried out ersatz Japan with similarly draconian gun laws and prevalence explains why there aren't many firearms in the first place.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Fudoh delivers one to Raoh so crushing that it destroys his confidence for the rest of the series. Also probably the only Hannibal Lecture that doubles as a Heartwarming Moments. Blame Raoh for explicitly telling Fudoh beforehand that he was using Fudoh a tune-up fight so that Raoh could work the fear out of his system, vaccination-style. Like Fudoh wasn't going to take advantage of that overconfidence?
  • Healing Factor: Most good fighters in the series have one to a degree, but the Hokuto and Nanto practitioners have it to a much greater degree. Doesn't stop them from getting VERY seriously hurt, though. It is also subverted in that it is not so much that they heal quickly, but that they know how to utilize their body's energy and accupuncture points to facilitate healing. If you're a mook, though, so sad for you.
  • Heel Face Turn: A good number of villains perform these some moments before their death, usually only long enough to admit their remorse. Though once in a while, you get a villain who not only does this to atone for their sins, but lasts long enough to help Ken and gang along the way. The most obvious examples would be:
    • Raiga and Fuga, the gatekeepers of Cassandra Prison, who, after their supposedly unstoppable fighting style is beaten, they pledge loyalty to Ken, long enough to fight and defeat their master and assist Ken, Rei and Mamiya in freeing Toki from the prison. Sadly, they die keeping a crushing ceiling held up long enough for Ken and gang to escape.
    • Falco, who fights for Jakoh at first, though its revealed that he is working for Jakoh against his will due to the fact that Jakoh is holding the Tentei (the Celestial Emperor... or rather, Empress)) hostage. Once Ken and the Hokuto Army frees the Tentei, its open season on Jakoh and Falco kills Jakoh in such an awesome way by incinerating Jakoh's head. Falco then jumps at the chance to help Kenshiro clean up the Kingdom of Shura...but sadly doesn't last long as he is viciously killed by a nameless Shura mook of all people.
    • In a flashback, Fudoh. He started out as a bandit who used his size and strength to terrorize and rob people, even causing a younger Raoh to tremble with terror. But after a run-in with Yuria (plus holding a newborn puppy on his hand), he ultimately turns into a selfless hero who will stop at nothing to protect those he cares about, particularly the children he takes under his wing.
  • Here We Go Again: The manga ending. As the "credits" is shown, Kenshiro is again wandering the wasteland and making the world a better place, one exploding head at a time.
  • He Will Not Cry, So I Cry for Him: When Asuka, Ein's little girl, was asked why she is not crying at her father's funeral, she replies "If I cry, Daddy won't be able to rest." Kenshiro promptly hugs her with warmth and kindness and weeps Tender Tears of sadness in her place.
  • Hidden Eyes: Sometimes, Kenshiro needs to be more stoic than usual. He can accomplish this by casting shadows over his eyes, at will, even when the sun's directly in his face.
  • High-Pressure Blood: In spades.
    • One villain, the Mad Sarge, even has a fighting style based around this, as he throws narrow, hollow needles. Although in real life these shouldn't be all that efficient at removing blood (he makes no attempt to hit any major veins or arteries), it is accepted that the main danger of this attack is the resulting catastrophic blood loss rather than being stuck full of needles.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ironic deaths have a way of happening around Kenshiro, even when he isn't directly causing them.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Baran the Emperor of Light, one of the villains from the manga-only final chapter, finds the idea of God absurd due to the fact that his Dead Little Sister Yuka refuse to take a medicine he stole for her due to her moral upbringing, resulting in her death from a preventable disease.
  • Honor Before Reason: To be even a fundamentally decent person in a post-apocalyptic wasteland is to be this trope; and that's without going into the actual heroes of this universe.
  • Hope Spot: Played for dark comedy in the Jagi/Kenshiro face-off. Kenshiro usually lets the Mooks he's about to deliver a thrashing to get in a couple before cruelly crushing their hopes. A much more tragic version occurs in the Jyuza / Raoh fight, whereupon he gets no less than three of these.
  • I Am Big Boned: The Asura Gyoko.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Shin loves Yuria because she is an emotionally strong-willed woman whom he sees as a challenge to make willingly fall in love with him.
  • Infant Immortality: Although children and even infants often died in the manga (along with a few dogs), the TV anime often rewrote such scenes so that the child escapes from harm's way with Kenshiro's help (the most prominent examples being Taki, Bat's adopted little brother who gets shot by a ruffian, and Ryo, the kid who ate poisoned bread in Shuh's hideout).
  • Informed Ability: There are villains who brag about their unstoppable fighting styles whose power we never see onscreen, though a good load of them do manage to show it off. The most ubiquitous example has to be Souther's Tensho Juuji Hou attack, which supposedly can cut through stainless steel, but only scratches Ken's shoulders a bit and got a lot of hype beforehand. Granted Ken's Made of Iron, but still. (It's like Musou Tensei in that he passes through Ken's attempted counterattacks, but no mention is made of why this doesn't work when he jumps right into Ken's successful Tenha Kassatsu.)
    • Kenshiro once got hit in the head with a solid stone pillar as big as he is and remained completely unfazed (the pillar shattered to pieces). So it is easy to see how an attack that can cut stainless steel might be not a big deal to him.
