Hokuto no Ken – Raoh Gaiden Ten no Haoh (Ep 01)
Based on the manga by Youkow Osada, the setting starts of in a gritty deception of the world after being destroyed in a nuclear war. With no-one to restore order and to police people, thugs and gangs begin to form a faction together using brute force as their law, to take anything and everything they want from food and drink, to women and lives. Through the darkness of despair and suffering, one man stands forth ready to change the corrupt world with a view to turn it back to its former glory with his own fists.
Hokuto no Ken, a name synonymous with action, blood, gore and violence back in the early 80’s is now being retold, but from a different perspective. Better known in the west as Fist of the North Star, we no longer follow the tale of Kenshiro but of his adopted older brother Raoh, following his life and how he claims his rule over people as the best way to save the world. Raoh himself is a giant of a man and is accompanied by two sidekicks, Reina and Soga, both skilled martial artists in their own right that believe and follow in Raoh’s footsteps.
In this episode Raoh, seeks a place to call home and finds a palace which is currently occupied by The Demon King. Earlier on Reina and Soga infiltrated the castle under the guise of being a musician and dancer to serve the King, stalling for Raoh to arrive. A battle commences between Raoh and the Demon King for the right of the castle and indeed, the rule of the underworld.
Raoh is a skilled and powerful martial artist that has learned the lethal art of Hokuto Shinken, an ability to channel energy and to manipulate muscles, blood flow and cells within the human body for good or evil through 708 secret acupuncture points. This allows him to control his own body with superhuman strength, speed and agility as well as being a formidable foe, of which he illustrates earlier on by dispatching a group of thugs that threaten him by simply picking up their motorcycle and scything them into pieces.
This series is known for its gore and it doesn’t disappoint with decapitations, limbs being torn apart and plenty of blood. This is a dark age that reflects the mood and fears of people that are living through a nuclear war. The whole location would be best described as a playground for thugs like Mad Max, of which the manga writer Yoshiyuki Okamura is a fan of, resulting in many empty and derelict buildings and barren landscapes.
The art direction then is very much like its predecessors of which many would deem very outdated and gritty. However fans of the series have never known anything different other than the smoother animation and more attention to detail with the landscapes. The OP called “Nageki no Endless ” by jealkb isn’t that much to write home about, as is the ED called “Namida no Kawa” by minaâ˜†muse but then this was never a series to be known for them.
The episode itself as very much an introduction to the series with the main characters and the destructive power Raoh has at his disposal. In fact the way he keeps on describing his fists is quite comical, but then I wouldn’t argue with him. You can see though how the series will progress as Raoh becomes a dictator to cast judgement upon those who oppose his views but this episode alone does not do enough to entice new fans to the series unless you enjoy action and violence. Speaking of action and violence, there is a taster of things to come in Hokuto no Ken as within minutes of the episode starting you see an innocent man get his head sliced in half with plenty of gracious blood splattering everywhere. This is not for the feint of heart.
In all it will be interesting to see how this series shapes without Kenshiro as the main lead but if you were never a fan of this genre of anime, then there is nothing here to make you think about it again.