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Souten no Ken

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Souten no Ken (蒼天の拳 Fist of the Blue Sky?) is a manga series by Tetsuo Hara with plot supervision by Buronson, serialized in the Weekly Comic Bunch from 2001 to 2010.[1] It is a prequel to the popular 1980s series Fist of the North Star, which Hara originally co-wrote with Buronson. Set primarily in Shanghai during the 1930s, the series centers around the 62nd successor of the Hokuto Shinken style, Kenshiro Kasumi, the namesake and predecessor of Fist of the North Star's own Kenshiro. It has been adapted into a 26-episode anime series that aired from 2006 to 2007.

Plot overview Edit

The main protagonist of this story is Kasumi Kenshiro, better known as "Yan Wang" or "The King of Hell" (derived from the myth Yan Luo Wang). Kasumi is a laid back and chain-smoking Tokyo professor who possesses the deadly Chinese assassin martial art Hokuto Shin Ken who travels to Shanghai after hearing the news of his Triad friend Pan Guang-Lin and his sister Yu-Ling (Kasumi's love interest) are in trouble.

In Shanghai, Kasumi has to fight the three Hokuto families, the Hokuto Sanka Ken (based on the royal families of Romance of the Three Kingdoms). At the same time Kasumi has to help Pan's "Qing Bang" Triad gang against the immoral "Hónghuá Huì" Triads in gaining territory and influence in Shanghai.

Many of the plot points mentioned in the comic contain real historical facts, such as how Shanghai was controlled with International Settlements (the story focus mainly on the French settlement) during the 1930s. Also seen are Jewish refugees who escaped from Nazi persecution in Europe, and the invasion of China by the Japanese Army. Chiang Kai Shek and some historical Kuomingtang figures appear in the story as well.

Tetsuo Hara wanted the fights in the manga to look more like traditional Chinese martial arts, so the action is somewhat faster and more detailed than those in Hokuto no Ken. Hara went to Shanghai in person to get his inspiration.

Media information Edit

Manga Edit

Fist of the Blue Sky began serialization in Weekly Comic Bunch in the magazine's first issue, published with the cover date of May 29, 2001[2]. There are 22 collected volumes (tankobon) of Souten no Ken published in Japan.[3]

An English version of Fist of the Blue Sky was serialized in the now-defunct Raijin Comics published by Gutsoon! Entertainment from 2003 and 2004. Only the first four collected volumes of this English edition were released before Gutsoon went out of business. While its art is less "dated" than its predecessor, its more hard-boiled and unapologetically masculine approach to the series was unfortunately believed to be as much of a turn-off to American fans as the original manga's frequent violence mixed with campy fashion. Ironically, Hara's compatriot Buronson has lucked out better domestically with that same gritty style when he worked on Sanctuary and Strain. [At least enough for those titles to finish their U.S. run, anyway.] Also of irony is that Buronson's one-shots-King of Wolves and Japan-seem to do better in the U.S. than either Fist, in spite of them containing more violence than those other manga. No other company has picked up the license yet.

Japanese volumesEdit

Vol. Release date ISBN
01 2001-10-09 ISBN 4-10-771000-9
02 2001-11-09 ISBN 4-10-771016-5
03 2002-05-09 ISBN 4-10-771036-X
04 2002-08-09 ISBN 4-10-771051-3
05 2003-01-09 ISBN 4-10-771073-4
06 2003-05-09 ISBN 4-10-771089-0
07 2003-09-09 ISBN 4-10-771112-9
08 2004-01-09 ISBN 4-10-771129-3
09 2004-05-09 ISBN 4-10-771151-X
10 2004-08-09 ISBN 4-10-771167-6
11 2004-12-09 ISBN 4-10-771189-7
12 2005-03-09 ISBN 4-10-771206-0
13 2005-07-09 ISBN 4-10-771225-7
14 2006-01-09 ISBN 4-10-771258-3
15 2006-07-09 ISBN 4-10-771281-8
16 2007-02-09 ISBN 4-10-771318-6
17 2007-09-08 ISBN 4-10-771356-8
18 2008-03-08 ISBN 4-10-771387-2
19 2008-10-09 ISBN 4-10-771421-7
20 2009-03-09 ISBN 4-10-771467-1
21 2009-12-15 ISBN 4-10-771535-7
22 2010-11-15 ISBN 4-10-771601-9

English volumesEdit

Vol. Release date ISBN
01 2003-06-18 ISBN 0-97-250378-1
02 2003-09-09 ISBN 1-93-245403-9
03 2003-11-18 ISBN 1-93-245409-8
04 2004-03-17 ISBN 1-93-245422-5
05 Unpublished ISBN 1-93-245433-0

Anime Edit

A weekly anime series based on Souten no Ken aired on Japan's TV Asahi on Thursdays at 2:40am from October 4, 2006 to March 14, 2007. The series has a total of 26 episodes, but only 22 episodes were actually aired on TV. The series was intended to be a full-fledge adaptation of the manga, but truncates the story at the end of Vol. 8. It is believed that the series' low ratings (an average of 1.2) led to the show's cancellation.[4] The complete series has been released on DVD, including unaired episodes and uncensored content. In a bonus interview with executive producer Nobuhiko Horie included in Vol. 9 of the Souten no Ken DVD release reveals that North Stars Pictures has plans to produce a continuation of the Souten no Ken anime adaptation.

