The year is 1983!
The world of boys manga needs a hero. A hero legendary enough to kickstart an era that will be forever defined as “the golden age of manga…”. That hero is called Kenshiro, and today his story is 35 years old…
A LEGEND THAT BEGAN IN THE 80’s
On September 13th 1983, within the pages of Japan’s most well-known manga magazine “Weekly Shonen Jump”, there appeared a manga unlike anything that had been published before. Delivering powerful doses of passion and honor, over the top violence, tears and love, Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken in Japanese) exploded into the hearts and minds of Japan’s eager manga readers, gaining lifelong fans in the process.
The manga went through several incarnations over the years, some of which even occurred before the hit series became a global phenomenon. The earliest adventures of protagonist Kenshiro, were in fact originally published as two separate “One Shots”, both of which were drawn and written entirely by an aspiring young mangaka by the name of Tetsuo Hara. During this time, the young manga creator was struggling to break into the market. Indeed, with his previous work Tetsu no Don Quixote (Iron Don Quixote) failing to enamor readers, his fledgling debut series was suspended a mere ten weeks into its run.
Despite the poor reception Tetsu no Don Quixote received, Hara found limitless encouragement from his then editor-in-chief, none other than Nobuhiko Horie. Suggesting a brilliant concept of a protagonist with a ‘special move’ that could defeat any opponent with a single touch, Horie cooked up the formidable fighting style, ‘Hokuto Shinken’ (The divine Fist of the North Star)!
Running with the idea, Hara and Horie put their heads together and created Kenshiro and his martial art. But the setting for their protagonist’s struggle had yet to be defined, so along came scriptwriter Buronson. Buronson’s appointment proved to be a masterstroke, as his own experience of visiting Cambodia under Pol Pot’s oppressive regime granted him a perfect insight into the more extreme elements of human nature.
With its outwardly cold protagonist, finishing moves that are as extreme as they are comical, an array of unforgettable characters and the timeless catchphrase “You are already dead”, Hokuto no Ken was a storytelling masterpiece. But at its heart, it was a story of love, wrapped up in tragedy. So tragic in fact, it never failed to bring tears to the eyes of the manliest of men.
35 YEARS LATER…
The manga, and all its variants (animated series, movies, spin offs, etc.) has grown with its readers over the years, as the number of stories and characters have steadily expanded. Today, exactly 35 years after the first chapter was published in Weekly Shonen Jump, we take a look at what projects are currently underway, as well as what’s in store for the hungry Hokuto public in this anniversary year!
- Manga: SOUTEN NO KEN: REGENESIS
Original story: Tetsuo Hara; Supervisor: Buronson; Scenario: Hiroyuki Yatsu; Drawing: Hideki Tsuji
Set in the year 193X, this is the story of Kenshiro Kasumi (predecessor of the original series protagonist) who is the current master of “Hokuto Shinken”, the ultimate art of assassination. As the title suggests, this manga is a continuation, or “REGENESIS“, of the first series which ended 7 years ago. Now, returning to the pages of Monthly Comic Zenon, Kenshiro once again enamors readers with his fierce battles and strong sense of humor.
Following on from the great success of the first series, Souten no Ken (Fist of the Blue Sky) returns with a new story that picks up a few years after the events of the original series. In this final adventure, Kenshiro will collide with fierce opponents in Indonesia and beyond, to once again restore peace to a world under threat from tyranny.
SOUTEN NO KEN: REGENESIS is currently being published in Monthly Comic Zenon.
Buy the manga (in its original language) here: https://goo.gl/Mh3LNJ
- Anime: SOUTEN NO KEN: REGENESIS
©Tetsuo Hara & Buronson/NSP 2001, ©SoutennoKen2018
Following on from the manga project, an anime of the same name was produced using state-of-the-art CG techniques, that enabled the animators to represent the intricate drawings of Tetsuo Hara like never before.
The first series ended at the start of summer, with a second series scheduled for broadcast this coming October!
The anime series boasts a plethora of original characters and events that don’t appear in the manga, giving viewers an entertaining point of comparison. Hara-sensei himself is very enthusiastic about the project and hopes that everyone will enjoy discovering the various differences between both versions of his latest hit.
Furthermore, he has personally illustrated the covers of the Blu-ray release. Here are the first two!
SOUTEN NO KEN REGENESIS is produced by Polygon Pictures and broadcasted by both TOKYO MX and Amazon Prime. Readers can buy the Blu-ray (in its original language) here: https://goo.gl/XdzT4c
- Game: Hokuto ga Gotoku/Fist of the North Star: Lost paradise
Released in Japan in February 2018, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise was developed by the same team responsible for Ryu ga Gotoku (AKA ‘Yakuza’ in the West) and presents a completely new story that takes place in an unspecified time during the original manga series. What’s more, the original characters in the game are personally designed by Hara sensei himself!
