Fist of the North Star
|Fist of the North Star|
Volume 1 of the Japanese language Jump Comics edition of Hokuto no Ken, published on March 1984
(Hokuto no Ken)
|Genre||Martial arts, Science fiction, Post-apocalyptic|
|Illustrated by||Tetsuo Hara|
|English publisher|| Viz Media (1989, 1995-1997)
Gutsoon! Entertainment (2003-2004)
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Original run||1983 – 1988|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Toyoo Ashida|
|Music by||Nozomi Aoki|
|Network||Fuji TV, Animax|
|English network|| Sci-Fi Channel Channel 4
|Original run||October 4, 1984 – March 5, 1987|
|Anime television series|
|Hokuto no Ken 2|
|Directed by||Toyoo Ashida|
|Music by||Nozomi Aoki|
|Original run||March 13, 1987 – February 18, 1988|
Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳 Hokuto no Ken ) is a Japanese manga series written by Buronson and drawn by Tetsuo Hara that was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1983 to 1988, spanning 245 chapters, which were initially collected in a 27-volume tankōbon edition by Shueisha. Set in a post-apocalyptic world that has been destroyed by a nuclear war, the story centers around a warrior named Kenshiro, the successor of a deadly martial art style 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 ravagers who threaten the lives of the weak and innocent, as well as rival martial artists, including his own "brothers" from the same clan.
The manga was adapted into to anime TV series produced by Toei Animation which aired on Fuji TV affiliates from 1984 through 1988, comprising a combined total of 152 episodes. Several films, OVAs, and video games had been produced as well, including a series of spin-offs centering around other characters from the original story.
The original manga was republished in English by Viz Communications as a monthly comic book, and later by Gutsoon! Entertainment as a series of colorized graphic novels, although neither translations were completed. English adaptations of other Fist of the North Star media have also been licensed to other companies, including the TV series and the original 1986 film.
In "199X," civilization was ruined as a result of a worldwide nuclear war and many creatures died out. In spite of these events, mankind survived and entered an age where the strong ruled over the weak, as the few survivors fought over whatever supply of food and uncontaminated water remained in the wasteland of the world.
Kenshiro, the rightful 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 by defeating the leader with his deadly martial art technique. Kenshiro leaves the village and continues his journey, now accompanied by a young thief named Bat. He becomes involved against the KING organization after witnessing the many atrocities they've 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, the Nanto Seiken master Shin, the man who engraved the seven scars on Kenshiro's chest and kidnapped his fiancee Yuria. Kenshiro emerges victorious in his rematch with Shin, only to find out that Yuria is no longer with Shin.
Kenshiro continues his journey and goes on to fight several more enemy organizations. After being reunited with Lin and meeting new allies such as the woman warrior Mamiya and the Nanto Suichōken successor Rei, Kenshiro learns that his three former brothers-in-training in the ways of Hokuto Shinken are still alive. The third brother, Jagi, a violent thug who sought to torment Kenshiro after losing the Hokuto Shinken succession to him, is quickly eliminated. Kenshiro goes on to search for the second brother, a gentle healer named Toki, and learns that he is being kept prisoner in the dungeon city of Cassandra. After rescuing Toki, Kenshiro learns that Raoh, the eldest of the four brothers, has become a ruthless warlord known as Ken-oh and is now seeking to conquer the postwar world. Kenshiro goes on to challenge Raoh, but the long grueling 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, the successor of Nanto Kōkakuken and the man who once tormented Mamiya in the past. After defeating Juda, Rei goes on to die, at peace with himself.
With Raoh still recovering from his wounds, another warlord, the Nanto Hōōken successor Souther (Thouzer in other translations), proclaims himself as the Holy Emperor. Kenshiro joins a resistance movement led by an old benefactor, the Nanto Hakuroken successor Shu. When Shu is captured and executed by Souther, Kenshiro confronts Souther and foils his ambitions. With Souther now gone, Raoh recovers from his wounds and goes on to resume his reign of conquest. Toki, who is on the verge of dying as a result of a terminal illness, challenges the newly-revived Raoh, but is ultimately no match for him. Toki eventually passes away from his disease, leaving Kenshiro as the only man capable of stopping 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, Kenshiro's missing fiancee. 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 has been affected by a terminal illness and had very little time left to live. However Raoh, feeling sympathy for her, manipulates one of Yuria's pressure points and extends her lifespan by several years. Kenshiro leaves his friends and spends the final few years of Yuria's life with her.