Episodes Edit

No. Episode Title Airdate
1 "Wanted - the King of Death"
"Shōkinkubi En'ō" (賞金首・閻王) 
2006-10-04
2 "The Code of Duty"
"Kōko no giki" (江胡の義気) 
2006-10-11
3 "The Successor to Hokuto"
"Hokuto o tsugumono" (北斗を継ぐ者) 
2006-10-18
4 "Wish Upon the Blue Sky!"
"Sōten ni negae" (蒼天に願え) 
2006-10-25
5 "In Shanghai"
"Shanhai ni tatsu" (上海に立つ) 
2006-11-01
6 "The Execution Game"
"Gyakusatsu no shokei yūgi" (虐殺の処刑遊戯) 
2006-11-08
7 "Clash"
"Gekitotsu" (激突) 
2006-11-15
8 "Pray to the God of Hell"
"Jigoku no Kami ni inore" (地獄の神に祈れ) 
2006-11-22
9 "A Destiny Steeped in Blood"
"Chi nurareta shukumei yue ni" (血塗られた宿命ゆえに) 
2006-11-29
10 "Battle of the Hokuto Masters"
"Hokuto dōshi no tatakai" (北斗同士の戦い) 
2006-12-06
11 "Ask the Dragon"
"Ryū ni toe" (龍に問え) 
2006-12-13
12 "Signal of Resurrection"
"Fukkatsu no noroshi" (復活の狼煙) 
2006-12-20
13 "At The End of Madness"
"Kyōki no hate ni..." (狂気の果てに) 
2007-01-10
14 "Journey of Fate"
"Unmei no tabi" (運命の旅) 
2007-01-17
15 "The Beautiful Horse Bandit"
"Utsukishi bazoku" (美しき馬賊) 
2007-01-24
16 "Seeking Refuge"
"Ansoku no chi o motomete" (安息の地を求めて) 
DVD
17 "Death Sentence! The Fallen Palm"
"Shi no senkoku! Datenshō" (死の宣告!堕天掌) 
DVD
18 "The Aura of Hokuto Sōkaken"
"Hokuto Sōkaken no tōki" (北斗曹家拳の闘気) 
DVD
19 "An Undaunted Offering of Flowers"
"Kizentaru kenka" (毅然たる献花) 
2007-01-31
20 "A Trick of Fate"
"Unmei no itazura" (運命の悪戯) 
2007-02-07
21 "A Burning Confrontation"
"Moetagiru taiji" (燃えたぎる対峙) 
DVD
22 "The Secret Technique of Zhāng Tài-Yán"
"Chō Taien no ōgi" (張太炎の奥義) 
2007-02-14
23 "The Unforgettable Pain"
"Wasureinu itami" (忘れ得ぬ痛み) 
2007-02-21
24 "A Deep Strong Memory"
"Fukaku tsuyoki omoi" (深く強き想い) 
2007-02-28
25 "A Banquet and a Gunshot"
"Shukuen to Jūsei" (祝宴と銃声) 
2007-03-07
26 "To a Better Tomorrow"
"Yori yoi ashita e" (より良い明日へ) 
2007-03-14

Theme songsEdit

Opening theme
Bara ga Saku, Bara ga Chiru (薔薇が咲く 薔薇が散る Roses Bloom, Roses Scatter?) by Rina Aiuchi
Ending themes
  1. Kokoro no Rhythm Tobichiru Butterfly (心のリズム飛び散るバタフライ The Rhythm of the Heart is a Fluttering Butterfly?) by doa
  2. "Kissing til i die" by Jun Manaka

Trivia Edit

  • Kasumi Kenshirō's full name was originally used in the pilot version of the Hokuto no Ken manga. However, the protagonist of Souten no Ken (蒼天の拳?), is written with: 霞拳志郎, whereas the name of the protagonist of the Hokuto no Ken (北斗の拳?) pilot is written slightly differently: 霞拳四郎.
  • Various references to the original Hokuto no Ken are made through both character artwork and the plot of Souten no Ken. For instance, Liu Zong-Wu and Liu Fei-Yan resemble Raoh and Rei respectively,and also Yè Zi-Yīng and Erika resemble Bat and Lin, while Jukei's origin as a young victim of the Sino-Japanese War is shown in the plot.

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

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