Fist of the North Star is an iconic classic in the world of manga/anime, known for its hyperviolent martial arts and dystopian world. Combining a grim, Mad Max-like setting with a protagonist who's essentially a much buffer version of Bruce Lee, the show is a great example of early modern shonen and over-the-top machismo.
The series' popularity has seen it get several movie adaptations, remakes, spin-offs and even a video game in Sega's Yakuza series. One of these spinoffs is Fist of the Blue Sky, which is set several years before the original series. Here's a look at Fist of the Blue Sky and its connections to Fist of the North Star.
What Is Fist of the Blue Sky?
Published in Weekly Comic Bunch from 2001 to 2010, Fist of the Blue Sky was written and drawn by franchise creators Tetsuo Hara and Buronson. The protagonist, Kenshiro Kasumi, a Japanese professor in the 1930s whose easygoing nature hides his knowledge of the deadly Chinese killing technique Hokuto Shinken.
Kenshiro goes to Shanghai to help his friends Pan and Yu-Ling with the growing threat of rival Triad gangs, which represent the Royal Families from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The result of Kenshiro's intervention is a flurry of impressive fight scenes, drawn to more realistically emulate Chinese martial arts, rather than typical high-flying shonen manga action.
Unlike North Star, which has a more fantasy-esque story, Fist of the Blue Sky is packed full of historical events and anecdotes reflecting the real-world sociopolitical turmoil of the time. This includes the foreign rule of Shanghai in the 1930s, a wave of Jewish people attempting to escape Hitler's stranglehold on Europe and even real-life figures such as Chiang Kai Shek, a former President of the Republic of China.
How Blue Sky Ties Into North Star
Blue Sky takes place several decades before Fist of the North Star, though it didn't begin publication until nearly twenty years after that series began. The main character, Kenshiro Kasumi, is the uncle of Fist of the North Star protagonist Kenshiro, sharing a name and an uncanny resemblance to his nephew. He precedes Kenshiro and another man as the 62nd Successor of Hokuto Shinken, an incredibly deadly technique. The two Kenshiros even share a catchphrase: "You are already dead."
Many of Bue Sky's supporting characters also resemble North Star characters, with Liu Zongwu, Yei Ziying and Erika resembling Raoh, Bat/Bart and Lin, respectively. Bkue Sky also reveals the origin of Fist of the North Star's Jukei, showcasing his victimization during the war. The main differences between the series, besides the setting, are their heroes. The original Kenshiro in Blue Sky is much more comical and lackadaisical than his taciturn nephew. The story continued in Fist of the Blue Sky: Re:Genesis, and both manga received an anime adaptation in the late 2000s and 2010s respectively. Neither story connected too closely to the main series, telling its own separate if similar storyline. Both shows can currently be streamed through Crunchyroll and VRV.