The peace that followed 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, in their battle against an oppressive Empire, fighting under the banner of the Hokuto Army. The Hokuto Army rescues the rightful Empress Rui, who is also Rin's estranged twin sister, foiling the plot of the usurper Jakoh, who was blackmailing Rui's guardian, the Gento Kōken successor Falco, to do his evil bidding.
However, Lin is taken captive by the remnant of Jakoh's forces and is sent off to the mysterious Kingdom of Shura, a 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. Kenshiro defeats Han, the third-ranking overlord, who reveals that the Kingdom of Shura was Kenshiro's birthplace. Moreover, Kenshiro also learns that Hyoh, the second overlord, is his biological older brother. After a grueling battle, Hyoh and Ken reconcile their differences and Kenshiro seeks out the highest-ranking and most powerful of the three overlords, Kaioh, who is Raoh's biological older brother. The final battle concludes with Kenshiro defeating Kaioh and Kaioh making his peace with Hyoh before both of them pass away.
Afterward, Kenshiro rescues Lin and leaves her under Bat's care as he goes on an adventure with Raoh's orphaned son Ryu. After his adventure with Ryu, Kenshiro is forced to help out Bat and Lin one last time when a villain from Kenshiro's past named Bolge threaten their happiness. Kenshiro defeats Bolge and leaves the two to live a life of happiness. The series ends as Kenshiro does what he does best: protecting weak and innocent.
Tetsuo Hara has stated that he came up with the idea of Hokuto no Ken from his editor Nobuhiko Horie. According to Hara, Horie suggested to him that he should draw a manga about "a martial artist who destroys his opponents by striking their acupressure points" based on Hara's aspiration to draw a manga about martial arts and his knowledge of pressure points. At the time, Hara was having trouble breaking into the market, as his first series, the Iron Don Quixote, was canceled ten weeks after its debut. A prototype version of Hokuto no Ken was published as a one shot story in the April 1983 issue of Fresh Jump, which was followed by Hokuto no Ken II, a second one-shot published in the June 1983 issue. Both stories are collected in the second tankōbon volume of Tetsu no Don Quixote.
The two one-shots were well received in the reader's surveys of Fresh Jump and Tetsuo Hara was commissioned to turn Hokuto no Ken into a weekly series. Buronson was assigned to work with him as writer for the serialized version. The storyline was revamped, with the 1980s present-day setting in the original version replaced by a Mad Max-inspired post apocalyptic future world, and the protagonist Kenshiro, originally a high school student in Hara's earlier story, became an older and more stoic hero inspired by Bruce Lee. Originally, Tetsuo Hara and Buronson were contracted to do Fist of the North Star for a three-year run, but due to its popularity and the publisher's demand, it was extended to a five-year run.
Hokuto no Ken premiered in Japan in the Weekly Shōnen Jump in Issue 41 of 1983 and was serialized weekly until Issue 35 of 1988, lasting 245 chapters. The original collected volumes or tankōbon of Hokuto no Ken were originally published under Shueisha's Jump Comics imprint and spans 27 volumes. During the 1990s, Shueisha reprinted Hokuto no Ken in 15 hardcover aizōban editions, as well as 15 corresponding economy-sized bunko editions. A 14-volume Kanzenban edition was published by Shogakukan in 2006 under the Big Comics Selection imprint, featuring the original water-colored artwork from the Weekly Shōnen Jump serialization. It has also been released in 27 pay-to-download e-book editions.
Viz Communications published the first sixteen chapters of Fist of the North Star in English as an eight-issue monthly comic in 1989, which were later reprinted in a single graphic novel collection in 1995. During the same year, Viz resumed publication of the series as a monthly comic until 1997, lasting eighteen issues (adapting chapters 17-44), which were subsequently republished in three additional graphic novel volumes. A second English adaptation was published by Gutsoon! Entertainment under the title of Fist of the North Star: Master Edition,which featured newly colorized artwork, but retained the original right-to-left orientation. Each volume from the fourth one and onward featured new cover illustrations by Tetsuo Hara that were made specifically for the Master Edition. The Master Edition was published from 2002 to 2003, lasting only nine volumes, due to Gutsoon!'s withdrawal from the North American market.
