Fist of the North Star is one of the most popular series in all of Weekly Shonen Jump, with fans often crying out its famous "You are already dead," but what first inspired the series in the first place?
Like most fans have guessed thanks to its setting and tough look of its main character Kenshiro, Fist of the North Star is inspired by a huge post-apocalyptic film series:
Tetsuo Hara's comments about the inspirations behind Fist Of the North Star. I'd loved to have had it in the video I made but couldn't fit it in. Really fits well with @EyePatchWolf's video today! pic.twitter.com/3KO3a1Kypk— YonkouProductions (@YonkouProd) December 9, 2017
Uncovered by Twitter user @YonkouProd (who has also released a video breaking down the 50 year history of Weekly Shonen Jump), Fist of the North Star's series co-creator Tetsuo Hara revealed the series was inspired by Mad Max:
"The movie Mad Max 2 was another big inspiration. The editor told me to go and see it. He always gave me information like that. He recommended illustrators like Syd Mead and Frank Franzetta since high school, and I had been to western bookstores to look for his work. I was happy that my editor knew his art. The movie Blade Runner and Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira were other inspirations. After seeing all of these works and movies Fist of the North Star became clearer in my mind...I worked on every chapter like it was the last thing I'd do before I'd die."
As for its cool main character Kenshiro, "[Buronson] had already done this research and told me about things like acupressure points. I thought it was weird to have people explode when struck in certain places (laughs). At first, it was simpler. He would stab someone quietly using his fingers. The flashy action was something I added afterwards. I wanted to make the main character like Bruce Lee. I also wanted incorporate aspects of the actor Yusaku Matsuda."
Fist of the North Star has managed to stay memorable for so long and went on to massive success because of the effort and research that went into it. It may have references from other media, but they all combine into their own unique beast.
Shuiesha is currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary with a special exhibit highlighting characters from its long history.
For those unfamiliar with Fist of the North Star, the series was created by Buronson with illustrations provided by Tetsuo Hara. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic world after a nuclear war. It follows Kenshiro, the successor of the martial art Hokuto Shinken, which allows him to defeat and brutally kill most enemies by striking their vital points. Deciding to use his skills to defend the weak from those who would attack them, Kenshiro wanders through the post-apocalyptic land fighting all who stand in his way.
The series ran in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump from 1983 to 1988. Its 245 chapters were collected into 27 volumes, and was licensed for an English language release by Viz Communications and Gutsoon! Entertainment. The series was adapted into an anime series by Toei Animation that ran for 152 episodes from 1984 to 1988. The series has also been adapted into a video game from Sega. Developed by the Yakuza series team, Hokuto ga Gotoku will release on PlayStation 4 in 2018.