  • Intangible Man: One of the effects of Hokuto Shinken's ultimate technique Musou Tensei.[4]
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The manga's final volume has Ken and Bat both trying out the I Want My Beloved to Be Happy suit with Lin: earlier, Kaioh had pressed the pressure point Shikan Haku on Lin's back that would cause her to fall in love with the first man she saw upon waking—expecting that it would be a scummy bandit or a lowly beggar, anyone but Ken; nevertheless when she wakes, it's just Ken and Bat (who'd learned of Shikan Haku—important point there). Bat was aware of Lin's love for Ken, but Ken was sympathetic to her for all that she'd been through and instead wanted her to live peacefully, so he rode off to ensure that Lin would fall in love with Bat instead. Bat makes a show of going along, but at their wedding he's unable to fully commit—feeling that it's not right for him to be getting the (sincere) love compelled onto her, so in an even more extreme case, he actually causes retrograde amnesia in her, then in an incredibly cockamimie plot actually attempts to "guide" the rebuilding of memories in an attempt to cause her to fall in love with Ken all over again instead... by the end though, it fails when Ken and Lin both regain their memories, and in her case remembering her love for the now-dying Bat. While Ken promised to Bat that he would go off with Lin, he secretly pressed healing points on Bat before leaving without her... leaving her a welcome surprise.
  • Jabba Table Manners: In a world where basic food and fresh water can literally cost you an arm and a leg, any character who eats gourmet food can automatically be labelled as a wasteful villain. Souther in particular is an exceptionally vile example of this trope. Shisuka from Kenshiro Den is an even more literal example than Souther, though the first arc of the manga (post-Kaioh) had Kouketsu.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: HOKUTO GOSHO HA!!!
    • TENSHO HONRETSU!!!
  • Kiai: Kenshiro's battle cries mimic those of Bruce Lee. Not to mention that in the anime, he looks like him too (at least in the early episodes). In the manga though, his face, hair, and clothes all very closely resemble Mel Gibson's character, "Mad" Max Rockatansky in the Mad Max films—then, when he went off to Shura, Sylvester Stallone.
  • Ki Attacks: Hokuto Shin Ken uses Touki to strike opponent's pressure points with out contact.
    • Gento Ko Ken specializes in using ki to destroy enemies on the cellular level via burning or freezing.
    • Hokuto Ryu Ken uses Matouki which is flat out magic.
  • Kick the Dog: A constant, neverending stream of atrocities designed to make you feel that the villains deserve every last bit of righteous ultra-violence Ken can lavish upon them. One bad guy even literally kicks a dog—a cute puppy to be precise.
  • Killer Yoyo: Mamiya uses two of them, and looking damn fine while doing so.
  • Knuckle-Cracking: Part and parcel of Kenshiro's Bruce Lee Clone nature.
  • Kung Fu Jesus: Not Jesus Himself, but his lookalike Toki. Not to mention Kenshiro himself in the Kensiro Den prequel film, right down to ressurecting from LITERALLY being crucified.
  • Lighter and Softer: Yes, Lighter and Softer. Fist of North Star was not the first post-apocalyptic-themed manga. It would -probably- be Violence Jack by Go Nagai. Compared with THAT series -an utterly rotten Crapsack World where Humans Are the Real Monsters and it gets worse ALWAYS-, Hokuto no Ken is a pretty optimistic and hopeful story. At least Fist Of North Star gives the message of you can still be good and noble and remain a human being even in the worst circumstances. Violence Jack? Not so much.
  • Limited Animation: Whenever Ken walks, more often than not the animators just take a static frame of him and wave it up and down. Leads to Narm in some cases, such as the HILARIOUSLY bad special effect in episode 23, where we see Ken from an exploding Mook's point of view, and it's painfully obvious that the animators just waved Ken's picture around in the background. There's also the episode in which Ken kills Devil's Rebirth: It just shows him from the back as he punches, while Devil's body goes past up. It's the funniest Green Screen effect ever.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted with Hokuto Ryuuken, which uses magical incantations heavily in its fighting style but is explicitly stated to be inferior to Hokuto Shinken, which uses pushups.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: strong characters with unique fighting styles are introduced, only to be killed off within the next volume or two. Think Bleach, if people died.
    • Some of them are given bit more screen time in Toei's anime version, like Raiga and Fuga, Koryu, Hyui and Shuren, Shoki and Nagato to name a few.
  • Look What I Can Do Now!: Long training sequences are generally avoided, but this does not stop characters from suddenly unleashing new abilities that they either learned spontaneously, or perhaps had known all along.
  • Love Freak: Shu, Yuria, to an extent. Lin also counts as well.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Recurring theme for several villains. Most notably Shin and Souther.
  • Lowered Monster Difficulty: The population of the land of Shura. Especially notable in filler.
  • Made of Iron: If you're one of the more powerful fighters in this series, you are virtually immune to damage. For example, Kiba Daioh, a relatively low-level martial artist villain, used a technique which literally transformed his skin into steel, so that when super-strong Kenshiro used a massive steel beam to bludgeon him, the beam was bent into U-shape without doing any damage. Then Kenshiro struck a pressure point which effectively canceled the effect, allowing Ken to break Kiba's spine during the second try.
  • Made of Plasticine: On the other hand, if you're a Mooks, prepare to have your body remolded like play-doh.
  • Magic Pants: Kenshiro destroys his shirt and expensive looking leather jacket in practically every episode, and yet never seems to have any problem getting it back by the next one.
