Title: Fist of the North Star Vol. 1
Author: Buronson, Tetsuo Hara
Release Date: June 15, 2021
Publisher: VIZ Media
Fist of the North Star by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara is one of the most influential and popular manga series that had its spot in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1983 to 1988. From there, it spawned a well-known anime adaptation, various videogames, Spin-offs, and follow-ups. The manga was released in English by VIZ Media during the 90s, but that ended after 4 volumes. In 2021, they are taking another shot at the classic series starting from the first volume, and I couldn’t be happier.
The story of Fist of the North Star Vol. 1 takes place in a world ravaged by a nuclear war that occurred in 199X. In this post-apocalyptic wasteland, the strong prey on the weak, and violence rule over the world. The story follows Kenshiro, a drifter and the successor of a martial arts known as the Hokuto Shinken, which allows the user to take the life of someone by striking at their vital points with various techniques. He dedicates his life to fighting anyone that threatens the lives of the innocent after his fiance, Yuria, is taken away by one of his rivals.
The first volume does a great job of setting up the story and world-building. I got a feeling that the world has gone to absolute hell as I was reading through the first few chapters and got invested in the plot and characters. The artwork by Tetsuo Hara looks amazing, especially the action scenes, which are visceral and brutal, are well-drawn and choreographed.
There are a few stand-out fights in the manga, such as Kenshiro’s fight against Zeed and his gang and his confrontation with his rival Shin, who uses the martial art known as the Nanto Seiken, which is the complete opposite of the Hokuto Shinken. The reader is delivered the history and backstory of these martial arts forms so eloquently, but without filler, which helps with the flow of action.
The narrative is also supported by a great localization that has a lot of effort put into it, from the dialogue to the fact that they properly translated the various attack names. The characters are entertaining and show a lot of character and personality as a result of this effort. The volume paces itself as we get a taste of this work through the first two arcs in their entirety and a brief setup of the third arc.
Fist of the North Star Vol. 1 is an amazing read that is one-hundred percent worth your time if you enjoy the Shounen genre. It’s almost timeless in its presentation as the pacing and illustrations rival some of the best manga of today. I hope that the next volumes keep the good momentum going and that VIZ delivers the entire series this time.
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