Fist of the North Star (Japanese animated film, original uncensored version; 1986)
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|Fist of the North Star (1986)|
|Still from the theatrical trailer, showing a scene that was censored in later versions of the film.|
Hokuto no Ken (北斗の拳, "Fist of the Northern Ladle"), known to English speakers as Fist of the North Star, was a Japanese comic book that was serialized from 1983 to 1988. Spanning 245 chapters in 27 volumes, the series told the story of Kenshiro, a martial artist who wanders a post-apocalyptic Earth while fighting those who oppress what is left of humankind, as he faces a continuing battle to maintain his status as the successor of the Hokuto Shinken assassination art.
The manga became incredibly famous and is credited with pioneering the fighting genre in Japanese media, so it's no surprise that it has received numerous adaptations over the years, most notably a 152-episode animated television series that ran from 1984 to 1988 in Japan. However, the story also received an animated film adaptation in 1986. The film was produced by Toei Animation, who also produced the 1984 animated series; because of this, the film reuses the TV show's art direction and voice cast. This release took major liberties with the manga's plot, mainly in terms of the order of events, how they unfold, and the roles of the story's characters. However, the film, unlike the 1984 TV series, retained the manga's violent content... at least in the theatrical release.
When the film was released on home media, Toei Animation was forced to heavily censor the film's content following large amounts of complaints surrounding its graphic imagery; many instances of gore were either blurred, heavily tinted, or (in one case) replaced with a discretion cut. They also heavily modified the outcome of the final battle, when Lin interrupts the fight before Raoh can kill Kenshiro at the request of the film's director (in the theatrical release, Kenshiro is knocked unconscious before Raoh attempts to finish him off and is interrupted; both warriors are conscious in the home media release). While both endings have been made available to the public over the years, the uncensored theatrical release has never resurfaced since its 1986 screening, and it is rumored that Toei had destroyed its master prints. However, this is currently unconfirmed; Toei has not yet made any official statements on the matter.
Note that despite the film's heavy censorship, a noticeable majority of its gore remains uncensored (most notably Jagi's death); aside from those that feature bloodshed only, these scenes occur very rapidly and are not entirely discernible due to their length, despite most of the film's censored scenes meeting the same criteria. Furthermore, the blur effects used for most altered scenes do not mask all of their gore, with numerous blurred scenes still containing enough visible entrails to give viewers an idea of how they were originally animated. Given that the film's censorship is identical in all re-releases of the film (save for the Italian VHS release, as noted below), it is unknown why it was altered in such a selective manner.
Meanwhile, some Italian VHS releases of the film (as well as certain trailers) contain uncensored versions of several gore scenes in the film, all of which have been uploaded to YouTube. Out of all the scenes that were censored, the currently recovered ones are as follows:
|Shin brands Kenshiro with his signature Ursa Major scar pattern by ramming his fingers into Kenshiro's chest.||Tinted blue.||Italian VHS|
|After a thug is hit with Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken technique, he falls to the ground in front of Bat. Suddenly, his head explodes and his neck stump sprays blood onto a terrified Bat while the corpse shoots upright and violently twitches.||Tinted gray||Italian VHS|
|During Raoh's procession as the self-proclaimed Ken-Oh (King of the Fist), Galf (the procession director) crushes a man's head for chanting off-tempo.||The death footage itself is replaced with a discretionary landscape shot.||Italian VHS|
|Rei cleaves a thug's head in five pieces using his Nanto Suicho Ken (South Star Swan Fist) technique.||Blurred||Theatrical trailer|