  • Manly Tears: One of the most famous users of this trope. It should be noted however, that the men of this series sheds just as much, if not more Tender Tears, contrary to popular belief.
  • Martial Medic: Kenshiro can manipulate pressure points to heal as well as harm.
  • Meaningful Name: Toki, who shares his grace with the ibis he was named after, and Souther, a slightly more convoluted example. The southerly winds. What birds fly on. Birds like the Nanto style is inspired by. Meaning he is at the root of all Nanto schools, as the emperor. Like that wouldn']t get to his head... And then there's Kenshiro himself, whose name translates to something like "Fourth Son of the Fist"
  • Mega Manning: The first clue that Ken is running on The Power of Friendship is when he starts to inexplicably use attacks that belonged to fallen allies. He also explicitly claims that practitioners of his style can duplicate the attacks of any other style, though he's the only practitioner shown actually doing this. Also, Raoh runs a giant prison full of martial artists for the sole purpose of stealing all their secrets. There's not enough detail to determine whether it's this or Awesome By Analysis, but analysis really doesn't seem like Raoh's strongest suit.
  • Men Don't Cry: Completely and wonderfully averted in this franchise: violence and brutality be damned, Fist of the North Star is frankly one of the most sensitive and warm-hearted anime franchises of the 1980's.
  • The Messiah: Not Kenshiro, but Toki. Think of him as an ass-kicking Jesus. It isn't very hard. Actually, Yuria is just the big Messiah of the series.
  • Mighty Glacier: Mr. Heart practically defines this, in both the show and the PlayStation 2 fighter. Another large character, Fudou, does basically nothing but ride this trope.
  • Monster of the Week: The anime version of the Southern Cross arc, and to a lesser extent the Goshasei and Shura arcs, gave Kenshiro more weekly villains than the ones he fought in the original manga.
  • Monster Sob Story: Told by both Souther and Kaioh to Kenshiro right before their final battles, when there's no time left for the reader to watch them grow as characters or sympathise with them. Though the week-to-week short term plotting of the shounen manga industry is probably to blame here.
  • Monumental Damage / Scenery Gorn: The anime intro shows the ruins of the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel tower and Tower bridge.
  • Mood Whiplash: The over the top ways in which evil, evil people die insanely sometimes verges on black humor, partially from Narm and partially from their cowardly antics. Then there's the time Ken's cute sidekick gets splattered with gore in the middle of a brutal fistfight to the death by way of comic relief. However, this trope is here for one man: Jyuza. In the manga, his introduction, a digression from a hopeless war the established characters are fighting, takes its sweet time showing us a piece of his happy-go-lucky, adventurous life. Then he is called out to fight, and its back to the nightmare for the audience.
  • Mook Horror Show: When Ken annihilates Jackal and his gang. Fittingly, the episode is entitled "I Am Death Itself! I'll Chase You to the Ends of Hell!"
  • Moral Myopia: Kiba Daioh, Played for Laughs.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mamiya gets assigned for this postion in Hokuto Musou/Ken's Rage, not only her early 3D render had a daring see-through skirt with a tong underneath, but her classic alternate outfit has extreme cloth damage, whereas for the guys is just desintegrated shirts, Mamiya's is large portions of the whole outfit, it ends when she's basically half-naked.
  • Mukokuseki: Racially ambiguous characters, names written in katakana, and lack of Japanese signage make many readers confused about where the story is set. But during the Southern Cross arc of the manga, Bat specifically states that Shin's gang rules the former Kanto area.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Partially averted. Almost all serious martial artists are musclebound bruisers (and about half of them, including Kenshiro, are much taller and more massive than average inhabitants of the postnuclear desert), but, on the other hand, there are a lot of really superhumanly big people in this series (mutants? genetically engineered? it is never explained where all these five-meters tall humans came from), but their giant size usually does not help them much, even though some of them are accomplished martial artists in their own right. Buronson likes toying with this one. Hokuto's breathing techniques effectively embody this trope, but apparently most of those giant mooks were about as tall as Toki.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Several times, especially Raoh with Yuria. Arguably Shin. Certainly Kaioh. Fortunately in Raoh's case it was "My God, What I Could Have Done."
  • My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Tons of it. Mostly favoring Kenshiro, of course.
  • Name's the Same: In-universe, Toki and Touki.
  • The Narrator: Shigeru Chiba, who also voiced a few of the villains, pulls double duty here. He also gets gradually more excitable as the TV series goes on; as an episode of Trivia No Izumi pointed out, he starts off doing the next-episode previews in a rather stern voice, but by the final episode he's screaming the narration at the top of his lungs. It originally started as an in-joke by Chiba; he apparently stopped ramping it up for a while for fear of giving himself an aneurysm, but began doing it again when fans asked him why he wasn't shouting anymore.
  • New Old West: Right down to the "stranger walking out of the duststorm into the town" shots and the Morricone-esque mournful-saxophone music of Spaghetti Westerns in the more sad and thoughtful scenes.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Kenshiro can not only kill or heal people by touching pressure points, but in one episode, he even touches a pressure point that makes a thug involuntarily move his mouth to answer Kenshiro's questions.
