Lessons from Fist of the North Star

I've recently started watching Fist of the North Star since I've discovered the Hulu has the complete series. I had watched the animated movie in college, but I never saw the t.v. series. I'm around 17 episodes into the 152 episode series, and I must say I am enjoying it (1980's graphics and all). But I am glad that I didn't watch the series as a kid. While it is technically a cartoon, I'm not entirely sure my 7-year old self would have been quite ready for all the animated gore. I also think that the cartoon quirks may have taught me some erroneous lessons. So far, I've noted several themes/messages/patterns in Fist of the North Star:

  1. To be a bad-ass protagonist in a manga series, you apparently need to have black hair, a triangular head, and really bushy eyebrows. That way, you can be readily distinguished from the evil European-looking arch-nemesis who has blond hair and well trimmed eyebrows. In fact, you can identify the rightful inheritor of the North Star Fist by the black hair, triangular head, and bushy eyebrows since everyone else appears to have different colored hair, round heads, and thinner eyebrows.
  2. You can identify the powerful characters by the ginormous pecs, thick arms, and thin waists. The bodybuilder "V" shape is the ideal martial artist shape because it allows maximal punching power. Kenshiro beats all of his enormous opponents because they have thick midsections and legs in comparisons to their chest and arms. Apparently, Kenshiro's ability to tap 100% of his body's potential has to do with his bodybuilder's physique.
  3. There's no need to worry about running out of oil. Even in post-apocalyptic Earth, there's plenty of gasoline for the multitudes of vehicles.
  4. There are 708 pressure points which Kenshiro can strike to brutally maim and explode his enemies. There are about 208 bones in the human body, and 640 skeletal muscles. Assuming those pressure points are evenly distributed, Kenshiro can pretty much hit anywhere to kill his opponents.
  5. You can easily identify the grunt bad guys. They have mohawks, tattoos, and ride motorcycles. They pretty much look like the bad guys from Mad Max.
  6. It looks like even in post-apocalyptic Earth, we still haven't gotten rid of cheap muscle shirts manufactured in sweatshops. All Kenshiro has to do is flex and the shirt disintegrates. He must be single-handedly keeping the Chinese t-shirt industry afloat by constantly destroying his shirts in every battle.
  7. Nothing says "endearing" and "lovable" character like a pre-pubescent orphan girl who constantly whines and longs for Ken (in a weird Freudian way) whenever he goes off into battle. That said pre-pubescent girl then proceeds to get hit on by a pre-pubescent boy around episode 14. Apparently, post-apocalyptic earth has fostered dysfunctional romances.
  8. Tapping 100% of your potential power depends on shouting the right syllables in a high-pitched voice. Something like "a-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah" followed by an emphatic "watah!" while hitting your opponent is sure to put the massive hurt on.
  9. To follow the previous point, announcing the poetic name of your deadly moves makes them more effective. For example, hitting 20 opponents and then saying "North Star 1000 crack fist" is sure to explode all opponents standing in your way.
  10. Yuria must be an extraordinary harp player because that harp she plays is enormous. Most regular humans wouldn't even be able to reach all the strings. Kenshiro must love her because of her supernormal powers to play strings out of reach. It sure isn't for her musical talent. She apparently can't hide her mood since she plays melodies in a minor key when she's sad and a major key when she's feeling more hopeful.
  11. Shin apparently suffers from the same problem as the James Bond bad guys. You'd think that after the first few times of Ken destroying his minions, he'd send the full forces to crush him, but that's not the case. Rather, he likes having his minions fall to Ken one-by-one and then angrily swear that next time Ken will certainly be stopped.

Despite all these points, I'm still thoroughly enjoying the series. There's something gratifying about the cheesiness and animated bad-guy head explosions. And hearing the predictable "you don't know that you are already dead" hasn't gotten old even after 17 episodes. I'm sure I'll find more quirks (and plot problems) with the cartoon, but I plan on finishing all 152 episodes anyway.