Manga Review: Fist of the North Star Volume Two

Fist of the North Star Volume Two continues Ken’s adventures, and it also provides some character development for Ken’s traveling companion, Bat.

Fist of the North Star Volume Two
Written by: Buronson
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 21, 2021

The volume opens with Ken taking on the Golan, a gang that claims it has genetic superiority. Of course, there’s a lot of blood and violence, which is accentuated by the fact that the first chapter has some color in it… and the color that’s used is red. Considering the postapocalyptic world that Fist of the North Star is set in, this amount of violence and bloodshed is realistic. While Ken easily takes down the Golan, he still has to then take on the “final boss.” This adversary is nowhere near as easy for Ken to defeat, and in fact, there are times when this enemy can actually get some hits in on Ken. The stakes are upped when Rin rushes in and tries to get involved… but her interference ends up helping Ken get the upper hand.

Then most of the remainder of the volume focuses on the character development for Bat. This story also introduces the next antagonist. A young boy is rescued by Ken out in the desert, and he asks Ken to help his village. It turns out the boy, named Taki, comes from Bat’s village. The two of them, along with several other children, were taken in by a woman they call “Auntie Toyo” after their parents were either killed or left their village. Taki is looking for someone to help dig a well so the village can have water. Of course, Ken agrees to help. Jackal, the new antagonist, overhears what they’re saying and wants to get the water for himself.

Unfortunately, Taki causes more trouble when he goes to another village to steal water so Toyo can have something to drink. Taki is caught, but Ken and the others are too late. It’s tragic what happens to Taki, especially since he’s only seven years old. But this event makes Ken even more determined to dig through the bedrock and find the water that the village so desperately needs. While Ken succeeds in this mission, it also brings Jackal and his thugs to the village. Ken is able to make them flee, but after Ken and his traveling companions leave, Jackal comes back. Fortunately, Ken hasn’t gotten far, but there isn’t entirely a happy ending to this story. But by the end of this story, we see Bat really does care about Auntie Toyo, even though he was antagonistic toward her throughout most of this section of the story. As a reader, I appreciated getting to learn about where Bat came from and how it likely helped to shape him into the person Ken encounters in the first volume of the series.

However, this isn’t the end for Jackal, and Ken knows it. He leaves Bat and Rin behind for a little while, so he can take on this adversary. This section culminates into a battle between Ken and Jackal, with Jackal enlisting the help of an inmate that’s referred to as both a devil and a monster. Jackal tries to trick the inmate into attacking Ken, and it almost works. However, Jackal doesn’t take certain things into consideration about this devilish inmate, and it brings about his own end. The battle between Ken and this inmate is intense. In fact, I would say that it was the most intense battle in this entire volume, if not the entire series up to this point.

A third story gets underway in this volume as well. A new antagonist is introduced, and he is skilled in Nanto Seiken. It turns out he’s trying to find Ken (although he refers to him as the man with the seven scars on his chest). Meanwhile, Ken reunites with Bat and Rin, and they have found a village willing to take the other orphan children in… but there’s a catch. Ken has to serve as the village’s protector. Meanwhile, Ken encounters a woman named Mamiya, who has a strong resemblance to Ken’s dead lover, Yuria. The new antagonist comes to village and introduces himself, His name is Rei, and the villagers see him as another protector. Both Bat and Rin are suspicious of him, however. And they’re right to be concerned, because the reader sees he’s working for a group of bandits. The volume ends with Ken fighting with the bandits that Rei is supposed to be working for… along with Rei betraying the bandits. And the final panels sees the stage being set for something to happen between Ken and Rei.

As I’ve been reading through Fist of the North Star, I’ve been impressed by Ken. Yes, he’s a very strong guy who can usually beat anyone easily in battle. However, I also appreciate his kindness and his determination to use his powers to help others. As we see in Volume Two, these traits serve as his motivation to help Bat’s village with the well. Ken is also moved by tragedy, as was seen after the tragic event involving Taki. I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that I appreciate seeing that Ken still has his humanity intact, even though he’s so strong and powerful.

When I started into the first volume of Fist of the North Star, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But now that I’ve read Volume Two of the series, I find that I’m genuinely interested in the story and in Ken as a character. I’m looking forward to having the possibility to read the third volume in order to find out what happens next.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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