  • Nice Hat: The helmets in North Star are legendary. One notable example is Uighur, who hides whips in his horned helmet (you pull them out by yanking on the horns).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Toki looks and acts a hell of a lot like a certain Son of God. Not to mention a variety of "cameos," like Mr. T and Hulk Hogan lookalikes teaming up together, or the two brothers who resemble the tag team Legion of Doom, or a Shura who looks like Sloth from The Goonies...the list goes on and on.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: These situations provide the majority of the story's motivations and plot devices.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Despite love, or rather fighting for it, being a main theme in the series, not much happens between the Official Couple, Kenshiro and Yuria are shown to be a couple in its purest form, the original manga and anime only had them going as far as holding hands, and yet it is implied they went much further than that, the OVAs even had Yuria expecting Kenshiro's child; spin-offs avert this by having other characters like Rei, Jagi, Raoh and even Kenshiro's uncle getting hot and heavy with their interests, ironically Ken and Yuria gets no such "step-up" in spin-offs even though they are the original Official Couple.
  • Norio Wakamoto: Its a small appearance, but the man himself voices Raoh in his first silhouette scene, as well as Shuren. Somewhat altered in that Shuren was a heroic character.
  • Not Worth Killing: Jagi when he was disfigured by Kenshiro. Kenshiro would later regret his decision, as it backfired a lot. (Jagi was the one whose conniving caused Shin to decide that Kenshiro didn't deserve Yuria, and Jagi's later modus operandi was to drag Kenshiro's name through the mud.)
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Averted in the very first scene.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Ken, the first time he's against Jackal, does this a lot. Some characters are explicitly shown to teleport, like Joker.
  • 108: The number of branches of Nanto Seiken.
  • One-Man Army: Pretty much every named character except for Lin and Bat. Heck, even Mamiya qualifies... albeit, a one woman army.
  • One Name Only: Everyone except Buzz and Gill Harn. In the pilot, Kenshiro had the full name of "Kasumi Kenshirō", which would later be used by his uncle.
  • Only Six Faces: More than a handful of the women look remarkably similar, which is used as a plot point. Also, before his character development kicked in, Rei looked a hell of a lot like Shin.
  • Papa Wolf: Kenshiro to Bat and Lin; Fudoh to his various orphaned kids; and Ein to his daughter Asuka.
    • Subverted, in comedic fashion, by the leader of the Fang Clan once Kenshiro genuinely challenges his facade.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Pretty much all the main fighters throughout, from Kenshiro to Kaioh.
  • Pet the Dog: One villain did this (literally), then did a Heel Face Turn.
  • Playing with Fire: Shuren plays this trope note-for-note with one interesting variation: instead of being supernatural, his fire skills are described coming from expert use of chemicals combined with a high level of martial arts.
  • Plot Tumor: The original manga focused primarily on martial arts (some hardcore, some zany) and the Ki Attacks were a rare occurrence. In the manga's second run, we are introduced to Gento Ko Ken - a martial art based almost entirely on Ki Attacks.
  • Posthumous Character: Ryuken.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: It happens in the numerous action and fighting oriented games for the franchise, lesser fighters like Jagi turns into capable Combat Pragmatists with strength and weapons on par with the major combatants; Mamiya in particular gets the greater doses due being the only Action Girl in these adaptations, she improves so much that it borders on New Powers as the Plot Demands.
  • The Power of Friendship: In his climactic battle against Raoh, Kenshiro reveals that he has the power of all his friends behind him. Subverted earlier when Rei, attacking Raoh, tried to invoke it. Really bad timing, Rei.
  • The Power of Love: Raoh, meanwhile, is only able to learn Hokuto Shinken's ultimate technique, Musou Tensei, through his love of Yuria and sorrow over her sad fate. Which was My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours by Kenshiro when he revealed that not only does he have sorrow over Yuria too which gives him as much power as Raoh, he also has sorrow over losing his beloved big brother Raoh! The Power of Love is all over this story. If Raoh and Kenshiro's case wasn't enough, see Kenshiro vs. Souther, which itself is also all about this.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The Colonel deploys several small, metal, razor-sharp boomerangs (perhaps a deliberate homage to The Road Warrior, which was very influential on the series), as part of his complex martial art. They are all on target, despite him plunging the battlefield into darkness (to make it hard to see the boomerangs!) Ultimately it's revealed he's psychically guiding them.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "You are already dead." But if that's true, is it really pre-mortem?
  • Pressure Point: 708 of them to be exact, with equal ability to heal as well as kill if the right ones are pressed. More precisely, the vital points used by Hokuto Shinken is known as the Keiraku Hiko, which roughly translates to the "hidden points of the meridian". The rival style, Hokuto Ryuken, uses another set of pressure pointd called the Keiraku Hako or the "destructive points", which has exactly 1109 points.
  • Pronoun Trouble: The Last General of Nanto and the Heavenly Emperor are both revealed to be female. The former case can be justified, since the Five Chariots were intentionally hiding the Last General's identity to prevent Raoh from going after Yuria.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Fang Bandits, which are an entire group of animal themed Psychopathic Manchildren.
  • Pummel Duel: Trope Maker in Anime.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Ten No Haoh makes you cheer for Raoh from scene number one when he shreds through like so much rice-paper a band of rapists, who flew-like-a-flag the dress of an innocent little girl whom they raped before brutally murdering.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: The Hokuto Hyakuretsuken, one of the main character's signature moves. Oddly enough, Hokuto Ujoumoushouha is just that except ending with a "merciful" gut punch instead of Your Head Asplode. That's averted in Hokuto Musou gameplay (where it's a series of spinning high kicks followed by a giant uppercut that sends out an energy wave), but is kept for the cutscene of Souther's defeat.