Spin-off works 
In 2001, Tetsuo Hara began working on a Fist of the North Star prequel titled Fist of the Blue Sky (蒼天の拳 Sōten no Ken ), which was serialized in Weekly Comic Bunch. Set during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1935, the story stars Hokuto Shinken predecessor and Kenshiro's namesake, Kenshiro Kasumi. An English adaptation of Fist of the Blue Sky was published in North America by Gutsoon! Entertainment in the now-defunct manga anthology Raijin Comics. Four collected volumes were published before the company went out of business.
A series of Fist of the North Star spinoffs began to be published in the Weekly Comic Bunch and Big Comics Superior later. This lineup of titles has been dubbed the Hokuto Gaiden (北斗外伝) series, as each title focuses on a particular supporting character from the original manga. The following titles had been published so far:
- Legends of the Dark Kings: A Fist of the North Star Story (天の覇王 北斗の拳 ラオウ外伝 Ten no Haō - Hokuto no Ken Raō Gaiden ) by Youkow Osada. - A series that was serialized in Weekly Comics Bunch featuring Reina and Souga from The Legends of the True Savior movie series. All 42 chapters (as well as a two-part epilogue published sometime after the series' conclusion) were collected in five tankōbon volumes. It was adapted into a 13-episode anime series which aired on Tokyo MX in 2008. The anime adaptation was licensed to Sentai Filmworks and a subtitle-only DVD, dual language DVD and Blu-ray set of the complete series are currently available for release.
- Fist of the North Star Yuria's Story: The Merciful Mother Star (北斗の拳 ユリア外伝 慈母の星 Hokuto no Ken Yuria Gaiden - Jibo no Hoshi ) by Ayumi Kasai. Serialized at Big Comics Superior in three parts that ran from March 10 to April 14, 2006 and six subsequent chapters from March 9 to June 8, 2007. A single tankōbon volume was released.
- Bloody Wolf's Darkness Blue: Fist of the North Star Rei Side Story (蒼黒の餓狼 -北斗の拳 レイ外伝- Sōkoku no Garō Hokuto no Ken Rei Gaiden ) by Yasuyuki Nekoi - Rei Gaiden originally began as two separate one-shot stories that were published in the March 22 and December 8, 2006 issues of Weekly Comic Bunch. The one-shot version of the manga is subtitled The Magnificent Avenger (華麗なる復讐者 Kareinaru Fukushūsha ). Rei Gaiden was picked up as an ongoing series, which began in the April 27, 2007 issue of Weekly Comic Bunch. The serial was originally subtitled The Hungry Wolf Saga (餓狼編 Garō Hen ), before receiving its current title.
- Fist of the North Star Toki Side Story: Silvery Savior (銀の聖者 北斗の拳 トキ外伝 Shirogane no Seija - Hokuto no Ken Toki Gaiden ), a series by Yuka Nagate that begun serialization in the August 24, 2007 issue of Weekly Comic Bunch.
- The Flower of Carnage: Fist of the North Star Jagi Side-Story (極悪ノ華 北斗の拳 ジャギ外伝) by Shin-ichi Hiromoto, which began serialization in the December 26, 2008 issue of Comic Bunch.
- The Wandering Cloud: Fist of the North Star Juuza Side-Story (彷徨の雲 北斗の拳ジュウザ外伝) by Kakurai Missile, which began serialization in the February 12, 2010 issue of Comic Bunch.
TV series 
Hokuto no Ken was first adaptated into a weekly anime series by Toei Animation under the title Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken (世紀末救世主伝説 北斗の拳?, lit. Legend of the Century's End Messiah: Fist of the North Star). The series aired on Fuji Television from October 4, 1984 to March 5, 1987, lasting 109 episodes. It was immediately followed by a sequel series, titled Hokuto no Ken 2, which aired from March 13, 1987 to February 18, 1988, lasting for 43 additional episodes (a combined total of 152 episodes between both series). Reruns are aired in Japan on the satellite television network Animax.
The first 36 episodes of the first series were translated and dubbed by Manga Entertainment in 1999, although only the first 24 episodes were released on VHS. All 36 episodes of the dub version were aired on Showtime Beyond in the United States and on Sci-Fi Channel in the United Kingdom, and were later released on individual DVD volumes in 2003. In 2008, the US subsidiary of Toei Animation produced official subtitled-only translations of all 152 episodes, which were released on various paid download and video streaming websites available only for North American customers. Discotek Media announced on October 2, 2009 that they have licensed the entire Fist of the North Star TV series. They stated they would release all 152 episodes in a total of four boxsets sometime in 2010. However they released the latter 2 sets in 2011.
