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|Fist of the North Star character|
Kenshiro, as illustrated on the cover of Hokuto no Ken Kyūkyokuban Vol. 1.
|First appearance||Fist of the North Star chapter 1: "A Cry From The Heart" (1983)|
|Created by||Tetsuo Hara
|Voiced by||See Voice actors|
|Portrayed by||Gary Daniels (1995 film)|
|Aliases||The Man with the Seven Scars, The Savior of the Century's End|
|Title||64th Successor of Hokuto Shinken|
|Relatives||Hyou (biological older brother)
Raoh (adoptive older brother)
Toki (adoptive older brother)
Jagi (adoptive older brother)
Ryuken (adoptive father)
Kenshiro (Japanese: ケンシロウ Hepburn: Kenshirō) is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Fist of the North Star manga series created by Tetsuo Hara and Buronson. 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 the Century's End" (世紀末救世主 Seikimatsu Kyūseishu). Kenshiro's famous 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). 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 film 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 differently (拳志郎 instead of 拳四郎).
Kenshiro is the youngest of four adopted sons trained by the previous Hokuto Shinken successor, Ryuken. As a child, 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. Along with Raoh, Toki and a fourth student named Jagi, Kenshiro, the youngest of the four, was trained in the art of Hokuto Shinken and eventually named successor by Ryuken. After surviving the nuclear war, he tried to live in peace with his fiancee Yulia, until Jagi instigates Shin, a jealous rival from the Nanto Seiken school, to challenge, then defeat Kenshiro. Shin then engraved the iconic seven scars on Kenshiro's chest by stabbing Kenshiro with his fingertips and left 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 Yulia from Shin. 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. In the intervening years between Kenshiro last encountering his brothers, Toki decided to use his powers in a way that brought no pain, through healing and painless attacks, while Raoh became considerably more misguided, intent on becoming the 'Saviour of the Century's End' through ruling the wasteland with an iron fist. Kenshiro eventually confronts and defeats Raoh and is reunited with Yulia, and lives with her until she eventually dies from a terminal illness brought on by radiation sickness.
Years later, Kenshiro joins 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. At the end, Kenshiro takes Raoh's orphaned son, Ryu, under his wing, before continuing on his own, the future of humanity finally sealed with the defeat of Kaioh.
Kenshiro has been voiced by numerous voice actors in different media. Akira Kamiya voiced him first in the original anime television series and movie, as well as in a few video games. He is voiced by Takehito Koyasu in the original video animation 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 Legends of the True Savior film series, Hideo Ishikawa in the video game version of Ten no Haō, and Katsuyuki Konishi in the video games Hokuto Musō and J-Stars Victory VS. Takaya Kuroda will voice him in the upcoming video game Hokuto ga Gotoku. The child version of Kenshiro is voiced by Ryō Horikawa in the original anime 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 first 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. 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 among 1,000 people, Kenshiro ranked third place as the "strongest manga character of all time", behind only Dragon Ball protagonist Son Goku and Doraemon who ranked first and second, respectively.
A "wedding ceremony" for Kenshiro and Yulia was held at the Nippon Seinenkan on September 13, 2008, the date of the 25th anniversary of Fist of the North Star. Tetsuo Hara, Buronson, and other staff who worked on the series attended the ceremony planned by an actual wedding planner, with 3,000 fans applying for the 777 invitations that were available to fans via various outlets.
Notes and references
- "Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Fist of the North Star". Anime News Network. 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2015-07-29.
- "Interview with Buronson". ADV Films Presents: New Fist of the North Star. Archived from the original on 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- 1000人が選んだ！漫画史上“最強”キャラクターランキング！ (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-10-28.
- "Fist of the North Star Wedding Photos Posted Online". Anime News Network. 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2015-07-29.