The game is, in all respects, a typical Ryu ga gotoku game (just like its Japanese namesake), so shares all the same attributes to that franchise, by melding RPG elements with free open combat. The game also boasts plenty of mini-games guaranteed to bring a smile when Kenshiro assumes the role of a doctor, bouncer and even a bartender!!
The international version will be released in October this year, with two audio tracks consisting of English and the original Japanese. Fans of the franchise will be pleased to know that the Japanese audio track features the same voice actors that brought life to the Yakuza series, including acclaimed voice actor and singer, Takaya Kuroda!
Hokuto ga Gotoku is produced by SEGA. Be sure to grab a copy here: https://goo.gl/F4LUoj
- Music: NEW COLLABORATION WITH TOMOYASU HOTEI
Release date: 19th September 2018
With a career spanning more than 35 years, Hotei boasts record sales upwards of 40 million copies, along with collaborating with celebrated artists from around the world.
Now, after the success of the first ‘STILL ALIVE’ single released in 2010, the international rock star once again returns to the world of Hokuto! This special collaboration sees Hotei deliver a rocking tune dedicated to the Hokuto no Ken manga, and even comes with a cover designed by Hara-sensei himself!
Catch the official “STILL ALIVE” video here:
Follow the latest information about this release by checking Hotei’s official website: www.hotei.com
- Event: Hokuto Keikyu anniversary campaign
From July 30th to September 17th 2018
In commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the Tokyu metro line, Tokyu have teamed up with the Hokuto universe in a one of a kind collaboration that will shake their commuters to the core! Among the various initiatives included in the campaign, three station names have been temporarily changed – Hokuto style!
The names of the three stations are:
Keikyu Kamatatatatata Station (normally Keikyu Kamata Station);
Kami-Raoh-oka Station (instead of Kamiooka Station);
and Hokuto no Ken ritsudaigaku Station (which is usually named Kenritsudaigaku Station)!
The metro train carriages themselves have also been decorated with exclusive Hokuto designs, and there’s even a stamp rally set up along 7 key stations in a route shaped just like the big dipper of Hokuto! How’s THAT for cool!?
Check here for the official campaign website (in Japanese): https://goo.gl/gbzDai
- High Tech: “Hokuto no Ken – Zenkan Issatsu”- “Fist of the North Star – FULL VERSION”
Developed by PROGRESS TECHNOLOGIES Inc., Supported by COAMIX and North Star Pictures
…And here we are with the product that involved us the most!
As some of you may already know, we at SMAC! worked diligently to COMPLETE this official English translation of Fist of the North Star. This new eOneBook edition allows the reader to switch between both the English and Japanese languages with just one click! The eOneBook was brought to life exclusively via Kickstarter and has now finally gone on sale to the general public via TSUTAYA, a popular chain of entertainment stores in Japan.
The eOneBook presents, for the first time in history the entire story in English, complete with the special chapter “The one who rides me”, created five years ago for the 30th anniversary of the series! This innovative SMAC! lead project presents Hokuto fans around the world with a whole new way to enjoy the series in its entirety, and certainly not to be missed!
Check here for the official ZENKAN ISSATSU website (in Japanese): https://goo.gl/NtypyB
“Hokuto no Ken” and SILENT MANGA AUDITION®
Among all the endeavours closely involving Hara-sensei is a project that is close to his heart. A project that began 5 years ago and is showing no signs of stopping… the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®!
With a community of over 3600 artists and 5400 manga, the competition is the largest audition for “wordless manga” in the world and offers entrants the solid opportunity to work in direct contact with professionals in the industry!
Among the various members of SMAC! (SILENT MANGA AUDITION® Community), there are both international and Japanese editors, who all receive direct guidance and insight from the judges of the competition, one of whom is Hara-sensei himself!
Here are their voices regarding the series:
“I didn’t follow the series closely as it was never been broadcast in Venezuela. Nevertheless, since working for COAMIX I have learned to appreciate the extreme characteristics that typify it as a true “manga”. Even though I feel it’s a series specifically tailored to a male audience, I cannot help but admire the various versions it has birthed over the years, especially ‘Souten no Ken’ (Fist of the Blue Sky), which I honestly prefer to the original series, due to its funny protagonist. Watta!”
Favourite character: Kenshiro Kasumi (Souten no Ken).
Favourite scene: The scenes involving Ken and Rei in Mamiya’s village.
“‘Fist of the North Star’ was a huge presence during my early teenage years. I can still recall lines from the animated movie 24 years later, thanks to the countless times I watched it with my brother, a big fan of 80’s action films! What I loved most about the story though, isn’t the violence, but rather its humorous and absurdly entertaining elements. Since starting work at COAMIX, I feel that I’ve been reunited with an old friend who I thought I’d lost a long time ago. To Hara-sensei, Buronson-sensei and Horie-san, thank you for the joy you have brought so many over the tears and a huge congratulations on this towering manga making achievement!”