In 2009, William Winckler Productions produced six all new English dubbed movie versions edited from the original TV series. Producer William Winckler, known for Tekkaman: The Space Knight, wrote, produced and directed the English films, which are seen on broadband in Japan. The Winckler dubbed films focus on story arcs of the main characters of Shin, Ray, Souther, Toki, Raoh, and Kaioh. However these films are incredibly hard to find.
Films and OVAs 
The first animated feature film based on the series, simply titled Fist of the North Star, was produced by Toei Animation, which premiered in Japan on March 8, 1986. Produced by the same staff and cast who worked on the TV series, the movie adapts the storyline of the manga from the beginning and up to Kenshiro's first fight with Raoh, taking several liberties with the order of events and how the story unfolds. An English-dubbed version produced by Streamline Pictures was first released in 1991 in North America and in 1994 in Europe and Australia by Manga Entertainment.
In 2003, a three-episode OVA mini-series titled New Fist of the North Star was produced by OB Planning. based on a 1996 Hokuto no Ken novel Jubaku no Machi. An English dub version was produced by ADV Films in 2004.
In 2005, North Stars Pictures and TMS Entertainment announced the development of a five-part film series titled Fist of the North Star: The Legends of the True Savior. The series is composed of three theatrical films and two OVAs, which were released during a three-year period between 2006 throughout 2008, culminating with the 25th anniversary of the franchise.
An original novel was written by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara titled Shōsetsu Hokuto no Ken: Jubaku no Machi (小説·北斗の拳 呪縛の街, Fist of the North Star the Novel: The Cursed City) which was published by Jump Novel in Japan on December 13, 1996. The novel was the basis of the later three-episode OVA series New Fist of the North Star. A novelization of the movie Legend of Raoh: Chapter of Love in Death written by Eiichi Sakaki was published by Tokuma Novels on March 10, 2006.
There has also been two cell phone novels released via the mobile site Hokuto no Ken DX. Raoh Gaiden (ラオウ外伝), a novelization of the manga of the same name, and Kenshiro Gaiden (ケンシロウ外伝), an original novel by Jotaro Higashi.
Live-action film 
An American-produced live-action movie version of Fist of the North Star was released in 1995, directed by Tony Randel based on a script by Peter Atkins and Wynne McLaughlin. The movie, loosely based on the Shin storyline of the manga, stars Gary Daniels as Kenshiro, Costas Mandylor as Shin and Japanese actress Isako Washio as Yuria, with Malcolm McDowell as Ryuken and Chris Penn as "Jackal" (actually a renamed Jagi). It also featured a cameo by professional wrestler Big Van Vader as Goliath, and Kevin Arbouet as "Rao" (Raoh in the anime series). The movie was released straight-to-video in the US and Japan (though it did receive a premiere on HBO.) The Japanese dubbed version used the original voice actors from the 1980s anime series.
Video games 
Numerous video game titles based on the Fist of the North Star have been produced since the 1986 release of Enix adventure game, simply titled Hokuto no Ken for the PC-88. The earlier games in the franchise were released by Sega for the Mark III and Mega Drive and by Toei Animation for the Nintendo's Famicom, Game Boy and Super Famicom. These titles included side-scrolling action games, role-playing video games and competitive-style fighting games. The two Sega titles were released overseas without the Hokuto no Ken license under the titles of Black Belt and Last Battle, while a couple of the Toei titles, namely Fist of the North Star for the NES and Fist of the North Star: 10 Big Brawls for the King of Universe for the Game Boy, had American releases with the license intact. Further games were released for the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Arcade, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS among other platforms. In 2000, Konami released an arcade game based on the franchise titled Fighting Mania. Another arcade game, a 2D fighting game simply titled Fist of the North Star, was produced by Sega and Arc System Works in 2005. Both games saw international distributions, although the PS2 version of the fighting game was released exclusively in Japan. Koei produced a Dynasty Warriors spinoff based on the franchise titled Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage, which was released in Japan on March 25, 2010; North America on November 2, 2010; and in Europe November 5, 2010. Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 was released in Japan on December 20, 2012.
