HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | "Fist of the North Star" - Vols. 8 & 9

MANGA REVIEW | "Fist of the North Star" - Vols. 8 & 9

MANGA REVIEW | "Fist of the North Star" - Vols. 8 & 9

Time and time again, Fist of the North Star has proven how violence can be art. Although its anime adaptations have had their fair shares of rough spots, the original manga by Tetsuo Hara and Buronson has continuously showcased the beauty of brutality. In its eighth volume, a level of gorgeousness is on display that makes even the toughest man in the world shed a tear. But it’s all for the sake of saving this post-apocalyptic world of Kenshiro’s.

Our hero faces off against the Holy Emperor Souther, who recently took care of Shu in the most horrifying of ways. The two fighters throw everything there have at one another, with Kenshiro looking to be outmatched by Souther. However, once Kenshiro discovers Souther’s weakness, it becomes a race against time to see whose fists are the most powerful. In the end though, a surprising feeling appears within Souther.

While regret has peered its head here and there in Fist of the North Star, this is the first time a villain has shown such feelings. Despite his menacing ways, Souther shows that he’s lost his way after his bout with Kenshiro. He loved his Master Ogai, enough for him to be a part of his pyramid, presented via a means of love that’s both disturbing and heartfelt. Souther’s last few moments on Earth appear to be him reconciling with his long-dead Master, with his massive pyramid collapsing from above.

Alas, Fist of the North Star never has time to take a breather. In what is the highlight of the volume, brothers Toki and Raoh face off in an ultimate battle of fists and fury. But where Toki wants to seal Raoh’s fists, Raoh wants to see the limits of his brother’s strength. What he discovers is just how far Toki will go to be as strong as his brother, in a reveal that makes Raoh cry for the first time in decades.

The flashback to Toki and Raoh’s childhood showcases the strong connection between the two siblings. While Toki was always the weaker of the two, he always gave it his all to try to stand toe-to-toe with Raoh. It’s a tenacity that impressed their master, even when he knows that one one can master the technique. Nevertheless, it dives deep enough to show why these two and Kenshiro were in line to carry on the Hokuto Shinken.

Toki and Raoh’s fight ends with a glimmer of hope, with the sickly brother given a chance to live out the rest of his life helping others. Unfortunately, the arrival of Ryuga takes away any chance of comfort after a warrior laid down their arms. Only Kenshiro’s return can possibly keep the chaos from reaching catastrophic levels. But after seeing what Ryuga’s capable of, chaos may be coming no matter how hard Kenshiro tries to stop it.

Volume Eight of Fist of the North Star continues to deliver a perfect balance of violence and storytelling. The fights between Kenshiro & Souther and Toki & Raoh dive deeper into the emotional aspects of these carnage-filled battles. One wonders if peace will ever occur in this desert wasteland Kenshiro calls home. Thankfully, until that days comes, Fist of the North Star will keep on wowing its audience with the beauty of badassery. Now smile!



Sometimes I worry that I might overhype a manga, especially when I use phrases like “one of the greatest [insert genre here] ever written”. But with Fist of the North Star, it’s a God-given fact: it’s the greatest shonen manga ever concocted. Not only does it deliver the most gorgeous violence ever put to paper, but its story is filled with more twists and turns than a Six Flags roller coaster. And the biggest twist in Fist of the North Star has finally arrived in its ninth volume.

After a hard-fought battle, Kenoh leaves his brothers to begin terrorizing another group of people. Kenshiro aims to stop him again, this time with the aid of the giant Fudo. Unlike most of the big guys Kenshiro has crossed paths with, Fudo is a big softie, doing all that he can to protect orphans from a life without parental love. In order to stop Kenoh, they’ll need the help of Juza, a free-flowing warrior with a connection to Kenshiro’s beloved Yuria.

There’s a solid balance of both carnage and quiet beauty found in this volume of Fist of the North Star. For the former, the body count here reaches possibly in the hundreds, as minions left and right are stabbed, squashed, sliced in half, and spontaneously combust in hilariously gruesome fashion. As for the latter, that’s where the big lug Fudo comes in, whose kindness is on a level not even Kenshiro can reach. Thankfully, despite his kind heart, Fudo has some solid battle skills of his own.

Despite his clumsiness and even comic relief, Fudo knows when it’s time to quiet down a villain. That big brute strength of his comes in handy not just dealing with evil, but also when the lives of children are at stake. Selfless at every turn, Fudo acts as a big beacon of hope for this manga. He’s proof that when the world’s crying for help, a shining light will come to bathe it in comfort.

Speaking of light, the same can’t unfortunately be said about Shuren of the Flames. While he’s quite the formidable opponent for Kenoh, he learns very quickly that fire can be fought with…well, we all know the saying. Juza also serves as a terrific opponent, with his charisma being both cool and humorous at once. But within that coolness is a heart that’s been broken for ages, with the love of his life being unobtainable. (Hence why he’s settled for a lusty lifestyle, which, hey, I won’t judge here.)

All of this leads to the big plot twist, one that I cannot spoil here. But it’s one that will certainly shake the fabric of Fist of the North Star as a whole. It involves the last general of Nanto Rokuseiken, with both Kenoh and Kenshiro rushing to get to them before the other shows up. When it comes to the matters of the heart, there’s no stopping any man of passion, especially these two!

Volume Nine marks the halfway point of Fist of the North Star's epic narrative. Even 122 chapters in, Buronson and Tetsuo Hara’s iconic series never stops wowing its readers. With the way this volume ends, there’s no telling where the story will go from here (unless you’re Japanese and read the manga over there). At any rate, Fist of the North Star is still like no other manga, even after 40 years since it was first published!


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)