FIST OF THE NORTH STAR 3 🌟; admittedly that might be a bit bold a title to throw out there into the ring, but there is a final and third part to the original Hokuto no Ken (北斗の拳・ほくとのけん; Fist of the North Star) manga series from the 80’s that has yet to be released in English, so let’s call it this way!
Die-hard fans of this classic Shounen Manga already know this, so it’s not really news, but as VIZ Media has taken up the task to publish Fist of the North Star based on the in Japan released Hokuto no Ken Ultimate Edition, finally the last 3 books are made available into English for the first time! Look forward to it, but be prepared, it’s fierce, it’s violent, it’s heartbreakin’ 💔 – you will be shock 😱!!
Taking a closer look at the final chapters of Fist of the North Star manga books, was on my menu list for MLD quite a while. I could fetch the whole paperback series before leaving Japan in 2014, but as the books headed home by mail, my path lead elsewhere for the years to come. So the books had to wait resting in a cardboard box up in the attic all this time 😌
Now though, being in the midst of my ongoing decluttering project after the many years in abroad, I could dust off those sleeping beauties from their year-long slumber in storage. The announcement of the English release in June 2021 reminded me that I had unfinished business with this project and finally pushed me into action to get this article done. Things are catching up with you eventually if you don’t pursue them determinedly enough, don’t they always do that 😉 Now here we go for a new popculture related article of my blog!
English till the bitter End
Hokuto no Ken Ultimate Edition was printed during 2013 to 2014 in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the franchise. Colored pages, an entirely new chapter and striking character cover artworks by Hara-Sensei were added. There were translations in English before, but those former publications were only ever up until the 15 volumes that are the equivalent to the available 152 episodes of the Fist of the North Star anime TV series.
Maybe the third part was spared because it was the most brutal and gruesome of the series 🤔? – In my view, especially the Bolge saga is rather graphic, I must say. Somebody sure meets a grizzly an end, but if that has been the motive, I don’t know. English publishers could also have deemed the last bits not that relevant. Anyway the reason for the omission remains unknown, but fact is the four arcs from Kouketsu, Sava, Blanca to Bolge have so far neither seen an animation nor has it been translated into English – well at least not officially. Aficionados of Fist of the North Star certainly must have helped themselves long before with self-translated manga versions. The more astounding, one might wonder, how long it has taken for these remaining story arcs of this best-selling manga to be officially localized into other languages. But that is now going to be changed – at last and forever! One final spell of blood spill, manly tears and heroic stance for justice and love!!
Raise the Curtains
After brotherly struggles and countless foes that Kenshiro (ケンシロウ) brought down on his journeys across the post-apocalyptical wastelands, the bloody clash between Hokuto Shinken (北斗神拳) and Hokuto Ryuuken (北斗琉拳) represents for the time being the grandiose finale with a last formidable main antagonist Kaiou (カイオウ). The man with scarred heart emerges victorious over the man with abandoned heart. For love always defeats the heartless, no matter the strength or the numbers it counts. However, as the ashes of this violent fight slowly settle, with Kaiou and Hyou (ヒョウ) forming a lavique monument of sadness, a new journey is about to begin for our savior Kenshiro. Here we raise the curtain for the let’s call it: Fist of the North Star 3 – the final showdown!
There were already many opponents before them, who thought to have outwit, outnumbered, outtricked or outrivaled Kenshiro, just to be defeated by divine Hokuto! So these ‘gentlemen’: Kouketsu, the brothers Kai, Bukou & Satora, Baran and Bolge (from left to right).
A New Successor
Kenshiro now the mentor of Ryuu (リュウ), the orphan child of Raou (ラオウ), the two embark on a journey to visit Ryuu’s foster parents. The juvenile is chosen to become the next successor in the line of Hokuto martial artists (北斗神拳伝承者・ほくとしんけんでんしょうしゃ). However, reaching their destination, they only arrive to witness the cold-blooded murder of his parents by henchmen of territorial magnate Kouketsu (コウケツ), a former boot-licker of Raou. Having seen his foster parents perish in front of his own eyes, Ryuu is overcome with sadness, but when Kenshiro tells him that one must fight any detestable enemy with one’s own fists, Ryuu takes up his courage to pay back the ruthless jerk for what he has done to him.
The perilous journey continues from there to the Kingdom of Sava, where they meet princess Sara (サラ). Sara begs Kenshiro to put her three rowdy brothers into place so to rescue the fatherland from falling into crisis by the power struggle of her siblings. Their father, King Asamu (アサム) is a wise ruler, but he is plagued by illness and has but little left to live. However, knowing his three quarreling sons, Kai (カイ), Bukou (ブコウ) and Satora (サトラ) feuding for the succession of his throne, it was not the time he could let anyone of them taking over his reign. To those three ruffians, Kenshiro boldly declares that he will take the country in their stead and accepts their challenge for the throne. By doing so, he achieved what their father couldn’t.