Fist of the North Star was one of Weekly Shōnen Jump's most popular titles during the 1980s. It is one of the magazine's best-selling manga series of all time. In a poll conducted by TV Asahi in 2005, the Fist of the North Star anime series ranked 26 in a list of Top 100 Anime series. In a second poll in 2006, it ranked No. 89. In a celebrity version of the poll, it ranked No. 15.
Notes and references 
- Hokuto (北斗) is the Japanese name of the Big Dipper constellation, which literally means the "Northern Ladle".
- "Interview with Hara Tetsuo". Raijin Comics. Archived from the original on 2004-06-29. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- "Interview with Buronson". ADV Films Presents: New Fist of the North Star. Archived from the original on 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- "北斗の拳 全27巻・全巻セット" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- "北斗の拳/全15巻" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- "北斗の拳全15巻・全巻セット" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- "小学館: コミック" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- "北斗の拳 原哲夫 : コアミックス - 電子書籍はeBookJapan : マンガ" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- "週刊コミックバンチ★コアミックス: 連載作品・作家紹介: 天の覇王 北斗の拳 ラオウ外伝" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- "ADV Nation: ADV Films to distribute Sentai Filmworks new license: Ten no Haoh (Fist of the North Star spin-off)".
- "Amazon.com: 北斗の拳ユリア外伝慈母の星 (ビッグコミックススペシャル)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- "週刊コミックバンチ★コアミックス: 最新号情報と予告" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- "週刊コミックバンチ★コアミックス: 最新号情報と予告" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2007-06-24. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
- "北斗の拳 (official Toei site)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- "Discotek Media picks up Fist of the North Star".
- "Toei, William Winckler Prod., Rioloco Dub 23+ Features". Anime News Network.
- "Hokuto no ken (1986)". Imdb.com. Retrieved 2008-09-14.
- "GAGA Communications, Inc./International Sales Catalogue".
- "劇場版映画"北斗の拳｢ラオウ外伝｣純愛編"を2006年春全国東宝系公開" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- "小説・北斗の拳" (in Japanese).
- "北斗の拳 — 徳間書店" (in Japanese).
- "Tecmo Koei America Announces North American Release Date for Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage". Tecmo Koei America. Retrieved 2010-11-09. "Tecmo Koei America is pleased to announce the release date for Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage, the new action-packed title based on the popular manga series Fist of the North Star. Currently set for release on November 2nd, 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms, players will soon unleash a whirlwind of martial arts fury torn from the pages of the seminal manga tale."
- "Top Manga Properties in 2008 - Rankings and Circulation Data". Comipress. 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "TV Asahi Top 100 Anime". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- "Japan's Favorite TV Anime". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- Hokuto no Ken Special: All About the Man (北斗の拳SPECIΑL ΑLL ΑBOUT THE MΑN) (in Japanese).
- Hara, Tetsuo. Tetsu no Don Quixote (鉄のドン·キホーテ Tetsu no Don Kihōte , "The Iron Don Quixote") (in Japanese). ISBN 4-420-13109-8.
- Buronson. Shōsetsu Hokuto no Ken: Jubaku no Machi (小説·北斗の拳―呪縛の街, "Fist of the North Star the Novel: The Cursed City") (in Japanese). ISBN 4-08-703054-7.
- Hokuto no Ken Kyūkyoku Kaisetsusho: Sekimatsu Haō Retsuden (北斗の拳 究極解説書 世紀末覇王列伝, "The Ultimate Handbook to Fist of the North Star: History of the Century's End Conqueror). ISBN 4-8342-1684-5.
- Hokuto no Ken 2000: Kyūkyoku Kaisetsusho Part 2 (北斗の拳2000 究極解説書 PART2, "Fist of the North Star 2000: The Ultimate Handbook Part 2"). ISBN 4-8342-1685-3.
- Boku-tachi no Sukina Hokuto no Ken (僕たちの好きな北斗の拳, "We Love Fist of the North Star"). ISBN 4-7966-5858-0.
- Hokuto no Ken Kanzen Tokuhon (北斗の拳 完全読本, "The Complete Guide to Fist of the North Star"). ISBN 978-4-7966-5856-0.
- Official sites
- Shin Kyuseishu Densetsu - Hokuto no Ken official website (Japanese)
- Toei Animation's official Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken website (Japanese)
- Animax's official Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken website (Japanese)
- Official English subtitled episodes at CrunchyRoll
- Official English subtitled episodes at Funimation
- Unofficial sites