|Fist of the North Star character|
|First appearance||Fist of the North Star manga chapter 1|
|Created by||Tetsuo Hara, Buronson|
|Aliases||The Man with the Seven Scars, The Savior of the Century's End|
|Title||23rd Successor of Hokuto Shinken|
|Relatives||Hyou (biological older brother)
Raoh (adoptive older brother)
Toki (adoptive older brother)
Jagi (adoptive older brother)
Yuria (fiancee/wife in Kenshiro Den movie)
Unborn child (in Kenshiro Den movie)
Ryuken (adoptive father and sifu)
Kenshiro Kasumi (uncle)
Kenshiro (ケンシロウ, 拳四郎 [in kanji] Kenshirō?, nicknamed Ken for short) is the main protagonist of Fist of the North Star manga and anime series, created by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara. According to Buronson, Kenshiro's character design was inspired by the character of Max Rockatansky from the Mad Max film series and martial artist Bruce Lee.
In the story, Kenshiro is the rightful successor of an ancient art of assassination called Hokuto Shinken, which allows Kenshiro to defeat his adversaries through use of hidden meridian points. Through the course of the original manga, Kenshiro fights against various ruffians who threaten the lives of the post-apocalyptic survivors, as well as numerous rival martial artists, including his three honorary brothers trained in the art of Hokuto Shinken.
Kenshiro is also known as the Man With Seven Scars (七つの傷の男 Nanatsu no kizu no otoko?), due to the seven scars engraved on his chest patterned after the shape of the Big Dipper (the symbol of the Hokuto school), as well as the Savior of Century's End (世紀末救世主 Seikimatsu Kyūseishu?). In the manga, as well as most anime adaptations of the franchise, Kenshiro's catchphrase just prior to an enemy's death is "You are already dead." (お前はもう死んでいる Omae wa mō shindeiru?).
Concept and creation
Artist Tetsuo Hara originally depicted Kenshiro as a teenager who fought against the rival martial arts school of the Taizanji Kenpō in 1980s Japan in his two-part prototype version of Hokuto no Ken. This version of the character was given the full name of Kenshiro Kasumi (霞 拳四郎 Kasumi Kenshirō?, his given name roughly means "Fourth Son of the Fist"). In this setting, Kenshiro was the 23rd successor of Hokuto Shinken, preceded by his unnamed father, who in turn learned the art from the 21st successor, Master Liú Zhèng (劉正 Ryūshō?). This Kenshiro was much more cheerful than the Kenshiro of the serialized manga, having yet to experience the same hardships at the start of the story and lacking his iconic seven scars. After Kenshiro's girlfriend Yuki is murdered and Ken is framed for her death, Kenshiro becomes a wanted fugitive who sets out to overthrow the Taizanji organization.
The character was revised by Buronson when Hokuto no Ken was picked up for weekly serialization. Now turned into a full-grown adult, Buronson has stated that he based the revised Kenshiro on actor and martial arts legend Bruce Lee and the character Max Rockatansky from the Mad Max series. The character is only referred by his given name in the series, which is always written in katakana in Japanese. The full name Kenshiro Kasumi was reused for the main character of Fist of the Blue Sky, a predecessor of the Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star, although his given name is spelled slightly differently (拳志郎 instead of 拳四郎).
Kenshiro is characterized as the youngest of four adopted sons trained by the previous Hokuto Shinken successor, Ryuken. His origin is revealed during the latter half of the Fist of the North Star manga, in which he was sent to Japan, along with his future nemesis Raoh and Raoh's brother Toki, to escape from their homeland, the war-torn Land of Asura.
Kenshiro is trained in the art of Hokuto Shinken along with Raoh, Toki and a fourth student named Jagi, and is eventually named successor by Ryuken. After surviving the nuclear war, he tries to live in peace with his fiancee Yuria, until Jagi instigates Shin, a jealous rival from the Nanto Seiken school, to challenge, then defeat Kenshiro. Shin then engraves the iconic seven scars on Kenshiro's chest and leaves him for dead. Prior to this event he was more forgiving of his enemies, as shown in a flashback of Jagi's failed assassination attempt against him, in which Kenshiro chooses to spare Jagi's life after defeating him. When Kenshiro later fights his old rivals in the present, particularly Shin, Jagi, and Raoh, they all remark on Kenshiro's acquired mercilessness.
The initial story arc centers around Kenshiro's quest to reclaim Yuria from Shin. In the very first chapter, he meets a pair of orphans who follow him in his journey: Bat, a thief; and Lin, a young girl rescued by Ken. Throughout the course of the series, Kenshiro protects the weak and innocent from the numerous gangs roaming the post-apocalyptic wasteland, eventually gaining his reputation as the "Savior of the Century's End". Kenshiro's skills improve through his encounters with members of the Nanto Roku Seiken and his Hokuto Brothers. At the end of the first part, he eventually confronts and defeats his eldest brother Raoh and is reunited with Yuria, and lives with her until she eventually dies from a terminal illness.
The later half of the manga (and the corresponding Hokuto no Ken 2 anime adaptation) sees Kenshiro joining forces with the now grown Bat and Lin, who have formed the Hokuto Army to fight off the now-corrupt Gento Kōken warriors. The story eventually takes Ken to the Land of Asura, where he learns of his Hokuto Sōke heritage and fights against the Warlords who control the Land of Asura: his estranged blood brother Hyoh; and Kaioh, Raoh's other blood brother. The final story arcs of the manga (which were not adapted for the TV series) sees Kenshiro taking Raoh's orphaned son, Ryu, under his wing, before continuing on his own.
Although still emotionally repressed and stoic like most male heroes in 1980s media, Kenshiro is notable in anime culture for being a sensitive and kind-hearted man who broke the then-ironclad cultural expectation that men do not cry. He is famous for openly shedding tears, if not outright weeping for the suffering of innocents and the deaths of his few noble enemies. This trait is downplayed in the 1980s anime adaptations, but comes back into the franchise in the adaptations of the 1990s and onwards.
Kenshiro has been voiced by Akira Kamiya in the original anime television series and movie, as well as in a few video games, Takehito Koyasu in the OVA series New Fist of the North Star, Kunihiro Kawamoto in the Fist of the North Star arcade game and CGI short Hokuto no Ken: Legend of Heroes, Hiroshi Abe in the The Legends of the True Savior film series, Hideo Ishikawa in the video game version of Ten no Haō, and Katsuyuki Konishi in the video game Hokuto Musō. The child version of Kenshiro has been voiced by Ryō Horikawa in the original TV series and by Yūko Gibu in the Legends of the True Savior film series.
English voice actors that have voiced Kenshiro include John Vickery in the Streamline Pictures dub of the 1986 movie, Lex Lang in the Manga Entertainment dub of the TV series and Robert Kraft in the ADV Films dub of New Fist of the North Star. In the William Winckler-produced dub, distributed by Discotek Media, Kenshiro is voiced by Winckler himself. Gary Daniels also played Kenshiro in the live action film version. For the American version of Hokuto Musō known as Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage, Kaiji Tang voices Kenshiro.
In a survey conducted by the Oricon in 2007 between 1,000 people, Kenshiro ranked third place as the "strongest manga character of all time", only behind Dragon Ball protagonist Son Goku and Doraemon.
Notes and references