Words can’t describe how grateful I am for the last week in Paris. From attending the incredible @chanelofficial show at the Grand Palais, to having an intimate tour of Coco Chanel’s apartment on Rue Cambon, to attending a women’s rights rally at La Republique, and having sleepovers with my best friend every night. I feel like I’m dreaming. Thank you @chanelofficial I feel so lucky. 🇫🇷❤
Exploding heads, boiling testosterone, lame badassery – these were my impressions after bumping into Hokuto no Ken, an oldschool anime series from 1984, for the first time. Of course I didn’t have an intent to watch the show because of it’s silliness, but once the boredom hit me hard I decided to check it again. Luckly, my internet connection happened to be too weak to load an episode, so I decided to look into the manga instead. I’ve got sucked in quickly and discovered wonderful story not about mindless bloodbath, but tenderness and compassion. I wouldn’t say this is technically the greatest series of all time, but defenitely one of my favourites, which makes me coming back over and over due to it’s vital values. Obviously I would want this series to be more popular… but I can see why it’s hard to promote it.
Thanks to my initial reaction to the anime, I understand why people judge Hokuto no Ken as dumb, schematic and absurd. It’s somewhat upsetting, since the main problem lies not in the story itself, but in the execution. The animated version, especially the begining of it could be extremely misleading to the audience and even scare viewers off. Here I’m going to point out what made anime so hard to bear for newcomers and why they should rather start with the manga. So enjoy my little (spoiler free) rant.
Do you know how many episodes out of first 22 faithfully follow events from the first arc in the manga? 2, the first one and the last one. Other than that we have 11 actual fillers, in which main character, Kenshiro, is forced to fight bizarre and exotic opponents including wailing necromancer with giant pink afro, guy who evidently belongs to leather subculture, fire-breathing man straight from ancient Near East, lady who ended up with two big beads in her eye sockets and war machinery – because apparently all of these fits in the same universe. It’s all put in formulatic and repetitive plots. The concept is to introduce new enemy and make him or her be spectacularly killed by Ken as fast as possible, so it can be told in 22 minutes. This obsession to provide at least one fight during each episode
(excluding flashback ones) only slows the pacing down. The rest of the season is just taking various elements and subplots from manga and adjust them into this scheme. Oh, and all of these bosses our main character have to slay are minions of Shin. Because of this huge build-up you could think that he is some kind of an ultimate threat to Kenshiro, but no, he dies in the very beginning of the manga (this could hardly be called a spoiler). In fact, the arc starring him as a main villian includes only 11 chapters of the manga. For some reason they decided to make a big deal out of him and even dedicated half of the opening sequence to him and his snarky grins.
Filler episodes from season 1 have also weird tendency to point out what kind of badass Kenshiro is on every possible occassion. He has superspeed, ability to (almost) fly, is indestructible, at some point he even wrecks a tank by punching it. Sure, most of these stories are absurdly over the top and due to that fact, hilarious, but at the same time they are giving wrong idea about the series to the new audience, as well as the featured repetitive formula in general. Not to mention most of these fillers make Ken looks bad, not like a savior he’s supposed to be. In each of them at least one person has to die before he decides to do anything to protect the innocents.
Speaking of looking bad – the quality of animation and artstyle can be atrocious in this series. We have already presented some of the worst of it, but believe me, it’s just a tip of the iceberg. Most of the series have moments in which animation is tacky and expressions are derpish, but it’s especially unfair when we are talking about Hokuto no Ken. It’s manga has one of the greatest, if not the best, drawings that you can find in japanese comics and it’s solely enough to check this title out.
In Hokuto no Ken anime post-apocaliptic universe all lives are
in danger, so you can die in the blink of an eye… unless you are a
woman or a child. While manga doesn’t hesitate to kill them, anime
decides to spare the most innocent ones. I believe that’s what we all want to see, but it kinda ruins the dramatic mood. Overall, the manga is more brutal and graphic. In the original you’ll expierience sight of skeletons popping out of the bodies, flying internal organs and more than that, while the animated version stops on blood and censored, grotesque head explosions. Aside of visual aspects of the massacre, there’s also psychological terror which is strongly exploited in the manga. Although Hokuto no Ken is known for it’s gory imagery, the authors never consider it as series’ crucial advantage, neither do I. But if you do – look up to the manga, there’s a lot of creative killings and gruesome themes to be find in it.
The last, but
not the least – the storyline presented in the anime is not
complete. Aside of what was included in the anime, there’re 35
additional chapters that may interest you. Some fans bash it, but I
think these extras feature perfect closure to the story, which allows you
to fully appreciate characters’ development through the series.
So… didn’t anime make anything
However it’s not
the best adaptation ever, it’s still, in my opinion, the best we’ve
got so far. The fillers still appear later in the series, they
become more tolerable after the first season. Anime contains some
extra interactions between characters, the most notable is Ken’s
relationship with kids which is nicely extended. You also can’t fully
enjoy Hokuto no Ken without hearing wonderful voice acting the
animated version provided – aside of unforgettable Akira Kamiya’s
performance as Kenshiro there’s also huge cast of characters with
unique voices. What is also pleasant to hear is the solid, memorable
soundtrack with catchy and sentimental opening and ending themes. I would recommend it, but only if you’re already familiar with basis of the series.
AU where Saix gets drunk and manages to simultaneously confess his love to Axel and insult him at the same time.
“I mean, you have no redeeming qualities. You’re obnoxious and your pick-up lines are atrocious and let’s not talk about how loudly you snore, but for some reason i love every single one of your negative qualities and i am so in love with you and i just don’t get it,”
And Axel’s just standing there like “I honestly don’t know whether to feel touched or offended right now,”