  • Rated "M" for Manly
  • Razor Floss: One of the Golan commandos wields this. At one point he stretches it taut and runs past a man, which cuts the man in half. Raiga and Fuga's martial art, Nishin Furaiken, also used these.
  • Razor Wind: Sometimes difficult to tell. The art of Nanto Seiken cuts with the fingers and hands, as well as a subset of longer range techniques that fall under this. They both cut like swords, so in close combat it's hard to tell whether it's their hands or the wind from their hands. Yuda's long range ground slashes and Rei's attack against the fire breather are explicitly classed here. Hyui, the wind-themed member of the Nanto Gohasei, has a similiar style that uses these attacks exclusively with no close combat at all.
  • Really Dead Montage: Rei, Fudoh and Ein all get theirs in the TV series.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Shin delivers a magnificent, textbook speech to Ken during a flashback, right down to having him pinned down underfoot. The topic was obsession, and Ken took it to heart.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Quite a few do not long survive their (barely) "face" turns, though the manga-only Baran goes further than usual in the first chapter of the final volume in not only choosing to die, but arranging for a public execution -- and thus humiliation -- and actually letting himself be killed, though his final moments are spent in the presence of his redeemers.
    • Also notably Duran during the filler episodes in the Shin arc; he is a doctor of the village who makes sure he helps the people as much as possible, seeing how he used to work for one of Shin's henchmen, Dante. Duran is then faced by Dante's thugs who threaten to kill him unless he kills Kenshiro. He of course fails and he is impaled by several spears -- right in front of the girl who wanted to be his wife when she grew up.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: One kid gets magenta eyes while Brainwashed and Crazy (thanks to Jagi shoving a finger into his brain).
  • Refrain From Assuming: The opening theme "Ai o Torimodose" is often shortened to its Gratuitous English phrase "You wa Shock".
  • Rescue Arc: Pretty much the entirety of the Southern Cross arc (especially in the anime version). The constant kidnapping of Lin during the Kingdom of Shura arc also qualifies.
  • Retcon: The original series had Kenshiro, the 64th Hokuto Shinken successor, be the very second Hokuto Shinken praticioner to perform the ultimate Musou Tensei art, the first was the Hokuto Shinken founder himself, and the third to use it was Raoh. Comes Souten no Ken and Kenshiro's uncle Kasumi, the 62nd Hokuto Shinken successor, performs the Musou Tensei against Liu Zong-Wu, being created by the original authors themselves it didn't get pushed into Alternate Continuity territory.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: There's a bridge where Raoh's thugs have checkpoints at both ends to search for Kenshiro, so Kenshiro attempts to evade them by hiding in a wagon of straw that his ally Fudo pulls across the bridge. The thugs have drafted villagers to do their searching for them, and one of these villagers at the entrance of the bridge spots Kenshiro, but deliberately pretends that he didn't see him. By the time Fudo gets to the other end of the bridge, another villager has ratted out the villager who has covered for Kenshiro, hoping to be humbly rewarded with food and such. However, both villagers are killed by Raoh's thugs, one for helping Kenshiro, and the other for ratting out the first villager!
  • The Rival: Shin, at first, and later Raoh.
  • Rule of Cool: Followed to the letter.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Even if the 1980's did have pretty awful clothing, is this the best that the cast can come up with?
  • Samus Is a Girl: When we find out that the Last General of the Nanto Roku Seiken is Yuria. Also, when we learn that the Celestial Emperor is actually an Empress, and is in fact Lin's estranged twin sister, Lui.
  • Say My Name: Invoked (whether deliberate or not remains to be told) by Dirty Coward Jagi, whose Catch Phrase is actually "Say my name!" Shotgun pointing is optional. This was even made into a super move in the Atomiswave fighting game.

"KEEEEEEEEEEN!!" - Lin
"YUUUUUUURIAAAAA!!" Kenshiro and Shin both

  • Scarpia Ultimatum: What Shin gives to Yuria when he kidnaps her.
  • Series Continuity Error: When Kenshiro's adoptive brothers were first introduced, Kenshiro initially mentions that none of them are actually blood-related. Later it turns out that the eldest two, Raoh and Toki, are blood related after all and we are shown the ruins of their childhood home along with the graves of the birth parents. However, it later turns out that none of them were even born in Japan at all, but that the three of them were refuges from the Kingdom of Shura and that Raoh and Toki's mother is buried in a swamp. If that wasn't enough confusion, then comes the prequel, Fist of the Blue Sky, which shows that the baby Kenshiro was born in Japan... or not, as apparently where he was born was actually in China.
    • In the Hokuto no Ken 2 portion of the anime, the child version of Toki is drawn with white hair during the flashbacks when he was still in Shura. However, the first anime series already established the fact that Toki's natural hair color is brown and it didn't became white until he was exposed to nuclear fallout as an adult.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The only prominent female combatant in the original manga is Mamiya, and she's not exactly a powerhouse like the other men. The Arc System Works fighting game and Hokuto Musou both made her the sole female playable character, though apparently she's relatively more powerful in the latter. There are actually quite a number of female martial artists in the franchise as a whole, but almost all of them are anime or game original characters or characters from later spin-offs published years after the conclusion of the original manga.
