Fist of the North Star

Fist of the North Star
Hokuto no Ken tankobon.jpg
Volume 1 of the Japanese Jump Comics edition of Hokuto no Ken, as published on March 9, 1984.
(Hokuto no Ken)
GenreMartial arts,[1] post-apocalyptic[2]
Written byBuronson
Illustrated byTetsuo Hara
Published byShueisha
English publisher
Viz Media (1989, 1995–1997)
Gutsoon! Entertainment (2003–2004)
ImprintJump Comics
MagazineWeekly Shōnen Jump
Original runSeptember 13, 1983August 8, 1988
Volumes27 (List of volumes)
Anime television series
Directed byToyoo Ashida
Written byToshiki Inoue
Music byNozomi Aoki
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
Original networkFuji TV
English network
Original run October 11, 1984 March 5, 1987
Episodes109 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Hokuto no Ken 2
Directed byToyoo Ashida
Music byNozomi Aoki
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
Discotek Media
Original networkFuji TV
Original run March 13, 1987 February 18, 1988
Episodes43 (List of episodes)
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

Fist of the North Star (Japanese: 北斗の拳, Hepburn: Hokuto no Ken, lit. "Fist of the Big Dipper")[a] is a Japanese manga series written by Buronson and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. Serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1983 to 1988, the 245 chapters were initially collected in 27 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. Set in a post-apocalyptic world that has been destroyed by a nuclear war, the story centers on a warrior named Kenshiro, the successor of a deadly martial art known as Hokuto Shinken, which gives him the ability to kill most adversaries from within through the use of the human body's secret vital points, often resulting in an exceptionally violent and gory death. Kenshiro dedicates his life to fighting against the various gangs, bandits and warlords who threaten the lives of the weak and innocent, as well as rival martial artists, including his own "brothers" from the same school.

Fist of the North Star was adapted into two anime television series produced by Toei Animation, which together aired on Fuji TV and its affiliates from 1984 through 1988, comprising a combined total of 152 episodes. It has since expanded into a media franchise, including several anime films, a live-action film, OVAs, video games, and a series of spin-offs centering on other characters from the original story. It also has a number of video games and pachinko machines produced by Sega Sammy. As of 2018, Fist of the North Star is one of the top twenty highest-grossing media franchises of all time, estimated to have generated more than $20 billion in total franchise revenue.

The original manga was published in English by Viz Communications as a monthly comic book, and later by Gutsoon! Entertainment as a series of colorized graphic novels, although neither translation was completed. English adaptations of other Fist of the North Star media have been licensed to other companies, including the TV series and the 1986 film.

Manga synopsis

Part 1

In the 1990s, civilization was ruined as a result of a worldwide nuclear war and many creatures died out. However, mankind survived and entered an age where the strong ruled over the weak, as the few survivors fought over whatever supply of food, women and uncontaminated water remained in the wasteland of the world.

Kenshiro, successor to the ancient assassination art of Hokuto Shinken, wanders into a village in search of water when he is caught in a trap and imprisoned by the local defense force. In prison, he befriends a young orphaned girl named Lin who nursed him back to health. When the village is attacked by a biker gang and Lin is taken hostage by their leader, Ken breaks free from his cell and rescues Lin, defeating the gang leader with his deadly martial art technique. Kenshiro leaves the village and continues his journey, now accompanied by a young boy named Bat. He becomes involved against the King organization after witnessing the many atrocities they have committed. As he infiltrates the gang's stronghold in the city of Southern Cross, he finds out that the leader of King is his old nemesis, Shin, the successor of the Nanto Koshūken style, the man who engraved the seven scars on Kenshiro's chest and kidnapped his fiancée Yuria. Kenshiro emerges victorious against Shin, only to find out from Shin that Yuria is no longer with him, having taken her own life in despair by jumping off the roof of Shin's palace.

