“You are already dead.”
It’s these iconic words uttered by Kenshiro that instantly make him one of the coolest manga protagonists to ever be drawn. By using his special martial art technique, Hokuto Shinken (the Divine Fist of the North Star), Ken is able to cause his foes to explode from within. It’s a striking visual, and the art by Tetsuo Hara is quite gruesome, which allows for cocky enemies to believe they have the upper hand before they ultimately perish. It only takes a few pages of reading Fist of the North Star (or alternatively Hokuto no Ken) to know that Ken is an effortlessly cool hero.
The VIZ Signature Edition manga of Fist of the North Star gives the legendary 1983 manga written by Buronson the treatment it deserves. The opening pages are glossy and filled with color, although the bulk of the 300-page volume is comprised of the manga paper that fans have grown to know and love. In fact, it was almost jarring at first to see manga printed on glossy paper (even if just for a few pages), and holding a hardcover volume was strange at first. However, the deluxe packaging is a joy to see, and the presentation is really top-notch. This is exactly the treatment an all-time classic manga deserves.
While I’m no Fist of the North Star historian, I’ve become familiar with the series due to the animated adaptations over the years and some recent video game releases (check out Sega’s excellent Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, especially if you like the Yakuza series). So it was a no-brainer to check out the manga that created the post-apocalyptic world that takes some clear inspiration from Mad Max that I’ve come to enjoy. The wasteland dreamt up by Buronson is filled with drama, cool characters that range from handsome to grotesque, and plenty of action.
This thick volume features the first 13 chapters of the manga. The writing of Buronson keeps the plot moving at a great pace, with characters being introduced all throughout the volume. Despite being 300 pages long, it’s difficult not to finish the volume in a single sitting as the action continues to grow and the story is gripping. One of the coolest additions to this package is some red-rust-tinted coloring that is added about three-fifths of the way through. It helps make some scenes with Yuria, Kenshiro’s love interest, much more impactful and is a nice touch.
The volume ends with some great commentary from Nobuhiko Horie of Coamix, who details the Chinese constellation myth that inspired the word “Hokuto” in the manga’s Japanese title. It’s great additional information to include and gives a nice glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of how the manga was made. I’m a sucker for anything that delves into the creative process, and it adds to the deluxe presentation that is offered here. With a luxurious package, some additional coloring, and 300 pages of iconic action, Fist of the North Star Vol. 1 is well worth the $19.99 purchase price for fans of Buronson and Tetsuo Hara’s classic and an ideal entry point for those looking to check out one of the best martial arts mangas ever made.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a copy of the manga for our Fist of the North Star Vol. 1 – VIZ Signature Edition manga review.