  • Shōnen manga: The archetypal example.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The whole darned franchise is one to the Australian cult classic Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, although it's only prominent during the early chapters.
    • When Kenshiro heads off to Shura, with the shades/goggles on he ends up looking an incredible lot like Marion Cobretti...
    • Chapter 3 of Volume 27 is tragic as hell—but ends with an incredible shout-out to the opening of the manga staggering through the desert, begging for water -- but this time, with Bat and Lin right there.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Despite all the violent warlords wanting Yuria's affection, she forever loves Ken for his kind and tender nature.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Unapologetically idealistic and morally righteous in spite of being set in a post-apocalyptic Crapsack World. The heart and soul of the series seems to be "It is easy to do good in times of prosperity, but it takes a true hero to be a good person when the entire world is screaming for you to be otherwise."
  • Spaghetti Western: Replace the gunplay with kung fu, and the grim violence punctuated with bursts of heroic idealism will fit right-in the world of Sergio Leone.
  • The Spartan Way: The Kingdom of Shura, where the law states one does not reach manhood until he has defeated a 100 men.
  • The Stoic: Kenshiro, Raoh, and Souther.
  • Stout Strength: Mr. Heart and, to a lesser extent, Fudoh.
  • Streamline Pictures: The English dub of the movie by Streamline Pictures 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 (in the Japanese version, Raoh easily defeats Shin while in the English version, Kenshiro apparently does (making as if he doesn't know his own strength), making it a half-assed anti-climatic Curb Stomp Battle. On the plus side, it had James Avery (Uncle Phil/Shredder) as the voice of the Fang King.
  • Spam Attack: Hokuto Hyakuretsuken is a classic example.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": As with all popular Japanese manga franchises, the spellings of many character names tend to differ between sources and media. Notably, the name of the Holy Emperor tends to vary from "Souther", "Thouzer", "Thouther", and even "Thoutoher" (and it's notably pronounced "Souzer" even in the English dub of Hokuto Musou). Not to mention Yuria/Julia, Yuda/Juda, Lin/Rin, Shuu/Shuh/Shew, and Uighur/Uyghur.
  • Stock Shout-Outs: Hokuto Hyakuretsuken is one of the big ones in anime. Any Spam Attack accompanied by an "ATATATATATATA!" shout is giving a nod to Kenshiro.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: One of the franchise's hang-ups is that it is written to portray women in a particularly patronizing way, even women (such as Mamiya, or Reina from the movies) who are way more competent than the average male villager, mooks, and villain of the week. The sad thing is that the show clearly thought it was pro-woman in some episodes, but it was just incredibly paternalistic.
  • Super-Deformed: There is a spinoff manga with a super deformed art style called DD Fist of the North Star. In this story, "...the characters of Fist of the North Star are living in peaceful Japan. In particular, Kenshirō is a convenience store worker, Raoh works at a factory, and wracked by illness, Toki is looking for work." A TV anime adaptation is planned. This is all stated in this Anime News Network article: http://www.animenewsnetwork.cc//news/2010-12-24/dd-fist-of-the-north-star-manga-gets-tv-anime
  • Tender Tears: Despite their appearance, men of the Fist of the North Star series are actually very warm-hearted and do this a lot, maybe even more than Manly Tears. Even Raoh does this to grieve for Toki and Yuria's suffering, and those are the only times he ever sheds tears.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Any time an instrumental version of Ai o Torimodose! cues up.
    • In the finale of the anime, the vocal version is played when Kenshiro performs his final blow on Kaioh.
    • In the Atomiswave fighting game, the theme is is played when a character performs a Fatal K.O.
    • In Ken's Rage, the player gets to enjoy this during boss fights.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Shin's four henchmen in the manga are named after playing cards (Spade, Diamond, Club, Heart), while the anime adds Joker to the mix.
    • The Golan commandos are named after military ranks (Colonel, Mad Sarge, Major).
    • Jackal and his underlings are all animal-themed (although only two of them, Fox and Hawk, are named in the manga).
    • The martial arts of the Nanto Seiken school follows an avian motif (Lone Eagle, Waterfowl, Crimson Crane, White Heron, and Phoenix).
  • There Can Be Only One: Once Kenshiro's brothers are introduced, it is revealed that the law of Hokuto Shinken states that only one student can inherit its teachings; the others are to be either disabled or euthanized. Ends up leading to the story's events—Jagi's berserk moment came when Kenshiro was chosen, and Raoh's refusal to let himself be crippled led to the fight where Ryuken died.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: When Kenshiro growls this phrase at you, it goes without saying that you're pretty much screwed. Kenshiro goes one further after Shu's death: "When I get done with you... There will be nothing left!!!"
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Kenshiro and Raoh are sometimes represented by a dragon and a tiger, respectively. Kenshiro is stoic and does not seek power, Raoh is more hot-blooded and ambitious.
    • It also comes up when Kenshiro and Rei fight each other to save Airi and Mamiya, as Rei uses a technique called Nanto Tiger Destroying Dragon and Kenshiro uses Hokuto Dragon Attacking Tiger.
  • Time Skip: The second half of the manga begins several years after the first one, with Bat and Lin now grown up.
