Fist of the North Star Volume Four focuses on Ken going on a mission to find his brothers.

Fist of the North Star Volume Four
Written by: Buronson
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 15, 2022

At the end of Volume Three, Ken learned that his brother Jagi is going around with a black mask on and claiming to be Ken in order to frighten people to get what he wants. About the first 90 pages in this volume focus on Ken and the battle he has with Jagi. Interspersed between the fight sequences are flashbacks of their training and Ken ultimately being chosen as the successor of Hokuto Shinken. I thought the flashbacks were a nice touch that gave the reader backstory for the characters, as well as breaks from the fighting.

As you would expect from a shonen fighting manga, the fight between Ken and Jagi intensifies to the point where superhuman strength and will are used. Jagi, unfortunately, becomes overly confident that he’s going to win the fight, and he reveals how use used and destroyed both Shin and Yuria to achieve his own ends. I really felt for Ken when he heard this revelation, and I couldn’t blame him for becoming so pissed and taking it out on his brother. Jagi didn’t seem to realize that angering Ken would power him up to the point he could turn the tide of battle and defeat him. But before Jagi dies, he reveals that their other two brothers still live. After hearing this, Ken decides to go on a journey to find his other brothers.

Rei and Mamiya are brought into the action after receiving a letter from Ken. Even though Rei is asked to watch over everyone, we see later that both Rei and Mamiya leave to find him and to try to get information that will lead Ken to one of his brothers.

A lot of the remainder of Volume Four sees Ken finding a man that seems to be his brother, Toki, who had focused on learning Hokuto Shinken in the hopes of using it for healing instead of killing. When Ken finds, Toki, though, he isn’t acting like how Ken expected. While Toki does do some healing, he’s also seen using people as test subjects in order to try to perfect his Hokuto Shinken. Buronson makes both Ken and the reader believe that this man is Toki, and because of this, it leads Ken to fight against him. But just when it looks like Toki has the upper hand, Rei appears and reveals that this man isn’t the real Toki. It turns out Rei had a run-in with this man earlier because he had studied the same Nanto Seiken that he did. With the ending of this battle, the fake Toki continually snivels about being a genius and wondering how he’s being defeated. Let’s just say that I was glad to see this character go away. After it came out that he wasn’t the real Toki, I found him to be an insufferable jerk.

Mamiya gets information that the real Toki is being held prisoner, which is a location that’s known for people going in but never coming out because they’re executed. The remainder of the volume sees Ken trying to make his way into the prison in order to find his brother.

During the final bit of the volume, there’s a scene between Mamiya and Ken. She’s grateful that he saved her and she tries to get close to him, but he pushes her hand away and tells her to leave. As Ken walks away, Rei tells Mamiya that no one can open Ken’s heart as long as Yuria is there. I thought the ending of this scene was interesting, when Rei causes a church bell to ring and declares it’s for an unrequited love. While the obvious interpretation is that he’s referring to Mamiya, but looking at Rei’s expression during this scene, I kind of wonder if perhaps Rei might have feelings for Mamiya and could also be referring to himself. But this is a shonen manga and not a shojo one, so I don’t know how likely it would be that Buronson would include the possibility of Rei developing feelings for Mamiya into this story.

But if you’re a fan of action and fighting, there’s plenty of that in Fist of the North Star Volume Four. In my opinion, at least, I thought there was a good mixture of fighting and character development in this volume. While the emphasis is certainly on the fights, a little bit of time was spent and used on giving background on characters like Ken and Jagi as they had their fight. Understanding what led up to this point adds some emotional weight and poignancy to the fighting and action that takes place between these two brothers.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous three volumes of the series, then I expect that you will also enjoy Fist of the North Star Volume Four.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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