Um No, Mad Max Isn't Ripping Off Fist of the North Star

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Mad Max: Fury Road is finally coming out in Japan. And someone people think the movie looks like it’s aping the iconic manga and anime Fist of the North Star. Wait. Really? Really.

Even manga artist Nawoki Karasawa seemed surprised by this, tweeting, “Ri-right now, at work, all of my assistants asked me, ‘Why does Mad Max look like Fist of the North Star?’ I was asked this!!”

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His tweet was retweeted over two thousand times.

So, what’s the deal? Why do some people in Japan think this? Well... Fist of the North Star is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which resources are scarce. Mad Max: Fury Road is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which resources are scarce. Some characters do wear vaguely similar clothing. There are importance differences! Lots of them. One has more cars, and the other has insane punches and AH-TATATATATATATATAs!

Karasawa, of course, knows his Mad Max and Fist of the North Star history. The first Mad Max movie was released in late 1979 in Japan, and its sequel followed in 1981. Fist of the North Star didn’t debut until 1983, and apparently, it was pegged as a Mad-Max-meets-Bruce-Lee style manga.

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But on Japanese site Togech, there are tweets with people saying that Mad Max looks like Fist of the North Star or even claiming that the manga inspired the movies. Of course, there are people saying this. Because, the internet. That’s why.

Folks who know movies and manga and history have been pointing out that, no, Mad Max isn’t copying Fist of the North Star. Twitter user takumitoxin did a nice comparison, showing how Mad Max appears to be an inspiration for Fist of the North Star.

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[via takumitoxin]

When the original Mad Max movies first came out in Japan, they were popular and influential. Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama did a Mad Max parody in one issue of his Dr. Slump manga, which ran between 1981 and 1984.

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[Photos: comicgigi]

Togech points out that the confusion could be generational—that, the original Mad Max movies came out a long time ago, and Japanese people in their teens and 20s, who weren’t alive at the time, might not be as familiar with them.

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You say, Fist of the North Star also debuted in the 1980s. True! But because it’s such an iconic manga and anime, younger Japanese people would still be passively familiar with it, even without trying. Maybe they saw the characters in an ad or mentioned on TV, or perhaps, a friend or family member was into the manga or anime. There’s a cultural fluency. Recent game releases and collectible figures have also helped Fist of the North Star stay in the Japanese gaming public’s imagination.

Top image by Kotaku (Images Anidb and Warner Bros.)

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter@Brian_Ashcraft.

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Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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