Favorite character: Jagi! He’s pure evil in the best pantomime tradition!
Favorite scene: The tiger test with Raoh and Kenshiro.
“‘Hokuto no Ken’ is everything to me.
“It’s my past, when I religiously watched the anime on TV or read the manga as a child; it’s my present as I work for the company founded by the two brilliant minds behind the story; and it will likely be my future, with the many projects I hope I can participate in directly. Hara-sensei, Buronson-sensei and CEO Horie-san, congratulations on your great achievement, from a man who will always admire you from the bottom of his heart.”
Favourite character: Kenshiro
Favourite scene: Raoh and Toki’s fight
“For me, ‘Hokuto no Ken’ was my doorway into a world of entertainment that would alter the very path of my life forever. Not only is it my favorite manga with its many years of enjoyment it has given me, it’s also the manga that motivated me to learn the Japanese language. ‘Hokuto no Ken’ has enriched my life immensely, and to think I’m now working in close proximity with the creators responsible for this masterpiece fills me with an indescribable amount of pride. From the bottom of my heart, congratulations Hara-sensei, Buronson-sensei, and Horie-san on the 35th anniversary of a manga that changed the hearts of men the world over! ATTAH!!”
Favorite character: Jagi
Favorite scene: Raoh and Kenshiro’s fight!
“For as long as I can remember, ‘Hokuto no Ken’ has always been a presence in my life, but It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to work on the eOneBook translation project that I finally managed read it cover to cover. My earliest memories of Hokuto were of the 2005 computer game on the PS2, a huge hit among my friends. Seeing the characters in that game piqued a curiosity for the Hokuto universe that only grew stronger over the years with both ‘Hokuto: Strawberry flavor’ and ‘DD Hokuto no Ken’ being big favorites of mine!”
Favorite character: Rei
Favorite scene: The death of Yuda left a deep impression on me!
“Wow! 35 years have passed already!? I still remember ‘Hokuto no Ken’ being a topic of discussion among my friends during my school years, when it was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump! We would often laugh at the wacky ways in which Kenshiro would despatch the bad guys and, as I’m sure you can imagine, seeing young boys impersonating him in the playground was not an uncommon sight in those days! Personally, I switched between the manga and anime in real time so I was lucky enough to be one of the generation that grew alongside Kenshiro and his friends. Hara-sensei’s dynamic artwork impressed me so much that I even went onto discover another manga favorite in ‘Hana no Keiji’, and for that, I’m pretty sure I have Kenshiro to thank!”
Favorite character: Toki
Favorite scene: Any of the crazy deaths, but Mr. Heart’s infamous “HIDEBU!” Will always have a special place in my heart!
“I first “met” Hokuto no Ken during my elementary school years, when I read the two “One Shots” published in “Fresh Jump” magazine. That said, as I was a regular reader of Shonen Sunday (another very popular magazine), I didn’t encounter it again until it became a successful animated series. No sooner did start, I began buying the comics religiously and followed the series right until the very end. Naturally, the first thing to make an impact on me was the high level of violence, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate its moral aspects and tales of human virtue also. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that the incredible characters contained within the pages of Hokuto no ken, often became a source of inspiration to me whenever I encountered difficulties in my own life.
Exactly 10 years after the end of the series (in 1998), I never dreamed that the first Mangaka my chief editor, Horie-san put me in charge of was none other than Hara-sensei himself!! What surprised me the most though, was how young Hara-sensei was when I met him. I was expecting him to be in his fifties, but it turned out he was in his early thirties. When he told me he was only 21 when he drew Hokuto no Ken, I couldn’t believe my ears!
Thank you Horie-san, Hara-sensei and Buronson-sensei for creating the ultimate bible for every man of my generation and, evidently, for many future generations too! Hokuto no Ken, BANZAI!”
Favorite character: Uighur the chief jail warden at Cassandra – he’s just too cool!
Favorite scene: The death of Raiga and Fuga, I cried a lot the first time I read it …
IF YOU WANT TO MEET HARA-SENSEI, JOIN THE AUDITION!
With a manga title that sold over 100,000,000 printed copies worldwide, along with experience spanning over 40 years, Hara-sensei now wants to impart his valuable manga making knowledge to the next generation of aspiring manga creators!
The SILENT MANGA AUDITION® is a unique opportunity that allows you to have direct contact with an international manga legend! Additional to the invaluable advice you will receive directly from Hara sensei and other professionals, you will also learn how to structure your future as a manga creator from our team of experienced editors!
So, what are you waiting for?! Join the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® TODAY by clicking the two banners below. 500,000 yen, the largest community of manga lovers/creators in the world and Hara-sensei himself await you!
Let’s create a manga that can live up to and maybe even surpass Fist of the North Star … the next article on our site could be about you!
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