  • Token Motivational Nemesis: Shin in the manga, whose only reason of existence is to give Kenshiro his signature scars and take Yuria away from him before being killed by the end of the tenth chapter. The Adaptation Expansion of the TV series padded Shin's role for up to 22 episodes. Most of this only amounted to giving Shin more henchmen to order around than the four he had in the manga, but he does get his own moment of glory by thwarting a conspiracy to overthrow him just before his final battle with Kenshiro. The anime also depicts the dissolution of Shin's army and the destruction of Southern Cross before the final battle, which arguably gives a greater sense of resolution to the Shin than simply having his army vanish with no explanation after his death like in the manga.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A lot of glaring villain examples in the filler episodes, in particular a Bad Boss who has just witnessed Kenshiro demolish his fifteen-feet tall henchman (whom he brainwashed as a slave since childhood) with ONE hand. When Kenshiro took pity on the giant and gave him a second chance to be a good person, said Bad Boss just had to murder said-giant in cold-blood, then taunts the dying man for being a weakling complete with Evil Laugh in front of the horrified-and-angry STILL PRESENT Kenshiro. What an Idiot!. Fortunately averted by Souther's troops after his defeat, once Kenshiro's walked back down the pyramid stairs. There's obvious shame and regret over what they were fighting for, but in the first Raoh Den movie, the kids actually put themselves between the troops and Kenshiro. Had the troops in that one made a move, Kenshiro would have been right there.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Toki. Yuria. Shuh. Fudoh. Ein. Countless hordes of innocent, well-meaning bystanders. The planet itself.
  • To the Pain: Ken usually describes just what he did to an opponent before it finishes them off.
  • Touch of Death: Hokuto Shinken is basically an entire martial art based around this.
  • Training from Hell: Even in a series notable for its lack of gratuitous training scenes, there are a few glaring examples. At one point, Ken flashes back to when the adolescent students of his school had to fight the students in another school...where the fights were apparently to the death. Another time, there's the memory of the Hokuto Shinken final test, where Ken and Raoh have to face a tiger and are expected to make the tiger back down through sheer badassness—killing the tiger instead is considered a major screw-up. And Souther's final test for his phoenix-themed martial art
  • Tragic Hero: Raoh, for several reasons actually. (1)He wants to restore order and peace to the world by means of instilling fear and terror,(2) he wants Yuria to fall in love with him through similar methods, and (3) his ultimate goal is to become so powerful that even the heavens will bow down to him. His status as a tragic hero is especially prevalent in the spin-off series, Legends of the Dark King.
    • Shin also counts.
  • Trope Maker/Trope Codifier: Quite simply, FOTNS is THE granddaddy of most Shonen fighting series (along with Dragon Ball), and pretty much every trope that applies to them was codified by it (Again, with Dragon Ball). It's easier to mention which fighting series are NOT in any way influenced by it).
  • Troperrific: Yes, it starts in the year 199X. Yes, it features absurd villains with absurd haircuts. Yes, it features a martial arts style that seems to have a counter for everything. Yes, there's a lot of pans and people explaining what they just did. Yes, it features a linear progression of threats to our heroes. Yes, it defined basically everything we know and make fun of as a "Shonen" show, and yes, it plays every single one of those tropes utterly, completely straight without irony. The show wouldn't possibly be as effective if it did otherwise, however. If the show made light of Kenshiro's abilities or had the villains act in any other way or any number of subversions that viewers are now perhaps used to, it would be a fundamentally different show. Of course, when it first came out, most of these tropes weren't solid enough to be subverted anyway.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The war that trashed the world took place in 199X.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Ken, Shin, and Yuria, at least in the flashbacks and the beginning of the series. For a bit it's Ken, Rei, and Mamiya, but with a far, far more tragic ending.
  • Unflinching Walk
  • Updated Rerelease: Series which are tremendously popular in Japan gets to be published again in various forms after its original publication, some are in form of less volumes with each having at least 350+ pages to eventually cover an entire arc in just one volume (Bunkoban), then there are the difinitive/ultimate collections, the Aizobans and Kanzenbans, they tend to have less volumes than the original publication but not as short as the Bunkobans, these ultimate collections aims for completion and quality, each volume has high quality white office paper and collects every single thing publicated in the original magazines and data books that don't find its way in normal publications, so color pages, extra information, magazine covers, drafts, sketches & etc, can be found in these ultimate editions. In 2006 Hokuto no Ken was graced with a Kanzenban publication, just 15 volumes as opposed to the original 27 volumes.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Ken does this almost every episode, usually illustrated when his battle aura causes his shirt to disintegrate. This is even more amusing once you discover that it's actually a part of Hokuto Shinken - the move is called Tenryu Kokyu Ho, or "Art of the Dragon Breath", and enables the practitioner to tap into the 70% of the human body's power that is not normally used. There's actually an exception. When Rei first appears and says he's looking for the man with seven scars on his chest, the plot requires that Kenshiro not show his chest. Accordingly, Kenshiro's battle aura never does this until that plot is resolved.
  • Wasteland Elder: Kenshiro encounters quite a few elderly village leaders during the series.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: "Hey, there's a new, cool looking character with a weird new fighting sty- Oh they're dead already." And that's for the good guys. Bad guys end up in the boneyard even quicker and bloodier.
  • The Western: Think David Carridine's Kung Fu directed by Sergio Leone on a very bad day and you get this classic Sci-Fi Kung-Fu Western.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Kenshiro kills mooks without remorse but will often try to spare their boss because of a freudian excuse.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: In one episode, a mook unsuccessfully tries to perform a Hokuto Zankai Ken.
