Fist of the North Star Volume Three focuses on Ken, Mamiya, and Rei.

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

The volume opens with a child named Ko being captured by The Fangs, the bandits that Rei was working with when he arrived at the village. The bandits kill Ko for revenge, and then declare they’ll kill all the women and children before leaving. It’s revealed that Mamiya serves as the leader for the village, and that Ko is her younger brother. Ken and Rei team up to go after the bandits, and after some fights and skirmishes, the two men easily take down the bandits they’ve found. Some of the panels that were drawn for these fight sequences are quite impressive and add a sense of excitement to the action.

This is followed by some character development for Rei, and it’s revealed that he’s trying to find and kill a man with seven scars on his chest because he kidnapped his sister, Airi. The reader knows that Ken has seven scars on his chest, but they also know that it’s not him who kidnapped Airi. So that begs the question: who else has seven scars on their chest? In Volume Two, Rei came across as someone suspicious and not to be trusted, but this scene makes the reader realize that Rei isn’t the man he came across as when he was first introduced.

Meanwhile, the leader of The Fangs learns that some of his men have been killed, and he’s very upset about it. He decides he needs to find the families of the mercenaries (Ken and Rei) so they can feel the pain of losing loved ones. They can’t find any family for Ken, but they do find Rei’s sister, Airi.

Ken and Rei head out to find the rest of The Fangs, and Mamiya insists on going with them. After some arguing, the two men let her come along in the end. The Fangs’ plot is hatched when Airi appears before our three protagonists, and it takes everything Ken has to hold Rei back. But when Rei gets a chance to talk to Airi, it’s heartbreaking to see him learn that Airi had blinded herself with poison out of despair that she had nothing left. Unfortunately, this encounter leads to Airi being taken by the leader of The Fangs and having him threaten to harm her if they try to do anything to him.

Most of the remainder of the volume focuses on Ken and Rei fighting against the leader of the Fangs and his men. There are a lot of impressive action panels throughout the various fights they have. Mamiya also gets involved at one point when she claims that she’s Ken’s fiancĂ©, in the hopes of getting captured and being able to get close to the leader to kill him. Unfortunately, the leader is able to harden his body, which makes it virtually impossible to take him down with traditional weapons. But Ken comes up with a way to get past his defenses and take him down. These fights were quite exciting, and this portion of the story reached a climax that was worth the wait. Because there was so much action for all the pages that these fights took up, it didn’t feel like the volume was bogging me down as a reader.

After the battle is over, Ken heals Airi’s blindness. And then Ken asks Rei about his search for the man with the seven scars… and then shows Rei his own chest. Rei’s response, though, is to say that even if Ken claimed to be the man who kidnapped Airi, he wouldn’t believe it. After fighting alongside Ken during this volume and interacting with him, Rei knew there would be no way that Ken could be the one. After Airi explains that the man who took her always wore a black helmet, this gives Ken an idea who the culprit could be.

It turns out Ken has some brothers, though not by blood, who also know Hokuto Shinken. The one going around with the black helmet on is claiming to be Ken in order to frighten people to get what he wants. Ken goes to face off against this brother, but before he does, he asks Rei to take care of Rin and Bat, because he knows the two of them won’t be safe when he fights against someone else who is also a Hokuto Shinken user. Near the end of the volume, Ken finds some of the thugs working for Jag, his brother, and there’s a brief fight scene. It may have been brief, but the art here was just as impressive as it was for the big fight earlier in the volume. Right near the end of the volume, Ken encounters a child who was tortured by Jag, and it’s obvious that Ken is pissed off and determined to find him.

While Rei got a lot of focus in this volume, there was also some character development for Mamiya as well. She starts off being the tough leader of the village, who has thrown away any ideas of having romantic feelings or of being a woman. This coldness is understandable, though, since she had already lost both of her parents, and then lost her younger brother at the beginning of this volume. But as the volume progresses, especially during the battle with the leader of The Fangs, she seems to start melting that cold exterior of hers. By the time Ken leaves the village near the end of the volume, she seems to have developed feelings for him, but is aware enough to realize that he doesn’t notice her right now because he’s too wrapped up in his own journey. Honestly, I’m kind of shipping these two characters, but since this is a shonen manga focused on action, doing much more to develop any kind of romantic relationship between these two characters isn’t very likely.

Even though Fist of the North Star Volume Three focused a lot on action and fights, there were still some fantastic moments of character development included. I think Buronson struck the right balance between the action and the character development, which helped to make this volume a great read.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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