HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | "Fist of the North Star" - Vols. 3 & 4

MANGA REVIEW | "Fist of the North Star" - Vols. 3 & 4

MANGA REVIEW | "Fist of the North Star" - Vols. 3 & 4

There are times when I’m grateful when a US publisher releases manga in bigger omnibus volumes. Some cliffhangers can be pretty painful to wait for, and Fist of the North Star was notorious for bringing one epic cliffhanger after another. Thankfully, VIZ Media’s 2-in-1 releases have made the wait to see what happens next a lot more tolerable. In its third volume (technically Volumes Five and Six), Kenshiro and a new ally showcase why this is one of the most brutal series ever conceived!

After watching Ko die in the hands of the Fangs, Mamiya swears to take them down, even if it means she’ll perish. But Kenshiro and Ren step in and decide to face them head-on. However, the leader of the Fangs finds out what Ren will fight tooth and nail for, and uses it to his advantage. It puts Ren and Kenshiro in a tough predicament, one that might result in the two allies fighting one another.

Buronson is the kind of author that knows when to go all in on the tension. No man, woman, or child is safe in his hands, as anyone can die horribly in Fist of the North Star. But no death is portrayed without reason, as evident by Ko’s brutal killing. It all becomes a form of motivation to topple down an evil, with the punishment being graver the more awful deeds they commit. And when it’s time for that punishment to be dealt, that’s when Tetsuo Hara’s talents come in to blow the readers away!

I know that graphic art has been around for centuries, and even comic books have showcased grotesque scenes since the original Tales From the Crypt. But it’s so unreal to see a manga that showcases a detail of violence that teeters between real and cartoonish. Hara’s way of showing death is both eye-popping and wince-inducing, both from the audience and the characters whose deaths we’re watching. But when it comes to the tension, nothing will take your breath away here quite like Ren and Kenshiro’s fight.

Here are two people during out for many reasons to live, with Ren wanting to keep his sister alive and Kenshiro wanting to save the world. Both battle to the point of destroying everything around them, with their intensity taking even the Fangs by surprise. It all leads to a crescendo of an ending, but once you think it’s all over and the story has reached its end, the better hand is revealed. And when that final moment happens, it’s violent poetry in artistic form!

Nobody can deny the importance of Fist of the North Star, and its massive third volume shows why it’s aged like fine wine. The action, character development, and drama are presented with a level of care that even most manga today don’t bring to the table. With the next target in his sight already, Kenshiro’s journey moves onward, with new scars and understandings under his belt. Perhaps he’ll use that knowledge to teach a certain blood relative a thing or two…



If there’s one word to describe Fist of the North Star, it’d be god-tier. It’s easy to see why Buronson and Tetsuo Hara’s series is beloved by all shonen manga readers. The fights, the tension, the philosophies, and the brutality of it all is still influencing many of the big manga stories of today. In Volume Four, Kenshiro’s journey brings him face-to-face with two people from his past.

Jagi causes some damage to Kenshiro’s reputation, as punishment for what happened to them in the past. As the two battle, their contrasting philosophies push them over the edge, with both getting closer to afterlife with every pressure point pushed. Word spreads about Kenshiro’s brother Toki taking over a village, as memories of his kindness flush through his brain. But when Kenshiro sees Toki for the first time, something feel slightly off with him.

Fist of the North Star takes no time to get the fights started, with Hara’s art style in peak form throughout. Arms being ripped off, heads exploding, and even something as humorous as hair falling out are showcased with the greatest of detail. One could easily stare at each page of this volume, and discover an element that they didn’t see the last time. Even at its goriest, this manga still manages to be beautiful!

Kenshiro’s philosophy is what brings a more mental beauty to the narrative. Facing off against Jagi and Toki, it’s clear that Kenshiro’s path was more paved with kindness rather than the wickedness the world has been brought to. It breaks his heart knowing that he must kill his brothers in order to stop the violence, but without his aid, every village that experiences their terrors will keep on suffering. Thankfully, when the dukes are put up, Kenshiro strikes like a vicious poem in motion.

Perhaps that leads to one of the more questionable aspects of Fist of the North Star: the overall outcome. Even when Kenshiro takes down a foe, there’s always a chance of some other wicked person coming around and bringing more chaos. Is this why Kenshiro keeps moving forward, rarely returning to the places he already cleaned up? Does he know that the violence will never end?

These questions swirled my head as the fourth volume reached its conclusion. While Fist of the North Star is one hell of a ride, there’s no way for newcomers to guess where its final destination will be. Is peace achievable, or has the world gone too deep into madness for it to occur? As Kenshiro enters Cassandra in the fourth volume’s final moments, Fist of the North Star continues to tease us with the audacity of hope for the future. So long as Kenshiro soldiers forward, hope and peace is still near the world’s grasp.


Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)