To unite with his fiancé, princess Luseli (ルセリ), Satora leaves behind the land of Sava to join Kenshiro and Ryuu on their further travels to neighboring Blanca. Blanca is kingdom of fervent god believers that is gradually to be transformed into a one-man dominion. That man is Baran (バラン), who himself is seized by his deep hatred for god. With his knowledge about the powers of the secret vital points (秘孔・ひこう・Hikou; meridians of energy within a human body) that he acquired himself as a former retinue of Raou, he conjures miracles to gather the belief of the citizens into his authority. Behind the scenes though, he brutally kills anybody, who opposes him, usurps the entire power for himself and confines princess Luseli, who refuses to love him. Satora, who came to the rescue of Luseli and Blanca by challenging Baran to a fight, is of course no match for the frenzied villain. To carry out Satora’s will, Kenshiro stands up to Baran and it is also then, when the youngster Ryuu exhibits a first time the greatness of his fateful origin.
Remembrance & A Foe From The Past
From there, paths of Ken and Ryuu part, with the latter being left in the care of Balga (バルガ), a man whom they freed from the tortures of Kouketsu’s men. As Kenshiro heads off to Yuria‘s (ユリア) grave, Ryuu oaths to Ken to one-day surpass his father Raou.
Meanwhile in another place, Bat (バット) visits with Lin (リン) the town, where they first met Kenshiro all those years ago so to revive Lin’s memory that he himself erased at their wedding. Bat is convinced that the man she truly loved was not him, but Kenshiro. He thinks, her love for him was a lie and only happened because Lin got struck a certain vital point by Kaiou. As he shows her around in the ruins in the hope she would remember the past and her true feelings, Kenshiro appears in front of them like a lightning bolt out to the blue. Also he seemingly having lost his memory, can’t remember the two young people, but Bat believes that this was all an act of Yuria’s providence. With the apparition of Kenshiro’s late love, he strongly believed that is was her that foreordained their meeting so to fulfill their fate as couple.
Wearily, Bat steals himself away from the town, leaving the two unknowing behind. However, as he reaches the city and hearing the talks of Bolge (ボルゲ), an old enemy, who is obsessed with his long-awaited revenge on Kenshiro, Bat poses himself as the hero, content to take the truth about Kenshiro and Lin into his grave. Bolge one masochistic, ugly pile of meat and armor straight out of hell, takes delight of finally having found his former punisher. Stilling his bloodthirst, Bolge pleasurably indulges in the torture of his prey and it’s no lovely sight, let so much be told to you! But as Lin and Kenshiro come onto the scene and the hero has called his name forth by suffering Bat, Ken has brought back his memory in an instant and Hokuto Shinken explodes once again into a burst of rage, crushing armor and bones of this last wicked enemy!
Boy, what a breathtaking a finale! With evil brought to justice once again, this timeless masterpiece of a manga comes to its conclusion. It’s now going to be complete with all these chapters translated and perfect, ready for a new audience of Kenshiro’s tales 😊 There is one Last Piece of Fist of the North Star that was exclusively made for the 30th anniversary and is to be found in the 11th volume, if they keep the order of the Japanese Ultimate Edition. My aim with this article was however just the 3 last books from the 80’s, so to give a brief story summary of each chapter and introduce the characters appearing. Last Piece I intentionally have not included for this purpose. You can discover it yourself as you read along – it’s coming at you soon!
Engraved into Heart
Fist of the North Star has always meant a great deal to me. If this manga tells you one thing – besides which meridian pressure points not to play around with or which to press in emergency 😋 – then it is about pursuing your path decidedly and unwaveringly despite the obstacles faced along the way because they only ever make you stronger. Be a trailblazer! Every scar a memory – tough boy, tough boy!
Enjoy each moment with others and hold dear the encounters you have with people along the way – for those who do, nice things will grow their way – even if they are to vanishing the very next moment – forever. They are truly precious moments, they shape you and those people play their (un)conscious part in helping you in your development – improve you! Take a page of everyone’s book and add it to yours, so to speak. Or do you think Kenshiro was the same man at the end of the story as when he set out, crawling out of that abyss of agony there? – Hardly so, friend and foe shaped the man alike. The foes made him stronger and the best of his friends, he integrated into himself 💫
It’s the same for everyone of us. Only change is constant, nothing lasts forever, people come and go in life. We can’t but to always go forward with determination. Only death is certain and we should make the best out of our time during this fleeting existence. Each one of us has a North Star to follow in life – it is already expressed in our language 😌
Life is a gift and a wonder at the same time. We should humbly accept it for our development and the duty it bestowed us with. We all have a role to play, heroic or not. It’s not what we take when we leave this world, but what we leave behind when we go from here.
