Manga of the Month: Fist of the North Star

Front cover of volume 1 of Fist of the North Star. It is a pearlescent drawing of a frowning, muscled man with his shirt open. On his chest you can see four round scars. The FOTNS logo is red.

Fist of the North Star by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara

After nuclear disaster strikes, the world is recast as a place where water is a highly sought resource controlled by would-be rulers who use brutality and violence to reign over small oases and enslave those who can’t fight back. Across the devastated landscape, survival is uncertain, betrayal is routine, and the creed of the land is might makes right.

Kenshiro is justice in this savage, unjust world.

Kenshiro is the inheritor of the assassination martial art known as Hokuto Shinken and he unleashes its pressure points-based technique to swiftly kill those who prey on the innocent. Kenshiro is grieving the loss of his abducted fiance Yuria; he sees her in the many people trying to simply live their lives in the barren wasteland. Despite his often stoic nature, his tears flow and his anger flares often in service to those he protects. And as Kenshiro learns where his “brothers” of the Hokuto Shinken school reside, he follows a blood-soaked path to set the world right.

At this point, most fans of anime and manga have probably heard of Fist of the North Star through its killer opening or the various memes even if they haven’t actually watched or read the real thing. So why talk about it now? The editions VIZ is currently releasing—hardcover (physical release, I’m getting it digitally), gorgeous full-color and 2-color art pages included—are something I couldn’t have imagined licensed for U.S. release even five years ago. So this makes it a great time to read this classic to see how much influence it had on shonen and seinen manga like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Berserk, from the incredibly detailed art style to the fight sequences to the special techniques.

(Kate’s special disclaimer: Is Fist of the North Star for everyone? No. It is brutal, gory, glorifies killing, and depicts all woman as childlike and naive no matter their age. Clearly, I recognize these things about Fist of the North Star but I also find its pulpy, absurd story and characters compelling and compulsively readable.)

-Kate

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Urusei Yatsura: The Triumphant Return of Some Terrible Bastards

hisui_icon_4040_round I have to say I’m glad that there are still anime and manga licenses that can surprise me. Despite the number of crazy anime licenses (that are not Macross) that have been announced there is still about one a year that pleasantly surprises me. The one for 2018 was the fact that Viz said they were going to try and release the Urusei Yatsura manga again despite dropping the license twice before. I was generally content with the anime release from AnimEigo from a few years back but I can’t say I was not at least something secretly hoping for a full release of the manga even if it felt highly unlikely. So I was a bit blindsided in the best possible way by the news and have been waiting for the new and improved books ever since then.

This post is less of a review and more of my observations on the first volume. Like with some of my Type-Moon posts none of what I would write would even remotely be considered objective or measured. This has always been a series that I loved and was very important to my early hardcore fandom so to say I look upon this book with rose-colored glasses is putting it kindly. If anything think of this as a look into the thoughts of a super fan.
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