  • Whip It Good: Uighur. Uighur is a huge, huge man running a prison, so the theme of control and enslavement is still there but without any of the usual vampiness associated with whips. In fact, he's presented as a serious martial artist. (Well, as serious as you can be if you're not named Kenshiro, Toki, Raoh, Souther, or Rei anyway...)
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Averted, majorly. Although one of the white-haired characters, near-death Rei, is not quite as morally pure as Ken, the other white-haired character is Toki, who is pretty much the best person in the series and too good to live.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Kenshiro is an idealistic lives in a Crapsack World where people daily dies and kills over a scrap of food or a sip of water. Still he believes it is easy being despicable in that age, but it takes a true HERO keep your humanity and keep being a good person when everything and everyone around seems suggestng you otherwise. In the first chapter, Bat asks him bluntly how he has survived so far if he would not even try break himself out of jail because it could get a little girl in trouble. Not long after Bat finds out Kenshiro is idealistic because he can afford it. Behaving like scum and harming helpless people in front of him is a very, very bad idea. Like in "he WILL disintegrate you" bad idea.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Though Kenshiro and Rei will avenge the abuse of all innocents as a matter of course, they are exceptionally harsh towards any "man" who dares to strike or abuse women; and that's saying something considering how brutal and cruel Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Seiken already are. And if you serve in Raoh's armies, do not rape women if you don't want your head literally slapped off your shoulders, like the rapist-mook in the manga found out the hard way.
  • William Telling: Used as a Kick The Dog moment in an early episode, with one of Diamond's men forcing a villager to try to shoot a can off the head of his son with a bow and arrow.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: It only took a nudge from Jagi to make Shin go Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
    • Raoh does some truly hideous things to build his empire, but considering the state the world is in it's easy to see why. Not to mention his goal to become the strongest man alive, as he was originally intended to be the successor to Hokuto Shinken before losing the position twice.
    • Souther, if he's not a Jerkass Woobie.
  • A World Half Full: Even if the world is burnt by nuclear fire, it will only stay bad if you chose to let it stay bad: If you have the power and are willing to care, even a wasteland can be made a better place.
  • World of Ham: There is no space for subtle emotions here; all feelings are either screamed out, punched out, or cried out in the worlds of Buronson and Hara.
  • Worthy Opponent: Shin, Souther, Raoh and Falco to Kenshiro. Toki, Juza, and Fudoh to Raoh. Yuda to Rei. Shu to Souther, maybe.
  • Wuxia: One of the earliest forrays of this genre to use the future (albeit a primitive one) rather than the past as a setting.
  • Yandere: In the manga, Shin is just a garden variety victim of Love Makes You Evil, but in the anime Adaptation Expansion he gets enough character development to be revealed as one of these types - complete with an Alas, Poor Villain at the end.
  • You Are Already Dead: Trope Namer.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Made very explicit by having astrology play a part in most major fight scenes.
    • The "Dream Mode" of Hokuto Musou plays with this with a series of "what if" scenarios. But at the end of all of them, they turn out to literally be dreams and the character goes on to meet their intended destiny regardless of whether their life may have been better or worse for it.
      • With the somewhat tragicomic exception of Jagi—he actually takes the dream to heart, and is packing his things to get the fuck out of Dodge so that he avoids Kenshiro when one of his mooks tells him that Kenshiro is in the building.
  • You Didn't Ask: Often, Ken will only save someone after being told for the 1,000th time about how evil the captor/tyrant is.
    • And just as often subverted. If anyone is doing anything evil or unlawful to innocents within earshot of Kenshiro, he will usually respond. If they're lucky, he'll just make their arms useless or otherwise neutralize them. If they did something really bad, such as hurting women or children, expect heads exploding.
  • Your Head Asplode: Watch out if you have a mohawk! Sometimes subverted in which even without a mohawk, doesn't mean you're safe. Look at Jakoh's death scene for one thing.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Kenshiro meets this trope after storming one of Raoh's castles in search of his kidnapped fiancée. It also happens during the anime version of the Southern Cross arc, except substitute Raoh for Shin.
    • Also happens when Rei raids Juda's hideout with the intent to kill him, only to find out that Juda left long ago.
  • Your Size May Vary: Attacking opponents suddenly much bigger? Kokou, Raoh's unusually large horse, becoming large enough to completely stomp mooks under his hoofs when moments ago they were only as big as head? Raoh himself, usually only two heads taller than Kenshiro, suddenly becomes a giant at least as twice as tall? Mako begging for mercy from Jagi, whose knees are now at head level? This series has a lot of this.
  • Zeerust: The original manga was published during 1980s, at a time when most doomsday predictions placed the end of the world at the late 1990s. Thus, the nuclear war occurs in the year 199X and the term Seikimatsu ("end of the century") is used to refer to the era the story takes place. This becomes Zeerust Canon in all of the newer spin-offs published after 2000 and onward, which continued using the term Seikimatsu.

  1. "Nil Thought Rebirth"
  2. In Yuda's case, admitting Rei is prettier counterbalances being a mass murderer with an unwilling harem of branded women. Mamiya is one of his escaped victims, but never mind her.
  3. No, not that Death Star
  4. "Nil-Thought Rebirth"