Further information: Hokuto no Ken episodes

Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳, Hokuto no Ken) was first adaptated into a weekly anime series by Toei Animation. The series aired on Fuji Television from October 4, 1984 to March 5, 1987 and was given the subtitle of Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu (世紀末救世主伝説, "Legend of the Century's End Savior") following episode 22.[1] It was immediately followed by a sequel series, titled Hokuto no Ken 2, which aired from March 13, 1987 to February 18, 1988. A combined total of 152 episodes were produced for the two series. Reruns are aired in Japan on the satellite television network Animax.

The violent content of the TV series is toned down considerably compared to the original manga, with much of the gore being discolored via desaturation. Like many manga-based anime series, filler material was added to prevent the series from getting ahead of its source material.

The Hokuto no Ken portion of the series spans four major story arcs that follows the manga's plotline from the beginning and up until chapter 136 (prior to the time skip). Each story arc (or chapters, as they referred within the show) spans a certain number of episodes each adapting a portion of the original manga. The first chapter is based on chapters 1-25 of the original manga, but changes the order of events so that Ken's battle with Shin is left for last, turning all the other villains into his subordinates. The rest of the series follows the manga's plotline more closely. The Hokuto no Ken 2 portion takes place after the timeskip and adapts the storyline of the Celestial Emperor and Asura arcs of the manga. The post-Asura chapters were not adapted for the series.

The entire series has been collected on DVD in Japan, in a boxed collection known as the Super Premium Box[2] and in 26 individually released discs containing 5-6 episodes per volume.[3] A three volume DVD series, the Kyūkyoku Retsuden series, contains highlight episodes of the show.[4] Prior to the DVD release of the series, Toei released three hour-long compilation episodes on VHS composed of re-edited footage from the series. Toei is currently planning an HD Remaster Edition of the Hokuto no Ken DVD Box Set in commemoration of the franchise's 25th anniversary. In addition to containing all 152 episodes on 26 discs, the set will also contain two additional discs of bonus content: the first bonus disc will contain all three episodes of the Hokuto no Ken Digest Edition previously released only on VHS. The second bonus disc will contain credit-less opening and closing animation, the original preview ad for the series, the first episode of Hokuto no Ken dubbed in Beijing dialect and interviews with the staff and cast of the show. The set will also come packaged with a deluxe booklet and a reproduction of a promotional Hokuto no Ken poster issued prior to the show's first airing. A Limited Edition version of the box set will also come packaged with a Kenshiro and Kokuoh figure by Kaiyodo. The box set was released on March 28, 2008.[5]

The first 36 episodes were licensed to Manga Entertainment and released in English dubbed and subtitled formats on VHS and DVD. Manga Entertainment initially released the series in eight VHS volumes spanning only 24 episodes in 1999 and later released all 36 episodes in five DVD volumes in 2003.[6] The English dub of the show features a new soundtrack provided by Reinforced Records and voice acting by Animaze. The original opening and ending sequences were replaced by in-house versions produced by Manga Entertainment with music by Mike Egan. The dubbed version aired on Showtime Beyond in the US and on the Sci-Fi Channel in the UK. Manga Entertainment Australia never secured the rights to release the TV Series in Australia for unknown reasons. On May 2008, Toei released English-subtitled episodes of the TV series on the internet.[7] The episodes are available on IGN's pay-to-download service Direct2Drive.[8]

Manga Entertainment's treatment of the series has been criticized by reviewers, particularly at their decision to replace the original Japanese soundtrack with their own music for the English dub. A reviewer of DVD Vision Japan stated that the English voice acting was "terrible, even for an early dub" and compared David Lucas' performance as Shin unfavorably to his role as Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop. The same reviewer also states that the music by Mike Egan is mediocre.[9] Mike Toole of Anime Jump proclaimed that the drum n' bass soundtrack is "occasionally nice, but usually just obtrusive".[10] Chadwick Ngan of EX Anime wrote that the "American voice actors' efforts are commendable" and that the new opening and ending themes "aren't bad, but nothing to get excited about either."[11]

Notes and References Edit

  1. "北斗の拳 (official Toei site)" (in Japanese). Retrieved on 2007-09-01.
  2. "北斗の拳 DVD BOX" (in Japanese). Retrieved on 2007-08-04.
  3. "北斗の拳" (in Japanese). Retrieved on 2007-08-04.
  4. "北斗の拳 究極列伝" (in Japanese). Retrieved on 2007-08-04.
  5. "「北斗の拳」DVD-BOX発売" (in Japanese). Retrieved on 2007-10-19.
  6. "MANGA ENTERTAINMENT HISTORY". html. Retrieved on 2007-09-02.
  7. "Toei OnDemand - Fist of the North Star".
  8. "Direct2Drive: Fist of the North Star".
  9. "Fist of The North Star Vol 1 DVD Review. DVD VISION JAPAN (DVD VISION)". Retrieved on 2007-09-02.
  10. "Anime Jump (Fist of the North Star vols. 1-3)". Retrieved on 2007-09-02.
  11. "EX (FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, THE SERIES VOLUME 3)". Retrieved on 2007-09-02.
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