Buronson and Tetsuo Hara’s post-apocalyptic fighting series Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken) is an anime and manga mainstay. Starring the overclocked Kenshiro and a whole roster of absolute beasts, the series delivers intense combat and gory fatalities. It’s also conquered the world of film, stage, games, and VTubers. (Good for you, Mr. Heart!) But some adaptations are pretty out of left field, even by this show’s standards.
From sidekick sagas to adorable spinoffs, and even a game you might own — have you ever seen these adaptations?
DD Fist of the North Star
In the world of anime, you either die a two-cour series, or you live long enough to see yourself become a gag anime. This is, naturally, the latter. The adorable manga version was announced in 2008, to celebrate 25 years of Buronson and Hara’s epic work. Finally beginning in 2010, it offered a new spin on the story.
In DD‘s alternate universe, the nuclear war of 199X never happened — leaving Kenshiro, Raoh, and Toki with not a lot to do. So they get jobs at a local convenience store, where they work hard and fight each other and continue to crush on Yuria. It’s weirdly cute, right down to the high speed cover of “Ai wo Torimodose.”
Legend of the Century’s End Thugs
What would Fist of the North Star be without its gory deaths? And would would endure those gory deaths if we didn’t have a constant stream of Mad Max-esque thugs? A 2017 stage play showed these troopers some love by focusing up on them for a change. The nameless goons get names, and we find out what it’s like to live among their ranks of Raoh’s army and fight for what they believe in. You know, before Kenshiro turns them all into blood piñatas.
Fans even got a hand in the play’s production. A Twitter campaign let people vote on what nonsense phrases the thugs should scream as they died. And while Kenshiro may be starring in his own musical stage adaptation this year, we all know who got there first.
Black Belt for the Sega Master System
If you’ve ever played the 1986 game Black Belt, you may have noticed some similarities between it and Fist of the North Star. A martial artist rescuing his girlfriend from his rival, while exploding thugs with his fists along the way, has a certain vibe to it. And that’s for good reason — Black Belt was originally a Fist of the North Star game in Japan.
This wasn’t so much a matter of alteration for alteration’s sake as it was… not having the license. In other words, they could bring the game over, but they couldn’t use the character. That’s why Kenshiro became Riki, his rival became Wang, and the whole thing got re-skinned. But the spirit lives on in those fatalities.
Fortunately, Fist of the North Star is now supremely gettable — meaning you can watch it on multiple anime streaming sites right now.