After Shin's downfall, Kenshiro settles in an oasis where he is reunited with Lin, who wandered off searching for Kenshiro after leaving her village. Having acquired a reputation as a saviour after defeating other organizations such as the Golan army and Jackal's gang, Kenshiro is hired by a certain village to serve as their guardian against the Fang Clan, a group of bandits who are terrorizing the locals. With the help of village leader Mamiya, a female warrior who bears a striking resemblance to his lost love Yuria, as well as fellow guardian Rei, the successor to the Nanto Suichōken style, Kenshiro succeeds in vanquishing the Fangs.

However, Kenshiro learns that his three former brothers-in-training in the ways of Hokuto Shinken are still alive and sets off on a journey to find them. He finds out that Jagi, the second youngest, seeks vengeance against him after being disfigured in a past altercation. Jagi is quickly eliminated and Kenshiro goes on to search for the second eldest, a gentle healer named Toki who surrendered the Hokuto Shinken succession after becoming terminally ill due to exposure to nuclear fallout. Kenshiro finds out that Toki is being kept prisoner in the dungeon city of Cassandra, which is controlled by a ruthless warlord known as the Ken-Oh (King of the Fist), who seeks to conquer the post-apocalyptic world by imprisoning everyone who could oppose him. Ken-Oh is in fact the eldest of the four Hokuto brothers, Raoh, who has broken the law of Hokuto Shinken by killing his master after refusing to surrender the succession. After freeing Toki, Kenshiro returns to Mamiya's village to defend it from Raoh, but the long gruelling battle ends in a stalemate and the two warriors are forced to settle their differences another day. Rei is fatally wounded as a result of a previous battle with Raoh and he spends the last few days of his life tracking down his nemesis Juda, successor of Nanto Kōkakuken, who once tormented Mamiya in the past. After defeating Yuda, Rei goes on to die, at peace with himself.

With Raoh still recovering from his wounds, another warlord, the Nanto Hōōken successor Souzer, proclaims himself as the Holy Emperor, having enslaved children in order to construct a mausoleum for himself and his deceased master. Kenshiro joins a resistance movement led by the Nanto Hakuroken successor Shew, who sacrified his eyesight in the past to rescue a young Kenshiro. When Shew is captured and executed by Souzer, Kenshiro confronts Souzer and foils his ambitions. With Souzer now gone, Raoh recovers from his wounds and goes on to resume his reign of conquest. Toki, who is on the verge of dying, uses his remaining strength to challenge Raoh as part of a childhood promise they made to each other, but is ultimately no match for him. Raoh can't bring himself to land a killing blow on his own brother, and spare Toki's life. With Toki no longer in condition to fight, Kenshiro is left as the only one who can defeat Raoh.

The Last General of Nanto appears and decides to side with Kenshiro in order to defeat Raoh, sending out her five guardians, the Goshasei, after Raoh. Kenshiro and Raoh both learn that the General's true identity is Yuria, who was rescued by the Goshasei after her attempted suicide in Southern Cross and was hidden away. After a series of numerous events and battles, Kenshiro emerges victorious over Raoh and he is finally reunited with Yuria. However, the victory is bittersweet, as Yuria, having been affected by radiation sickness, has only a few years left to live. Kenshiro leaves his friends and spends the final few years of Yuria's life with her.

Part 2

The peace that follows Raoh's downfall does not last long and the world returns to turmoil several years later. Kenshiro rejoins his former traveling companions, Bat and Lin (now grown into adulthood), in their battle against an oppressive Empire, fighting under the banner of the Hokuto Army. The Hokuto Army learns that the Empire has been taken over by an usurper named Jakoh, who has imprisoned the Celestial Empress and has been blackmailing her bodyguard, the Gento Kōken successor Falco, to do his evil bidding. The Hokuto Army fight their way into the central capital and free the Empress, who is in fact Lin's long-lost twin sister Rui. With Rui now freed, Falco turns on Jakoh and kills him, foiling his ambitions.

