Souten no Ken review

Apr 03, 2021
If you just finished Hokuto no Ken and crave more then Souten no Ken is a great supplier. The action, martial arts, and manliness is still there but in a modern gangster Chinese setting.

Story wise, its similar to HnK with Kenshiro having to fight the other branches of Hokuto Shinken (who are mafia leaders) to help his friends (who just so happened to be in the mafia) or because of destiny. There's also a connecting sort of arc that introduces the Nazis and Nanto Seiken, but its just there to introduce characters for the next half. The second half focuses more on the origins of Hokuto Shinken and it's traditions which is a double edged sword. It adds interesting concepts and ideas, but sometimes it feels like Tetsuo Hara forgot his own lore. The end suffers due to Hara rushing and the magazine it was publishing in going under, so it just ends. There were a lot of character relationships and events that were implied, like how Shura is implied to be China or Kasumi might be Kenshiro's real father and Zong Wu is Raoh's, but were never actually clarified due to that end. There's also a noticeable increase in the comedy, as with most of Hara's independent works and with Kasumi's different personality, but it's handled naturally that it doesn't seem jarring and break the mood.

The characters are often compared to the original Hnk cast which can't be avoided with prequels/sequels. Yu-Ling is like Yuria but actually takes action and is a leader, Fei Yan like a combination of Rei and Ein becoming a foster parent and so on and so forth. The antagonists are like in North Star with a one dimensional introduction and slowly revealing a side Ken cries manly tears for. Characters such as Yasaka, Zong-Wu, and Kasumi stand out because they are obvious call backs to North Star characters yet are their own individuals. Kasumi himself may look like Kenshiro but he's far from the silent stoic. He's the heroic delinquent, having a good heart but helping the mafia, joking around with his "humble lit. professor" act but when you got a problem with Hokuto Shinken or Pan Wang tell it to him so he could beat your ass.

The art is what you'd expect from an already detailed art style North Star brought, but Hara has improved himself a lot since the eighties and it shows here. The setting itself in a World War II China brings interesting backgrounds of a Western Influenced Shanghai, Buddhist temples, and the mix of army uniforms and traditional Western and Chinese garbs makes for a unique look. The action scenes are superb as usual with the ATATATAs done beautifully.

At times the pacing could be irregular with some parts feeling a bit rushed while others seemed drawn out. It also didn't have that strong an impact or grand feeling as North Star, but I still had fun with it and if your looking for action or to quench the Hokuto thirst, Souten is always here. All that really matters is that good old Fist of the North Star feels and, despite the different setting, it's still the same to the core. Violence, action, death, and manly tears (now in Chinese).


Souten no Ken
Souten no Ken
Author Hara, Tetsuo