A lasting Thought
That is also what the two creators, writer storyteller Buronson (武論尊・ぶろんそん) and mangaka artist Hara Tetsuo (原哲夫・はらてつお), had in mind when setting about their creation, as they have aimed to create something that is around at least a 100 years. Well, when you do something, then do it right! What was born from a little red booklet of an absurd story about a student of Chinese medicine that editor of Weekly Shounen Jump Horie Nobuhiko (堀江信彦・ほりえのぶひこ) found in a specialized bookshop for Chinese literature in Jinbocho has truly come a long way indeed. Paired with a Chinese mythological tale about the gods of the North (Hokuto; 北斗) and the South (Nanto; 南斗), who govern death and life, Fist of the North Star has become a timeless classic work of the manga genre 🤗
Fist of North Star Ultimate Edition coming also in digitalized format now to endure the passage of the times, I have no doubts creators will succeed in their ambition way beyond the 100 years. As long as …
… well, as long as there will be no apocalyptic war!
Luckily, we all survived 199X 😉, but if I remember correctly, it was just about in 2014 when the rocket saber rattling 🚀⚔️ from the north started intensifying, making me think, if we weren’t actually ever closer to a real calamity right then in 201X-nen. At the brink of a nuclear catastrophe leading in fact to an apocalyptical world as it has been depicted in the manga. Fortunately, the world remained sane, the threat subsided since 🕊 If this world stays peaceful, free from any nuclear disasters or world wars, then Fist of the North Star may as well last forever because the legends of these men and women is material for an eternity!
War destructs the hearts of people and degenerates them to the lowest beings on the planet. Let’s them forget love and compassion for barbarism. While war can bring certain inventions and novelties in technology, in terms of spirituality and cultures, it is always decades of leaps backwards – with nucs or without. Races will be occupied with reproduction, if not wiped out right on the spot, and with building up what fell to destruction. Many treasures lost forever, with all the true achievements of a civilization undone. Everything has to start from ground zero again!
There is really no gain in warfare, ever so true for today’s modern world of the 21st century. By now humanity should have reached a spiritual level to realize its unnecessity, its utter nonsense – we had thousands of years time to do so. People should use their brains before following blindly with goose-steps behind propaganda and patriotic anthems. Prosperity and development can only come from periods of long-lasting peace, not conquers and decadences. Nations, or rather leaders and their entourage, that still think of expansions of territory, establishment of authoritarian power or reign supreme over other nations and ethics in nowadays, are somewhere stuck back in time with their minds. Can’t we just get this into our heads for once!?
We are still captured by this group or nationality thinking, driven by greed and self-interest. Rival each other and seek benefit for the group we belong to or our egos, instead of embracing humanity in all its variety. The world really has more pressing issues to deal with in the now and future than such national and individual presumptuousness. There is place for everyone in this world. Live and let live should be the moral principle we go by in these times, then everyone can prosper and no one must fall behind.
Maybe, one day in not too far a future, under a greater danger, be it climate related or perhaps an outer terrestrial threat, we will at once realize our brother- and sisterhood among the people. At the brink of extinction, our ancient tribal thinking and egos will finally be overcome and we will act out of charity for our next ones. It will no longer play a role what race, color, religion, origin, social status we have because we will perceive ourselves as one human family. It will be the time people act out of real altruism for one another, to tackle the challenges together that could not at least mean the extinction of our race. These are the seeds of humanism that Kenshiro and his friends protected so preciously with their lives for the afterworld. It is these seeds that need to be preserved and sowed for the generations to come – hopefully on fertile and not burned soils. It is our duty with all our strength and might.
I still have faith into humanity, like Kenshiro never lost belief into the good of people as he exhibited in his acts of benevolence. Kenshiro remained a pure heart despite the perversion and inhumanities around him. He may be just a popular manga and anime character, but everyone can apply it to oneself, be rock solid in one’s own foundations and actions. No matter how dire it looks at times, there are also always so many people, who do good for the others – this keeps me optimistic. It is together we are strong, not against each other 🤝
Having done this essay work, I recollected many precious memories that I connect with Hokuto no Ken. It is very tempting to go for the English publication by VIZ now, as they usually do an excellent job of bringing out classic manga, but it has remained one small resort to evince my joy of exploring in Japanese, personal translating and story-telling. I might still take up an English copy for my personal collection though. Maybe, there is the day coming that I can pass on the story of the man, who carries the scar of the Big Dipper on his chest. Grateful we could meet, Kenshiro 😊
Kenshiro, the work is about to be done, you fought well. Now you may rest in peace, knowing everything is prepared for the next generation of Hokuto readers – no boy, no cry!
I hope I made you excited to pick up a copy and let’s also stay excited together what they might bring out as we go towards the 40th anniversary. Another side story or the continuation with Ryuu in the leading role?
We shall find out! That’s it for this essay, thanks for reading! If you have some thoughts or feedback on the topic, please let me know in the comments 💬 below. Till next time 😃, stay tuned!!
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For Japanese related words Hiragana (ひらがな), Katakana (カタカナ) and Kanji (漢字) are added for those interested in Japanese terminology.
- First published: July 22th, 2021
- Posted on Twitter: July 22th, 2021
- Minor revisions: October 28th, 2021
- Minor revisions & additions: February 3rd, 2022
- Minor revisions: February 11th, 2022
- Minor revisions & improving readability: July 6th, 2022