However, Rin is taken captive by the remnant of Jakoh's forces and is sent off to the mysterious Kingdom of Shura, a brutal land of warriors ruled by three overlords who have all mastered the ways of Hokuto Ryūken, a martial art which branched off from the same clan alongside Hokuto Shinken into the ways of darkness. Kenshiro defeats Han, the third-ranking overlord, who reveals that the Kingdom of Shura was Kenshiro's birthplace. Moreover, Kenshiro also learns that Hyou, the second overlord, is his biological older brother, who lost his memories of Kenshiro after being separated as children and was corrupted into the ways of evil. Following a long gruelling battle, Hyou recovers his memories and reconciles with his long-lost brother. Kenshiro seeks out the highest-ranking and most powerful of the three overlords, Kaioh, who is in fact Raoh's biological older brother. Kaioh plans a conquest to rule the post-apocalyptic world in the name of evil by wiping out the followers of Hokuto Shinken. With Hyou's help, Kenshiro uncovers the sealed testament of the Hokuto Shinken founder, Shuken, which holds the secret to overcoming Kaioh's ultimate technique. Kenshiro emerges victorious over Kaioh and rescues Lin, leaving her under Bat's care.

Part 3

Kenshiro then goes off on various adventures with Raoh's orphaned son Ryu. They run into a city terrorized by the soldiers of a former horse handler under Raoh, Kouketsu. Citizens and even a powerful former general under Raoh named Balga are also brought to heel through the kidnapping of their children. Kenshiro and Ryu free the children and defeat Kouketsu and his minions.

The next major adventure takes Kenshiro and Ryu to the kingdom of Sava, ruled by King Assam. Assam is deathly ill, but is hiding it because his three sons are constantly fighting over the succession, neither willing to relinquish the right to the throne. Assam asks Kenshiro to kill his sons because he realizes if his three sons live, his kingdom will be divided into three kingdoms and peace will be cut short. Kenshiro instead informs the three sons that he himself will be taking the throne and challenges them to fight him for it. After being defeated badly by Kenshiro they understand their own selfishness and how much it hurt their father. At the same time Assam decides to attack the barbarians by himself even knowing it is likely a death sentence. The three sons reconcile and seek their father out. They rescue him, but the eldest Kai, is mortally wounded, by a spear thrown into his back. All three brothers hide this from their father, not wanting him to grieve. Assam eventually dies and the second and third son try to relinquish the throne to each other, but the throne eventually goes to the second eldest.

Kenshiro tracks Kai's killer and discovers that it is the nearby Kingdom of Blanka that was behind it. At the same time, the youngest of the three brothers, Satora, is traveling to the city of Blanka to reunite with his lover, the princess of Blanka. Satora is shocked to hear the pacifistic nation of Blanka is behind the murder of his brother but they discover Blanka is now ruled by a man named Baran. He has duped the country into thinking he has godly powers by using Hokuto Shinken taught to him by Raoh. He reveals that he chose this path after his beloved sister died after refusing to take medicine, instead choosing to put her fate in "god's hands." After a battle, Baran is defeated and peace returns to Blanka. Kenshiro leaves Ryu with General Balga and ventures off alone once again.

Kenshiro goes to visit Yuria's grave and there he meets Mamiya again. Mamiya tells Kenshiro that Bat and Lin got married but Bat was unable to accept Rin's love knowing that Lin loves Kenshiro. So Bat wipes Lin's memories in order to allow her to start anew, taking her to places significant to Lin and Kenshiro. Kenshiro also has his memory wiped by the spirit of Yuria. Bat finds this fortunate because this meant both Kenshiro and Lin would start with blank slates. Meanwhile, a villain named Bolge appears, seeking revenge against Kenshiro for blinding him in a fight a long time ago. Bat, not wanting anyone to interfere with Kenshiro and Lin's budding relationship, brands himself with Kenshiro's seven scars and fights in his place, only to be crucified by Bolge and tortured to near-death. Kenshiro goes to rescue Bat and eventually recovers his memory enabling him to easily kill Bolge. Bat is mortally wounded and tries to drive Rin into Kenshiro's arms by lying about who he is, but discovers Lin has regained her memory. Nevertheless Bat, with his final words, encourages Rin to go with Kenshiro and she agrees but after Bat dies, Lin refuses to leave professing her love for him. Lin later discovers that Kenshiro has used Hokuto Shinken to save Bat's life and cries in happiness. Kenshiro continues his role as the post-apocalyptic savior, defending the weak and fighting off the greedy and violent, as the world finally begins to recover from the nuclear war.

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